Nehemiah 4:7 – But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry.
Seeing the resolve and success of God’s people, the opponents (led by Sanballat and Tobiah) recruited more enemies to the fight, assembling a coalition of troublemakers and agitators (4:7-8). Sadly, unholy alliances often form around the sole purpose of opposing a leader and their mission. They surrounded the entire city with Sanballat and the Samaritans to the north, Tobiah and the Ammonites to the East, Geshem (2:19) and the Arabs to the south, and the men of Ashdod from the Philistine city to the west. This was a threat of simultaneous war from every side.
Rather than responding to critics or wasting time in pointless negotiations, Nehemiah called the people to prayer. He also appointed security detail to remain on constant lookout for attacks. This would have comforted God’s people and warned their enemies. Because we fight on both the spiritual and physical levels, they both prayed and posted a guard (4:9).
Despite the rather benign response of prayer and defensive security, the enemies began making death threats against believers as things were quickly escalating and threatening to end in a bloody conflict. Nehemiah had to be stressed. Even believers who were for the project became gripped with the fear that they too would be attacked simply for being associated with Nehemiah. To make matters worse, people were weary from the work and possibly needing to defend themselves and their families (4:10-12).
In response to escalating threats and danger, Nehemiah posted entire families at various points of vulnerability along the wall. Nehemiah was placing a heavy burden upon the fathers and their sons to protect their families as what was really at stake was more than just a city or a church, but the legacy of men and their families to have a future as worshippers of God (4:13-14).
Why was it important for the people in Nehemiah 4 to remain unified and supportive of one another? How can you pursue this with your Christian family and/or friends?