This lesson focuses on Nehemiah’s opposition to rebuild the wall. Students will discover from Nehemiah’s example how they can overcome obstacles they may face to serve and obey God. This lesson was created for older students but can easily be adapted to use for your ministry needs.
Bible Passage: Nehemiah 4,6
Bible Story Title: Nehemiah’s Opposition
Target Age Group: Ages 9-11 (3rd-5th Grade U.S.A.)
Target Time Frame: 60 Minutes
Original Teaching Context: Sunday School
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Credits: Image courtesy of Sweet Publishing and Distant Shores Media
Supply List: Bibles, Floor puzzle (smaller puzzle will work too)
Learning Goal: Students will learn that nothing can stop God’s work.
Learning Activity #1: Floor puzzle activity. Have students work together putting the floor puzzle together. Discuss with the students as they put it together what they think the puzzle is a picture of (we used a Noah’s ark floor puzzle). Once the puzzle is assembled talk about how God is working through believers to accomplish His Work. Each believer is a piece of the bigger picture (1 Peter 2:4-6). We may not always see the bigger picture as we do the work God has given us to do. As we faithfully serve and obey God one day we will see how everyone’s work fit together. Take a piece or two from the puzzle. If someone chooses to give up and not serve does that mean God’s work can’t be completed? (No, nothing can stop God’s work. The person that chooses to quit will miss out on the blessings that come from serving the Lord/rewards)
Memory Verse: Nehemiah 6:16 “When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.”
Bible Lesson: Nehemiah’s Opposition (Nehemiah 4,6)
Last week we learned about how Nehemiah and the people living in Jerusalem began to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. We discovered that many people worked on different sections of the walls. There were priests, rulers, goldsmiths, perfume-makers and women who helped repair the walls. We also learned that the nobles in Tekoa wouldn’t do the work.
What did we learn about believers’ work? God is doing His work in and through each believer. Believers are building up their own faith, building up other believers and sharing the Gospel. Just as Baruch built his section of the wall zealously, believers are to serve God with all their heart and do their work as unto Him.
Let’s turn to Nehemiah 4. Today we are going to be examining Nehemiah 4 and 6 and discover that no matter how difficult the enemies made things, God’s work could not be stopped.
Let’s read 4:1-3. Sanballat and Tobiah are enemies of the work in Jerusalem. Ultimately they are enemies of God because they are trying to stop His work. The method of their attack against Nehemiah and the Jews rebuilding the wall was ridicule. In what way did these enemies mock or ridicule the Jews? (What are these feeble Jews doing? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble-burned as they are? What they are building even if a fox climbed on it, he could break it down.)
Believers have an enemy too. Who is he? (Satan) He will use others to mock and ridicule believers to try to keep them from doing God’s Work. When believers serve God by sharing the Good News with others they may be mocked or ridiculed. Have you ever been mocked or ridiculed for sharing your faith in Jesus with others?
Let’s read 4:4-5. Nehemiah sets an example for all believers by not allowing the lies of the enemy to stop him from God’s work. What does he do? (Pray)
When we are made fun of because of what we believe we should always tell it to Jesus and pray that God would take care of our enemies.
Nehemiah and the Jewish people kept working and they rebuilt the walls to half their height. The enemies did not keep them from doing God’s work.
Read 4:7-8. God’s enemies stepped up their attack. How did they try to stop God’s work? (They plotted to come and fight, stir up trouble.)
Read Nehemiah 4:9. How did Nehemiah respond? (Prayed and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.)
God’s truth for believers: All believers must be on guard for the enemy. 1 Peter 5:8-9a “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith,”
The people began to grow weary in the rebuilding of the wall (4:10-12) and hearing the death threats from the enemy. Nehemiah placed families with weapons to guard the most open areas of the wall to protect against attacks. Let’s read verse 14. How does Nehemiah encourage the Jewish people? (Tells them to remember that God is great and awesome)
God’s truth for believers: When believers grow weary doing God’s work we need to remember that God is great and awesome and keep working.
Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Read verse 15. Who frustrated the enemies plan? (God)
(Nehemiah 4:16-23) The rebuilding of the walls continued with half of Nehemiah’s men armed and ready to protect God’s people (4:16). Those who gathered the materials and brought them to the builders used one hand to carry the materials and the other hand held a weapon (4:17). Each builder had a sword by their side as they worked.
