Summary: Nehemiah, Pt. 6 (Final)
THE CALM AFTER THE STORM: FROM ACCUSATION TO ACHIEVEMENT (NEHEMIAH 6:1-16)
There was a large group of people. On one side of the group stood a man, Jesus. On the other side of the group stood Satan. Separating them, running through the group, was a fence. The scene set, both Jesus and Satan began calling to the people in the group and, one by one - each having made up his or her own mind - each went to either Jesus or Satan. This kept going.
Soon enough, Jesus had gathered around him a group of people from the larger crowd, as did Satan. But one man joined neither group. He climbed the fence that was there and sat on it. Then Jesus and his people left and disappeared. So too did Satan and his people. And the man on the fence sat alone.
As this man sat, Satan came back, looking for something which he appeared to have lost. The man said, “Have you lost something?” Satan looked straight at him and replied, “No, there you are. Come with me.” “But”, said the man, “I sat on the fence. I chose neither you nor him.” “That’s okay,” said Satan. “I own the fence.”
There is no sitting on the fence, siding with both sides, having and eating the cake with people bent on disturbing the peace, destroying God’s work and doing unspeakable damage.
When the job of rebuilding the wall was almost done, Nehemiah’s enemies attacked him mercilessly. They attempted to entice him socially, finished him politically and harm him bodily. Nehemiah was days away from completing the job of rebuilding the wall, which took 52 days (v 15). What can he do? What must he do? What did he do? The Chinese say, “Open spears can be avoided, secret arrows hard to defend.”
What would you do if you were faced with relentless opposition, criticism and threats from enemies? How would you counter when your mission, principles and values are questioned?
Beware of the Enemies’ Attempt to Interrupt Us
6:1 When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it-though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates- 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.” But they were scheming to harm me; 3 so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” 4 Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer. (Neh 6:1-4)
A new study found that people who thought they were treated unfairly were more likely to suffer a heart attack or chest pain. Those who thought they had experienced the worst injustice were 55% more likely to experience a coronary event than people who thought life was fair, according to a report published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
The study, one of the largest and longest of its kind, examined medical data from 6,081 British civil servants. In the early 1990s, they were asked how strongly they agreed with this statement: "I often have the feeling that I am being treated unfairly." Unlike previous studies, the subjects were questioned before they showed any signs of cardiovascular disease. That way, the results weren’t skewed by people who thought life was unfair because they were already sick.
The subjects were tracked for an average of 10.9 years. In that time, 387 either died of a heart attack, were treated for a nonfatal attack or diagnosed with angina. The researchers found that the rate of cardiac events among civil servants who reported “low” levels of unfair treatment was 28% higher than for those who had no complaints. People who reported “moderate” unfairness saw their risk rise by 36%.The study was funded primarily by health agencies in the British and U.S. governments. (“People Who Feel Wronged Can Really Take It to Heart,” Los Angeles Times, 5/15/07)
Nehemiah did his best to ignore his enemies who stopped at nothing to interrupt his work, effort and success. They were desperate, demanding and dangerous. Four times they sent a message to Nehemiah to invite him to meet, talk, and socialize. Nehemiah sensed something was wrong. Sanballat and Geshem sent a message instead of being the messengers themselves.
So far, Nehemiah did not have a good experience with or a good impression of Sanballat or Tobiah. They were foreigners, politicians and thugs who were furious that someone had come to care for Israel (Neh 2:10). Earlier, at the offset, the gang of three had accused Nehemiah and the Israelites of rebelling against the king (Neh 2:19). Later, when Sanballat learned that the Jews were rebuilding the wall, he was angry and greatly incensed. He mocked their attempt, skill and capability (Neh 4:1). The outsiders were not just angry; they were very angry (Neh 4:7). Besides the gang of three, other enemies resurfaced (Neh 6:1) – the word “enemies” appear for the first time in the book earlier (Neh 4:15). The honeymoon period was over. Nehemiah now experienced what he had heard in Persia and what he had said locally concerning the “harm” or trouble – in Hebrew - that the Jews were facing in Jerusalem – they are the same in Hebrew (Neh 1:3, 2:17, 6:2). Before, Sanballat merely laughed and mocked (2:19, 4:1); now he and other bullies were threatening bodily harm (v 2).