EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES to CONFRONT the ENEMY ATTACKS: "Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night." (Neh. 4:7-9)
As the reconstruction work of the wall of Jerusalem progressed, Nehemiah and his fellow workers started facing the formidable opposition of a few people who were very upset that the gaps on the Jerusalem walls were being closed. Among these people were Sanballat (4:1, 7; 6:1), Tobiah the Ammonite (4:3, 7; 6:1), Geshem the Arab (6:1) and the Ashdodites (4:7). What all of these people had in common was that they had remained in Palestine during the period of Judah’s exile, and over the years, they were dominating that Palestine region. Just like the slumlords and petty politicians who maintain control over the poor by keeping them weak and powerless, these dubious characters were controlling the economy in the absence of the wise and strong people who were either killed or, captured and taken captives, by the Babylonians.
Now when Nehemiah entered their territory both unexpected and uninvited, he represented an unwelcome threat and a change that was imposed from the outside. Even though Nehemiah’s plan to rebuild the wall offered long-term benefits for the people of Jerusalem, it also threatened the immediate interests of these local thugs who were exploiting the local population. These changes even made many of the residents uncomfortable, for they too had started to exploit each other by acting as loan sharks (see 5:1–5; Hag. 1:7–11). So, while Nehemiah faced the enemy attacks to stop the reconstruction work, he also had to deal with the selfishness and greed of the local residents in Jerusalem (4:10-11).
In spite of all these different opposing forces, Nehemiah responded with his resolute faith in God and constant intercession to God to confront the enemy attacks that included ridicule (4:1-3), resistance (4:7-8) and rumor (4:11-12). Instead of overreacting to his opposition, he adapted to adversity, set up plans to defend themselves against the attack of the enemy and kept on working. In fact, Nehemiah responded to his enemy using righteous anger (5:6), deliberation (5:7), resolution (5:7-13) and by setting himself as an example (5:14-19). We should note that there were nine effective strategies that Nehemiah used to confront the enemy attacks that are listed below:
- He relied on the power of God to save him from the attacks of the enemy (4:4-5).
- He prayed earnestly to God and watched out for the impending attack (4:9).
- He created a plan to guard themselves effectively against the enemy (4:12-13).
- He challenged the people to rise up to the tasks ahead of them (4:14a).
- He reminded the people that God would fight for them on their behalf (4:14b).
- He formulated a new work/war strategy that would gain them the victory (4:16).
- He provided both tools and weapons to work as well as guard themselves (4:16-17).
- He created an effective communication (sound of trumpet) to alert everyone of an actual enemy attack so that they could rally and fight together (4:19-20).
- Finally, he kept his course and was on high alert day and night until the work was completed (4:21-23).