TODAY’S READING: NEHEMIAH 4-7
When I read Nehemiah 6, I see the persecution of Jesus throughout the entire chapter.
THE PLOT TO KILL JESUS
“Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, ‘Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.’ But they intended to do me harm.” – Nehemiah 6:2
Sanballat and Geshem were enemies of Nehemiah. His enemies pretended to want to meet with him for friendly reasons, but Nehemiah knew they intended to do him harm.
Matthew 26:1-5 says, “When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, ‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.’ Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the place of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, ‘Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.'”
Jesus was going to Jerusalem for the Passover, seemingly a celebratory event. But, notice how Jesus said to his disciples that he knew he would be delivered up. Jesus knew the plot to kill just like Nehemiah knew his enemies intended to do him harm.
“And I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?’ And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. ” – Nehemiah 6:3-4
Four times Nehemiah’s enemies told him to come down from the wall and stop the great work that he was doing.
Jesus was doing a great work on the cross. His work would have been in vain had he come down from the cross.
How many times was Jesus told to come down from the cross?
Matthew 27:39-44 says, “And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads, and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel, let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, “I am the Son of God.”‘ And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.”
So, Nehemiah was told to come down from the cross four times. And Matthew tells us that Jesus was told four times to come down from the cross by:
- those who passed by
- the chief priests
- the scribes and elders
- the robbers who were crucified with Jesus
ARE YOU A KING?
“In it was written, ‘It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.’ Then I sent to him, saying, ‘No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.'” – Nehemiah 6:6-8
This reminds of the conversation Jesus had with Pilate.
John 18:33-37 says, “So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? You own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’ Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.'”
Jesus’ conversation with Pilate is similar to Nehemiah, even to the point that Pilate says “I am not a Jew” and Geshem was not a Jew but an Arab.
INTO YOUR HANDS
“For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will drop from the work, and it not be done.’ But now, O God, strengthen my hands.” – Nehemiah 6:9
Jesus’ persecutors thought if they could taunt him and frighten him enough his hands would weaken and he would come down from the cross. But, Luke 23:46 says, “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit!”
Jesus wasn’t afraid. He called out to God with a loud voice. Jesus committed his spirit into the Father’s hands. He was strengthened.
GET BEHIND ME SATAN
“‘Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.’ But I said, ‘Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in.'”
When Jesus began telling the disciples about his impending death, Peter said that it shouldn’t be. He would have hid Jesus if he could. But, Jesus rebuked him.
Matthew 16:21-23 says, “From the time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.'”
Nehemiah was told to hide in the temple. In effect, Peter was telling Jesus to hide. But, Jesus knew he couldn’t do that. What kind of man would he have been? How could he flee from what he was sent to do? Interestingly, the temple was a man-made building, Jesus told Peter that he had his mind set on the things of man and not the things of God.
JUDAS COMES WITH A MOB
“And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me.” – Nehemiah 6:12-13
Judas was hired to betray Jesus. And, he brought a mob with him to get Jesus to fight. Quoting Isaiah 53:12, Jesus said in the Luke 22:37, “For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” This was fulfilled when Judas came with his mob and Peter struck one of the mob with a sword. And, Jesus was numbered among the transgressors.
Pretty amazing that Nehemiah 6 is a virtual play-by-play of the persecution of Jesus.