Today we look at the problems and the prayers of Nehemiah and Jerusalem, and through it we’ll learn more about God’s character, and what God’s people are to do and how to live.

4 1Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. 

2 And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!” 

4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. 5 Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.

• Turn straight to prayer. Asking for their enemies to face the things they have recently been subjected to. 

• A little counter intuitive. Matthew 5:44 “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” 

• Romans 12:19 “Beloved, never avenge yourselves but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written ‘vengeance is mine, I will repay says the LORD’”

• Their attacks are really aimed at God. They are insulting God’s purposes and plans

6 So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

• They have a desire and a motivation that has come from God. He sustained them as they worked on the project.

7 But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. 8 And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. 

• They realize there is a limited window of opportunity to sow confusion and disunity amongst the people of Jerusalem. The walls are closing, they need to act now. 

9 And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

• But in the midst of these attacks, the danger and the uncertainty, the people prayed. They asked for protection from God. 

• Spiritual and physical attack, so there is a response to both

• It is in tandem. They don’t just ask for prayer. They don’t just set up a guard. This two-pronged approach is quite instructive for Gods people


What should we take away, what are the main things we see in this passage:

Prayer comes first

-it is not an afterthought for Gods people. We see consistent dependence on the lord.

Determination to get it done

-They had a job to do. they got after it. Their confidence was in the lord

The enemy is strategic

-he is cunning and will take advantage situationally.

-Sanballat and Tobiah had a limited window to stop this plan. An attack made sense

God is just

-we need to hate what is evil, not for our sake but for God’s. The people didn’t pray against them because they were an inconvenience, but because it was against the will of God.


Stick to the plan

Similarly, we have a direction and vision. We have been tasked to make disciples; we’ve talked about that several times already in our study of Nehemiah. We should not lose heart either even if it doesn’t look exactly like we would have drawn it up. Sometimes people disappoint us, or they take longer to grow in their faith than we’d like. 

But we have to stay determined

Be alert

-learn to identify dangerous times, when you are particularly vulnerable to sin. The enemy will certainly be close, we need to be ready.

Plan to pray

Nehemiah shows us a great example. His personal response as well as the way he leads the people directly to prayer, constantly, is encouraging. 

What is your outlook on prayer? Is it a wish list? Is it a therapy session? 

-do you spend time listening? 

-how receptive are you to Gods answers? 

-do you get mad when you see things not going your way?

What are you praying about right now? 

-If that’s a difficult question to answer you might want to bring some discipline and intentionality to your prayer life. 

“8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Hebrews 13:8

This is the same God, who hatched a plan to consecrate his people in the city of Jerusalem, to restore them to Godly living, to the lives he wanted for them from the beginning. That same God did that same thing again for us. We can be made new, because our sins have been forgiven. 

Isaiah 25:9 “It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD, we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation’”

We don’t have to wait any longer


Nehemiah 3:15-32

And Shallum the son of Colhozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate. He rebuilt it and covered it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And he built the wall of the Pool of Shelah of the king’s garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the city of David….After him the Levites repaired: Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, repaired for his district. (v.15,17)

Next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section opposite the ascent of the armory at the buttress. After him Baruch the son of Zabbai repaired another section from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. After him Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired another section from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib. After him the priests, the men of the surrounding area, repaired. (v.19-22)

And the temple servants living in Ophel repaired to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower. After him the Tekoites repaired another section opposite the great projecting tower as far as the wall of Ophel. (v.26-27)

Above the Horse Gate the priests repaired, each one opposite his own house. After them Zadok the son of Immer repaired opposite his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate repaired. After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah repaired opposite his chamber. After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, opposite the Muster Gate, and to the upper chamber of the corner. (v.28-31)

And between the upper chamber of the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants repaired. (v.32)

Summary points

– You cannot be Christlike and be indifferent to the church, to “one another”.

– Pray & imagine how your family/future family will deployed in kingdom work.

