Lord, give me the wisdom to counter all plots against me.
Read NEHEMIAH 6:1–14
Further Opposition to the Rebuilding
6 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[a] 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.
5 Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter 6 in which was written:
“It is reported among the nations—and Geshem[b] says it is true—that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king 7 and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”
8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”
9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”
10 One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, “Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you—by night they are coming to kill you.”
11 But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” 12 I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.
14 Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophet Noadiah and how she and the rest of the prophets have been trying to intimidate me.
a Nehemiah 6:2 Or in Kephirim
b Nehemiah 6:6 Hebrew Gashmu, a variant of Geshem
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground” (Eph. 6:13).
Sanballat recognizes that taunts and threats have failed to halt the rebuilding project. He now adopts more radical tactics. Three plots to intimidate Nehemiah emerge. They all bear an uncanny resemblance to trials being faced by today’s persecuted churches.
The first is a seemingly innocent invitation to parley on the Plain of Ono in the remote northwest corner of Judah on its frontier with Samaria (2). Nehemiah declines, suspicious that foul play—perhaps kidnap or murder—is intended.
Sanballat’s second tactic is to blackmail Nehemiah. He circulates an unfounded rumor in an open letter carrying a thinly veiled charge of sedition. Nehemiah forthrightly rejects the allegation (5–9).
In the third plot Nehemiah’s opponents attempt to lure him into committing a form of blasphemy. They invite him to enter a section of the temple reserved exclusively for priests (10; cf. Num 18:7). Again, Nehemiah sees through the ploy and declines the invitation (11–13). His reaction anticipates the response which Jesus advocates to his disciples, to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves when under attack (Matt. 10:16).
It is reckoned that globally 200 million Christians are being persecuted for their faith. Some face arrest, kidnap and even death. All are denied basic human rights and face religious discrimination. These Christians lack the political clout Nehemiah enjoyed to defend himself, and they look to those of us who live in democratic societies to support them. Today’s persecuted Christians share with Nehemiah the conviction that prayer is the key to remaining steadfast (9b,14,15). They invite you to join them in this vital ministry.
Request prayer information from any organization which helps persecuted churches. Then stand shoulder to shoulder with your oppressed sisters and brothers before God’s throne of grace.
Lord, we thank You for church leaders who are not only spiritually strong but are street-smart savvy, too. Give to all of us the wisdom we need to live for You.