Summary: God's work never goes forward without opposition from the enemy. In fact, opposition is almost always caused by success and not failure. In building the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah faced much opposition but he knew what to do and now we can know also.
Nehemiah 4:7-23 (NLT) “But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites heard that the work was going ahead and that the gaps in the wall of Jerusalem were being repaired, they were furious. 8 They all made plans to come and fight against Jerusalem and throw us into confusion. 9 But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves. 10 Then the people of Judah began to complain, “The workers are getting tired, and there is so much rubble to be moved. We will never be able to build the wall by ourselves.” 11 Meanwhile, our enemies were saying, “Before they know what’s happening, we will swoop down on them and kill them and end their work.” 12 The Jews who lived near the enemy came and told us again and again, “They will come from all directions and attack us!” 13 So I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas. I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows. 14 Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” 15 When our enemies heard that we knew of their plans and that God had frustrated them, we all returned to our work on the wall. 16 But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The leaders stationed themselves behind the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. 18 All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm. 19 Then I explained to the nobles and officials and all the people, “The work is very spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 When you hear the blast of the trumpet, rush to wherever it is sounding. Then our God will fight for us!” 21 We worked early and late, from sunrise to sunset. And half the men were always on guard. 22 I also told everyone living outside the walls to stay in Jerusalem. That way they and their servants could help with guard duty at night and work during the day. 23 During this time, none of us—not I, nor my relatives, nor my servants, nor the guards who were with me—ever took off our clothes. We carried our weapons with us at all times, even when we went for water."
1) (From Rod Mattoon): At this time Samaria pretty much controlled the economy in the land.
a) One of the main highways in that part of the world passed through Jerusalem.
b) The rebuilding of Jerusalem would have had a direct impact on the future of
c) With the walls of Jerusalem built back up it would be a well-protected city, its
location would attract trade.
2) Just like it is today, Jerusalem was surrounded by enemies.
a) In the North was Samaria
b) In the East: the Ammonites
c) In the South: The Arabs
d) In the West: The Ashdodites
3) The most influential of Nehemiah's enemies was a man from Samaria named Sanballat.
a) The tension between the Samaritans and the Jews went back almost 300 years
before Nehemiah's time.
b) Samaria had become a nation of mixed breed of people, including Jews who had
intermarried with pagans.
c) The Jews who returned to Jerusalem during the days of Ezra and Nehemiah
considered Samaritans to be racially impure and would have nothing to do with
4) Nehemiah had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls.
a) Some work had been started but the work stopped after rebuilding the cities
b) The wall was only half as high as it should be and was too weak to withstand an
attack from the enemy.
5) So Nehemiah assigned workers to finish it.
a) As they begin the work, two of the enemies, Sanballat & Tobiah, came within
shouting distance and began to criticize Nehemiah and the workers.
b) At first, they were using words to plant fear and intimidation into the workers, in
hopes of getting them to stop their work.
c) They didn't want to see the city rebuilt because it would take trade from Samaria.
d) They didn't 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.