When Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he became angry and raged. He mocked the Jews, saying in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria: “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore things themselves? Will they offer sacrifices?
Will they finish it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the piles of rubble, even though they are burned? ...We continued to build the wall. All of it was joined together, and it reached half of its intended height because the people were eager to work. But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the people of Ashdod heard that the work on the walls was progressing and the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to create a disturbance in it. So we prayed to our God and set a guard as protection against them day and night. But in Judah it was said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall!” Meanwhile, our enemies were saying: “Before they know or see anything, we can be in their midst and start to kill them. We’ll stop the work!” Now the Jews who were living near them came and said to us again and again, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us!”
As the Jews continue to work on the walls, opposition rises. Naysayers mock efforts to restore Jerusalem. As mockery turns to potential violence, the Jews begin to panic. Surely the walls of Jerusalem are not worth their lives! When we face resistance in our work, especially when it comes in the form of mockery or character assassination, fear can break in.
Think about a time when you’ve experienced resistance in your life. How did you make sense of that resistance? How did you respond?
Note: As we move deeper into the story of Nehemiah, we’ve selected key verses to highlight the overall trajectory of the story. To read the full text, please click here.