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Chapter 2:9-10 (ESV)

Posted on October 26, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 2:9-10 (ESV) - Then I came to the governors of the province Beyond the River and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.

Question to consider: How did Nehemiah’s approach to the king differ from that of Ezra?

It is interesting to compare and contrast the personalities and methods of Nehemiah and Ezra. Ezra was a young scribe and priest and full of zeal for the Lord. What he lacked in experience, he made up for in faith. He received papers to continue rebuilding Jerusalem by convincing the king that Israel’s captivity in Babylon was a temporary judgment by God for their sin rather than the power of Nebuchadnezzar, for in the end even Nebuchadnezzar came to extol the God of heaven. If Persia wanted to avoid a confrontation with this God, they would do well to allow Israel to rebuild Jerusalem. Having boasted about the power of God, Ezra was not in a position to ask for officers and horsemen to accompany them on the journey even though his group carried valuable treasure and building materials. God was faithful in bringing Ezra to Jerusalem and used Ezra to convict those in Israel who had already begun to violate God’s prohibition on taking wives from the nations that worshiped other gods.

Nehemiah appears to be more calculated and shrewd, for he earned the king’s favor as a trusted cup-bearer and was able to personalize the situation in such a way that the king desired to grant his request to let him have the necessary tools to restore Jerusalem. Nehemiah was then able to bring with him the full force of king Artaxerxes with legal papers, army officers and horsemen. This would be necessary because Sanballat the Horonite was the ruler of Samaria and Tobiah the ruler of the Ammonites, and they were not pleased that the rebuilding project they thought they had squashed over a decade before was now about to resume.

There are two things we can glean from today’s short passage in light of our study so far of Ezra and Nehemiah. The first is that God provides the means through which He accomplishes His will. God was able to use two different guys with two different personalities and skill sets to bring to Jerusalem the necessary workers, materials, and protection to rebuild the temple and city according to His promise. Even though Ezra and Nehemiah are descriptive texts giving us information about God’s intervention in human history, the descriptions reveal the character of God and the means through which He works. 

The writer of Hebrews strung together a number of these actions of God which were received by His people through faith as a means for us to have the reassurance that we can put our faith and trust in the righteousness of Christ. The apostle Peter recognized that all who belong to Christ have been given such skills in which to serve in the church, “ As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace,” (1 Peter 4:10)

The second thing we can glean is that God’s people can expect opposition whenever we seek to do the Lord’s work. There’s a reason Jesus referred to the devil as “the ruler of this world.” However, in that statement, He spoke of Himself being lifted up on the cross to overcome him. “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31) He further told the disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) As difficult as it is to go through tribulation by those who oppose the work of the Lord, we can trust that the opposition is temporary and will not prevail.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for providing for our needs and bringing about Your promises in the world. As difficult as it is to face opposition, please use our suffering to bring You glory and others to the realization that  Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing they may have life in His name. Amen.