Efforts to destroy Governor Nehemiah, Part 2

Why was Nehemiah so angry?

Nehemiah’s anger was eventually directed towards his own people.  When mocked and threatened by Sanballat and his associates, Nehemiah prayed and acted wisely.  Nehemiah organised the rebuilding of the wall.  In that he was successful.  It was completed in 52 days.  

His other, more important, work was for the nation of God to renew their Covenant with Him.  That was the difficult part of his ‘job description.’  It had to do with the people’s loyalty and devotion towards God.   

When the wall was completed, Ezra the scribe read the Law of Moses,

‘When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate.  They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel.’  Nehemiah 8:1

When Ezra was finished the Israelites confessed their sins and renewed the Covenant with God.  The leaders recorded it and added,

‘…all these now join their brothers the nobles [Nehemiah 9:38], and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the Lord our God.’  Nehemiah 10:29

After 12 years as governor, it was time for Nehemiah to return to Susa to serve Artaxerxes, as he promised’.  When he later came back to Jerusalem, he found that the Covenant was broken and Eliashib the high priest was allied to two of the bitter enemies of Israel, Sanballat and Tobiah.  Nehemiah 13:4-9, 28

Can we blame Nehemiah for his reaction?  He knew the Book of Lamentations graphically describes the horrors that follow Covenant breaking.  Nehemiah took to violent means to tell the Israelites: don’t challenge God because you will loose.  

It was easy to repair a broken wall, but not that easy to mend a broken relationship with God.  It is easy to break a wall, but to break a covenant with God leads to bitter experiences.  

The lesson for us from Nehemiah?  

To keep the Covenant with God was more important and harder than to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.  In that President Trump has shown by his actions that he is favourably disposed towards God’s Church.  It is no wonder that he is incessantly attacked.  Many politicians are not that predisposed to the Church.  All Americans and even non-Americans should savour an opportunity to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Efforts to destroy Governor Nehemiah, Part 1

Governor Nehemiah had enemies who plotted against him with great zeal.  Some examples:  

Mockery, 

‘What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall?  Will they offer sacrifices?  Will they finish in a day?  Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble – burned as they are?’  Nehemiah 4:2

Tobiah the Ammonite was very vocal, 

‘What they are building – if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones.’  Nehemiah 4:3

Violence, 

‘But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry.  They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.’  Nehemiah 4:7-8

‘Also, our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.’ Nehemiah 4:11

Intimidation from his own people, 

 “Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, ‘Wherever you turn, they will attack us.'” Nehemiah 4:12

Nehemiah mentioned some other Jews in a prayer, 

‘…remember also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who have been trying to intimidate me.  Nehemiah 6:14

More treachery from the Jews, 

‘Also, in those days the nobles of Judah were sending many letters to Tobiah and replies from Tobiah kept coming to them.  For many in Judah were under oath to him….  Moreover, they kept reporting to me his good deeds and then telling him what I had said.  And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.’  Nehemiah 6:17-19

The question 

Why was the re-building of the wall so important to God that the devil (through people) resisted it by all possible means?  Maybe one should ask the same question about President Trump.  What is he doing that pleases God and incites the devil to continually attack him?

Fake news and Governor Nehemiah

We think fake news is a modern ‘invention.’  It is not.  The Bible describes how it was used by hostile forces 2,400 years ago.  Governor Nehemiah experienced it.  

Nehemiah’s task was to repair Jerusalem’s walls.  His enemies were very alarmed that somebody would dare to promote the welfare of the Jews.  

Their first strategy was to send Nehemiah a message, 

‘Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.’  Nehemiah 6:2

Nehemiah understood the plot, 

‘…they were scheming to harm me.’  Nehemiah 6:2b

He let them know, 

‘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?’  Nehemiah 6:3

Their strategy failed and they came up with the fake news scheme.  They sent an unsealed letter to Nehemiah, 

“It is reported among the nations – and Geshem 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, 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 confer together.” Nehemiah 6:5-7

Nehemiah’s reply is classic, 

‘Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.’  Nehemiah 6:8

Look at the format of the fake news: 

  • ‘It is reported.’  There are no facts, only rumours. 
  • ‘Geshem says it is true.’  The ‘reliable’ witness was an enemy of Nehemiah.  
  • If Nehemiah wanted to become king, why build the wall?  Why not revolt and get the kingship?  Nehemiah knew more than the others that the king, Artaxerxes, had his army stationed all across his kingdom.  He would not allow a rebellion.  Besides, Nehemiah had king Artaxerxes’ trust.  Nehemiah trusted God.  God sent him to build the wall, not become king.     
  • ‘The report will go to the king.  But to prevent it, let us confer together.’  Nehemiah had king Artaxerxes’ blessing on the project.  What, after all is said and done, did Sanballat, Tobiah and the others have to do with the building project?  They were and remained the enemies.   

Conclusion

  • Fake news has its origin in enemies.  Nehemiah was right to flatly reject it.  They represented the anti-God side and he the pro-God side.  He was doing what God wanted done.  The enemy never likes that. 
  • In the case of President  Trump the same question might be asked: is he pro-God or anti-God?  From all reports, he is pro-God and pro-Jew.  No wonder all the fake news!