Even confronted with enemies more powerful and numerous than him, Nehemiah kept doing God’s work. His faith that the Lord would protect the work and bless them kept him going. We have seen how he answered the call to action, how He started the inspection and his response to the enemies plot. Now we will look at his continued efforts, not letting anything slow him down. Not even the threats of a powerful enemy.
Nehemiah 4:15-23 New King James Version (NKJV)
15 And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work. 16 So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah. 17 Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. 18 Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me.
19 Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”
21 So we labored in the work, and half of the men held the spears from daybreak until the stars appeared. 22 At the same time I also said to the people, “Let each man and his servant stay at night in Jerusalem, that they may be our guard by night and a working party by day.” 23 So neither I, my brethren, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me took off our clothes, except that everyone took them off for washing.
King Artaxerxes of Persia allowed the Jews to return to Judah, and Jerusalem to be rebuilt. Ezra did a fine job rebuilding the Temple and turning the hearts of Israel back to God and His work. But after 12-14 years, Nehemiah heard that the walls Jerusalem were still torn down and the people were afraid. After fasting and prayer, he went to the king (being his royal cupbearer, and likely a friend) and asked to return to his homeland to help rebuild. This was a Persian province, so it also benefitted the king to allow this.
When he arrived at Jerusalem, he secretly inspected the walls, because he had kept his mission a secret at first. When he spoke to the Jewish leaders about it, many people, people who despised Israel, we angry at this and accused him of planning on rebelling against the very king who allowed the rebuilding to begin with.
Chapter 3 goes into great detail about who worked on what part of the wall. It shows that the work was going well, and more quickly than people would have expected. Nehemiah was smart, in that he told each man to be responsible for the section of the wall that was in front of his house.
Then, those who despised Israel plotted to attack Jerusalem from all sides. They planned on destroying the city and the people in it before the wall could be completed. However, God made this plot known to Nehemiah, who prepared defenses against it.
Our God Will Fight For Us
There have many accounts of God fighting for the Jews on there behalf, and even in their stead. Hezekiah once provoked Sennacherib, the King of Assyria, by refusing to pay tribute. So God sent angels down to fight for the Jews against the Assyrians in the night. When they woke up, there were 185,000 dead Assyrians. To top it off those dead were the elite fighters and the officers.
Nehemiah was learned in the scriptures and the history, so he knew that God would protect them, because they were being faithful. In his prayer in the first chapter, he says, “We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ “ This faith was put to the test, here.
Nehemiah trusted God to watch over them, as they obeyed His commandments, so he wouldn’t let anything get in the way of the work. They kept on building that wall. They were extra vigilant against attack, working while armored and armed. It even says they slept in their armor, and only removed it to wash.
What a great faith, and a great plan. When God has called you to do something, don’t stop it for anything. We are called to rest on the seventh day and get right back to the work on the next day. What is God’s call for you today? Do it as Nehemiah did, trusting that God will fight for you in His faithfulness. Don’t give up.