Focus Scripture: Nehemiah 6:5-9
Poor Nehemiah. He is just doing what God told him to do in rebuilding the holy city and temple and yet he is the focus of false rumors that make others want to attack him. What can you do when others lie about you? Lying about your opponent seems to be the oldest trick in the book. Or one of them anyway. Here we see Nehemiah facing that very risk. He and others are rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem and the temple that had been destroyed when Babylon conquered Judah. And the enemies of Judah are concerned about what this might mean. So they are plotting. Several times they try to get Nehemiah to come and meet them where they can do him harm. But why? Why are they so intent on striking against Nehemiah?
Because someone has been saying that Nehemiah is planning on setting himself up as king. The rumor is that Nehemiah is going to revolt.
We only know this because finally Sanballat tells him what is being said. And it's more than just a rumor because, "Geshem says it is true."
It reminds me of the posts on social media that seemingly confirm rumors. But at their base, they are just rumors with no substance. Only if you know what is being said can you counter it. And that is what Nehemiah does: "Nothing like what you are saying is happening." Nehemiah has to stand up in the face of rumors and intimidation.
We see similar tactics tried today. Rumors fly from all sides. How can we know who is on the side of right? Are they just acting out of self-interest?
It seems much harder to tell truth from fiction today or maybe it is just that there is so much more fiction out there. How do you discern the truth when even our "news" agencies seem to have an agenda--even to the point that some have aired false stories and have even had to issue apologies when it was shown that their interest in pursuing an agenda led them to report stories without verifying the accuracy of their reporting.
Facebook and Twitter with their ease of sharing stories and the difficulty in verifying them have only exacerbated this problem. We even have a new term for it, "click bait." Often these stories have outrageous headlines which the content does not support, but in the meantime emotions get riled up and people are ready to attack, like those seeking to harm Nehemiah.
We can find ourselves in either Nehemiah's role or in the role of Sanballat. We can be the one attacked or the one hearing false rumors that get us riled up. In both bases we need to seek out the truth and listen for God's voice.