How to understand Nehemiah Chapter 6: Threats and Intimidation and Acts 3:19
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When Israel’s enemies—Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem again—hear that the wall’s been completed, they ask to meet with Nehemiah. Nehemiah sees that they plan to do him harm. No fool, this guy. He refuses, asking why he should take time off from his work to do this. They ask him four times, and he answers in the same way. No dice. The fifth time, they up the ante. The enemies’ servant brings a letter saying that they’ve heard that the Jews intend to rebel against the Empire and that Nehemiah wants to be their king, with the prophets supporting him. Nehemiah knows they’re just trying to intimidate him. He tells them that they’re making all this stuff up just to scare them away from rebuilding. He still won’t meet with them. Talk to the hand. Nehemiah goes to visit a guy named Shemaiah who says (actually, falsely prophesies) that they should go hide in the temple, since men are coming to kill Nehemiah. Nehemiah cleverly sees that Shemaiah’s been hired by Sanballat and Tobiah to trick him and make him an object of ridicule. Only priests are allowed in the temple, so obviously he’s trying to get our man to break the law. He asks God not to forget what Shemaiah and the wicked prophetess Noadiah and other prophets did to try to trick him. The wall’s finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Elul, impossibly fast according to Shmoop’s Senior Masonry Consultant. The surrounding nations are all disheartened and scared by this. They understand that God supports the Jews, since they haven’t even been able to get their contractor to return their phone calls. Nehemiah also mentions that some of the nobles were friends with Tobiah, due to his family’s intermarrying with Jews. The nobles try to make Tobiah sound good in Nehemiah’s presence, while Tobiah sends Nehemiah letters designed to intimidate him. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,