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Nehemiah 2:17-20 meaning...

This tells the story of Nehemiah, a Jewish exile who served as the cupbearer to the Persian king, Artaxerxes. Nehemiah receives news about the dire condition of Jerusalem, including its broken walls and gates. He is granted permission by King Artaxerxes to return to Jerusalem and oversee the rebuilding of its walls and gates. Nehemiah 2:17-20 captures a pivotal moment when Nehemiah addresses the people of Jerusalem and encounters opposition from some of his adversaries.

  • Key Points:

Assessment of Jerusalem's Condition: In verse 17, Nehemiah begins by acknowledging the dire state of Jerusalem. He describes how the city lies in ruins with its walls destroyed and gates burned. This realization prompts him to call upon the people to join in the effort to rebuild the city's defenses.

Inspiration and Encouragement: Nehemiah shares with the people that he has seen the hand of his God upon him and has received favorable words from the king. He attributes his ability to undertake this project to God's guidance and the king's support, inspiring hope and determination among the people.

Opposition and Ridicule: As often happens when positive change is initiated, opposition arises. Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, regional leaders, ridicule and despise Nehemiah and the people's efforts. They question whether the project amounts to rebellion against the king.

Nehemiah's Response: Nehemiah responds with conviction, affirming his faith in the God of heaven. He declares that God will prosper their work and states that those who oppose them have no part in Jerusalem's restoration.

  • Significance:

Leadership and Vision: Nehemiah exemplifies strong leadership and vision. He recognizes the problem, articulates a plan, and motivates the people to act. His reliance on God's guidance and the king's favor underscores the importance of faith and practicality in leadership.

Overcoming Opposition: The passage illustrates the inevitability of opposition when pursuing significant change or righteous goals. Nehemiah's steadfastness and trust in God provide an example of how to respond to such opposition with confidence.

Commitment to God's Work: Nehemiah's declaration that the project's success depends on the God of heaven reflects a commitment to divine purposes and a reliance on God's provision.

  • Application:

Leadership and Vision: It encourages leaders to seek God's guidance and articulate a compelling vision for a righteous cause. Like Nehemiah, leaders should inspire and motivate others to take action.

Facing Opposition: When pursuing positive change or God's will, opposition may arise. Believers are reminded to stay steadfast, trusting in God's providence, and not be deterred by ridicule or challenges.

Commitment to God's Work: The passage underscores the importance of committing to and relying on God's work. Believers should recognize that success in God's service depends on His guidance and provision.


Proverbs 29:18: "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but one who keeps the law is blessed." This verse highlights the significance of having a vision or revelation to guide a community.

Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." This verse emphasizes the role of faith and divine strength in achieving challenging goals.

Nehemiah 2:17-20 portrays Nehemiah's leadership, vision, and determination to rebuild Jerusalem's walls and gates. It also reveals the opposition he faced from adversaries. This passage offers timeless lessons about leadership, overcoming opposition, and the importance of commitment to God's work.

Nehemiah 2:17-20. I said to them, “You see the evil case that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come, let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we won’t be disgraced.” I told them of the hand of my God which was good on me, as also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. They said, “Let’s rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they ridiculed us, and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?” Then answered I them, and said to them, “The God of heaven will prosper us. Therefore we, his servants, will arise and build; but you have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.”


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