Many years prior to Nehemiah’s time, the Northern Kingdom had been conquered and many were taken captive to other lands. The conquering nation introduced prisoners from other lands, which led to intermarriage with the few Israelites. This blending of the races produced the people known as the Samaritans.
The Israelites that returned to Jerusalem during Ezra’s time and Nehemiah’s time did not associate with the Samaritans because they felt that the Samaritans were impure. This led to a growing resentment and hatred between the people. It gets worse later during the time of Jesus.
The first few chapters told of how Nehemiah went back to begin working on the walls and gates of Jerusalem. Now we get into the enemies that oppose the rebuilding of the wall. In this chapter we learn that enemies are giving opposition to the rebuilding of the wall. The wall was for the security of the Jewish people’s home, their city, and their temple.
Often, we see or hear of Christians today that have quit working for the Lord when they are ridiculed, discouraged, sabotaged, or even threatened. Unfortunately, it happens. Christians start off red hot and on fire for God, but then the devil will sneak in, and then BAM, they just fizzle out. Or sometimes, there are too many bosses and not enough workers, who want to tell others what to do but do not get involved or help. This can lead to disunity, and if there is no unity, discord among the brethren sets in.
Disapproval and discouragement can result from ridicule. We should choose not to respond in the same manner or to become discouraged when we are ridiculed for our faith or criticized for doing what we know is right.
Today we will look at the first few verses of chapter 4.
In verses 1 - 3:
Sanballat and Tobiah are outraged that the work on the wall is going so well, and they continually criticize and make fun of the Jews. Sanballat insults and scorns them before his own brethren and the army of Samaria. Tobiah remarks that even a fox on the wall will wreck it. Sanballat and Tobiah just blatantly ridiculed the Jews and tried to discourage them from working on the wall. But what did Nehemiah do? He prayed!
In verses 4 - 6:
Now we hear Nehemiah’s prayer. He knew that he and his people were looked down upon and despised by the Samaritans. God and the people heard his prayer. The work continued and progress was seen. The people had set their hearts and psyches on achieving the undertaking. They did not surrender, they did not give in, they persisted. With Nehemiah’s prayer, the people saw a need. They got in one mindset with one another. They banded together. They did not linger in discontentment. They did not give up.
Two-fold example of walls:
We must learn how to decline to react with exchanging affronts when we are derided for our faith or condemned for accomplishing God's work. Regardless of whether we face resistance and demoralization, we must decide to finish the task that God has called us to do. God has called us for service. Do not worry if the task seems difficult. Do not say ‘I cannot do this’.
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