Nehemiah 5:14-6:19; 1 Corinthians 8:1-3; Psalms 33:6-11; Proverbs 11:28
OT: “When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that no gap was left in it — though at that time I had not installed the doors in the city gates — Sanballat and Geshem sent me a message: “Come, let’s meet together in the villages of the Ono Valley.” They were planning to harm me. So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing important work and cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same proposal, and I gave them the same reply. Sanballat sent me this same message a fifth time by his aide, who had an open letter in his hand. In it was written: It is reported among the nations — and Geshem agrees — that you and the Jews plan to rebel. This is the reason you are building the wall. According to these reports, you are to become their king and have even set up the prophets in Jerusalem to proclaim on your behalf, “There is a king in Judah.” These rumors will be heard by the king. So come, let’s confer together. Then I replied to him, “There is nothing to these rumors you are spreading; you are inventing them in your own mind.” …I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was restricted to his house. He said: “Let’s meet at the house of God, inside the temple. Let’s shut the temple doors because they’re coming to kill you. They’re coming to kill you tonight!” …I realized that God had not sent him, because of the prophecy he spoke against me. Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He was hired, so that I would be intimidated, do as he suggested, sin, and get a bad reputation, in order that they could discredit me… The wall was completed in fifty-two days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul. When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.” (Nehemiah 6:1-8, 10, 12-13, 15-16 CSB)
Though Nehemiah was successful in resisting the schemes of his enemies, his enemies didn’t give up. They just tried different tactics. Now that Nehemiah had armed the workers on the wall and readied them for battle, Sanballat‘s and Tobiah’s next move was to draw Nehemiah away from the city so they could harm him. When he ignored their requests to meet, they threatened to spread false rumors about him. Instead of being baited by the false rumors, Nehemiah trusted in the Lord and prayed for strength to carry on the work. Sanballat and Tobiah even hired a Jewish prophet to give a false prophecy to intimidate Nehemiah into doing something shameful – but through God’s wisdom, Nehemiah saw past the false prophecy and refused to be intimidated. After the short period of 52 days, the wall around Jerusalem was completely rebuilt – a feat so amazing, that even the surrounding pagan nations admitted that God’s hand had accomplished the task.
Our enemy the devil, and the world systems that play into his hand, do not give up easily. One thing that my pastor is known for saying is, “When at first you resist, and the devil insists, you must persist by the authority and power of the Lord.” Threats, distractions, false accusations and intimidations are all tactics of the enemy to get us out of faith, off task, and into fear. Once we are walking in fear, he has the upper hand – but as long as we remain in faith and surrendered to God’s purposes, the devil and his cohorts have no power or influence over us. Nehemiah knew what the word of the Lord was. He knew what God’s plans and purposes were. Because of that, he had the discernment to recognize lies from the truth, insincere scheming from legitimate requests, and false prophecy from the word of God. If we spend consistent time with the Lord in the secret place, studying His word, hearing His voice and growing in intimacy with Him, we too will have the discernment (from the Holy Spirit) to differentiate between what is really from God and what is counterfeit – and the enemy of our soul will not be able to dupe us out of God’s purposes and plans for our lives.
Psalms: “The Lord frustrates the counsel of the nations; he thwarts the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart from generation to generation. Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord — the people he has chosen to be his own possession!” (Psalms 33:10-12 CSB)
The Hebrew word translated here as counsel has to do with advice born out of wisdom and purpose. For instance, a politician may have a purpose in mind, so he offers advice out his wisdom and desire to so see that purpose accomplished. The word nations has to do with people who are strangers or who are not related to us. The word people has to do with people who are familiar or related to us. The point is that people tend to have plans and purposes that are not beneficial to us and run contrary to the purposes and plans of God. Sometimes those people are even in our own family. They will try to advise us away from God’s purposes and toward the purposes that they approve. When we trust in the Lord and allow Him to direct our steps, He frustrates and thwarts those efforts. The counsel and plans of the Lord are good and are always for our benefit, growth and fruitfulness. His purposes and plans will never fail. God had good plans for Nehemiah and Jerusalem. There were people from other nations and people from within Jerusalem that had purposes contrary to God’s. As Nehemiah trusted in the Lord, the Lord’s good purposes were fulfilled, and the purposes of the other people were frustrated and thwarted. The same will be true for us as people of God’s own possession, as we remain in Christ through faith and follow His word, will and ways.
Prayer: Lord, I know that the devil is always trying to move me away from faith and obedience through accusation, intimidation and deception. But I also know, that if I keep my eyes on You and my mind fixed on Your word, I will not be duped by the schemes and tactics of the enemy. I commit myself to Your counsel and plans, and trust You to give me discernment by Your Holy Spirit that will not lead me astray, but will lead me to fulfilled promise. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.