Summary: You are energised and passionate when you start a new project or ministry. But after awhile the newness of the project fades. You lost your passion, get bored, tired and discouragement sets in. Now is the time to get back to your dreams. You can finish well.
YOU CAN FINISH WELL, EVEN IN THE MIDST OF DISCOURAGEMENT
"But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. 2 And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?” 3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.” 4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! 5 Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders. 6 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work." Nehemiah 4:1-6.
Nehemiah was a man on a mission! A mission to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. Walls helped to protect people and their households, as well as their blessings. Walls provided security for the people living in the cities. Walls serve as shield. An ancient city without a wall was exposed to attack. A broken wall makes an individual, family, church or city, to be vulnerable to the strike of the enemy. The children of Israel sinned, they rebelled against God, and He was angry with them. The enemies came, destroyed the Temple and the walls of Israel's cities. They took God's people into captivity. The first step to be taken for the Jews to return home is the rebuilding of the walls.
The mission was a divine mandate. God put it into the heart of Nehemiah, to take the long journey back home and rebuild the broken walls. Upon arriving at Jerusalem, he surveyed the city; accessed the damage and put a plan of action in place to rebuild the walls. Nehemiah rallied the people together and told them what God had put in his heart and shared his vision with them.
The walls were going up and that meant Jerusalem would soon be secure again. Progress on the wall brought out the enemy. The enemies of Israel did not like the idea. When they were half way, discouragement showed up. Sanballat was desperately angry at the progress on the wall. So also the circle of Israel's enemies was expanding. The enemies surrounded Jerusalem. They became incensed, angry and sarcastic. They felt threatened. The enemy began their psychological warfare.
"Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the Lord God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the fathers’ houses, and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do; and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.” 3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the fathers’ houses of Israel said to them, “You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God; but we alone will build to the Lord God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.” 4 Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, 5 and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia." Ezra 4:1-5.
When the enemy failed to stop the work from outside, they tried to infiltrate and sabotage it from inside. Just like Nehemiah, Ezra also faced discouragement when he led the people of Judah to rebuild the Temple. According to Ezra 4:4, the enemy's campaign was somehow working because the builders hands were weakened. The children of Judah were greatly discouraged and troubled.
This story takes place at the time of the return of Israel from captivity. Judah was taken into captivity by Babylon or the Assyrian Empire (Babylon was its capitol city). During their captivity Babylon fell to the Persian Empire. But the Jews enjoyed favourable status with the Persian Empire. This resulted in much jealousy among the people of the other conquered nations. Due to the favour the Jews enjoyed, King Araxerxes I (465-424 B.C.) granted a decree that allowed Nehemiah and Ezra to return to Jerusalem. They were given authority to return home, rebuild the destroyed Temple and the walls round about Jerusalem, under the protection of the Persian Empire. If the Jews must relocate and stay safe in their homeland, then the walls had to be rebuilt.