When Nehemiah began to restore the walls of Jerusalem, his enemies didn’t sit in silence. In fact, they flew into a rage, mocking and accusing Nehemiah as they tried to hinder the work. They jeered, “…What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they are doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day if they offer enough sacrifices? Look at those charred stone they are pulling out of the rubbish and using again!” (Nehemiah 4:2 NLT).
Does that mocking attitude sound vaguely familiar? Give these words a slightly different twist to fit our particular situation, and we’ll recognize these familiar words of intimidation often spoken toward God’s people.
What did Nehemiah do in response to this intimidation? He simply prayed and continued to oversee the rebuilding of the city walls. Then, when Nehemiah’s enemies threatened those working on the wall, he told them, “…You know you are lying. There is no truth in any part of your story” (Nehemiah 6:8 NLT). Nehemiah explained, “They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could break our resolve and stop the work. So I prayed for strength to continue the work” (v. 9).
Nehemiah didn’t allow anything to discourage or stop him, but those who worked with him to rebuild the walls were another story. These people weren’t cut out of the same mold as Nehemiah. When they got tired, they complained. When they heard the threats of the enemy, they were gripped with fear.
But Nehemiah refused to consider his weariness or the threats of his enemies’ as long as the work was unfinished. He never brought up the fact that he lacked the qualifications for rebuilding the wall. Nehemiah had been a governor, not a carpenter. Although he lacked the natural building skills it didn’t stop him from stepping out of his natural ability and into the supernatural ability of God!
Instead of becoming tired and fearful, Nehemiah was driven by his own inner passion to correct the heartbreaking condition of God’s city. This burning passion ignited a fire within him that could not be quenched by weariness, mockery, or threats.
Too many Christians complain about the condition of our nation’s government, schools, or whatever else they feel like criticizing. But instead of complaining, they could follow Nehemiah’s example by choosing to do their part to change the situation through the power and favor of God even if they lack the natural ability to bring the needed change.
If Nehemiah’s passion isn’t challenging enough wait until we see what he did next!
For the 12 years that Nehemiah was Governor of Judah, he refused to draw on the food allowance provided for governors. The former governors laid heavy burdens on the people by demanding food, wine, and silver from them. Even the governor’s assistants took advantage of the people. But Nehemiah refused what every other governor received, using his own financial supply to feed the Jewish leaders and notable visitors who sat at his table while he worked on the wall!
“I asked for nothing, even though I regularly fed 150 Jewish officials at my table, besides all the visitors from other lands! The provisions I paid for each day included one ox, six choice sheep or goats, and a large number of poultry. And every ten days we needed a large supply of all kinds of wine. Yet I refused to claim the governor’s food allowance because the people already carried a heavy burden” (Nehemiah 5:17,18 NLT).
What a man! Although Nehemiah was granted personal provisions to sustain him while he worked to restore Jerusalem’s wall, he refused to use that provision. Instead, he fed everyone from his own personal wealth for the duration of the rebuilding project. We need more Nehemiah’s in the body of Christ!