Bible Survey on Nehemiah – Lesson 4

Rom_15:4  For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Nehemiah chapter 3 was about people from different statuses in life and different occupations and people from different locations coming together to do the work of the Lord.

The people put aside their differences and sacrificed their time and got busy doing the Lord’s work.

In Nehemiah why was building the wall and the gates called the Lord’s work?

For several reasons, 1 the bible called it that.  2 This work was something that God promised.  He promised that after the captivity that He would bring them back to Jerusalem and that they would prosper there.

That cannot happen in the shape that Jerusalem is in.  So for God to keep this promise this work must be done.  Work based on the promises of God is the best work there is.  God promises that souls will be saved.  There will be people from all nations in heaven.  God promises that He is not willing that any should perish.  He says that He delights in showing mercy.  Getting His precious word of how to be saved out is a really great work to be involved in.

Another thing that God was doing with the building of the walls and gates is preparing for the coming of Jesus.  There had to be a temple again for Jesus to overturn the tables in.  There had to be Pharisees that would work to get Jesus on the cross and so on.

Between Nehemiah and Jesus God would use the Greeks to get rid of the Persian Empire and then God would use the Romans to take over the Greeks.  But before all of that God is first going to resettle His chosen people and get them some protection.

So building the wall and the gates really was the Lord’s work.

And most of the people took the journey and got involved in the Lord’s work.  That is a great thing.  But mark it down, anytime that this happens there is sure to be opposition.  We have already seen that even before anyone lifted a stone.

When the enemies of God notice that the work is still progressing and doing well then the evil speaking and attacks increase both in frequency and in intensity.

Neh 4:1  But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. 

Neh 4:2  And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? 

Neh 4:3  Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall. 

If you remember Sanballat grieved when he heard that someone came to even look into how the Jews were doing.  Now that he hears the wall is being built he gets really mad.  There is an old saying – Sin loves company.  Sanballat is not content to keep this anger to himself.  He goes out and finds others who will listen to it and share in it.  He is obviously trying to stir things up and get people to help him stop the Lord’s work.

Look at his first choice.  His brethren and the army of Samaria.  They mock and they put down the Jews ability.  Tobiah is basically saying that they build so poorly that even a little fox getting on it will break down their wall.  All of this talk gets back to the builders of the wall.

Nehemiah’s response is to pray.

He prays before he does anything else.  What another great example for us.

Neh 4:4  Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: 

Neh 4:5  And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders. 

Turn their reproach upon their own head.  Nehemiah is asking for it to come back upon them.  The principal that a man will reap what he sows.

Neh 4:6  So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work. 

The increased mockery did not stop the work.  The wall is half done. This does not cause the enemies of God to give up.  Instead they step up the opposition.

Neh 4:7  But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, 

Neh 4:8  And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. 

I am sure you have heard the saying, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  Sanballat and Tobiah get other groups involved.  The Samaritans and the Arabians and the other groups were not great friends.  But they are willing to risk the anger of the emperor to join forces to stop the Jews.  So they all come together to come and fight against Jerusalem.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  This is something that we see in our world today.  Why would Iran join the effort with Russia.  Why would North Korea help them.  Iran is sending drones to Russia and North Korea has sent other things.  Those three groups agree on almost nothing.

They will come together because they consider the west their common enemy.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  The Bible shows things as they really are.  So the Samaritians and the Arabians and others come together to fight Jerusalem.

Nehemiah’s response.  Same as before pray before anything else.  The man is consistent.  Another great example for us.

Neh 4:9  Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. 

Things have escalated so after praying Nehemiah sets up a watch.  This is another great principal.

Pray first and then get up and put feet to your prayers.

Don’t pray and then go sit on a couch and put your feet up.  Pray and then move.  Pray and trust God but get up and move in the direction that God would have you move.  It is wise to set up a watch, so after praying Nehemiah sets up a watch.

I have been to hundreds of prayer meetings where they pray for souls to be saved and then when the meeting is over, no one does anything.  That is not the way to do it.  That is not the biblical way to handle it.  Yes start with praying for souls to be saved, and then like Nehemiah get up off your knees and do something.  Put feet to your prayers.

