Summary: #8 in the Nehemiah Series. Tobiah’s attack is symbolic of the worst enemy that we have - ourselves. It’s my own flesh that I have the hardest battles with.
Book of Nehemiah Series #8
The Enemy Within
By Pastor Jim May
When Sanballat couldn’t succeed, and Tobiah was stopped in his tracks, another enemy stepped forward. This enemy was more dangerous than either Sanballat or Tobiah and threatened to unravel the very fiber of the rebuilding process.
Let’s read the account of the rising of this new enemy of God’s people and see if you can figure out just who, or what, that enemy is.
Nehemiah 5:1-6, "And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews. For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, are many: therefore we take up corn for them, that we may eat, and live. Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth. There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king’s tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards. Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our power to redeem them; for other men have our lands and vineyards. And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words."
What was the enemy? Who was the enemy? Did you see him raise his ugly head? The enemy is called Dissention in the Ranks or Division in the Camp.
Regardless of how much we try, we cannot help but form classes within our society. America was founded upon the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It was founded as a land where all men are created equal. Those principles are great, and the idea of a classless society where no one is above the law, and all have equal opportunities, is a wonderful idea. But that’s all it is, an idea! Reality soon reveals that man always finds a way to gain power and control over the lives of other men. Whether it’s an overbearing parent, with a spouse and children under their thumb, or a dictator of a nation, controlling everything and everyone in that nation with the use of force and threat of death, there is always someone who wants the power and others who allow them to have it.
Sanballat tried to attack from the outside with mind games, then with physical threats, but neither had the desired effect for long. Nehemiah and the builders soon overcame these threats and continued to build. But this last enemy came from within.
Satan knew the scriptures and he understands God’s very nature. He knew what Jesus would say during his earthly ministry in Matthew 12:25, "… Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand…" The devil knows that if he can cause division in the ranks of God’s army, the battle will soon be over.
Satan still uses that same device today. I don’t think there is anyone who has served the Lord for very long, and cannot relate a story of how a church was split, a ministry destroyed or a work of the Lord ceased to be simply because of dissention and division.
It can happen over the simplest of things. It can happen over the color of the carpet in a new building, the type of rod we use to hang the curtain, which pair of shoes a minister wears behind the pulpit or how short Sister Weeblewop cuts her hair, or Brother Ginglehopper clips his fingernails during church. I’ve seen it happen and so have you. We all get our feelings out on our sleeve once in a while, or we let things get on our nerves, until finally we blow our cool and the fight is on. Divisions are just about always triggered by pride, self-gratification, my rights, your rights or what we feel is fair.
That’s what was threatening to stop the building of the Wall of the city of Jerusalem now! It wasn’t the devil doing any direct attacks, it wasn’t the outside powers of the worldly crowd, it was fellow next door who was laying his brick in a different fashion, or the woman on the next gate who thought that her gate was better than your gate.
For whatever the reason, classes and distinction between the “haves” and “have-nots” began to surface with a vengeance. If Nehemiah couldn’t get this latest “enemy” under control; if he couldn’t stop the Jews from fighting among themselves, the wall would never be completed, the Temple would never be rebuilt and Jerusalem would remain as rubble. It would be a condemning testimony against God’s own chosen nation, that they couldn’t even get along with one another, much less reach out to a lost and dying world with the knowledge of the One True God.