– The work of the Lord involves the people of the Lord, not the world.

– This record and these names are here to remind us that our lives are intimately recorded in God’s library. And the day of accounting is near!

Kingdom Building / Disciple Building

God is always building, and so are His people. God builds His people and significant structures that serve to build HIS people. Here @ Midtown church we are in the disciple building business. We believe Kingdom Building [Jesus Christ’s Kingdom] is basically ‘Disciple Building’.

God’s pattern throughout Scripture is HE builds through individuals and community. Then: Israel / The Hebrews. Now: Jesus’ Body / The Church. In Scripture we see both: individual responsibility & communal responsibility: OWNERSHIP.

Building a wall is a process, a sequential process. So is disciple building. Building something begins with Vision then it requires Planing regarding Materials and Labor… THEN: Construction. The planning and people and building materials are all in place, let the building begin! But no matter how many people collaborate or work together, each person must do their individual part for the building project to be successful.

The Kingdom Building Principals we will see:

United Purpose FROM GOD through His Called Leader! The Building Plan: What needed to be repaired or rebuilt? God Given Priorities. Preparation & uniting the people was done before construction began: sequence. Individual Response AND Communal Response / Everyone Pitched in [non-laborers]. Spiritual Leaders [Priests] Led by EXAMPLE & Personally Initiated Action [Labored]. Real People who worked where they lived & where they didn’t live. There are always some who don’t participate, don’t let that stop You! V.5

We will also look at the significance of particular Gates, their history & use.

LAST WEEK: Nehemiah 2: 17-18 [ESV]

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” And I told the of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.


NEHEMIAH 3:1-14 [NASB1995]

1 Then Eliashib the high priest arose with his brothers the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They consecrated the wall to the Tower of Meah [100] and the Tower of Hananeel. 2 Next to him [The High Priest] the men of Jericho built, and next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.

  • Spiritual Leaders lead through and with PEOPLE
  • Leadership is active in the work
  • They worked where they lived / worked [Temple Area]
  • THEY CONSECRATED GATES! [things that serve God]

3 Now the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars. 4 Next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah the son of Hakkoz made repairs. And next to him Meshullam the son of Berechiah the son of Meshezabel made repairs.

  • Moving west [area of threat / need for protection]
  • Primary use of Gate: Where fish came from the Mediterranean Sea

And next to him Zadok the son of Baan also made repairs. 5 Moreover, next to him the Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles did not support the work of their masters.

  • The Tekoite common folk worked, but not ‘The Nobels’
  • Since the fall, there is no perfect unity

6 Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars. 7 Next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, also made repairs for the official seat of the governor of the province beyond the River.

  • Old Gate near Governor’s Seat
  • No specific use for the Old Gate
  • People from other places joined their family in building
  • Only construction that was not part of the wall or a gate was Governor’s House

8 Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah of the goldsmiths made repairs. And next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 9 Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, the official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs. 10 Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah made repairs.

  • People who were not used to working in construction pitching in
  • High city officials doing manual labor along side nobodies
  • Individuals taking personal responsibility for their part
  • While individuals do their part, they also act in unity and cooperative community

11 Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of Furnaces. 12 Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, the official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs, he and his daughters.

  • Not just city officials themselves, but they are bringing family…FEMALE family
  • There was a lot of wall between the Old Gate and The Vally Gate
  • They needed all the help they could get!

13 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars, and a thousand cubits of the wall to the Dung Gate. 14 Malchijah the son of Rechab, the official of the district of Beth-haccherem repaired the Dung Gate. He built it and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars.

