Nehemiah: Studies on Leadership | Week 09

inTerpret: Discerning the Work of God

The work was completed in an astonishing fifty-two days—less than two months (6:15). Even by modern standards, to build a wall around Jerusalem with the amount of people and the breadth of resources needed within this timeframe is bewildering. The project was completed so quickly that even the enemies “perceived that this work was done by our God” (6:16). For nearly six chapters, Sanballat and his coalition caused a slew of problems for Nehemiah, but they finally come to a point where they recognize they are going against the work of God. When biblical leadership is sharpened, focused, and consecrated, the visions held by the individuals will drive them to work efficiently and effectively, causing those around them to marvel in the glory of God’s ability.

Though we wish the narrative could end victoriously there, it does not. Even though the walls had been finished and generally acknowledged as the work of God Himself, attempts to discredit the reputation of Nehemiah continued to wax. Tobiah became just as focused upon this objective as Nehemiah was with his own. Tobiah had married into the family of Shechaniah, while his son married into the family of Meshullam. Both being prominent Jewish families, the conspirators used this status to correspond with the other nobles of Judah about the good actions of Tobiah and the words of Nehemiah.

The efforts of the enemy are continual. Even when we have completed a task, the work is not really finished. We find rest, not in the end of the work, but in knowing that we are in the will of God. After completing the ark and the ordeal of the flood, Noah relaxed and got drunk. After calling Israel to repentance and the ordeal of Mount Carmel, Elijah relaxed and ran from Ahab and Jezebel. But after building the walls and the ordeal of the opposition, Nehemiah continued with steadfastness and vigilance against his enemies.

There are two types of leaders. One is godly, mission-oriented, unintimidated, and proactive, while the other is reactive, gossiping, compromising, deceptive, bitter, opportunistic, and vindictive. Opposition from enemies and “friends” will always attend God’s work, but we must always rely on the strength of God even in the midst of danger or death. Death is not failure. Failure is when we leave our divine call unfinished.