The book of Nehemiah contains timeless encouragement for all who have been engaged as God's instruments in doing His work on the earth.
Nehemiah first was confronted with the stalled, broken-down state of things among God's people. It devastated him. He wept, mourned and fasted—crying to God for forgiveness of God's people's sins and laxity, and for the miraculous interventions that would be necessary, at many levels, in order for those "who desire to fear Your name" to begin to make things right, and restore forward momentum in the work of representing the true God in a deceived, sinful and disinterested world (Nehemiah chapter 1; all scriptures in this article are from the book of Nehemiah).
God heard and answered, perhaps more so than Nehemiah had permitted himself to believe was possible. It was time to move forward and be energetic in a new thrust of advancement in God's cause on the earth. And forward momentum began.
Then something else began—opposition.
Sanballat and company were grieved exceedingly to see this new energy and work among the people of God (2:10). Sanballat used quite a variety of tactics in his opposition to what Nehemiah was leading the people of God to do.
But all his tactics sprang from a common goal—to slow down and then stop what Nehemiah had been sent by God to do. And motivating them all was an anger—a rage, actually—at any who would be employed in implementing God's will in His work. The ultimate source of that rage is well understood by God's people.
Sanballat unleashed ridicule (2:19), gossip, slander and derision (4:1) and conspiracy (4:8) in an attempt to intimidate and discourage Nehemiah and company. Nehemiah only prayed more fervently and worked more untiringly.
Then Sanballat switched tactics. He offered to make peace through discussion (6:2), but Nehemiah saw this for what it was—an attempt to delay and sidetrack the work, and he rejected the offer bluntly. Then Sanballat made ridiculous and false accusations against Nehemiah personally, imputing selfish motives to his zeal (6:5), but Nehemiah rejected them in his integrity.
All the while, Nehemiah was further burdened by troubles, intrigues and opposition from within the community of Israel, but he still refused to slow down in his relentless drive to do what God had authorized him to do.
The Impossible Accomplished!
At the end of the day, the impossible was accomplished—the wall around Jerusalem was completed in only 52 days (6:15)—unthinkable! But with the help of God, and Nehemiah's leadership, it was done.
Then, all of those who had been in opposition, explicitly or implicitly, realized the futility of their opposition. They came to see what Nehemiah had known all along—"they perceived that this work was done by our God" (6:16).
This is a timeless lesson, with the potential for timeless encouragement. UN