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Sermon No: 59283-Nehemiah - Chapter 6



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SERMON TOPIC: Nehemiah - Chapter 6

Speaker: Taryn Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 6 September 2019

Topic Groups: NEHEMIAH, LEADERSHIP, BOOK STUDY

Sermon synopsis: In today’s society, there is always a looming threat of potential danger and a constant need to be vigilant. Whether its worrying about our health, the economy, our employment or the possibility of falling victim to crime... we have a lot to fear out & about in the world.

During his mission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah had to face the threat of violence, deal with internal conflict and not buckle under the immense pressure that must have come with a project of that immense scale. The breaches in the wall have been repaired, but the enemy has not given up. In chapter 6, we see Nehemiah having to rise up against an ever-present, ever-changing rival.

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

Nehemiah 6 New International Version (NIV)

When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates— 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”

But they were scheming to harm me; 3 so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” 4 Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.

5 Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter 6 in which was written:

“It is reported among the nations—and Geshem says it is true—that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall.

Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king 7 and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”

8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”

9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”

But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”

10 One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, 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.”

11 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!” 12 I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.

13 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.

14 Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophet Noadiah and how she and the rest of the prophets have been trying to intimidate me. 15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.

16 When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.

17 Also, in those days the nobles of Judah were sending many letters to Tobiah, and replies from Tobiah kept coming to them. 18 For many in Judah were under oath to him, since he was son-in-law to Shekaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah. 19 Moreover, they kept reporting to me his good deeds and then telling him what I said. And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.

Rebuilding The Wall

In The Shadow

In today’s society, there is always a looming threat of potential danger and a constant need to be vigilant.

Whether its worrying about our health, the economy, our employment or the possibility of falling victim to crime... we have a lot to fear out & about in the world.

During his mission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah had to face the threat of violence, deal with internal conflict and not buckle under the immense pressure that must have come with a project of that immense scale.

The breaches in the wall have been repaired, but the enemy has not given up. In chapter 6, we see Nehemiah having to rise up against an ever-present, ever-changing rival.

Psalms 23:4

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

The Enemy In previous Chapters it has been fairly easy to determine who Nehemiah’s enemies were. Sanballet, Tobiah and Geshem for example are portrayed as villainous from the onset of his journey.

Reading on in Chapter 6, however, we find that the line between ‘friend’ or ‘foe’ has begun to blur. Despite this, we find that, Nehemiah is still somehow able to discern who ‘the enemy’ is.

How often do we as Christians find ourselves at odds with those claiming to have the same hearts? Worse still, men and women in positions of authority? We need to pray that, like Nehemiah, we will have discernment to know whose intention it is to aid us in our pursuit to do God’s will and who intends to hinder us in that pursuit.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy There are two categories of adversary identifiable in the text…

The first being:

Sanballat, Tobiah & Geshem {in plain sight}

And the second being:

Shemaiah & the prophetess Noadiah {the wolves in sheep’s clothing}

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy There are countless scriptures likening the pursuit of God’s will to an act of warfare. {2 Corinthians 10:3-5} {Isiah 54:17}}

The word ‘enemy is defined as follows:

noun

a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.

a hostile nation or its armed forces, especially in time of war.

a thing that harms or weakens something else.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy If we are to have a hope of identifying who our enemies are, a good first step is knowing what we stand for in the first place. We cannot pray that God bless us with a spirit of discernment, to identify who or what is preventing us from doing His will, if we are not ourselves even faintly familiar with who He is or what His will for us might be. Knowing what ground you’re standing on is an important step to finding common ground (or not so common ground) with others.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy Nehemiah continuously prayed, was intimately familiar with scripture and was man led wholly by the spirit of God. A close walk with God meant easily discerning when something was not of God.

As Christians, many of us find ourselves straining to hear God’s voice or identify hindrances in our walk with Him; but how many of us dedicate the time and effort necessary to improve our relationship with Him? A desire to get better acquainted with our God is lacking from the modern Christian’s walk but, for those of us seeking discernment, familiarity with God becomes a necessity.

Proverbs 18:15

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy

How can we discern the will of God?

The Holy Spirit 1 Corinthians 2:14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

Scripture James 1 22:25 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy

How can we discern the will of God?

Calling Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Conscience Romans 2:15 They demonstrate that God's law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.

Common Sense Proverbs 28:26 Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.

1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy

How can we discern the will of God?

Prayer Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Fasting Matthew 6:17-18 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy

Satan’s Tactic:

Compromise

Slander

Intimidation

Infiltration

Nehemiah’s Response

Prioritize

Prayer & Rebuttal

Obedience

Persistence

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy The Enemy’s Tactic

COMPROMISE “Come, let’s meet together” {Reading from: https://bible.org/ seriespage/ lesson-6-resisting-satan-s-schemes-nehemiah-61-19} We should try to iron out our differences. You’re in favour of peace, aren’t you? Don’t you want a good relationships with your neighbours? We just want to foster mutual understanding.” It all sounds good, but Nehemiah rightly perceived that their intent was to ambush him if he went. Satan uses all sorts of innocent-sounding appeals to lure believers into a trap. Many a Christian is lured into Satan’s trap of compromising sound doctrine for the cause of unity.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy The Enemy’s Tactic

COMPROMISE “Come, let’s meet together” {Reading from: https://bible.org/ seriespage/ lesson-6-resisting-satan-s-schemes-nehemiah-61-19} I have heard over and over again, “The Bible does not say that the world will know us for our correct doctrine, but for our love. We need to set aside the matters that divide us and come together on the matters we agree on.” And so we set aside the essentials of the gospel, but fail to see that what divides us is nothing less than the gospel. The divide means either heaven or hell.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy

