Last Updated July 25, 1999
Chapter 6: 3
6:3 And I sent messengers unto them, saying,
I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work
cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?
This text focuses on the people of Israel whose commitment
to rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem resulted in it being done far ahead
Almost 100 years after the Jews had returned from Babylonian
exile to Jerusalem, the walls around the city and the gates had remained
in ruins. The people were disillusioned, in debt and intimidated by the
awesome commitment that rebuilding the walls would require. They
had excused their failure to rebuild the walls on fierce opposition from
surrounding nations and their poverty.
Nehemiah refused to accept their excuses and despite
the danger inspected the walls at night (2:15). He then called an assembly
and convinced the people of the need for a building program. He was an
excellent leader who demonstrated engineering knowledge and brilliant organizing
ability (ch. 3). He encouraged them while reminding them that they would
have to watch, fight and pray. The work began.
Trouble arose from without and from within.
Sanballat, in league with other leaders of the area, opposed Nehemiah's
rebuilding of Jerusalem. If the Holy City regained prominence, it would
erode the powers of the surrounding cities. It was a political contest
designed to keep Jerusalem from becoming the economic power and influence
of its golden years.
Sanballat and his friends tried to stop the work,
but without success (ch. 4). The trouble from within was economic. Building
the walls caused a labor shortage; farms were mortgaged. Many could not
work on the walls or support the building program because they were plunged
into their personal financial woes. Even this did not dissuade Nehemiah.
He sat out to improve the financial condition of the people so they could
turn their interest toward rebuilding the wall. Some received direct financial
aide that helped them become strong enough to help.(ch. 5).
The people had a mind to work and the massive task
of rebuilding the walls was continued. It was massive work requiring thousands
of workers, spread out over miles of landscape. Even as the people worked,
enemies both within and without kept a steady stream of delaying tactics
As in the past, Sanballat had done all he could
to stop their work through ridicule and threats. He then sent word to Nehemiah,
saying: Come, let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain
of Ono (Nehemiah 6:2), about 28 miles from Jerusalem. But Nehemiah sent
messengers to them, saying, I am doing a great work, and cannot come down.
Why should the work cease, while I leave it, and come down to you? (6:3).
After Sanballat had made five attempts to meet with
Nehemiah, he finally resorted to accusing him of rebelling against the
king of Persia (6:5-7). When this failed to stop Nehemiah, Sanballat hired
a prophet to prophesy Nehemiah's death. Nehemiah did not yield to their
threats for he had faith that the God of Heaven . . . will prosper us.
. . . So the wall was finished . . . in fifty-two days, far sooner than
even they themselves had imagined.
Theirs was a great work and continued despite opposition,
in the name of the Lord.
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