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Sermon No: 42265-Nehemiah - Chapter 4



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SERMON TOPIC: Nehemiah - Chapter 4

Speaker: Taryn Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 24 May 2019

Topic Groups: NEHEMIAH, LEADERSHIP, BOOK STUDY

Sermon synopsis: If we stop our reading at Chapter 3, it would appear the reconstruction of the wall went off without a hitch. Chapter 4 proves that was not the case. Throughout the chapter we can see advances, followed by immediate setbacks. Persecution is par for the course, seeing as how the founder of our faith was himself persecuted.

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“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, sat and wept, as we thought of Zion.” - Psalm 137:1

Nehemiah 4 New International Version (NIV)

4 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”

3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”

4 Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of[https://www.biblegateway.com/ passage/ ?search=Nehemiah+4&version=NIV">b] the builders.

6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

7 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. 8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. 9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the labourers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”

11 Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”

12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”

13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows.

14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.

16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armour. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”

21 So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. 22 At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.”23 Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.[https://www.biblegateway.com/ passage/ ?search=Nehemiah+4&version=NIV">c]

Rebuilding The Wall Opposition

If we stop our reading at Chapter 3, it would appear the reconstruction of the wall went off without a hitch. Chapter 4 proves that was not the case. Throughout the chapter we can see advances, followed by immediate setbacks. Persecution is par for the course, seeing as how the founder of our faith was himself persecuted.

_____________________________

Chapter 3: Advance

Chapter 4:1-3: Setback

Chapter 4:4-6: Advance

Chapter 4:7-8: Setback

Chapter 4:9: Advance Chapter 4:10-12: Setback

Chapter 4:13-23: Advance

Chapter 5:1-6: Setback

Rebuilding The Wall

Chapter 3: Advance

Chapter 4:1-3: Setback

1When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”

Chapter 4:4-6: Advance

4 Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of[https://www.biblegateway.com/ passage/ ?search=Nehemiah+4&version=NIV">b] the builders.6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

Chapter 4:7-8: Setback 7 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. 8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.

Rebuilding The Wall

Chapter 4:9: Advance 9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

Chapter 4:10-12: Setback

10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the labourers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.” 11 Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.” 12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.” 10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.” 11 Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.” 12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”

Rebuilding The Wall

Chapter 4:13-23: Advance

13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” 15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work. 16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armour. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!” 21 So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. 22 At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.”23 Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water

Chapter 5:1-6: Setback

Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews. 2 Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.” 3 Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.” 4 Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. 5 Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.” 6 When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry.

Rebuilding The Wall Opposition

Don’t Be Surprised

There are many topics of discussion that the bible may seem vague about, persecution however, is not one of them. Following God and persecution, like love and obedience, go hand in hand.

1 Peter 4:12

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you”

John 16:33

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

2 Timothy 3:12

“all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”

This is a strikingly different narrative to the one popularized by most modern televangelists. Our modern Christian society has forfeited the chance to see God’s moving in our world today, because we are no longer willing to pay the price that fulfilling His purpose brings with it.

Rebuilding The Wall Opposition

Don’t Be Surprised

We all have our crosses to bear. If God did not spare His own son from persecution, why do we as Christians think ourselves the exception?

Worse still are those of us who, in the midst of our trials, stop seeing the cross as a symbol of hope and salvation and begin resenting the cost that living under its shadow entails.

But as Christ was not condemned to suffer by God for no reason, so our suffering is not without its purpose.

2 Corinthians 4:8-12

8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

Rebuilding The Wall Opposition

There Is a Reason

It makes very little sense if we think about how the same being who burdens our hearts with a task, is then the same being who allows for the interference of an entity set to try and oppose it.

The reason can be surmised in one line, “refinement by fire”. Regrettably, it is only during our most difficult trials that we grow in our faith. It is those moments that prove, to ourselves as well as to the outside world, that we are dedicated to the pursuit of God and His purpose.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Rebuilding The Wall Opposition

There Is a Reason

It is worth noting, however, Spiritual persecution, like the kind seen in Nehemiah, should NEVER be confused with suffering the consequences for disobedience. Everything happens for a reason, but sometimes the reason is YOU made a bad decision.

Peter 4:15

15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.

Suffering can also be a choice. Trouble and persecution, as we established earlier, are inevitable. That has never been, or ever will be a matter of choice. Our attitude while facing those trials, however...

Rebuilding The Wall Opposition

Our Response To Opposition

Opposition is inevitable. How are we, as Christians expected to respond?” Nehemiah 4 offers up some insights.

