Facing Hostility

KEY VERSE: “In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.” —Nehemiah 4:20

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Nehemiah 4:6-8, 15-23

WE SEE FROM this lesson that Jerusalem is surrounded on all sides by hostile neighbors who have joined together against God’s people. Jerusalem, in ruins, posed no threat, even though the Temple had been reconstructed. However, once the wall and gates were restored, Jerusalem would again be a fortified city.

Nehemiah recounts the efforts of some of their enemies to discourage and shake their confidence in completing the wall. “When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, 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? Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, What are they building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones.”—Neh. 4:1-3, New International Version

Nehemiah responded to these insulting questions not by shouting back at his mockers, but by praying to God while the Jewish builders kept on working. The work had to go on despite the demoralizing threats from Judah’s enemies, and it did continue, for as Nehemiah notes, “the people had a mind to work.” (Neh. 4:6) Finally, the wall had reached half its full height, which made their foes very angry. Since Jerusalem was completely surrounded by the enemy they had neither friends nor means of escape in any direction. When the enraged conspirators observed the great progress made in restoring the wall they formed an alliance “to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.”—vss. 7,8

How did Nehemiah and the Judeans deal with this formidable plot against them? They took the same action that is available to each one of us: they prayed to God! No military action was necessary on the part of the Judeans, for God had brought the enemies’ plot to nothing. The people rallied around the strong leadership of Nehemiah and trusted that God would care for them.

Nehemiah said, “When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work. From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. … Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword …, as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me … we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us.”—Neh. 4:15-18,20, NIV

As the Apostle Paul instructs us, we must put on the whole armor of God as we fight against the world, the flesh, and the Devil, in order to be prepared for any onslaught from these enemies.—Eph. 6:13

We need to be girded with truth, and to have on the breastplate of righteousness. Our feet should be shod with the readiness of the Gospel of peace, and we must be ready to quench flaming arrows from the Evil One with the shield of faith. With the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit we will be ready to face any hostility.—Eph. 6:14-17

Dawn Bible Students Association
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