The coalition’s efforts to hinder the work of Nehemiah were unsuccessful. He had proved victorious against external forces as well the complications of internal conflicts. This time, the coalition used deceptive techniques and compromise to halt the almost completed reconstruction program.
This time the enemies threatened the very life of Nehemiah. Instead of open attack, they suggested an “ecumenical” conference in the plain of Ono. As they say, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” The plain of Ono was a full day’s journey from the west of Jerusalem, between the lands of the Ashdodites and Samarians. But Nehemiah discerned that this course of action was dangerous because:
1.The work itself would have been delayed for at least three days: one to travel there, one to travel back, and at least one for dialogue.
2.The conference was an invitation to compromise, make deals, negotiate, and ultimately shift from strict obedience to God’s will.
3.It would have been easy for Nehemiah to have been ambushed and assassinated along this journey.
Nehemiah replied curtly without mentioning any suspicions or hostile feelings, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (6:3). His answer was firm, rational, and mission-oriented. Though the enemies persisted four more times with letters, Nehemiah’s resolve did not waver.
Some leaders are afraid of appearing too stubborn or obstinate. Others for public relations or public opinion are more willing to sway from one opinion to another. This scenario transcends the need to be pragmatic and utilitarian. It was a covert threat to the project that God had called him to do. They were on the verge of finishing and Nehemiah knew all this was an invitation to compromise his integrity as well as his life. When the enemies of God invite you to Ono, your response should be, “Oh no!”