{3} BIBLE: Nehemiah Chapter 4 -Headline “Act 4 Stage Left” [God’s Agenda not Man’s]

Words in italic type have been added for clarity. They are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic.

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Nehemiah 4

  • History is a stage and the building of the Wall of Jerusalem lasts thirteen acts, the holiest number for Jews. Each man plays his part but it is God who directs His purposes, wherein:
    Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
    For the actors, no one knows what the Almighty Director will do from beginning to end.

The Wall Defended Against Enemies

  • Background:
  • In Act1: Nehemiah was the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes. Queen Esther, a Jewish, sitting at his side.
  • In Act 2 Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem received letters from king Artaxerxes to allow Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem. And yet, in the face of these letters, Nehemiah is accused of rebelling against the king.
Nehemiah 4:1 But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?”
  • Actors: Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem were regional governors serving under the king of Persia. Sanballat is a Horonite, wherein the audience speculates he is from Horonaim, a city of Moab.
    Tobiah is an Ammonite, and Geshem an Arab.
  • Enter: Sanballat, smokey skin, dark eyes, black heart. He speaks before his companions as well as the army of Samaria with angry humor to stir them up.
Nehemiah 4:Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.”
  • Alongside Sanballat, stands Tobiah, his “wingman” for reinforcement.
Nehemiah 4:Hear, O our God (‘ĕlōhîm), for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.
  • In chapter 1 Nehemiah was the cupbearer for the Persian King Artaxerxes.
  • The camera turns to Nehemiah who carries the burden of the Word of God upon his own shoulders. Behind him is the backdrop of a broken, deteriorating, Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 4:So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.
  • Cameras speed up. They are exhausted, under pressure, but they never gave up. The ENTIRE wall was joined together up to half its height.
Nehemiah 4:Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps (Lit. breaks) were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God (‘ĕlōhîm), and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.
  • Stage notes: The Antagonist and the Protagonist go head to head, one with anti-semitism, the other with faith.
  • The enemies grow in number. More and more enter the stage against God’s work stomping in unison because, like Nehemiah they are also united – but they are united in evil.
Nehemiah 4:10 Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”
  • Camera focuses on piles of fallen stones that need to be moved even before the building of the wall can continue. The workers are sitting on the fallen stones to regain their strength.
Nehemiah 4:11 And our adversaries said, “They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease.”
Nehemiah 4:12 So it was, when the Jews who dwelt near them came, that they told us ten times, “From whatever place you turn, they will be upon us.”
  • Nehemiah is speaking with those who live nearby who had ears to pick up on what is being said. They are secretive. They do not want to be discovered and put their own lives in danger. Some are related to these who desire to kill the Jews.
Nehemiah 4:13 Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord (‘ăḏōnāy), great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”
  • The stage: The lowest parts of the wall has guards during the day and during the night.
  • The people worked “as one”. The nobles, the leaders, and the people were all “as one”. They are mortared together with their love for their families and their God by their sweat.
Nehemiah 4:15 And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God (‘ĕlōhîm) had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work. 16 So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind (supported) all the house of Judah. 17 Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. 18 Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me.
  • Camera: They climb ladders carrying mortar in one hand with a weapon on their side. They move stones with one hand and a weapon in the other hand.
Nehemiah 4:19 Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God (‘ĕlōhîm) will fight for us.”
  • Subtitle: They are separated in place but together in Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God.
Nehemiah 4:21 So we labored in the work, and half of the men (Lit. them) held the spears from daybreak until the stars appeared. 22 At the same time I also said to the people, “Let each man and his servant stay at night in Jerusalem, that they may be our guard by night and a working party by day.” 23 So neither I, my brethren, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me took off our clothes, except that everyone took them off for washing.
  • Camera: Action: They work and slept in their clothes.
  • End of Act 4
  • The lights dim.

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