Artaxerxes sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem. Sanballat and other enemies of the Jews oppose Nehemiah in rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem. Nehemiah arms the laborers and keeps the work progressing. Sanballat engages in intrigue against Nehemiah and the building of the wall. Nehemiah is undeterred from Sanballat’s efforts to harm him, and the Jews finish the construction of the wall.
Nehemiah 2; 4; 6
(See Nehemiah 2; 4; 6.)
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said:
“Nehemiah of the Old Testament is a great example of staying focused and committed to an important task. Nehemiah was an Israelite who lived in exile in Babylon and served as cupbearer to the king. One day the king asked Nehemiah why he seemed so sad. Nehemiah replied, ‘Why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ (graves), lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?’ (Nehemiah 2:3).
“When the king heard this, his heart was softened, and he gave Nehemiah the authority to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city. However, not everyone was happy with this plan. In fact, several rulers who lived near Jerusalem grieved exceedingly ‘that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel’ (Nehemiah 2:10). These men ‘took great indignation, and mocked the Jews’ (Nehemiah 4:1).
“Fearless, Nehemiah did not allow the opposition to distract him. Instead, he organized his resources and manpower and moved forward rebuilding the city, ‘for the people had a mind to work’ (Nehemiah 4:6).
“But as the walls of the city began to rise, opposition intensified. Nehemiah’s enemies threatened, conspired, and ridiculed. Their threats were very real, and they grew so intimidating that Nehemiah confessed, ‘They all made us afraid’ (Nehemiah 6:9). In spite of the danger and the ever-present threat of invasion, the work progressed. It was a time of stress, for every builder ‘had his sword girded by his side, and so builded’ (Nehemiah 4:18).
“As the work continued, Nehemiah’s enemies became more desperate. Four times they entreated him to leave the safety of the city and meet with them under the pretense of resolving the conflict, but Nehemiah knew that their intent was to do him harm. Each time they approached him, he responded with the same answer: ‘I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down’ (Nehemiah 6:3).
“What a remarkable response! With that clear and unchanging purpose of heart and mind, with that great resolve, the walls of Jerusalem rose until they were rebuilt in an astonishing 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15).
“Nehemiah refused to allow distractions to prevent him from doing what the Lord wanted him to do.”
(“We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 61.)