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Nehemiah 6:15-19

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Nehemiah had come to Jerusalem from Susa with a single-minded objective:
to rebuild the massive but ruined wall of Jerusalem.
He was beset by obstacles.
First, he had to gain permission from the Persian emperor Artaxerxes,
which meant getting him to reverse an earlier state policy
against rebuilding the Jewish capital.
Once in Jerusalem, Nehemiah had to devise a plan for accomplishing his task and
then find ways to motivate the people to tackle it.
When the work got started, he was opposed by the governors of the surrounding provinces and
by injustices within Israel.
Nehemiah’s enemies tried to stop the work by ridicule, threat of violence, intrigue, harmful rumors, and intimidation.
His wealthier countrymen almost sunk it by their oppression of the poor.
But Nehemiah pressed on.
So great was the task and so great its accomplishment that we can hardly miss the thrill of the superb understatement in verse 15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days.” ()
the reconstruction of the massive wall was done—one and a half to two and a half miles of masonry.
The construction was completed within two months of his arrival in the city.
One major thread that is woven through this victory is the power of written and spoken exhortation.
I want you to think about this as we seek to have times of exhortation as a church family at the conclusion of our worship service.
We are also encouraging everyone to take the directory and write letters of encouragement to those who miss our Sunday gatherings!!!
Nehemiah’s journal is a magnificent commentary on the persuasive effectiveness of exhortation.
Throughout the campaign, Nehemiah was determined to acknowledge
either in speech or writing the source of their strength.
He began by exhorted in writing that all great projects for God begin in the place of honest, reflective and dependent prayer (1:4–11).
He then exhorted that it was because ‘the gracious hand’ of God was upon him that he obtained permission to leave Persia with authority, protection and provisions (2:8).
Once in Jerusalem, he exhorted to the prospective builders about the miracle of that ‘gracious hand’ (2:18), and
he continued to exhort not only to sympathetic believers but to unbelieving scoffers as well: ‘The God of heaven will give us success’ (2:19–20).
He exhorted compassionately, when morale was low: ‘Don’t be afraid … Remember the Lord’ (4:14).
He testified gratefully, placing on record his indebtedness to God’s sovereign power in frustrating the evil designs of the enemy (4:15).
He exhorted confidently as the wearied team divided into builders and soldiers: ‘Our God will fight for us’ (4:20).
To his wealthy but loveless contemporaries he exhorted perceptively: ‘Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?’ (5:9).
In writing, he exhorted humbly, that ‘out of reverence for God’ he ‘did not act like that’ (5:15).
When troubles began to mount daily, he exhorted dependently about a God who would strengthen his hands (6:9) and now,
with the walls rebuilt, he exhorted adoringly that even his enemies acknowledge that this work has been done with the help of our God (16).
What perseverance! What courage!!
Let’s be very clear about what is encapsulated in that statement of the 52 days in v15.
This the victory of the plan and purpose of God for His people.
It’s a speedy outcome, the result of effective leadership.
Watching the people of God may not seem very entertaining but our God is the God of small things as well as the God of big things.
Note how Nehemiah puts it in 16 And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.” ()
They were disheartened, the enemies of God were. God had frustrated their plans and humiliated them.
They will no longer be able to dominate and exploit the people of God as they had been doing.
“this work was done by our God.” Nehemiah throws off any personal congratulations in the matter and
points to the decisive factor in their achievement. “this work was done by our God.”
God has called us to build the city of his church; we too must not let ourselves be deflected from this great task.
Apathy and procrastination are twin enemies which the church has constantly to combat.
Now watch this: Nehemiah’s appeal in 2:17 Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.”” ()
6:16 is a fulfillment of that appeal but, there’s no pause to congratulate ourselves.
The wall is just the frame work. Look at the attitudes and activities of the people who live behind those walls.
And what we see is there’s indications of danger already. There’s still the need for more reform, which we’ll see later in the book.
Look at 17 Also in those days ...
That introductory phrase looks beyond the eight-week building project.
This is what else is happening both during and after those days.
Today we are going to see: How do we defeat the attacking enemy in the midst of opposition.
How do we defeat the attacking enemy in the midst of opposition.
What we’ll see is that the enemy isn’t now on the outside, he’s come in and has begun to attack.
How painful would it be, as a leader like Nehemiah, to see like in 6:14 that many of Jerusalem’s prophets were opposed to him.
He goes on to discover that many among Judah’s nobility had also joined their ranks.
17 Also in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them. 18 For many in Judah were pledged to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah. 19 Also they reported his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.” ()

Here’s the ENEMIES CRAFTY CUTTING IN (v17-19)

This is possible the worst affliction of all. If the enemy can be precisely identified, then the source of the trouble is evident and suitable precautions can be taken.
