Written in 2004, the following article, written by Ephraim Frank, posted on Etz B’ney Yosef, stands as a solemn warning that the plans to rebuild will not go unhindered. As it was in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, we, too, must hold our swords in one hand and our trowels in the other as we work together to protect the infant that was born in Tampa on March 6 and rebuild the northern kingdom of the House of Israel. “And our adversaries said, ‘They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease’” (Nehemiah 4:11). The Sanballot attitude of being “deeply disturbed” over the king’s plan to allow the restoration of Jerusalem is as prevalent today as it was in the days of Nehemiah. Now it makes sense why, after I repented of my sins in 1998 and began to hungrily read my Bible, it was the Book of Nehemiah that over and over drew my attention.
In the past we have written much about the national identity of the second stick Joseph/Ephraim, which has stirred up an ancient spirit that despises and loathes the national identity of the (whole) House of Jacob. Even though YHVH divided the Israelite nation into two nations (ref. Ezekiel 37:22), His prophetic intent had always been to restore and bring those two nations back together again. We hear a lot about anti-Semitism, which is directed at our brother Judah and the present State of Israel, but now that the second stick, or nation, of Ephraim is being restored and exposed we should expect that that same hate-filled spirit would also try to assault and infiltrate the Ephraimite camp. We have several good examples of this spirit of hatred manifesting in the family of Isaac: Jacob’s brother, Esau, wanted to kill him over the birthright. Joseph’s brothers wanted to annihilate him over the same issue. The Israelite nation, making its way out from the house of bondage, was accosted by the Amalekites (descendants of the firstborn of Esau’s family), who tried to exterminate them.
In the Psalms, King David points out that there are ten nations (all descendants of firstborn) who are trying to prevent Israel from becoming a nation: “For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more” (Psalm 83:2-4).
Why would these nations want to keep Israel from becoming a single nation, or at least (to begin with), two nations? The answer is evident from the above-mentioned examples; they are jealous over a position that YHVH has conferred upon His chosen firstborn. This status has to do with His kingdom-order in the family of Noah, called the “Melchizedec office” of King and Priest. It is a position that was held by twenty three Elders from Adam to Jacob, while in the generation of Abraham YHVH made an adjustment in the position, granting it to a nation rather than to an individual (as it had been hitherto). YHVH made a covenant with His servant Abraham, that out of his sperm, through his wife Sarah, the Patriarch would father a chosen nation. This chosen nation would be the firstborn nation amongst all the nations of humanity.
Even before Abram (as he was called then), we see this plan already intact, as in the days of Paleg (another firstborn whose name means “to divide”) YHVH divided the nations according to the twelve tribes of Israel: “When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam [which would have been during the days of Peleg], He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel. For YHVH’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance” (Deut. 32:8-9). Today we cannot afford to ignore YHVH’s plan for the redemption of creation, and the fact that we have a very active spiritual enemy who does not want this to come to pass. Remember, our battle is not against flesh and blood: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Each time YHVH set off a restoration work in the People of Israel, the enemy immediately stepped in and tried to hinder the work. Daniel for example, knew the times of the restoration and proceeded to intercede and repent, but was opposed by the Prince of Persia and the Prince of Greece (two of Satan’s most powerful princes, who help him govern the dual religious and political system of his kingdom).
In the days of Ezra the enemies’ tactics were to try and join forces with the Jews, hoping in this manner to confuse and keep the workers from succeeding in carrying out their task. When Ezra declined their proposal, they made an attempt to get the authorities to bring the work to a halt. In the days of Nehemiah, for instance, the king gave permission and sent letters to the governors of the province authorizing Nehemiah to come and seek the wellbeing of the Children of Israel, and to restore Jerusalem. However, “When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel” (Nehemiah 2:10). Why were they “deeply disturbed”? Why, when the king gives permission to restore YHVH’s dwelling place, does this attitude flare up in the hearts of these two men?
Let’s watch the progression of the attitude and activity of Sanballat, and of others who were spurred by the enemy through pride and jealousy, to stop the work. “But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?” (Nehemiah 2:19). Notice how the word is spreading to others, and in spite of being aware of the king’s injunctions they lie in order to discourage the workers. Their attitude has now progressed from jealousy to lying, and then to laugher and malice. Incidentally, these attitudes are not only directed toward Nehemiah and the workers, but indirectly also toward the king.
The attacks, however, only helped Nehemiah and the laborers to organize themselves and work more cooperatively, and so did the enemies’ tactics and attitudes change also. “But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish — stones that are burned?’ Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, ‘Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall’” (Nehemiah 4:1-3).
Since Sanballat wasn’t getting his way, he had become furious and indignant and continued mocking the Jews. He also began to gather up an army of people around him in order to carry out his sinister plan. The workmen, however, through prayer and keeping a watchful eye on the enemy, managed to press on with the work.
“Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion” (Nehemiah. 4:7-8).
Things are getting progressively worse, as more are added to the ranks of the enemy, and are being filled with fierce anger toward what YHVH is doing in the restoration of the City of the King, His dwelling place. The development from jealousy to hatred is short only of murder. Up to this point the enemies have not succeeded to stop the work, but now they must come and create fear and confusion amongst the workers: “And our adversaries said, ‘They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease’” (Nehemiah 4:11). In order to move right into the camp the wolves are now going to cover themselves in sheep’s’ clothing, this being the most dangerous of all of the enemy’s tactics. They will call you brother and say that they are standing with you in the work, but this is just a cover up for the jealousy, hatred and eventual murder, which they are harboring in their hearts.
Do study how Nehemiah and the others responded to each progressive attack of the enemy, as there is much to be learnt from this on how to proceed in the work of the restoration of the two nations/sticks and the whole House of Israel. Warn those who are cooperating with the enemy of a faithful covenant-keeping Elohim, that it might be wise to take the advice of the great sage Gamaliel, whose attitude was summed up in the following words: “And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it — lest you even be found to fight against God” (Acts 5:38-39).