Nehemiah was building a wall, and his enemies didn’t like it. They thought that he and the Jews were planning on overthrowing leadership, and that he intended to take the place of kingship. So his enemies sent messengers to try and persuade him to meet with them outside of his now-safe city, with the likely intention to ‘do [him] harm’ (, ESV). Reading this story we get the image of a leader sitting on a wall, a wall that he has helped his own people build, and comically shouting down to the messengers below. We don’t know if he was actually up on the wall himself (though how awesome would that be?), but we know that he was involved in the construction. He knows that his enemies are trying to accomplish two things – distract him from the task at hand, and lead him to his death. (Or, at the very least, severe harm!)
But he’s not having it. Nehemiah is so focused and determined on what he is doing, and so sure that it is the right thing to be doing, that he refuses to be swayed from his task. How great is this, that a man would have such faith in what he feels that he has been called to do that he can fight back against distractions and attempts to sway him? And that he would do it with such vehemence! The writing goes on to tell us that he turned away the messengers not just a few times, but 4 more times – his enemies were insistent and persuasive…. yet he carried on, without swaying. He stayed focused and intent on what he felt was right.
We, too, should be this way in our endeavors. We are called to “do a great work” – not a work of glorifying ourselves, but glorifying God. Be motivated by Him, by God, so that you can say with sincerity: “I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down.”
3 And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (ESV)
2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. (ESV)