1 Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;)

2 That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief.

They are still building the wall. The enemy, who has tried ridicule and conspiracy, now tries-in order-deceit, and intimidation, and a crafty trap, and internal sedition. Well might

Nehemiah exclaim [v9]-

"O God, strengthen my hands!"

This is one of the most difficult approaches of the enemy to contend with-

"Come and let us talk it over. Let us see what can be worked out. Perhaps we are closer together than we think. Why be narrow and exclusive?"

The Truth IS narrow and exclusive. It demands a degree of allegiance and submission that very few are willing to give. In this dispensation it will always be small and despised. When it

begins to prosper and spread out, it soon becomes contaminated and diluted. And it is not something that can be compromised. Either we accept it as a whole or we do not.

Nehemiah gave the perfect answer to all the pleasing and plausible invitations to "come out and fraternize"-

"I am doing a great work: I cannot come down to you" *

3 And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?

Of course, we must be doing a great work-this is not just a convenient excuse; it must be a statement of fact. We have no time for other things. Living the Truth and serving God is a full time occupation, and any who do not realize this have not properly learned the Truth. Any who think they have time for anything but God's service have a very faulty conception of the height and depth of the Gospel.*

Let us not scheme to avoid necessary work, nor let us, when we cannot escape the work, grumble and pose as martyrs. Neither let us be cruel in working willing horses to death. Let us see to it also that our help is offered when the load is heavy and the road rough, as well as when the load is light and the way pleasant.

There are nasty as well as nice duties to perform in the business of an ecclesia, and a faithful man will not pick and choose. There are two sights shocking to behold, which, alas! are sometimes to be seen.

1-An idle man, standing away from work, and, with the finger of scorn, pointing out the flaws in the efforts of a poor, struggling toiler who has undertaken the work because no one better offers or exists to do it.

2-A man who, after the heat and toil have been borne by others, steps forward and seeks to obtain the merit of the prosperous situation. We need to keep our eye on men of this stamp. To prove men before you trust them is a safe and scriptural maxim.

Bro AT Jannaway.

The Christadelphian, Nov 1907

4 Yet they sent unto me 4 times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner. 

When this sugar-coated approach failed, the enemy tried another-*

5 Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the 5th time with an open letter in his hand

An open letter was a sign of discourtesy, and contempt, in the pattern of haughty instructions to an inferior servant. The letter was a threat-an attempt to blackmail and intimidate. It charged Nehemiah with planning rebellion against Persia in fortifying Jerusalem, and hinted that if Nehemiah did not cooperate, the charge would be brought before the King. It ended with the same invitation-

"Come now, therefore, and let us take counsel together" (v. 7).

A charge to the Persian King by the officials of all the surrounding territories would be serious. In dictatorships and despotisms, even the mere suggestion of rebellion is often

sufficient for condemnation, for such rulers play safe and purges are frequent.

But Nehemiah was not intimidated. He had faith that God would see him through without recourse to seeking to appease or compromise with the enemy. The power of God was far greater and more real to him than that of Persia.*

*Bro Growcott - Let us rise up and build

10 Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee.

The next assault is from within. An Israelite, posing as a friend and as a prophet, came to Nehemiah warning him of assassination and urging him to take refuge in the Temple. To

a God-fearing man like Nehemiah, it was a subtle and plausible approach. It was designed to cater to both fear and vanity-

"You are very important to the work of God-you are justified in making an exception in your own case and using the Temple as a refuge. Remember that David ate the showbread in a case of necessity. Why expose yourself when you can be safe? You are just being foolhardy and making a show of your faith and tempting God."

This from an apparently sincere and godly man would be very appealing and plausible. But Nehemiah was too familiar with the mind of the Spirit to be deceived by fleshly wiles-

"Who is there that -being as lam-would go into the Temple to save his life?

"And, to, I perceived that God had not sent him, but that he prophesied this prophecy against me, for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him" (vs. 11, 12).

We must examine all advice for motive and purpose. If it appeals to the flesh, we need to be doubly on guard. Often the only safe answer is,

"Get thou behind me, Satan."

14 My Elohim, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.

Think of the difficulties and hazards of Nehemiah's position, when even reputed prophets were secretly trying to ensnare and destroy him. How similar his position was to that of Jesus among his enemies!

But nothing stopped the work. In the midst of all this intrigue, within and without, the work continued. This is important. The best way to handle and combat all disruptive and

diversionary tactics is to IGNORE THEM and keep on working at the main objective, which at present is the MAKING READY A PEOPLE PREPARED FOR THE LORD.

There are lots of side issues, lots of challenges, lots of threats and hints that we may be tempted to be drawn aside into conflict with, but life is short, time is brief, and we are a very small cog in a great enterprise.

Let us not be diverted.

Only God Himself can straighten out many things. Let us stick to the one glorious, central objective, so that we can sincerely answer to all diversionary invitations to "Come and let us take counsel," by saying-

"I am engaged in a great work: I cannot come down to you. " *

16 And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our Elohim.

But here is the sad and significant part. Even though they perceived this, they were not converted, but schemed harder. This is a perverse characteristic of the flesh, to rebel against the light. It is not sensible or logical, but how very human and natural! *

17 Moreover in those days the nobles [wealthy] of Judah sent many letters unto Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came unto them.

18 For there were many in Judah sworn unto him, because he was the son in law of Shechaniah the son of Arah; and his son Johanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.

Alien marriage-mixing with the world-going out to see the daughters of the land-the greatest single evil that has plagued the people of God since before the flood.

"She is such a nice person!"-"He comes from such a nice family!-"Perhaps it will bring them to the Truth."

"Shall we do evil that good may come?"

God, in His mercy, or for His own purpose, sometimes brings good out of evil, but He

more often brings evil out of evil. Either way, the shame and disobedience of the original evil remains. *

19 Also they reported his good deeds before me, and uttered my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.

"The nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah."

He does not say, "Some of the nobles," but, "The nobles," showing that, not just some individuals, but as a group they were scheming with the enemy against Nehemiah.

Nehemiah was no friend of special privilege or oppression. These nobles had been living well by oppressing their poor brethren and fraternizing with the leaders of the outside nations around them.

They resented Nehemiah's reforms-his bothersome zeal for holiness and for the fulfilment of the law of God.

"Also they reported his good deeds before me"{v.l 9).

This was very subtle and hypocritical. Tobiah was an enemy of God and of God's people. He was using every means he could to destroy the good Nehemiah was doing. The issue was a clear case of allegiance to God, or to the enemy of God. There was no middle ground.

But they "reported his good deeds" before Nehemiah.

What's wrong with reporting a man's good deeds? Is it not according to the law of God to do so? Should we not be charitable-see the best?-think the best of any one? Here was the subtlety and the hypocrisy of it-a vicious, malicious misapplication of a divine truth that would nullify all distinction between good and evil, faithfulness and unfaithfulness.

They labored to confuse the issue, glorify the enemy, and weaken the faithful-all in the name of "charity" and "friendliness."

"And they reported my matters to Tobiah. And Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear" (v. 19).

This situation will be found in all ages of the Truth-men who pretend to be loyal friends of the Truth, but whose heart and sympathies and associations are in the broad way with the enemy, and who are always trying to glorify the enemy and weaken and belittle those who faithfully strive for the narrow way.

*Bro Growcott - Let us rise up and build