"One day I went to the house of Shemaiah…who was shut in at his home. He said, “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.”
But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 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." Neh 6:10-13, NIV
Nehemiah was a man of honour. He loved God and he loved his people. He was busy doing good and helping others. You would think a man like that would not have enemies. Wrong. Sometimes the more we do for God, the more opposition there is. After all, Satan wants to kill and destroy and he uses people to do it.
Shemaiah was an infiltrator. He was within the body of believers. One would have thought he could have been trusted to give good advice. And it did sound good - people are coming to kill you so you should hide in a safe place. What could be better advice than that?
How was Nehemiah able to discern the hidden motive and see the danger? Nehemiah was a man of principle. He knew the Word of God and he knew right from wrong. He would not allow himself to be moved by emotions or fear. Like the three Hebrew children in Daniel, he was determined to do what was right regardless of the consequences.
We need to be people who know and who can stand on the principles of God. Many people today make life decisions based on what a person's appearance is like or if they have a winning personality or if they know how to say the right things. And then they wonder why their lives are a mess. We need people of Godly character and Biblical principles. Even many sincere Christian people to do not understand how to apply Godly principles in practical situations. Things like minimum wage may sound so good, but in fact cause unemployment and hurt the poor. It is not enough to have good intentions. We must know the right path to take.
Nehemiah was also a man of courage. He almost sounds offended at the suggestion that he should run from trouble! He had a job to do and he was going to do it. No running and hiding for him.
The purpose behind this attack was to get Nehemiah to violate the temple…to go where only priests should go in order to ruin his reputation as a man of God. If the devil cannot get us to abandon God, he may tempt us into situations where we could compromise our effectiveness for the Kingdom of God. He tried this on Jesus on several occasions [Caesar's coin, etc.], but always failed. We need to be wise as we walk through life. Things are not always as they appear. We need to be able to discern hidden motives. Being committed to Biblical principles, listening to the advice of Godly people, and having the discernment of the Holy Spirit will see us through.