Pray Nehemiah 4:1 Nehemiah 4:9

Offer encouragement to fellow Christians Nehemiah 4:14

Prepare for the worst Nehemiah 4:13 Nehemiah 4:16

Press on! Nehemiah 4:21

Rebuilding The Wall Opposition

Pray

It is such a Christian cliché, “I’ll pray about it” but how many of us actually do? What better time to seek God than when facing opposition to His will? Yet we live in an altogether prayer-less society.

So many warriors of our faith (such as Nehemiah) diligently sought God out in prayer. Nehemiah submits his concern to God and trusts Him for resolution. Too often we try and calm our own storms and wind up weathered by overwhelming circumstances.

Again, it is important to note that Nehemiah’s prayers are not self-centred, they are based on the premise that he does not want to see God’s work be hindered in any way. We need to aspire to live as unselfish a life as possible & distinguish spiritual opposition from the trappings of this world.

Rebuilding The Wall Opposition

Pray (For The Powers That Be)

The people of Nehemiah’s time were not led by a Godly government. Much like the authority figures we have in our modern society, Nehemiah’s society was ruled by men who did not believe in the God of the Jews or practice any of their sacred customs.

1 Timothy 2:1-4

I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth,”

Rebuilding The Wall Opposition

Offer Encouragement

It is all too easy to get so caught up in our own struggles that we forget about those around us (some who may even be spiritually weaker) that are struggling too. Nehemiah, at no point, negates the fears of his fellow Jews. Likewise we need to remember to encourage one another as we struggle after the fulfilment of God’s plan. We’re all in this together.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up

1 Corinthians 12: 26-27

26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Galatians 6:2

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:10

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Rebuilding The Wall Opposition

Prepare For The Worst (but don’t be afraid)

Nehemiah did not hold to the same ‘positive confession’ doctrine that is so rife in our current church culture. He acknowledged a real danger and sought the best way to deal with it head on. He did not flippantly tell the people to quiet their concerns either. He did what was humanly possible and trusted (and asked his fellow workers to trust) that God would do the rest.

It is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed by opposition and the prospect of hardship. Jesus himself knew what it meant to feel overwhelmed.

Matthew 26:38

38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Rebuilding The Wall Opposition

Press On

Nehemiah did not halt the work on the wall, in spite of fear and intimidation. Instead he did what he could and trusted could to do the rest. Nehemiah’s focus was on fulfilling the task God has laid out for him.

How many of us are so caught up in the stresses and potential risks that we allow God’s work to remain unfinished?

2 Chronicles 15:7

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.

Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Rebuilding The Wall Opposition

Love Your Enemies

In Nehemiah 4:4-5 prays to God concerning his enemies. It is a harsh prayer. How should we as Christians interpret this kind of prayer, especially in view of what Jesus said about praying for our enemies (Matt 5:44, see also Rom 12:14, 20) Reading from: https://bible.org/ seriespage/ lesson-4-responding-opposition-nehemiah-41-23">https://bible.org/ seriespage/ lesson-4-responding-opposition-nehemiah-41-23 “We need to guard our hearts against any selfish motives or personal delight in seeing our enemies brought down. But we must also remember that the saints will rejoice when God finally judges the wicked (Rev. 18:20). If our hearts are right, we can pray that God would subdue the enemies of the cross, either by conversion or by His justice.

Rebuilding The Wall Opposition

Love Your Enemies

Ultimately, it’s never us versus them. It’s Jesus for all. It’s the gospel for all. It’s grace and truth for all. The best way to imitate Christ is to treat people well when they wrong you. Loving your enemies, whether individual or collective, means treating others like Jesus has treated you.

1 Peter 3:9

“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called”

Proverbs 25:21-22

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, 22 for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

Matthew 6:44-48

44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Rebuilding The Wall Opposition

There Is a Cost

Everyone loves a miracle, a happy ending; people are in love with the idea of a God who can give them what they want. A true believer knows, that while God is capable of giving us our heart’s desires, unless there is a change of heart (brought about through genuine salvation) God cannot honour those wishes... they are not God centred.

Matthew 16:4

A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah." Jesus then left them and went away.

God has told us that we need only “ask” and “it will be given” but we often forget that He asks from us in return. Nehemiah documents a beautiful story of Jerusalem's restoration. Exiles who, under God, were given a home and a heritage again; but Nehemiah knew the cost that comes with serving God and he was prepared to risk it all in order to accomplish the burden of his heart. We, as Christians, need to count that same cost. Only then will we see God moving in our modern world.

Rebuilding The Wall Opposition

There Is a Cost

Luke 14:25-33

25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them,26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

For more ministry downloads by Taryn Paynter visit:

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NOTE 1: Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett, courtesy of http://sweetpublishing.com/ ">http://sweetpublishing.com

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http://www.lockman.org/ ">http://www.lockman.org)




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