Truth for believers: As believers do God’s work they must be equipped to stand firm against the enemy. Ephesians 6:10-18 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,”
Let’s turn to Nehemiah 6. Read 1-4. The enemies of God see that the work has been complete and decide to change their strategy to attack Nehemiah. What do you think they are trying to do by inviting Nehemiah to come meet with them? (Stop him from working and possibly harm him. If they take out the leader of the wall repair they may be able to stop the entire work.)
How does Nehemiah respond to Sanballat and Tobiah? (Verse 3) How many times did they ask him to meet with them? (Four) What was Nehemiah’s response each time? (The same answer. Verse 3)
False Accusations (rumors):
Read verses 5-9. This time the enemies of God are spreading false rumors about Nehemiah.
How does Nehemiah respond to this threat? (Verse 8 “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”)
Nehemiah’s trust was in God. God had given Nehemiah work to do and he was faithfully doing that work. Nehemiah’s trust in God is revealed by the fact that he continuously prays. Every time a threat takes place we hear him pray to the Lord. Read verse 9.
Temptation to ruin reputation:
(Nehemiah 6:10-13) The enemies try a different approach to attack Nehemiah. They use another man named Shemaiah. He tries to convince Nehemiah that they should go and lock themselves in the temple to protect themselves from the men who were coming to kill them.
Let’s read verses 11-13. Nehemiah recognizes God had not sent Shemaiah to help him because he was trying to get him to sin by entering the temple where he was not allowed to be. Only priests were allowed inside the temple. If Nehemiah followed the advice of Shemaiah he would have sinned and they could accuse him of being a sinful leader. The enemies were trying to ruin Nehemiah’s reputation. (More intimidation tactics are used in verse 19)
Once again we hear Nehemiah’s prayer in verse 14.
Truth for believers: Sometimes the enemy will try to distract us and try to get us to stop serving God. Sometimes the enemy will tell you lies that if you believe them can discourage you and keep you from serving. Sometimes believers will be tempted to sin and their reputation as a Christian will be harmed if they give in to the temptation. Just as Nehemiah continuously prays to God when the enemies attacked him, believers need to daily walk with the Lord Jesus. We need to read, study and obey God’s Word and pray without ceasing. The only way we can stand against the enemy is to be fully prepared for all of his attacks. Only God can help us to recognize the attacks that are not so obvious.
As we close we are going to read verses 15-16. How many days did it take to rebuild the walls? (52) What did the enemies do when they heard about the completion of the walls? (Afraid, lost their self-confidence) Who did they realize helped them rebuild the walls? (God)
Truth for believers: God has given each believer work to do (Ephesians 2:10). He has given each believer His Holy Spirit to empower them to do His work (Zechariah 4:6). He gives each one of us the skills and talent to do the work (Romans 12:4-8). Because it is God’s work, God’s enemy will attack believers and try to get them to stop serving God.
If you and I are believers we need to keep our eyes on God and remember that it is His work (Neh. 4:14). Nothing can stop His work (Job 42:2). You might ask what if I sin and stop serving Jesus does that stop God’s work? No. He can use anyone He wants to complete His work, you will miss out on His blessing and reward if you choose to stop serving.
Jesus is building His church. He is the cornerstone and each person who believes in Him is a part of His church (1 Peter 2:4-6). As the Jewish people used blocks of stones to rebuild the wall, Jesus takes each person who puts their faith in Him and builds His Church. Those who do not put their faith in Jesus trip over Him and fall down. “They stumble because they disobey the message-“1 Peter 2:8
Today you are either a building block in the hand of Jesus or you are tripping and falling over Jesus the Cornerstone. If you are stumbling around apart from God, you can Admit that you are a sinner and need forgiveness for your sins. You can believe that Jesus is the Savior (He died, was buried and rose again the third day) and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. If you would like to become a Christian and have questions please talk to us after we pray.
Let’s close in prayer and ask God to help us to stand firm and serve Him faithfully so we can see His amazing power to do His work in and through our lives.
- What are the names of the two enemies of the Jewish people? (Sanballat and Tobiah)
- Who is God’s enemy? (Satan)
- How did Nehemiah respond when the enemies attacked? (Prayed, reminded people to look to God)
- How did the people work and protect themselves from the enemy? (1/2 the men were armed and ready to protect, gatherers carried in one hand and had weapon in other, builders always had a sword at their side)
- Who frustrated/stopped the enemies’ plan? (God)
- Why is it important for believers to read and obey God’s Word? (So they can stand firm in their faith and recognize the enemy’s attacks, etc.)
- What new truth did you learn today?
- What can you do this week to help you stand firm in your faith?