Everything Shemaiah says and does is like friendship, but it is treason. Nehemiah recognizes that Shemaiah is not used by the LORD, but by the adversary, that he even let himself be bribed to do this. Nehemiah’s answer is clear again. When he speaks about “ a man like me”, he expresses the awareness of his responsible position. He simply cannot abandon the work he is doing. He knows that God has called him to this work.
He gives two reasons for his refusal to come. First, he does not allow himself to be frightened. Never will he leave his post for fear and flee (Psa 11:11For the choir director. [A Psalm] of David.
In the LORD I take refuge;
How can you say to my soul, “Flee [as] a bird to your mountain;
). If he did, he would set a very bad example. With the courage of faith and trust in God, he resists the enemy. Secondly, he knows that the place he is offered as a refuge is forbidden territory for him. Entering the temple is only allowed to the priests (Num 3:1010So you shall appoint Aaron and his sons that they may keep their priesthood, but the layman who comes near shall be put to death.”; 18:77But you and your sons with you shall attend to your priesthood for everything concerning the altar and inside the veil, and you are to perform service. I am giving you the priesthood as a bestowed service, but the outsider who comes near shall be put to death.”). Going there would be the end of his life and therefore of his work.
It is always important to understand the motives behind any proposal to keep us away from the Lord’s work, even if only for a moment. If we are asked to flee, we must consider from whom this request comes. If it comes from the enemy, we will find that he is appealing to our fear for our own skin. The decision must then be that we stay. It may also be that the Lord Jesus says this to us. We will notice this in the thought that comes to mind that a flight will promote the work of God (Mt 10:2323“But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish [going through] the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.).
The enemy will always reveal himself through the safety he offers. That safety will always be associated with a place that harms God’s interests and plays into the hands of the enemy.
Nehemiah does not believe Shemaiah just like that. He “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1Jn 4:11Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.). God has ordered him to rebuild the wall. Would God now command him to flee? The only test is what God says. The test of God’s Word makes it clear that he is not dealing with a prophet speaking for God.
He is asked to perform an act contrary to God’s Word. By this Shemaiah is unmasked as a false prophet (Deu 13:55But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.). Shemaiah is hired like a Bileam to hurt one of God’s people by tempting him to commit a sinful act. Shemaiah is a corrupt and therefore false prophet. Money determines the message he brings. Money makes him blind to the right of God. The history of King Uzziah shows how God thinks about the unauthorized entering of the temple (2Chr 26:16-2016But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.17Then Azariah the priest entered after him and with him eighty priests of the LORD, valiant men.18They opposed Uzziah the king and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful and will have no honor from the LORD God.”19But Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged; and while he was enraged with the priests, the leprosy broke out on his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the altar of incense.20Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he [was] leprous on his forehead; and they hurried him out of there, and he himself also hastened to get out because the LORD had smitten him.).
Fear is never a good counselor. “The fear of man [m]brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD shall be put in a safe fortress” (Pro 29:2525Fear of man [someone] lays a trap,
But those who rely on the LORD are put in a safe fortress.
). The Lord Jesus does not allow Himself to be frightened and to be led into a wrong action (Lk 13:31-3231Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You.”32And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third [day] I reach My goal.’; cf. Jn 11:9-119Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.10But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”11This He said, and after that He *said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.”). No man can do God’s work if he allows himself to be led by what others say.
Avoiding persecution, a refusal to endure the cross, often stems from the fear of what ‘others will say’ if we want to do a certain work. Fear or anxiety is mentioned as the first characteristic of people who will be eternally in hell (Rev 21:88But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part [will be] in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”). Fear keeps people from making the right decision.