Daily Thought for: 17th July

SANBALLAT AND TOBIAH – THE ENEMY

Nehemiah 2. 10, 19-20; 3. 33-35; 4. 1-3; 6. 1-14; 13. 28

Our study brings before us those who opposed the re-building of the walls of Jerusalem. Sanballat the Horonite with his associates fought a consistent battle to hinder and destroy the work of Nehemiah. He came from a nation bitterly opposed to Israel, Moab. By every means possible they sustained their resistance. In Sanballat we have an illustration of the relentless pressure that Satan will put on those who seek to do God’s work. 

Sanballat first appears on the scene in chapter 2 verse 10. We read, ‘it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel’. What a contrast to the emotions of Nehemiah, when he heard of Israel’s plight, 1. 4. Sanballat and his friends represent enemies near to home. It almost seems that he had rejoiced in the nation’s fall. More than this, we notice that these enemies of the people, mocked and despised the intentions of Nehemiah to build for his God, 2. 19. Nehemiah’s resource was in God and his purpose was unshaken, v. 20. Satan’s agents will openly despise God’s people and will little appreciate those who feel deeply about God’s things. 

The character of Sanballat is clearly revealed as the record proceeds. He begins with grieving; then he turns to mockery and derision; then to anger and indignation that these ‘feeble Jews’ should dare to undertake such a daring enterprise, 3. 1-3. He spoke these words before the armies of Samaria. Tobiah heaped reproach upon Nehemiah, ‘Even . . . a fox . . . will break down their stone wall’. Scorn and derision may seem to us a most difficult form of opposition. We read in the New Testament of the ‘reproach of Christ’, Heb. 11. 26, and people may despise us. Remember they did this to the Lord Christ. 

When the walls were finished, the enemy did not know what to do, so they resorted to subterfuge and deceit. At this point we see the true strength of Nehemiah’s character. Sanballat plays the hypocrite, who pretends to be part of the project. Nehemiah is firm; ‘I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down’, 6. 1-4. We need this spirit of perseverance. Satan will seek to discourage us in our labours for the Lord. Nehemiah saw things through. ‘Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world’, 1 John 4. 4. 

 

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