23 Sep

Scroll to the bottom for thoughts/discussion questions!

One-sentence summary: Israel's enemies try to stop them from finishing the work of building the wall of Jerusalem, but Nehemiah refuses to give in to fear and finishes the work.

When Sanballat and the other enemies of Israel hear that Nehemiah had rebuilt the wall and that there are no breaks in it- although he still had not hung the doors or the gates- Sanballat and one of the others send for him to meet in the plains. Nehemiah realizes they wish to do him harm, so he sends messengers to them saying that he is doing a great work and cannot stop working to meet them. They send for him four times, and four times he sends back the same message. On the fifth time, Sanballat's servant has an open letter in his hand, and in it is says that the Jews plan to rebel; they have heard rumors that he wishes to be king, and that he has even appointed a prophet to prophesy that, and they are therefore going to report to the king. Sanballat asks Nehemiah to consult with them, but Nehemiah sends a message back saying that no such thing is being done, and that they have "invented it in [their] own hearts," because they are trying to make the Israelites afraid to stop them from doing the work. Nehemiah prays to the Lord and asks Him to strengthen his hands. After that, Nehemiah goes to the house of a secret informant. He tells Nehemiah that his enemies are planning to come in the night and kill him. Nehemiah asks why he should flee and says he will not go into the temple in fear in order to save his life. Suddenly, Nehemiah realizes that God has not sent the informant, but that he has prophesied against him because he has been hired by Sanballat to make Nehemiah afraid in order that he would sin, so that they might reproach him and give an evil report about him. Nehemiah asks the Lord to remember Sanballat and his other enemies and the rest of the prophets who are trying to make him afraid. Finally, the wall is finished in 52 days. When all the enemies of Israel hear, and all the nations around them see, they are disheartened because they realize the work is done by Lord. Tobiah, one of the other officials, sends letters to frighten Nehemiah.

When the wall is built and Nehemiah hangs the doors, and the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites have been appointed, he gives the charge of Jerusalem to his brother and the leader of the citadel, who is a faithful man and "[fears] the Lord more than many," and he tells them not to let the gates be opened until the sun is hot, and to appoint guards for the doors. The city is large and spacious, but the people in it are few, and the houses are not yet rebuilt. Then, the Lord puts it into Nehemiah's heart to gather the nobles, rulers, and the people to be registered by genealogy. He finds a register of the genealogy of those who came up from the first return from Babylon, and it is recorded. Altogether, the whole assembly is 42,360 people besides male and female servants, which are about 7,000. Some of the heads of the fathers' houses give to the work, and the priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, some of the people, the Nethinim (servants of the Levites), and all Israel dwells in their cities.

Thoughts/discussion questions:

Nehemiah should encourage us that no matter the opposition, if God is on our side- and if we never give up- we can finish any work the Lord asks us to do.

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