By Rev Clifford Chisha
After making several failed attempts to cause Nehemiah and his team to stop rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and the temple, Tobiah and Sanballat hired Shemaiah to mislead Nehemiah.
Though not much is known about him, Shemaiah was most likely a priest and was an insider, he was part of Jerusalem.
Usually, enemies target insiders or people you cannot suspect to mislead you or bring your downfall.
They want you to make mistakes they can capitalize on or use against you.
One day Nehemiah went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home.
He said to Nehemiah, “Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you-by night they are coming to kill you.”
Nehemiah had many enemies who were opposed to the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem which he was spearheading.
Therefore, getting a warning through a prophecy from Shemaiah and a suggestion to take refuge in the temple could have been taken seriously and appreciated.
The words Shemaiah uttered were not bad in themselves but the source and the intent were questionable.
You need to have the ability to hear beyond what is said.
Checking what is behind the words does help.
Not every good suggestion and advice is good.
What makes good suggestions and advice to be good is the motive of its giver.
Here is how Nehemiah responded, “Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!”
Why did Nehemiah respond that way? Nehemiah 6:12 reveals the reasons.
“I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.”
Nehemiah realized that God had not sent Shemaiah.
Therefore whatever he uttered did not come from God. He was sent by Nehemiah’s enemies.
What was very key was that Nehemiah realized that God had not sent Shemaiah.
If Nehemiah had not picked or discerned that Shemaiah had not been sent by God, he could have been misled.
Tobiah and Sanballat tried to be smart.
They only needed to mislead the leader to mislead the entire team.
It is very important to be sensitive.
Some people may be hired to mislead you.
“He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.” (NEHEMIAH 6:13)
The prophecy and suggestion Shemaiah gave were just a set-up.
They wanted to cause Nehemiah to lock himself up in the temple and then use it against him-to show the people he was leading that their leader was a coward.
He was going to be discredited or taunted to cause his followers to lose confidence in him.
The leader locking himself up leaving his followers vulnerable was going to be a bad picture.
It was going to mean that they were not in safe hands.
Confusion, disunity is what was likely to be the outcome and maybe even the halting of the rebuilding project.
That did not happen because Nehemiah was a very sensitive leader.
Are you a sensitive leader?
Are you sure you have not fallen prey to those who have been hired to mislead you?
Be careful, those who are hired to mislead usually seem to care, they sound like they mean well.
They sound like good advisors.
Shemaiah was not faithful to his calling and was very unpatriotic.
He allowed himself to be bought at the expense of his calling, his people and most likely, his relatives.
Do you behave like Shemaiah?