Royalty and Ruin


Union With the World Hinders God’s Cause

This chapter is based on Nehemiah 6.

With increasing hatred, Sanballat and his allies continued their secret efforts to discourage and injure the Jews. When the wall around Jerusalem would be finished and its gates set up, these enemies could not force an entrance into the city. So they were eager to stop the work. Finally they devised a plan to draw Nehemiah from his post of duty and kill or imprison him. RR 231.1

Pretending to desire a compromise, they invited him to meet them in a village on the plain of Ono. But enlightened by the Holy Spirit about their real intentions, he refused. “I sent messengers to them,” he wrote, “saying, ‘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?’” Four times the tempters sent similar messages, and each time they received the same answer. RR 231.2

Finding this unsuccessful, they resorted to a more daring ploy. Sanballat sent an open letter that said: “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king. And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now these matters shall be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together.” RR 231.3

Nehemiah was convinced that the reports the letter mentioned were completely false. Strengthening this conclusion was the fact that the letter was sent open, evidently so that the people might read the contents and become alarmed and intimidated. He promptly returned the answer: “No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart.” Nehemiah knew that these were attempts to discourage the builders and stop their efforts. RR 231.4

Now Satan set a trap that was still more subtle and dangerous for the servant of God. Sanballat hired men who claimed to be friends of Nehemiah to give him bad counsel as the word of the Lord. The chief one was Shemaiah, who previously had a good reputation with Nehemiah. This man shut himself in a chamber near the sanctuary, as if fearing that his life was in danger. The temple was protected by walls and gates, but the gates of the city were not yet set up. Professing great concern for Nehemiah’s safety, Shemaiah advised him, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you.” RR 231.5

If Nehemiah had followed this deceitful counsel, he would have sacrificed his faith in God and would have appeared cowardly. In view of the confidence he claimed to have in God’s power, it would have been inconsistent for him to hide. The alarm would have spread among the people, they would all have looked after their own safety, and the city would have been left to its enemies. This one unwise move on Nehemiah’s part would have been a virtual surrender of all that he had gained. RR 232.1