Nehemiah 3 & 4 – Fear of the Unknown

The people began working on repairing the wall in a systematic fashion. We are given even the minute details about the rebuilding activity by the author with exact boundaries of each section and details of the people who worked on it. A wide variety of people helped building the wall. From priests to musicians, perfume makers to goldsmiths, rulers to even the temple servants were involved in this rebuilding activity.

Some would have associated the dilapidated state of the city as something that brought shame on God. Many others would have wanted to secure the city from potential raiders. It looks like most of the people were building in their own backyards or repairing the wall only around their property.

Not all the people working on the wall were doing this out of their own will. Why did the men of Tekoa agree to participate in the rebuilding activity if their hearts were not in it?

Fear of Missing Out

FOMO is something that drives people to do something they would normally not want to do and it seems this was prevalent even during the ancient times. The nobles of Tekoa could have been forced to take part in Nehemiah’s plan perhaps by their leader but everyone had a choice as we don’t see all the people working on the walls but only those who lived alongside the wall.

Let us come to God to do his work and not because of our FOMO, as we are missing out on His fellowship and settling for fake ones. The men of Tekoa were perhaps punished for their resistance as they had to repair two sections of the wall (Nehemiah 3:27).

When a church plantation project is completed, usually a large roll of honor with the names of donors and helpers is hung on the walls of the new building. It serves the future generation as a reminder of what was done by their forefathers and also gives a sense of pride to the contributors seeing their names etched forever in the history of their church.

Similarly, Nehemiah and Co. were supposedly rebuilding the new Jerusalem, to bring honor back to Israel. Having the future generations read about your contributions is always a motivating factor in such endeavors.

How many of us want the reward and recognition at the end of our endeavors or do we rather seek the joy we get in helping others connect with God?

Nehemiah’s Prayer

The rulers of the neighboring towns started gathering and seeing the progress made by the exiles, started mocking them profusely. Tobiah and Sanballat continued with their rather creative jokes, till Nehemiah could not take any more of it.

Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.

Nehemiah 4:4-5

Such a vengeful prayer from Nehemiah, should we pray in this manner asking God to destroy those who mock us?

We are called to love one another and even pray for the ones who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). If God has asked us to do something for Him, He Himself will go ahead of us clearing our paths.

If persecutions come our way, we need to be patient and keep trusting Him rather than hating the people that satan has sent our way to divert us from the path of God. In our hatred and self-righteous spirit we may end up losing sight of our end goal.

Contingency Plan

Nehemiah feared that the mocking would soon turn into an all out attack and took precautions and started placing people on guard duty. Reports brought by the Jews who had made their dwelling in the land of these gentiles, did not help calm the exiles who now were themselves getting tired of building the walls.

The fear of the unknown attack was tormenting them more than the fear of being captured and being relocated. They gathered together and Nehemiah tried his best to rally the troops.

When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.
From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

Nehemiah 4:15-18

It seems the exiles were preparing for something that never came their way. Is there a problem with over-preparedness? God was taking care of them and they had the king’s approval, still they were afraid and kept formulating plans to address contingencies that never came their way.

We have a habit of not leaving anything to chance. We feel the need to plan for our future and have a five year plan for our personal and work lives but seldom for our spiritual lives. Our spiritual lives we leave for God to decide for us.

When hardships come our way, we are the closest to God and in times of smooth sailing, casually sail away from Him. For things under our control, we want to be certain that we plan properly for anything that comes our way but our spiritual lives are something that we do not care about.

What we forget is that nothing that happens in this world is under our control and the only thing that we can do is let God take control of our lives.

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