  • People from out of town
  • Valley Gate led to Valley south West of the city [no specific use]
  • Nehemiah used this gate to get out so it was passable…
  • Dung Gate: removal of refuse.
  • These two gates were close to each other [different uses]


The High Priest ‘Arose’ and with his Brother Priests and began to build [Sheep Gate]


When kingdom building is from God, leadership takes part in the actual work


Individuals are named and their parents identified


When God moves in a group it is also about individual, real people


Even in such a God ordained building project there was no perfect unity


Nehemiah didn’t let possible division slow him down, neither should we


Time was taken to repair a fitting home for their God appointed leader


They valued the leadership God had given them and acted accordingly


God’s people who didn’t work with their hands join in the manual labor


When it’s God’s work, you don’t only do what you do well, you do what’s needed


Do You have a vision for what You should be involved in building for the kingdom?

Why is this Memoir included in both Judaism and Christian Scriptures?

What place should ‘Building’ and ‘Rebuilding’ play in the Body of Christ?

What about Nehemiah Typifies the coming Messiah? [450 yrs later]

So where is Jesus in the Book of Nehemiah?

Nehemiah 2:10-20

Nehemiah is a man who has a problem put on his heart. God gives Nehemiah a desire to see his people restored in Jerusalem and protected. 

In the passage today we’ll read Nehemiah doing several things: 
– he surveys Jerusalem and the damage
– makes a plan
– invites others to join 
– holds fast to his convictions and the truth in the face of opposition.

10 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.

•       Satan would love for this to be a social club. A box for you to check.

11 So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. 

13 I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 

•       We’ve got a picture of the city and the wall that ran around it. We have a decent idea of where these places are that Nehemiah is taking about, and it says that he inspected the areas that had been broken down and destroyed by fire.
•       Indeed it has been destroyed, Daniel attests to this:
•       “You [God] have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem.” -Daniel 9:12  

14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass. 15 Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. 

•       Nehemiah tells us the animal, probably a donkey or something similar could not pass through the gates. I think what he’s saying is the structure is so ruined, he had to dismount and climb under the rubble.
•       vs 15, he inspects the wall, looking at it with his own eyes, and throughout it he’s making a plan. Assessing the situation. Reminds me of Jesus telling those who wanted to follow him to count the cost.
o       For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish. – Luke 14:28
•       He knows what God put on his heart, and he is preparing to do it, but he’s making sure he understands the assignment.

16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.”

•       He then approaches the people with an invitation, a call to action.
•       They are in some serious trouble. A city without a wall is not a city. 
•       It is an important thing he is calling them to do. It might seem strange today, there is no wall around your house or the city of Atlanta, but it was important then.
•       God gives an invitation to join, but doesn’t need them. He is going to get this job done, but they get a chance to participate. A chance to be obedient.

 18 And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. 

•       He tells them it isn’t of himself but a calling and plan from God. He isn’t asking them to follow his idea. He wants to do what God is asking him, and is asking them to join in.
•       The response of the people is encouraging, they are in to it! And more than that, it says they prepared. They didn’t just run out there and say “god will give me the strength”.
•       They made sure they were ready.

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 

•       They clearly care quite deeply about what is going on, the work that Nehemiah is proposing to do.
•       They try to snip the idea in the bud by bringing an accusation. “You are going against the king”
•       This is a very serious accusation, something that would bring about death, disloyalty could be seen as treason or insurrection.  

20 Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.”

•       They are coming with lies and deception. Satan is the father of lies. Nehemiah doesn’t engage or dignify them with a retort. He knows it’s a lie, they probably know it’s a lie. He doesn’t cast pearls before swine, does not get distracted. 
•       There is no rebutting the claim, even though he knows it’s not true, he has permission. only the truth boldly proclaimed. The lord “will make us prosper.”
•       Nehemiah also makes it clear that they will not have any portion of the work they are doing. They don’t get anything to do with it. No middle ground. There are the people who are for it, and those against it.

key principles:
–       God’s people are invited in to participate. 
–       God’s people accept the responsibility
–       God’s people prepare for the work there is to do. 
–       God’s people have confidence. 
–       God’s people expect opposition

So how do we apply this? This is not a parable. It’s a narrative. 
God first calls Nehemiah to participate and now the people get the chance to join in as well.