But the sinister dimension of the latest attack is that the determined opponent (Tobiah)
has so secretly infiltrated the ranks of the region’s nobility v18 “For man in Judah were pledged to him...”
that now it’s virtually impossible to distinguish enemy from friend.
See the outside enemy Tobiah had begun to influence the people of God on the inside, which severely hinders God’s mission and work.
Let me give you an example of what some of you do and
you’re probably not aware of really what you’re doing.
So you say, “Hey can I talk with you pastor Joel?” “Sure!”
“Ok…me and some people were talking and we’re not really happy with such-and-such!”
“I don’t like such-and-such a change…and I’m not the only one who thinks this!”
“I don’t like such-and-such a change…and I’m not the only one who thinks this!”
“Well tell me who else, because we need to talk this through!”
“Well I’m not going to mention names...” You see what happens?
Then I come up here and look at all the faces and
you can imagine what the devil does to me!
Like Nehemiah, who here is opposing the leading of God’s church?
I’m not talking about, if you disagree with me, you’re an enemy or you’re opposing God.
Let me try to flesh this out for you.
Because that’s what it is, it’s opposition not submission. Yet we are called upon by God to submit ourselves to one another.
If the key ingredients of God’s Word is present, the prayers of God’s people.
Let me just list for you of where God has led us, as we think about the real ingredients of a true church. [go to hand out]
When we come together, you need to know (not my opinion) but the mind and heart of the Savior.
Christ is the teacher and I’m only a servant of His.
I don’t cook the meal, I only deliver it to you.
See?
So if these things are present in the church, and you come to me and say,
“I don’t like the time change!”
“I don’t like the new songs we sing.”
I don’t like the version of the bible you use.”
That’s ok if you don’t! Everyone has things that we prefer,
which are not necessarily sinful.
See? The issue now in these cases is no longer are we obeying God in the Great Commission.
It’s now coming down to what I want! That’s what begins to happen on the inside of churches.
But beloved, it only comes down to what God wants! Right?
This is what I want you to notice: the preferences of people do not carry a lot of traction,
including my own.
Do you want to know why?
Mine and your preferences do not pertain to the ingredients of the true church.
Each one’s particular (but different) preferences do not carry the day.
The Word of God does.
So we don’t have
a “contemporary” service for the young people (the scriptures do not teach that) and
a “traditional” service for the older (the scriptures do not teach that).
a “traditional” service for the older.
We want to have biblical worship and worship in one accord the way that the NT teaches us, together!
It’s God word that bring us together and keeps us together.
And guess what, not everyone elevates the holy Scriptures
to be the binding authority in all matters of faith and practice.
So we pick up the book of God and build according to God’s plan!
God has appointed leadership in the church to lead you. (let me repeat that)
And we urge others to remain faithful to God’s revelation!
We should pray for more leaders, but for now, this is what He’s given.
And I’m saying these things not to “get them off my chest” but to teach you
exactly what you should be focusing on.
The things on that list are what your eyes should be upon.
And when you ridicule Joel or Don, or say things that discourage and tear down, the real disheartening thing is this:
Your complaints are really against the Lord Himself, aren’t they?
If it’s outside the scope of Scripture, just let your leaders lead!
Please focus upon the things of Christ! Do you know what I am doing right now?
I’m modeling exactly what Christ told all of us to focus upon.
What did He (the only One with all power and authority) what did He say to focus on?
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” ()
Your pastor is teaching you to observe what He said.
Teaching one another to obey Jesus will take up the rest of our lives!
You ask, “Well how can I serve in this church body?” Obey the Great Commission is the answer!!
Followers of Christ aren’t just taught what to believe but also how to obey.
So in going back to our text and the short-lived victory.
Now, Nehemiah doesn’t know who to trust.
18 For many in Judah were pledged to him, ...” () That is Tobiah.
The work going on, on the walls and the changes that Nehemiah was implementing and look at what was happening.
19 Also they reported his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.” ()
Sometimes rabble rousers in the church gain a sympathetic ear and
become a influential source of opposition to biblical leadership.
This is what’s happened now to Nehemiah.
Tobiah married into these families, giving him strong links with the nobility, the renowned leaders.
The enemy has changed his tactics from a thorough-going frontal attack to a persistently subversive underground campaign.
Judah’s postmen had some job security!
The nobles sent many letters to Tobiah, and replies from Tobiah kept coming to them.
How subtly the enemy works.
With what skill can he distort the facts and obliterate the memory.
Now that the materialistic nobles are raking in handsome sums of money out of Tobiah’s trading projects,
they are no longer worried that at one time he had ruthlessly schemed for Israel’s destruction (4:11).
