Summary: #7 in the Nehemiah Series deals with Sanballat’s attack through persecution. Satan uses the same tactics against the people of God today.
Book of Nehemiah Series #7
Sanballat Attacks Again - Physical Persecution
By Pastor Jim May
Last week we completed with the wall being half finished. It was half the height that the original wall had been. Even though the gates had been rebuilt and the walls connecting each of those gates was in place, there was still much work left to be done before the city of Jerusalem could feel safe from outside threats. A wall that was only half as high as it should be was almost as bad as no wall at all. It was still far too vulnerable to any besieging army.
Sanballat and Tobiah had attacked those who were rebuilding the walls with mind tricks, trying to hinder their work. They didn’t want to see the city rebuilt, nor did they want to see the worship of God restored to the temple and they were going to do everything in their power to stop the work.
We learned that Sanballat was a type of Satan, our worst enemy, as he tries to destroy and hinder our lives with Jesus. We also learned that Tobiah, his cohort, was a type of our own flesh. Often times we find ourselves more on Satan’s side than we want to admit because of our battle with “Self”.
There is an old saying that says, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me", and for a while that seemed to be the case with Nehemiah and his workers. Sanballat and Tobiah would use every sort of mind-game that they could find, but the work continued on. Now the attacks were going to be more serious and more physical in nature. Sanballat and Tobiah were not enemies that would quit easily, anymore than we can easily overcome the devil or the desires of the flesh.
Nehemiah and his band of workers had resisted Sanballat so he ceased from attacking them for a while. Sanballat fell back to regroup and plan a new strategy designed to bring the work to a halt, and he also hoped that the lull would give the Jews a false sense of victory, so they would drop their guard. Sanballat and Tobiah had lost the first round and stopped their attacks, but they weren’t ready to quit yet. They were determined to stop the work on Jerusalem at all costs.
When “Plan A” failed, Sanballat and Tobiah reverted to “Plan B”. What was “Plan B”? Well, when you can’t talk them to death in “Plan A”, then you have to go in and kill them all. That was “Plan B” and it was now quickly being put into action!
Nehemiah 4:7-8, "But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it."
They were finished playing games now. It was time for some real action. It was time to get rough. Nehemiah and the Jews had to be stopped before they could finish the wall at all costs.
None of the enemies of Israel were going to stay out of this fight. Just as all of the surrounding Arab nations right now want to see Israel utterly wiped out, so did Sanballat, Tobiah and all of their friends.
Sanballat was the leader and the commander who planned the offensive, but Tobiah and all of the Arabian nations were there too.
The devil never works alone. He loves to find someone that we will trust to use as his instrument of attack. It seems to me that our worst enemies are often found within the church walls. Satan has used his deceitfulness to get even those who claim to be Christian to bring on our worst persecution. We can deal easily with an attack from outside, but when the enemy infiltrates our lives and attacks from within, it’s much harder to overcome him.
We live in a country where physical persecution doesn’t happen to us like it does elsewhere in the world. Our persecution is mostly still in the mind-games stages. But the church is persecuted and Christians have to suffer much more everywhere else. In the midst of all of this persecution, God is looking for how we will respond. Will we quit working or will our faith become stronger?
Nehemiah 4:9, "Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them."
Nehemiah’s response to their threat of attack was that he called a prayer meeting to ask God to be their guard and to put down their enemies. But it didn’t just stop with the prayer meeting. Nehemiah also used some practical means of protection by setting guards in place to sound the alarm. He couldn’t stop the attack but he could keep it from being a sneak attack.