But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?”
Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.”
Good morning friends. At this point in history, the children of Israel were now in exile after years of rebellion against God. After years of flirting, coveting, lusting, and serving the gods of their neighbours. In my humble opinion, no other story better captures this situation than that of Gomer. She was prophet Hosea’s lustful and adulterous wife, who he was instructed by God to go and search for and remarry, after all her lovers had forsaken her. Reminiscent to the lyrics of the song Rambling Rose by Nat King Cole, particularly the second verse:
Ramble on, ramble on
When your ramblin’ days are gone
Who will love you with a love true
When your ramblin’ days are GONE
Like Hosea, God’s love for His people is unfeigned, His words will not return to Him void. His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; based on His love towards all humanity and their faithfulness, remained unbroken!
Nehemiah was deeply moved when he heard about the state of Judah; the wall, the gates, and the welfare of those that remained in the once exalted nation. He took up a fast and started praying for God’s mercy upon the nation. God responded to his act of faith, granted him favour with the king, and he took up the commission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
With this as a backdrop, let’s go back to our opening verses. When he arrived at Jerusalem, he experienced major hostility and psychological warfare from Sambalat, Tobiah and their posse of friends; but amidst these challenges he stayed focused and committed to his mission.
He maintained his faith in God, motivated the builders, and he stuck to plans without wavering. He led by example, he was selfless; depriving himself the pleasures and privileges of his office as governor of the province. His work inspired a major spiritual awakening among the people; which led to the rebuilding of the temple, and a major social reform and repatriation programme.
In the words of the psalmist:
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.
Nehemiah was an asset to the kingdom, a vessel of honour, who loved “rambling rose” with a love true. His work laid precedence for the establishment of Israel as an independent state within the Middle East by the United Nations in May 1948.
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