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Tobiah and Sanballat won't Stop

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

Rev. Enoch Thompson| November 11, 2023 | Nehemiah 4:1-6


When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, . . . Nehemiah 4:1 (NIV)


In spite of the attempts of the enemies of the Jews to mock, ridicule and blackmail the work of God in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:19), Chapter 3 is a beautiful rendition of the determination of a people of faith to take their destiny into their own hands, under God, and to achieve what God had put in their heart to do. In chapter 4 we see more of the opposition to the rebuilding of the walls, and how effectively Nehemiah managed the situation.

One of the lessons life has taught me is that the enemies of your soul, and your progress, those who hate your welfare, doubt your capabilities, seek to undermine your integrity, and destroy your good name, will not stop attacking you, no, not even when it is apparent that by the grace of God you are making good progress. The successes chalked by the Jews in Chapter 3 should have told Sanballat and co that God was at work in Israel, and that the opposition to the rebuilding effort should stop.

When your detractors cannot get you to stop a good work, they may get angry at you and your good work, cast doubts on your ability to succeed, and ridicule the good work with people of evil minds.

When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, "What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble — burned as they are?" (Nehemiah 4:1-2), NIV.

Satan hates you, and your alliance with God. He will oppose you and seek to discourage you. Don’t expect the Devil and his agents ever to appreciate you or give you respect and respite. They won’t stop!


Don’t assume that the enemies of your progress will stop attacking your progress. It is dangerous to assume they will. Don’t be surprised that Sanballat and Tobiah don’t seem to see the obvious successes you have chalked. That is how they are, and that is how they will be. Stay strong and remain focused. Don’t mind Sanballat and Tobiah!


Dear Lord God, thank you for the grace you have given me to travel this far. Despite the opposition, thank you for the successes I have chalked by your grace. Please help me to stay focused on your purposes in my life. Lord, confound Sanballat and his associates, and may your work in and through my life succeed. For Jesus’ dear Name’s sake, Amen.





Character Study: Sanballat and Tobiah in the Rebuilding Process:

  • Sanballat:

Hebrew Name: סַנְבַּלַּט (Sanballat)

Meaning: "Sin has given life."

Role in Opposition: Sanballat is a prominent figure among the adversaries opposing the rebuilding of the wall. His name, ironically, suggests a negative force that opposes the life-giving restoration of Jerusalem's walls.

Motivation: His anger and incensed reaction to the news of the wall's rebuilding suggest a personal or political motive against the restoration of Jerusalem. His opposition appears rooted in a desire to maintain the status quo that was unfavourable to the Jews.

Ridicule: Sanballat resorts to ridicule as a means of discouraging and mocking the Jews. This tactic aims to undermine their confidence and determination to rebuild.

  • Tobiah:

Hebrew Name: טוֹבִיָּה (Tobiyah)

Meaning: "Yahweh is good" or "Yahweh is my good."

Role in Opposition: Tobiah, like Sanballat, stands as an adversary to the rebuilding efforts. Despite the positive connotation of his name, his actions align with those opposing the restoration.

Association with Sanballat: Tobiah is often mentioned alongside Sanballat, indicating a collaborative effort in opposition. The irony of his name contrasts with his role in hindering a project that seeks the restoration of God's city.

Strategies: Tobiah, along with Sanballat, engages in strategies to hinder progress. Later in Nehemiah, we see him attempting to infiltrate the efforts of the Jews from within.

  • Understanding Their Role:

    • Obstruction and Opposition: Sanballat and Tobiah symbolize external opposition to positive change. Their efforts represent forces that resist restoration, seeking to maintain brokenness and prevent the flourishing of God's purposes.

    • Spiritual Significance: The names of both adversaries, ironically, carry meanings that align with positive attributes. This highlights the potential for even seemingly "good" aspects to be misused in opposition to God's work.


In the face of opposition, how can we embody the resilience and determination demonstrated by Nehemiah and the people, overcoming obstacles to fulfil God's purposes?

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