Editor’s Note: Due to an extremely busy week, we are going to be re-posting some of our posts that bear repeating!
Nehemiah was a wise and shrewd leader. He had not gotten caught up in the glitz and glamour of the King’s courtyard while serving as the King’s cupbearer. Instead, he seemed to have become an astute observer of human nature. Nehemiah knew that the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem was not a job that one man could accomplish. He also knew that when he arrived in Jerusalem, those that were there were beaten down and discouraged. They had not attempted to rebuild their ravished city, nor had there arisen at that point anyone who could rally them to have hope.
Nehemiah arrived with both hope and the ability to rally the troops. He won the attention of the priests and put them to work first on on the gates. He then organized the people so that they could maximize their effort and the wall began to rise. It is at this point that they faced active opposition from those opposed to their work. Sanballat and Tobiah began to mobilize forces to hinder their work:
7 When the news that the few remaining gaps in the wall were rapidly closing and our city was beginning to heal reached all the lands surrounding Jerusalem,Sanballat, Tobiah, some Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites all became furious. 8 In fact, they were so upset they devised a plot to attack Jerusalem and create confusion. Nehemiah 4:7-8 (The Voice)
11 And our enemies spread the word.
Enemies: We will sneak in among them. Before they know what is happening, they will be dead. The work will end for sure. Nehemiah 4:11 (The Voice)
Nehemiah was now faced with enemy opposition in full force ready to annihilate his workers who were weary from the work they had done.
Nehemiah, not to be outdone began to mobilize the people and applied the following strategy:
13 So I strengthened our defenses. I placed men armed with anything they had on hand—the swords, spears, and bows they used to hunt—at the vulnerable low sections along the wall that were exposed. I organized them by families. 14 I stood up and addressed those gathered: nobles, officials, anyone who was close at hand.
Nehemiah: Do not be afraid of these people! Instead, remember the Eternal, our great and awesome Lord. Fight for your people: your sisters and your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes. Nehemiah 4:13 -14 (The Voice)
Nehemiah knew that they needed to fight for a cause that was not only “just and right”, but also that was personal to them. So he organized them according to families, and gave them another plan which was brilliant:
16 From that day on, I divided my people into two groups. One group worked on the wallwhile the other stood guard fully prepared for battle in armor, shields, spears, and bows. Officers were close at hand, posted right behind the Judean builders. 17-18 The builders did their work—now with swords strapped to their sides. Even commonlaborers carrying building materials did so while carrying a weapon. I kept the man whose responsibility it was to warn everyone of attack by sounding the trumpet with me at all times. 19 Once again I addressed the nobles, the officials, and the gathered people.
Nehemiah: The massive scope of our important work here has caused us to be spread out across the wall. As a result, we are separated and vulnerable. 20 Therefore if you hear the sound of the trumpet, drop what you are doing andjoin us where the alarm sounds. Be assured our True God will fight for us. Nehemiah 4:16-20 (The Voice)
This was a strategy that seemingly would be impossible, how could they build with one hand and hold a weapon with another? Yet, that plan worked – and it worked – because, “the people had a mind to work”.