Friday 19 June 2015

Bible Book:

"Should a man like me run away?" (v. 11)

Nehemiah 6:1-16 Friday 19 June 2015

Psalm: Psalm 26


The rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem is complete. Itshould have been a time of celebration and mutual back-slapping.But that was not to be. Instead Nehemiah receives a message fromSanballat and Geshem - Sanballat was the governor over Samaria andthe main political opponent of Nehemiah and Geshem is thought to bein charge of a vast area of land from north-east Egypt to northernArabia and southern Palestine. Given their power and positions itis possible to assume that their opposition to Neheniah wasprimarily political, rather than religious.

The completion of the walls was an indication of the recovery ofJerusalem's strength. Obviously the walls provided protectionagainst aggressors and invaders, but it also gave the city a senseof identity. For Sanballat and Geshem it also suggested that it hadbecome a threat - "you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is whyyou are building the wall; and according to this report you wish tobecome their king" (v. 6). Nonsense says Nehemiah, although he putsit somewhat differently (verse 8). Notice, too, his prayer in verse9.

In the second half of this passage, Sanballat and Tobiah tryagain to discredit Nehemiah using the words and influence ofShemaiah. But again Nehemiah stands firm (verses 11-13). IfNehemiah had weakened in the face of the challenge and threatagainst him, his leadership would have been discredited and all thegood work and building of morale would have been for nothing.

This passage invites us to consider how we deal with challengesto authority. Nehemiah stands firm  - would we have done thesame? Were Sanballat and Geshem afraid of the potential power ofNehemiah or intimidated by his success? The passage doesn't makethis clear, only the threat is evident. When we are challenged,what is the reason? Is it envy at success, or fear of power? Orperhaps are we at fault because we do not communicate ourintentions effectively and allow fear to grow?

To Ponder

  • How do you behave when you are challenged? What, if anything,does this passage or Nehemiah have to teach you?
  • When you challenge authority, what are your motives? And howmight you do it fairly and effectively?


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