“…Will [those feeble Jews] restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day?”
Last time we looked in as Sanballat renewed his mockery toward the rebuilding Jews. Today we press in on some more of his taunting. The first accusation slung at the rebuilders is whether they can restore (azab – commit self, fortify) their wall. This could be a good time to remember why a city wall was so important for these times. Our Jews lived in a savage world. We do as well, but we have things like the United Nations and treaties and rules of engagement.
Our Jewish rebuilders did not. To have Jerusalem unprotected not only invited enemies to attack, it made God’s people seem as though their God was absent. With the eyes of other nations on Yahweh’s Jerusalem, no wall made Him seem weak.
So Sanballat mocking the rebuilders of Jerusalem with the taunt that they may not commit themselves to such a huge task as fortifying the city wall, he is attacking the God they serve as well. This is never a good idea. Yahweh may be a good Father, insisting His children learn from disobedience. But those same children are the apple of His eye, and messing with them is messing with Him.
Sanballat them moves on to mock the Jews’ sacrificial service in Temple. He taunts, “Will they themselves offer sacrifices (zabach – to slay/slaughter)?” Oh, Sanballat. Not good. The sacred privilege of allowing the people to come before a holy God and ask for forgiveness is nothing to ridicule.
Shall we talk about leadership here? Because this word for sacrifice – to slay or slaughter – can be a convenient way for humans to lead as well. Not in obedience to a perfect God, but as a way to gain control. How often do we resort to slaughtering with words our fellow human beings in an attempt to find a scapegoat? The very definition of a scapegoat infers a slaying of sorts. Someone taking all the blame so we need not take any.
This is not how our Sacrificing God calls us to servant lead. He took on the role of Ultimate Scapegoat so we never need look for another. He was slaughtered so we don’t have to be. He was slayed by the hands of people so it is never necessary for us to look for fellow human beings to keep on slaying. It is finished.
Speaking of finished, this is the subject of Sanballat’s final mock in this section. Before his people and his army he taunts, “Will these feeble Jews finish in a day?” Finish is kalah – complete, accomplish, spent. And his timeline is ridiculous: in a day. He knows that is impossible yet ridicules their ability.
We know only One could accomplish it all. Only One could complete the Task in a day. Only One spent all He had for the sake of His creation.
Until everything on this broken planet is made right, all other leaders will fall short. Bowing down to the Most High Authority – Who didn’t spare even His Own Self to show His love – makes it possible to love and forgive and give and sacrifice until He is finally and forever King of all.
Until then we still bow.