Taunting enemies failed to slow Nehemiah's work

Jerusalem lay exposed, in a defenseless state, at the time the Jews returned to the city from exile. The non-Jews in the vicinity at the time included Moabites, Ammonites, Arabians and Ashdodites, who once fought among themselves but were united as a common enemy against the Jews. When Nehemiah persuaded nearly everyone to help rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, their enemies became malicious.

Because of the impending danger of attack, each worker on the city wall labored "with one of his hands . . . and with the other hand held a weapon." (Neh. 4:17:18.)The Jews' enemies tried a variety of tactics to hinder the work. They ridiculed the builders: " . . . if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall." (Neh. 4:4.)

In Land and Leaders of Israel, Ezra C. Dalby (then principal at West High Seminary in Salt Lake City) wrote in 1933: "Nehemiah paid no attention to this; he went on working. His opponents, seeing that ridicule did not work, tried to scare him. They appeared in arms.

"That would be likely to dampen the ardor of a great many. "But even this could not daunt Nehemiah]. He simply did two jobs instead of one. Some of the men had to stop working and stand guard. His enemies organized against him, and he replied by organizing a defense that would be ready to drop everything and rush to the place of attack at a given signal."

Enemy leaders threatened to send a report back to Artaxerxes that Nehemiah was fomenting a rebellion. Brother Dalby wrote: "In answer to this, Nehemiah replied in effect, We will continue our work.' Nehemiah gave them a fine answer:I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease?' (Neh. 6:3.)

"Why, indeed! Too many of us are ready on the slightest suggestion to give up the important work that we are doing. What a lesson Nehemiah teaches us! Ridicule, fear, threats, union of forces and organization against him, and an offer to compromise, all failed to move him, or to delay the thing he had set his hand to do a single day."

John A. Dickson's New Analytical Bible and Dictionary of the Bible states:

"Satan is not greatly concerned about a dead or degenerate church. It is the Church on the walls of Zion with sword and trowel, set up for the upbuilding and defense of the kingdom of God that causes Satanic concern and stimulates active opposition. . . .

"The rearing of Zion in our own hearts is the believer's true defense. When he comes to realize that every attempt by a godless world will be made to break down his spiritual defenses, he will. . . build more surely. . . ."

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed