Welcome back to the Nehemiah series! Last week we went over who Nehemiah was and how we can work on living more like him. This week, we'll be tackling chapters 4-6. We'll learn about Godly confrontation and banishing fear. Let's dive in!
THE BUILDERS ARE INSULTED
At the start of Chapter 4, we hear two men, Sanballat and Tobiah, insulting the people building the wall and doubting their abilities. As always, Nehemiah's first instinct is to pray! He says:
"Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders."
The men then continue on and "work(ed) with all their heart." However, Nehemiah and the builders' problems don't go away. They then learn that their enemies are planning to attack them. Nehemiah gives a rousing speech, saying:
My favorite part of this verse is when Nehemiah says to "remember the Lord!" This is a powerful reminder that "we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us." When others are beating the men of Christ down, they take comfort and strength in God and are not afraid.
Later, Nehemiah devises a plan in case they attack. He gives another rallying cry, saying: "Our God will fight for us!"
So what can you do with this? Is someone in your life (a co-worker seeking to move up the ranks, an overly-critical friend...) tearing you down? Pray to God like Nehemiah does and take strength in the fact that God is all-knowing and all-powerful. We can be peaceful in light of the fact that He will fight for us and we need not be afraid.
In Chapter 5, "fellow Jews" begin to argue. Some Jews believe that the nobles are treating them unfairly by not giving them enough grain, forcing them to subject children to slavery, etc. Nehemiah is furious with the nobles. Here are the steps he takes in his confrontation:
He ponders "them (meaning the requests) in his mind."
He accuses the nobles that they haven't properly cared for everyone.
He "calls together a large meeting" and reproaches the nobles. He says that what they are doing isn't right and they need to give the citizens back what they have lost.
Nehemiah's confrontation with the nobles has amazing results! They "kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say." He was able to move them with his convicting words and they agree to give everything back. Later, they even praise the Lord!
So what's the secret? How did Nehemiah take a nerve-racking and sensitive meeting and turn it into something that worked for God's glory?
1. He ponders them in his mind.
Nehemiah does not come to this encounter hotheaded and ready for a fight. The text says that he ponders them. This means that Nehemiah is thinking about what has happened. He probably prayed to God, asking Him what he should do. Nehemiah lives his life in pursuit of God's truth and he lets that reflect in his speech.
After all, words are important. Matthew 15:11 says: "What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them."
As a follower of Christ, our words, thoughts, and actions reflect on others' opinions of God. And don't we want everything we do to reflect our Savior?
2. He knows what he is saying is true.
Because Nehemiah spent time with the Lord, he could be confident that what he was saying was right. When you know what you are saying is God's truth, you can proclaim it from the rooftops! Ephesians 6:14 says: "Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist..."
When you are speaking God's honest-to-goodness truth (not just something you made up!), it's hard for people who want to serve Him to disagree with you.
That is it for this week's Living Like Nehemiah post! Click here to check out the first week. I hope you got something from this post! Ciao, Zoe.