"And our adversaries said, “They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease.”” ()
These money hungry folks forgot that we leave all our possessions this side of eternity!
Then, what will matter most is not how wealthy we have been on earth but how rich we are in heaven.
Turn to . Jesus issued a warning relevant in every culture, continent and century,
15 "And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” 16 "Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 "And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 "So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 "And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ 20 "But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 "“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”” ()
The tactics change as they did in this chapter’s account of Nehemiah’s testings.
The tactics change as they did in this chapter’s account of Nehemiah’s testings.
Here we can see the enemy (stepping back a step and looking at the whole chapter) see the enemy as:
cunning (1–3), luring a good man on to dangerous ground,
persistent (4) coming to Nehemiah four times, as a ‘roaring lion’ constantly on the prowl ‘looking for someone to devour’,
untruthful (5–8) like ‘the father of lies’, and Nehemiah’s response in v8 is that
“There is nothing to these rumors you are spreading; you are inventing them in your own mind.”
versatile (10–14), the hiring of false prophets, threats upon his life, discrediting and intimidation. The enemy is constantly changing his tactics,
constantly changing his tactics,
undeterred (in our text, 17–19), always stumbling across clever fools who do not know they are being used—
This is the ENEMY CUTTING IN.
Then we see the

ENEMY’S COMMANDER CRUSHES (v9,12,14)

but, thank God, frustrated the enemies plans when believers pray (9), “But now, my God...”, and
when they leave their fearful disappointments in God’s hands (14)
14 My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.” ()
as they trust Him for both
strength (9) “But now, my God strengthen my hands.”
and wisdom that you see in v12.
This chapter’s second great lesson is that the Lord is sufficient. We see that the enemy is crafty but the Lord is sufficient.
Throughout this section of the memoirs one adversity has followed hard on the heels of another.
When sorrows come, they do not come in single soldiers, sorrows come in armies.
Life is like that, and Nehemiah’s account has been preserved in Scripture to demonstrate how we too,
faced with multiplied testings,
can handle such pressures trustingly and faithfully.
You see there was a cultural shift now, in the nation of Israel.
The nation’s spiritual priorities would not in the future be under the scrutiny of great prophetic and priestly leaders.
The days of those famous exemplars were gradually drawing to a close.
Zerubbabel, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah were among the last of Israel’s celebrated leaders.
But this fact shows how far away Israel had departed from God’s ways.
God has always desired His truth to be treasured within families!
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” ()
20 “When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the Lord our God has commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand;” ()
Go over to .
25 Pour out Your fury on the Gentiles, who do not know You, And on the families who do not call on Your name; For they have eaten up Jacob, Devoured him and consumed him, And made his dwelling place desolate.” ()
Here Jeremiah implores the Lord to pour out His wrath upon the pagans who do not know God (; ; ).
Now watch this. How are those to name God’s name escape this judgment if they practice the same sin?
6 Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit; Through deceit they refuse to know Me,” says the Lord.” ()
That ideal of family unity, security, and testimony depended essentially on the head of the household in obeying God.
When the men didn’t obey (in particularly) on the issue of marriage, many potentially good people in Israel fell.
People who don’t obey God merely become pawns in the devils manipulative campaign to frustrate God’s work.
We are not going to escape this however. Even our Lord, when His ministry was initiated,
there was a period of severe testing by the devil, doing his utmost to deflect Christ from His mission.
Let me show you this in Luke’s gospel.
The devil met Jesus in the wilderness with temptations that are very similar
to those encountered by Nehemiah and his contemporaries.
‘Viewing Nehemiah’s victory as their defeat, the self-confidence of the opposition was considerably diminished.’
2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. 3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”” ()
They were temptations to please himself (bread from those stones which lay in the sand),
5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”” ()
parade himself (ruling over the nations in return for allegiance to the enemy), and
9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here.” ()
Nevertheless, Tobiah the Ammonite still continued to cause trouble (6:17–18).
prove himself (leaping from the temple pinnacle) rather than
22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”” ()
It must have been tiresome for the Judean governor to hear the relatives of Tobiah boasting of his good deeds, and ‘telling him what I said’ (6:19).
accepting that what God had said (‘You are my Son, whom I love’) is true.
It’s the same temptations that you see people fall into in the gatherings of the Lord’s people!
The names of Tobiah (‘Jah is good’) and his son Jehohanan (‘Jehovah has shown mercy’) suggest that the Ammonite official was a nominal believer in God.
The presence of nominal Christians within a church is far more dangerous than enemies outside because they bring their unspiritual reasoning and worldly viewpoint with them.
