“But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said,
‘What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?’
Then I replied to them, ‘The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.’
Nehemiah 2:19-20 (ESV)
The last time we heard from Sanballat and Tobiah was when our leader first headed out on his journey toward Jerusalem. In a complicated political situation, these leaders were greatly disturbed Nehemiah had come to seek the good of the city and its people. Now, a ways into Nehemiah’s stay in Zion, we see the two leaders – along with a new Arabic companion – take it another step: Mockery.
Literally, their bazah (contempt) and laag (sneering) was hovering over (al) Nehemiah and his crew. I particularly appreciate the turn of phrase here. Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem say, “What are attah – (you yourself) trying to do?”
And Nehemiah says, “Me myself? Nothing. But the Creator God (Elohim) of all the heavens (shamayim)? He Himself (hu) will tsalach – come mightily. And we ourselves (anachnu) will arise (qum) and rebuild (banah).”
Don’t you love how Nehemiah neither discounts his team’s work of rebuilding nor places it at the center of the argument? He places Creator God in the center and hard work in obedience to Him as the result.
Oh but our leader isn’t done. He pushes back at the taunts and derision, pointing out how these scoffers have no:
- zikkaron – memorial, record, remembrance
in Jerusalem (Yerushalayim).
Nehemiah is proud here of his Jewish roots and his people’s passion to rebuild their city. He has no intention of stopping simply because those who care nothing about the history or of Zion or the Righteous God of the City have some taunts.
Friends, you yourself cannot do this alone. Whatever “this” looks like in your life right now. We need each other. On our own, we can do nothing of lasting eternal value. Sometimes we can barely do the next right thing.
But with our community? Impossible things can become possible. Overwhelmed feelings vanish as we rely on each other’s gifts and presence and shared weaknesses. We can exhale.
And fortunately we don’t have to be anyone’s savior, nor do we need to search around for someone to be our everything. Because He Himself comes through mightily in His interdependent Body. The very center of our attention and affection and focus. We simply arise and serve.
You might appreciate the original Hebrew for Jerusalem – Yerushalayim. It means “foundation of peace” from shalam – amends, make an end, finish, give again, peace, make restitution, restore. Isn’t that a wonderful meaning for the City of God? How we will need to continue to make amends, let arguments be finished, and restore relationships as we live life with each other. There is no peace without it.As for pointing out to someone they have no inheritance in Zion, fortunately we live during a tenure on planet earth when the floodgates are open. Anyone, no matter how much they have scoffed at Him or His people, is welcome in the family. We need no certain heritage, memorial, or righteousness to come. Simply the blood of the cross of Jesus and our belief that He finished it for us makes us His child.