Knowing the strategies of the enemy, by Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu


Nehemiah 2:19-20 brings out the theme of opposition first identified in 2:10. The main opposing figures are two. They are Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite. Later accounts include Geshem the Arabian (Neh 2:19; 4:1). These men were greatly upset that someone had come to help the Israelites with their problems. Like Nehemiah, those serving God will inevitably encounter opposition. In this study, therefore, an attempt is made to look at the strategies that these identified adversaries used to oppose Nehemiah in building the wall of Jerusalem. Accordingly, we will look at how Nehemiah skillfully responded to these adversaries and thus what we can learn from each strategy. Before looking at their strategies, it is important that we briefly study their backgrounds.

Knowing Nehemiah’s Adversaries

Nehemiah’s efforts to building the wall encountered opposition by some people who could be identified as enemies. It is interesting to imagine that some people could just stand out to oppose a good project. Insightfully, it could be observed that these men were all enemies of the Jews.

Nehemiah 4:2 tells us that Sanballat belonged to the army of Samaria. This presupposes that he was part of the mixed breed of Samaritans who had been brought into the land by the Assyrians after they removed the northern tribes of Israel into captivity. In this case, they were not real Israelites and had no inheritance in Israel (2:20). Worshipping God was a perversion. They professed to serve God but included idol worship. Tobiah was an Ammonite. The Amonites were descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot. The Ammonites lived near the desert east of the Jordan River.

Geshem was an Arab. The Arabians have not been mentioned much in the Old Testament and they appear to have traveled from place to place without settling in any one area. By this time, however, at least some of these people must have lived in or near the area of Jerusalem. So they were not happy to see the Jews prosper.

All three of these men had some local authority and influence. It is most probable that they were among the governors because they reacted immediately after Nehemiah reported about his project.

It is most probable that our human opposers might be influenced by long family history or cultural traditions. It is worth trying to briefly look at some background information of our adversaries for a possible wise response.

The strategies that the enemy used to oppose the work

  1. Grieving  (Neh 2:10)
  2. Mockery (laughter) – (Neh 2:19)
  3. Wrath and indignation (Neh 4:1-3)
  4.  Fighting – (Neh 4:7-8)
  5. Subtlety or crafty (6:5-7).
  6. Accusation – (6:5-9)

Let us arise and build (Nehemiah 2:11-18), Rev. Dr John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg, Bible study material


This studies on Nehemiah 2:11-19 focuses on the dynamics of sharing a vision and motivating others to engage in projects for transformational development. It brings out the essentials of motivating others for transformational development in the Church and our communities. In this light, the steps that Nehemiah took when he arrived in Jerusalem for the building of the wall of Jerusalem, to be discussed include, taking reflective rest, examination of the broken wall, inspiring confidence in some core team, communicating the vision and owning the vision by the people to rebuild the wall.

Examining and analysing the situation (Neh 2:11-15)

Upon reaching Jerusalem, as a first step, Nehemiah rested for three days. What he did in these three days is not clear in the passage. However, it is most probable that he used the time to thoughtfully plan his vision and mission. To accomplish a great task, planning should be key. Second, Nehemiah went on his fact-finding mission to have a fresh experience of the broken wall. In this effort, he went alone, especially at night. Worth learning from Nehemiah is that he did not only rely on the reports on the wall. He took time to investigate for himself before taking the next step.

Sharing the vision to rebuild the wall (Neh 2:16-17)

Nehemiah kept his plan of rebuilding the wall secrete. For the other officials of the Jews knew nothing about his plan. He had told them nothing of his purpose nor of his examination of the wall. In these verses and at this point, however, Nehemiah met with them and explained to them his intention. As a first step, Nehemiah motivated them by describing the problem they were facing. He explained to them about the distress they find themselves in because of the broken wall and the burning of the gate. It is important to state here that although the people knew the problem, they had not yet thought of the seriousness of the problem. In this case, Nehemiah encouraged them to build the wall so they would no longer be in reproach. The wall gave them security, power and influence. Also, building the wall related to restoring their favour and sense of dedication to God.

In relating Nehemiah’s call to rebuilding the wall to the building God’s church, it could be observed that sometimes, God’s church faces some internal and external problems. Sometimes the church has only a few committed members. Other times there are some doctrinal challenges, problems about immorality among members and the inability of the members to get along with other members. In all these challenges, the members need to be motivated to work and as a first attempt, we are called to describe to them in honest terms the problems that they face.

Nehemiah communicated his credibility and how God has been to him to the leaders

In motivating others to join in the project, Nehemiah also shared his credibility with the people. First, he told them about the good things that he had already accomplished. Nehemiah had the favour of God and that of the king in the diaspora. It is important to emphasize here that Nehemiah constantly gave God the credit. Establishing integrity and winning the confidence of people is essential in successful leadership.

Favourable response of the people: The call to action (Neh 2:18)

Having received Nehemiah’s vision, the people responded by saying, “Let us rise up and build!” They strengthened themselves for the work. For that reason, they made the necessary preparations. They did not just talk about what needed to be done. They immediately proceeded to do what was needed to accomplish the job. They moved from talking to action. This positive attitude is what is needed today in building God’s Church and God’s Kingdom.

Worthy of note here is that many people are willing to do something for God if they have good leaders to challenge them. The world and God’s churches need dedicated leadership for transformation. In Nehemiah’s time, the wall had been broken for so many years. Yet they had no leader to motivate them to work till Nehemiah came to the scene.


Having a dream of a better future is one thing. Sharing the dream with others to own it and getting them involved is another thing. In Neh 2:11-18, Nehemiah describes how he took the necessary steps in sharing his vision and motivating others to get involved. It is important to observe that meaningful communication is an essential step in bringing about the transformation of our communities. Share the dream and be willing to get others involved. The positive response of the people has a lot to tell us. The goal should be towards joining the vision and the task of building God’s Kingdom without being concerned about who gets the credit. God’s name would be glorified at the end of the project. Let us, therefore, arise and build, for there is more to be done in God’s Kingdom. The call to action is now.