Many seek to please themselves, therefore they have their own criteria for what pleases them.
Nehemiah’s commitment to the work of God had long-term repercussions.
Certain music styles
Certain versions of the bible.
And a million other unbiblical things that cause people to seek to please themselves.
People are tempted to parade themselves. “I’m in charge of this committee!” “I run this ministry my way!!”
And the other, people seek to prove themselves and all the while you forget with God said.
Remember that the defense of Jerusalem and the survival of the Jewish race were stepping-stones to the coming of the Messiah-Savior.
Just like in Genesis, in the garden with Adam and Eve, you still hear the whisper of Satan, “Has God really said…?”
He tempted our first representatives and they fell for satans lie.
He tempted Christ our second and final representative and He believed His Father and not the father of lies!
The church today is reaping the benefit of Nehemiah’s faithfulness to the Lord.
Will future generations praise God for our loyalty to him or will they suffer the consequences of our compromise?
Here we can see the enemy as
So as we conclude this chapter I want to apply these things to us as a church, as we think about facing difficulties and so forth.
cunning (1–3), luring a good man on to dangerous ground,
persistent (4) as a ‘roaring lion’ constantly on the prowl ‘looking for someone to devour’,
untruthful (5–8) like ‘the father of lies’,
versatile (10–14),
constantly changing his tactics,
undeterred (17–19), always stumbling across clever fools who do not know they are being used—
when they leave their daunting disappointments in God’s hands (14)
14 My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.” ()
as they trust him for both
strength (9) “But now, my God strengthen my hands.”
and wisdom that you see in v12.
This chapter’s second great lesson is that the Lord is sufficient.
Throughout this section of the memoirs one adversity has followed hard on the heels of another. When sorrows come, they do not come in single soldiers but in battalions.
Life is like that, and Nehemiah’s account has been preserved in Scripture to demonstrate how we too,
faced with multiplied testing,
can handle such pressures trustingly and faithfully.
So as we conclude this chapter I want to apply these things to us as a church, as we think about facing difficulties and so forth.
Run with me quickly as we close our time with(First of all) defeating the Enemy by drawing from
the glorious and sufficient grace of God.
Go to 1 Peter. Threatened by imminent persecution, the Christians of Asia Minor were assured that life’s multi-faceted troubles, ‘all kinds [poikilois] of trials’,
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,” ()
These various trials are matched by grace in its various [poikiles] forms.
10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” ()
Whatever the suffering, it is always accompanied by sufficient strength.
As James says, ‘he gives us more grace’.
6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”” ()
The prologue or introduction to John’s Gospel puts it superbly,
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” ()
17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” ()
16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” ()
Grace is the ground on which fresh grace is constantly provided or, as
each blessing appropriated becomes the foundation of a greater blessing.
That word ‘fullness’ was part of the ancient world’s nautical vocabulary; it described the ship’s completion.
Before leaving port the vessel was carefully checked to ensure that
there was an adequate crew and
that the cargo included
that the cargo included
sufficient food,
sufficient food,
drink,
drink,
medical supplies,
medical supplies,
spare cloth to replace torn sails,
spare cloth to replace torn sails,
ropes, in fact
ropes,
in fact everything necessary for its journey.
everything necessary for its journey.
That was the ship’s completeness.
John’s Gospel began by assuring those who follow Christ that,
however great the pressures of life,
all their needs would be converged and intersected out of
the abundant completeness and
inexhaustible sufficiency of Christ.
inexhaustible sufficiency of Christ.
So we defeat the Enemy by drawing from God’s rich supply’s of grace towards us through Christ!
Secondly, we defeat the Enemy by realizing our place in God’s redemptive plan.
Viewing Nehemiah’s victory as their defeat,
the self-confidence of the opposition was considerably diminished.
Nevertheless, Tobiah the Ammonite still continued to cause trouble (6:17–18).
It must have been hurtful for Nehemiah to hear the relatives of Tobiah
boasting of his good deeds, and ‘telling him what I said’ (6:19).
The names of Tobiah (‘Jah is good’) and his son Jehohanan (‘Yahweh has shown mercy’) showing us that
these are nominal believers in God.
The presence of nominal Christians within a church is
far more dangerous than enemies outside
than enemies outside
because they bring their unspiritual reasoning and worldly viewpoint with them.
Nehemiah’s commitment to the work of God had long-term repercussions.
Remember that the defense of Jerusalem and
the survival of the Jewish race were stepping-stones
to the coming of the Messiah-Savior.
The church today is reaping the benefit of Nehemiah’s faithfulness to the Lord.
Will future generations praise God for our loyalty to Him or
will they suffer the consequences of our compromise?
May our commitment to the work of God have long term repercussions.
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