Rebuilding the Wall
Nehemiah 4:7-18
But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites…

The enemies of the Jews felt that the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem was a menace to their own welfare and local supremacy. They must arrest it.

I. THEY TRIED LAUGHTER. God's people at work on the walls of Zion are continually told that it is no use, they shall have their labour for their pains. A hundred years ago William Carey was dubbed "the consecrated cobbler" for proposing the evangelisation of India, but to-day all Christendom delights to do him honour. God crowns the heroism that can face an epithet. All efforts at political and social betterment are met in the same manner. The same is true of the rebuilding of personal character. It is hard work to rebuild the walls of manhood out of the rubbish-heaps of mislived years while old comrades stand by pointing their fingers and cracking jokes, but by God's grace it can be done.

II. THEIR OPPOSITION ASSUMED THE FORM. OF THREATENING (Nehemiah 2:19). A good work is always in the realm of danger, because it is in the nature of lese majeste — rebellion against the prince of this world. A reformer never goes scot-free. Loss of business or social standing, ostracism, political decapitation, are some of the penalties which a true man is ever called upon to confront in the discharge of duty.

III. THEY PROPOSED A COMPROMISE (Nehemiah 6:2). Duty knows no compromise. The only way to serve God is unreservedly. The only way to avoid evil is not to tamper with it. The apparently innocent diversions of Vanity Fair gave the Pilgrim more trouble than all the giants and lions along his way. Diluted theology and limp morals will sap the vitality of the most vigorous man or Church. Right is right; to dilute it makes it wrong. Truth is truth; to adulterate it makes it error. Duty is duty; to alloy it with disobedience makes it sin. Conclusion: Observe how these efforts were met.

1. By prayer. John Knox is said to have bedewed the walls of his closet with hie tears of supplication. George Washington was glad to profess his dependence upon God. Abraham Lincoln, when asked if he was accustomed to pray, answered, "The man who would assume to perform the duties of the Presidency without seeking Divine guidance must be a blockhead." No man can ever afford to spend a prayerless day.

2. A watch was set. The countersign was given; it was the same that long afterwards rang from the lips of the Roundheads in their struggle for English freedom, "God with us" (ver. 20). The authorship of the famous maxim, "Trust in God and keep your powder dry," may be traced to Nehemiah. No enterprise fails that is backed by faith and works.

3. Nehemiah and his men kept on working. Prayer, vigilance, and patient continuance in well-doing can work wonders.

(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth,

WEB: But it happened that when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabians, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem went forward, [and] that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very angry;

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