Day 173 – Nehemiah 4:1-7:3; Psalms 141; Proverbs 30:16–21; Acts 5:17–42

Nehemiah 4:1-7:3

1 Now it happened that when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, and the Ammonites heard that the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem was progressing and the gaping holes were being filled in, a great evil came over them. 2 For they all conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem. 3 And we prayed to our God and set watchmen to observe their presence day and night.

4 Then Judah said, “The strength of the enemy is broken, but there is so much rubbish that we will be unable to do work on the wall.” 5 And our adversaries said, “They will neither know nor see anything till we come into their midst and kill them and cause this work to cease.” 6 And so it was that the Jews, the ones dwelling near them, came and said to us, “They are coming up against us from all sides.” 7 Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall in the sheltered areas, and I positioned the people by families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 8 And I looked and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember our God, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”

9 And when our enemies heard their plan was known to us, and that God brought their plot to nothing, we returned, all of us, to the wall, each man to his own work. 10 So it was from that day forward, half of them did the work, and half of them took up defensive positions with spears, shields, bows, and breastplates. The rulers stood with the entire house of Judah. 11 Those who built on the wall and those who carried burdens loaded themselves in such a way that with one hand they held a weapon, and with the other hand they did the work. 12 Every one of the builders, as he built, had his sword girded at his side, while next to him was the one who sounded the trumpet.

13 Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are scattered across the entire wall, each man far from his brother. 14 Therefore, wherever you are, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally together to meet us there. Our God will fight for us.”

15 So we labored in the work while the other half of the men held spears from daybreak until the stars appeared. 16 And at that time I said to the people, “Spend the night within the midst of Jerusalem; let the night be a guard for you, and let the day be for work.” 17 And I was there along with the watchmen behind me, and there was not one man of us who removed his clothing.

Internal Strife

1 Now there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brothers. 2 For there were those who said, “We, our sons and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain, that we may eat and live.” 3 There were even some who said, “We pledged our lands and vineyards, even our houses, that we might receive grain and be able to eat.” 4 Some even said, “We borrowed money for the king’s tax, pledging our lands and vineyards. 5 Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children as their children; and indeed we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been brought into slavery. It is not in our power to redeem them, for other men have our lands and vineyards.”

6 And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7 After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers and said to them, “Each of you is exacting usury from his brother.” So I called a great assembly against them. 8 And I said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations. Now indeed, will you even sell your brothers? Or should they be sold to us?” Then they were silenced and found nothing to say.

9 Then I said, “What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies? 10 I also, with my brothers and my servants, am lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop this usury! 11 Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also a hundredth of the money and the grain, the new wine, and the oil that you have charged them.” 12 So they said, “We will restore it and will require nothing from them; we will do as you say.” So I called the priests and required an oath from them that they would do according to this promise. 13 Then I shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out each man from his house and from his property who does not perform this promise. Even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen!” and praised the Lord. Then the people did according to this promise.

Nehemiah’s Unselfishness

14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the governor’s provisions. 15 But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even the outcasts bore rule over the people, but I did not do so because of the fear of God. 16 Indeed, I also continued the work on this wall, and we did not buy any land. All my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 And at my table were one hundred and fifty Jews and rulers, besides those who came to us from the nations around us. 18 Now that which was prepared daily was one ox and six choice sheep. Also fowl were prepared for me, and once every ten days an abundance of all kinds of wine. Yet in spite of this I did not demand the governor’s provisions, because the bondage was heavy on this people. 19 Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.

  The Opposition Intensifies

1 Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that no gaps remained in the wall (though at the time I had not hung the doors in the gates), 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent a letter to me, saying, “Come, let us meet among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they were plotting to do harm to me. 3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing so great a work that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease? As soon as I finish it I will come down to you.” 4 And they sent me the same message again, and I answered them in the same manner. 5 Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, with an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written:

It is reported among the nations that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall that you may be their king. 7 And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, “There is a king in Judah!” Now these matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together.

8 Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say are being done, but in your own heart you invent them.” 9 For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, “Their hands will be weakened in the work, and the work will not be done.” Now, therefore, I have strengthened my hands.

10 Afterward I came into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, and he, being distressed, said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the door of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed at night they are coming to kill you.” 11 And I said, “Who is the man that shall enter the house in order to live?” 12 Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report that they might reproach me.

14 My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.

The Wall Is Completed

15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.

17 Also in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them. 18 For many in Judah were pledged to him because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah. 19 Also they reported his good deeds before me and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.

1 Then it was, when the wall was built and I had hung the doors, when the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, 2 I gave charge of Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many, along with Hananiah the leader of the citadel. 3 And I said to them, “Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard, let them shut and bar the doors; and appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, one at his watch station and another in front of his own house.”

Psalms 141

1 Understanding; by David, when he was in the cave; a prayer. 

2 I cried to the Lord with my voice, With my voice I prayed to the Lord. 

3 I shall pour out my supplication before Him; I shall declare my affliction in His presence. 

4 When my spirit fainted within me, Then You knew my paths; For on the way I was going, they hid a trap for me. 

5 I looked on my right, and saw There was no one who knew me; Refuge failed me, And there was no one who cared for my soul. 

6 I cried to You, O Lord; I said, “You are my hope, My portion in the land of the living. 

7 Attend to my supplication, For I was humbled exceedingly; Deliver me from my persecutors, For they are stronger than I. 

8 Bring my soul out of prison To give thanks to Your name, O Lord; The righteous shall wait for me, until You reward me.”

Proverbs of Solomon 30

Lessons from the Animals

16 The leech had three dearly loved daughters, And these three did not satisfy her, And the fourth did not satisfy her, for her to say, “It is enough.” 

17 Hades and the love of a woman And Tartarus and the earth not satisfied with water, And water and fire will not say, “It is enough.” 

18 The eye that mocks his father and dishonors the old age of his mother, Let the ravens of the valleys pick it out, And the young eagles devour it. 

19 Now there are three things I cannot understand, And a fourth I do not know: 

20 The track of a flying eagle, And the ways of a serpent upon a rock, 

21 And the paths of a ship passing through the sea, And the ways of a man in his youth.

Acts 5

The Apostles Arrested

17 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation,

18 and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison.

19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said,

20 “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”

21 And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

22 But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they returned and reported,

23 saying, “Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards standing outside before the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside!”

24 Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be.

25 So one came and told them, saying, “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!”

26 Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned.

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them,

28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”

29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.

31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

33 When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them.

34 Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while.

35 And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.

36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing.

37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed.

38 And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;

39 but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.”

Apostolic Evangelism

40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

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