Nehemiah no doubt prayed for the safety of the workers and then he got up and set up a watch for the safety of the workers.  Trusting God that He will bless the watch and use it.  This is another great example for us.  We pray for souls and then we get busy and get the gospel out trusting God that He will bless it and use it.

Now when the work continues a while there can be fatigue and logistic issues.  This is to be expected.  This is another basic principal.  We should never expect the work of the Lord to be all smooth sailing.

Neh 4:10  And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. 

We saw right away how bad Jerusalem was.  Nehemiah could not even ride his animal thru it.  The tribe of Judah had been working on clearing the rubbish and on bearing the burdens (hauling building materials and supplies) and it was too much.  Day after day of that hard work was taking a toll.

The strength of the bearer of burdens is decayed.  They could not keep up the pace.  And it was getting bad enough that they said we are not able to build the wall.  Judah did a good thing by speaking up.  It is always good to admit and be honest about how things are going.

And of course the enemies will not stop when things get tough, instead they will keep up the attacks.

Neh 4:11  And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease. 

Neh 4:12  And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you. 

Now we have threats of murder.  You will not see us coming and we will sneak in among you and kill you.  And in this way we will cause the work to cease.  This was not an empty threat.  They had been gathering a small army to do this.

So what does Nehemiah do.  Well he has been praying for their safety and no doubt he continues that but then he puts feet to it and does actions according to how he is praying.

He takes steps for safeguarding the workers.

Neh 4:13  Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 

This is the biblical principal of a good defense and being prepared for battle in case it comes.  They are not going out to start a war.  They are not going to take the first move to start a battle.

The biblical principal is be prepared just in case and show that you are prepared.  The biblical principal is that we have a strong military for defense and that we show that defense as strong.  That is not what we have been doing.

Our military has been showing the world drag shows.  And showing the world how they are concerned with pronouns.  That is not according to the wisdom that we get from the Bible.

Once a defense has been put in place and the enemy has been shown that defense, then Nehemiah takes time to address the morale of the people.  This is also important.  People who are doing the work of the Lord need to be encouraged.  People who are facing the trials of life need lifted up.

Neh 4:14  And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. 

Remember the Lord and fight for your families.

Neh 4:15  And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work. 

Here we see that having a good defense and showing it worked.  This is God’s plan and it worked.  The enemy backed off.  They did not attack.

And so the work continues.

Neh 4:16  And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah. 

Don’t miss it.  Remember how Judah was saying they were overwhelmed.  They said, the strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed.

In verse 16 we see and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah.  The rulers listened.  That right there is great.  And the rulers got behind Judah.  That is not behind as physical location, but behind as in supporting them.  Judah got the support they needed.

Another great example of working together and giving extra help where needed.

Neh 4:17  They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. 

Neh 4:18  For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me. 

Having a defense worked so they did not let up on that.  They understood that the enemy is still there and would attack at any show of weakness.

Neh 4:19  And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another. 

Neh 4:20  In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us. 

Neh 4:21  So we laboured in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared. 

I like this one.  It shows concern for others that are in the same work as you are.  If you need help I will come and if I am attacked you come help me.  We are in this together.  This is not dog eat dog like the world does.

Neh 4:22  Likewise at the same time said I unto the people, Let every one with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and labour on the day. 

Neh 4:23  So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes, saving that every one put them off for washing. 

Nehemiah was right out there leading the way in the work.  He and his men never even put on their jamies for a good night sleep.  Everyone could look over and see Nehemiah was working.  He was not asking them to do anything that he was not willing to do himself.

In chapter 4 we see the principal of not only praying, but of praying and then doing.  Pray first and then get up and start doing according to how you were praying.

They had a dependence upon God and at the same time were working hard.

We see the biblical plan of having a strong defense and showing it, and we see how that does work.

We see people caring for others in the work and helping each other.  They were not being self-absorbed only with the work they were doing.

And again we see a great examples of leadership from Nehemiah.  He is praying and taking wise actions.  He is giving people encouragement that the Lord is great.

And he is leading by doing.  He is not over the people, he is with the people.

See more lessons on Nehemiah