As soon as I, Nehemiah, had assigned each person or family a section of the wall, they immediately began construction. And as soon as Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem saw that the people were beginning to build, they became furious. "We have already tried to discourage them." Geshem said.
"Yes, Nehemiah prayed and talked to the people and they were not discouraged." Tobiah added.
"We need to get others on our side." Sanballat said as he pounded his fist on the table.
So the three men went to a section of the wall that we were building. I could see they were up to no good as they stood among a crowd of onlookers and began to make fun of us, hoping the others would join them. Tobiah pointed and shouted, "That wall is so weak that if a fox tried to walk along the top of it, the wall would crumble to the ground!" I prayed that my people would ignore the comments and that the crowd would not go along with Tobiah. And so we continued to build the wall.
After a few weeks, the wall was about half complete. Saballat, Tobiah and Geshem were fuming! They sent messengers to the wall and handed me a letter. Here is what it said. "We have the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites on our side. If you do not cease in your attempt to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, we will attack." I prayed to the God of heaven that the threats were only just threats and that God would give me wisdom. So I stationed half the men as guards with shields and swords along the wall and armed the men that were working on the wall with swords as well.
The three evil men saw that we were not deterred. Progress on the wall continued and the they devised another plan. Again they sent messengers and handed me a letter. Here is what that letter said. "It has come to our attention that you are building the wall in order to rebel against your king in Persia and then name yourself as king over Jerusalem. If you do not stop construction of the wall immediately, we will inform the king of Persia of your plan and he will have you arrested and the people charged with treason." I sent a message back saying it was all lies and then I prayed for strength. Then we continued to build.
We finally had the wall up, but still had not put up the gates and doors, which were important to secure the city. Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem knew they had one last chance. They managed to bribe a man I knew named Shemaiah to try to trick me into meeting him inside the temple. I prayed, and God revealed to me that Shemaiah was working for Tobiah and Sanballat in order to discredit me. We continued to work on the wall. We hung the gates and doors. The wall was complete. And in only 52 days! The neighboring countries became fearful because they knew it was impossible to complete a project that would normally take a few years in only 52 days, and that God must be on our side. They were right!
I became governor of Jerusalem for 12 years the finally returned to king Antaxerxes. He was very happy to see me. I shared stories with him about how God has inspired, protected and been with us. I don't know if he realized that I would be gone for 12 years when I first left, but he received me back with open arms and he let me return to Jerusalem for a visit whenever I wanted. On one return visit, I found out that Eliashib the priest had emptied out one of the temple rooms and rented it to Tobiah for some of his personal belongings. As soon as I found out. I threw all of Tobiah's things out of the temple and replaced Eliashib with a Levite, a scribe and a priest, I knew all three men and trusted them. I also found out that some of the people and merchants were not honoring the Sabbath day. Before I returned to Persia, I prayed and then implemented some new rules.
During the building of the wall, something that God inspired Nehemiah to do, there was so much opposition. There was an attempt to discourage the workers and they were made fun of, threatened, lied to and tricked. Notice what Nehemiah did each time. He prayed, then he planned and then he pushed forward. We should remember these three Ps when we are doing things for God and opposition arises (and it will). Pray, Plan, Push forward. God is on our side when we are called according to His purpose. He will guide you, protect you and give you wisdom.