Explore the Bible Series
January 7, 2007
Background Passage: Nehemiah 4:1-7:73
Lesson Passage: Nehemiah 4:1-2, 4, 12-13, 19-20, 22; 6:2-3, 11-13
weekís lesson focused on Nehemiahís concern for rebuilding the walls of
No one will ever truly serve the Lord as a leader without encountering opposition.† †Sometimes this hostility becomes so severe that the Lordís servants are driven to despair. Calvin Miller, his helpful book The Empowered Leader, identifies several categories of difficult people (I do not mention them all).† Perhaps you will recognize some of these folks!
These opponents, and a few others we could identify, sap the energy from any leader who allows a forum for their ungodly tactics.† Nehemiah had to learn quickly how to cope with the barrage of criticisms and threats he encountered, and contemporary leaders may learn much from the example of our ancient brother.
Outline of Background Passage:
I. Initial Attempts to Hinder Nehemiahís Work (4:1-23)
A. The identity of Nehemiahís opponents (vv. 1 and 3)
the Horonite: According to ancient secular texts Sanballet served as a regional
The text identifies this man as an Ammonite, but he clearly descended from Jewish
ancestry.† The Ammonites lived to the Northeast
of the Dead Sea, and, perhaps, Tobiahís family fled to this region in the
aftermath of the Babylonian sack of
the Arab (See 3:19): In all probability, this man was an Arab chieftain who
served as a vassal to the throne of
B. The tactics of Nehemiahís enemies (vv. 1-9): These enemies employed other tactics revealed later in the text.
1. Mockery (vv. 1-3): the malignant use of ridicule to belittle and provoke an enemy. Take a moment to consider the nature of the mockery.† How did these ungodly men deride Godís servants?
2. Conspiracy (vv. 7-8 and 11): Not content with their opposition to Godís servants, these scoundrels recruited others to contest the work. Ungodly men often take consolation that they can easily persuade others to enter their conspiracies.† We readily see this in the Gospels when conflicting religious and political groups conspired to kill the Lord Jesus.†
C. Nehemiahís response to the threats of his enemies (vv. 4-5 and 9-23): Basically, Nehemiahís impulse was to pray and protect.† Immediately, this godly man set the people to pray; however, he also used his prerogative as a government official to arm the workers.† Nehemiah and his co-workers were not self-appointed vigilantes; rather, they legitimately bore the sword as an outgrowth of Nehemiahís legal status, granted by King Artaxerxes (See the important passage in Romans 13:1-7). Nehemiah divided the work in such a way that men could work and protect their families at the same time.
II. Nehemiahís Concern for the Poor (5:1-19)
oppression of the poor (vv. 1-13): A famine had struck the land, and the
generosity to the poor (5:14-19): At some point in the development of our
story, Nehemiah was appointed governor of the region surrounding
III. The Second Wave of Opposition to Nehemiah (6:1-14)
conspiracy to kill Nehemiah at Hakkephirim (vv. 1-9): Nehemiahís enemies sought
to lure the Lordís servant to a remote region of
Personal note: Brethren, we must walk a fine line at this point.† Godís servants must have an open, gracious spirit, even toward those who do not treat them well.† However, there are times when leaders must ignore the opposition and go forward with the Lordís work.
B. A conspiracy to terrify Nehemiah (vv. 10-14): Sanballet and Tobiah sunk to a new low when they hired prophets to give the Lordís servant a false report.† They delivered this fabricated story in order to scare him from completing the task of building the wall.† Again, Nehemiah met their threat with prayer.
The Completion of the Wall and the Continued
A. The completion of the wall reconstruction (6:15-7): After just 7 Ĺ weeks of work, the Jews finished the wall.† God strengthened the Jews, and, despite the opposition of ungodly men, the work was completed. Tobiah continued his hostility toward Nehemiah; thus, the faithful workmen secured the city and took full advantage of her fortifications.
repopulation of the city (7:5-73):† This
genealogical information bears a striking resemblance to the materials found in
the second chapter of Ezra.† By
consulting the pedigree records, Nehemiah hoped to establish the genealogical
integrity of the people who would repopulate