September 27 (Daily reading: Nehemiah 6-7) The opposition to the wall project illustrates how Satan opposes God’s work and exposes him as “a liar and the father of lies” (Jn. 8:44). Nehemiah’s response to his enemies guides us as we resist our enemy, Satan. Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem were the principal leaders of the opposition. It began with ridicule (2:19). As progress was made on the repairs, the mockery focused on the quality of their work: “If a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down!” When the opposition turned to threats of violence, Nehemiah told the people: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome” (4:1- 16).
When the gaps in the wall had been repaired and Nehemiah was ready to set the gates, the opposition became more subtle. Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to Nehemiah asking him to meet with them. Nehemiah answered wisely: “Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” He was confident in doing God’s work and did not have the time nor need to negotiate with the enemy. The next step was intimidation through more lies. They would report to the king that Nehemiah was plotting to become the king of Judah, to which he replied: “You are inventing (these things) in your own mind.” Nehemiah’s prayer during this time was: “But now, O God, strengthen my hands.” The enemy continued lying. They hired someone to tell Nehemiah there was a plot to kill him. Nehemiah said, “Should a man like me flee?”
Because of their faith and their work, the wall was completed in fifty-two days. Their enemies “lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (6:1-16). And so shall it be with us as God works in and through us!
– Al Gary