Nehemiah’s Response

PRIORITIZE “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” It is very easy to get distracted by outside stresses and influences but making God’s will our primary focus reduces the danger of straying from the path. Nehemiah could have easily gotten wrapped up in trying to be “politically correct” and strained to please his enemies… he didn’t. Instead he prioritized God’s work and trusted that God would deal with whatever happened next. We need to remember to put God first, setting aside our egos and doubts and continuing the work God has called us to.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy

Nehemiah’s Response

PRIORITIZE “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” Drawing a parallel to the events of this past week (September 2019) , where South Africa has experienced a period of violence and division, it is easy to get caught up in mass panic and engage in activities and thought processes that are not of God (even if the overall intention of the idea seems good). Reform will not be brought about by protests or marches, looting, taking up arms or battle cries (at least not the Godly kind of reform I would hope we, as Christians, would like to see). Prioritizing God and making Him our focus is the only hope our country has of reformation.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy

Nehemiah’s Response

PRIORITIZE “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” While I am all for making South Africa safer for its women and children and improving every man’s employment; what does is benefit anyone to have better physical and financial security and yet still perish in the only area we hold to as being infinite… in spirit? We must remember that, despite good intentions, our focus needs to be on souls. Let us not be so caught up in improving someone’s environment that we forget to at least try and improve their spiritual state.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy The Enemy’s Tactic

SLANDER “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says it is true, that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. ” We have all been on the receiving end of a gossip’s tongue . Where we have acted with a clear conscience and someone has assigned an ulterior motive or falsified claims, tailored to suit their own agendas. Our initial reaction is to want to set the record straight, to try & justify ourselves while staring down hordes of pointed fingers. Gossip can cost us our reputations, relationships, jobs. Worse for Nehemiah, his life. There was a political tension brewing during the reconstruction of the wall and news that he was stirring up a rebellion could have easily started a war.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy

Nehemiah’s Response

PRAYER But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” When in doubt and facing danger, it is very easy to respond in a way that appeals to our sinful human natures, and disregard completely what God asks of us. Nehemiah from the onset of his journey is in a constant state of ‘prayfulness’. His responses are, in kind, ultimately Godly. Rather than replying with equally slanderous accusations and rebuttals, or trying to come to his own defence, he prayerfully asks God to intercede before continuing on his mission. We, like Nehemiah, should strive to lead lives that are steeped in prayers and therefore led directly by God.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy The Enemy’s Tactic

INTIMIDATION 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.” {Reading from: https://bible.org/ seriespage/ lesson-6-resisting-satan-s-schemes-nehemiah-61-19}

Here was a man claiming to have a word from God that could save Nehemiah’s life. If he had gone into hiding, his example of fear would have spread fear among the workers on the wall and not being a priest, Nehemiah would have disobeyed God’s law by going into the temple (Num. 18:7).

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy The Enemy’s Tactic

INTIMIDATION 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.” {Reading from: https://bible.org/ seriespage/ lesson-6-resisting-satan-s-schemes-nehemiah-61-19} Non-priests could flee for protection to the horns of the altar in the temple courtyard (1 Kings 1:50; 2:28; Exod. 21:14), but they could not enter the temple itself. If Nehemiah had acted in fear and fled to the temple, his enemies would spread the evil report to ruin his reputation.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy

Nehemiah’s Response

OBEDIENCE “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!” Again Nehemiah resists a normal human desire, ‘self-preservation’ in place of reverence for God’s law. Our enemies WILL play on our weaknesses and fears in the hope of overcoming us; but no matter the fear or weakness, we should strive to act (like Nehemiah) in a way that is wholly in submission to God’s laws. “Obedience is better than sacrifice” after all.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy

Nehemiah’s Response

OBEDIENCE “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!” Be the ‘Salt & Light’. When God’s people compromise with the world, we hinder His work. Where your heart is... there your treasure will be.

1 Peter 2:12 “Maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears.”

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy The Enemy’s Tactic

INFILTRATION {Reading from: https://bible.org/ seriespage/ lesson-6-resisting-satan-s-schemes-nehemiah-61-19} Tobiah, the governor of the Ammonites, was probably a nominal half-Jew (his name is Jewish, meaning “Yah is good”). Furthermore, he was related by marriage to at least two influential Jews (“nobles,” 6:17), and he had business contracts (“bound by oath,” 6:18) with these men. They were not only in frequent contact by mail, but they often told Nehemiah about Tobiah’s “good deeds,” and they reported to Tobiah things that Nehemiah said in their presence. But Tobiah showed his true colors by writing threatening letters to Nehemiah.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy The Enemy’s Tactic

INFILTRATION {Reading from: https://bible.org/ seriespage/ lesson-6-resisting-satan-s-schemes-nehemiah-61-19} Satan often uses espionage. He infiltrates the ranks of the church with agents who profess to be believers. But their hearts are in the world, and they oppose godly men like Nehemiah who expose their spiritual indifference and sin.

Do not expect perfection from other Christians. You will always be disappointed if you have an unrealistic expectation for other believers. We are all only human. We all fall short. Focus on the one being the person you’d like others to be.

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Know Thy Enemy

Nehemiah’s Response

PERSISTANCE “the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.” They sent messengers to Nehemiah four times with the same invitation. Four times he sent back the same answer. Just because you resist Satan once, don’t think that he is going to give up and leave you alone. Until God returns there is no such thing as “Happily Ever After”

Rebuilding The Wall In The Shadow

Conclusion

Keep fighting the good fight. Since the fall of man in the garden of Eden, our world has been in a constant state of corrosion. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the evil that surrounds us, but we need to ‘cling to what is good’ and hope for the revival and reformation that God has promised to those who trust in Him.

2 Timothy 4:3-8

3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

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/)




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