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