- Inviting Nehemiah to a meeting away from Jerusalem where they could kill him (not too obvious!)
- Inviting Nehemiah four more times to the same meeting with the same intent (really obvious!)
- Started rumors for the King of Persia’s ears that Nehemiah had declared himself king.
- Pressed other rumors that the Jews intended to rebel against the king who had freed them from slavery.
- Hired Jewish prophets, starting with the highly respected Shemaiah the priest and the prophetess Noadiah to frighten and discourage Nehemiah and hide in the temple.
- Coached the nobles of Judah tied to Tobiah by intermarriage to communicate with Tobiah to make Nehemiah afraid.
- Spoke openly of Tobiah’s deeds and reported Nehemiah’s words to Tobiah.
As a result, the wall is finished entirely in just 52 days:
16 And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.
So the political tables were reversed – by the hand of God.
We might say that in the land of Judah, there are two “political parties”. One party’s leaders, Tobiah and Sanballat, are an oligarchy, ruling with an iron hand and using deception and treachery to intimidate and to cause the second party, the Jewish people led by Nehemiah, to panic and abandon the wall.
How does Nehemiah prevail against his opposition? First, he shows undaunted courage. Second, he shows great organization and clear objectives to both continue building and to be ready for any attack. But third, and most importantly, he prays and relies on God’s wisdom, not his own.
Nehemiah does not stop with prayer. He gathers the entire Jewish people “as one man” in perfect unity and devotes many hours to having the entire Law of Moses read to his people. When the people fall on their faces weeping in repentance, they are told not to weep, but to celebrate! And celebrate they do, according to Nehemiah’s extraordinary leadership:
“Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
So on the eve of one of the most important moments in American history, we see that elections matter. The Jews in Judah could have elected Shemaiah, the legitimate prophet of Israel who instead sold his honor in scandal. But they elected Nehemiah instead, whose steadfast faith in God saved them from a dangerous bully.
Which leader is more likely to turn to God in humility and repentance in times of trial?
And which candidate is more likely to honor, respect, and maybe one day gather the people to read aloud the Constitution of the United States and its balance of power?
Decide carefully and cast your ballot faithfully and in prayer.
Then come back next week to Streamside for Part 2, after we all find out which party wins. Nehemiah has much more to teach us about repentance and restoration in Chapter 9!
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ne 6:16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ne 8:10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.