Being Harassed for Doing the Right Thing

This is from Nehemiah 1-6.

Nehemiah heard that the people of Jerusalem were upset because their walls and gates were in ruins. Nehemiah prayed to God to ask for His help in fixing the walls and gates. He asked for God’s help in getting the king of Persia (or some king under the Persian empire) to help them.

Nehemiah was with the king. Nehemiah never had appeared sad before around the king but he did now. Nehemiah was the king’s wine bearer. Hence, the king might have feared that the drink was poisoned! Nehemiah told him what was the matter. The king sent out a decree allowing him to rebuild the walls and gates. The king even sent the supplies that they would need. Things were going great!
Nehemiah was really happy about this turn of events. However, there were some dudes who were NOT. Sanballat from Horon and Tobiah the Ammonite were quite upset about what Nehemiah was doing.

Apparently, nobody yet knew that they were going to rebuild the wall. Nehemiah soon told them. They were glad. However, Sanballat and Tobiah and some punk named Geshem (who was an Arab) heard that they were rebuilding the wall. They came and made fun of them. They were saying that they were defying the king. However, Nehemiah and his guys said that they would be helped by God. They told the bad guys to beat it.
They all worked together and rebuilt a lot of the walls and gates. The bad guys continued to harass them and make fun of them. It’s not fun being harassed for doing the right thing (Just ask the Tea Party guys who got audited by the IRS!!!) . Nehemiah and his friends asked God to made the bad guys feel ashamed of their bad behavior. Sadly, these guys appeared to have as much shame as the current Presidential administration. The bad guys made plans to cause trouble in Jerusalem. However, Nehemiah and his guys prayed to God (which is a good idea when dealing with persistent bad guys) and set guards along the city walls.

Sadly, the intimidation tactics appeared to be working. The people of Judah complained that the workers were getting tired. They complained that there were bad guys everywhere! They didn’t think that they could finish the walls and gates.
Nehemiah got the people to not be afraid, telling them that God was on their side and would help them. The bad guys, realizing that their plans were foiled and exposed, backed off, sort of. The people guarded the wall. They all had weapons on them at all times. They also, for whatever reason, didn’t take off their clothes for many days (Ew!).

In the next chapter, Nehemiah appears to be having trouble WITHIN his side. Lots of people who are poor are having to sell their kids as slaves and stuff to pay off debts. (They didn’t have bankruptcy yet or welfare or foodstamps or things like that around yet.) Nehemiah told off the rich guys for charging interest on the loans to the poor guys (which, if I recall, while allowed for foreigners, was FORBIDDEN for loans to fellow Hebrews under the Law of Moses.) They, however, were silent and acted as though nothing was wrong. (If Satan can’t get you on the outside, he’ll try and cause problems on the inside.)

Nehemiah went and said that they should give back the fields that they had taken from them (which appeared to have been given as they couldn’t pay their debt.). The same for their children and other things. They were also told to give back the interest money. The rich guys finally agreed. Nehemiah got them to promise that and swear to God that they would do what they said. The people did.

Nehemiah apparently was the governor of Judah. He was good and kind to the people. The ones before him appear to have been creeps. Nehemiah, however, didn’t even demand the stuff (which would have put pressure on the people) that was allotted to the governor by law. Things seemed well for Nehemiah again.

Nehemiah and his guys had repaired the walls. However, they had not yet put doors in the gates. As they set out to do this task, their good ole pals Sanballat, Tobiah, and Gashem, among others, found that they had rebuilt the wall and weren’t happy about that. They tried to meet with him, but he said that he was too busy. They kept trying. The fifth time, they sent him a letter. It said that there was a rumor going around (Hmmmm, I wonder who started it!) that Nehemiah was building the wall as part of a planned revolt against the king and that he hoped to be the new king of the Jews. (What a bunch of jerks!)

Nehemiah told them that they were wrong. Later, a guy named Shemaiah told him that bad guys were coming to kill him and that they should hide in the Holy Place in the Temple. Nehemiah knew that going into there, at least for him, was very forbidden and would cause his death. He knew the guy was up to no good. He figured that the bad guys had paid him off to try and lead him astray. Nehemiah asked God to remember all the bad guys that bothered him and not let them get away with it.
At last, after 52 days of working, they had finished the wall. The bad guys wanting to bother them saw that God was with them and backed off. Well, most of them. Because of some relationship a lot of Jews had to Tobiah, they were spying on Nehemiah for him. They were trying to get him frightened.

However, Nehemiah didn’t give up. He finished the gates. After this, these bad guys seem to go away. (Tobiah did appear again in Chapter 13. He was thrown out the Temple after being found living there.) God had given Nehemiah victory over those who had harassed him for doing the right thing.


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