Why did Nehemiah have such a heart for the walls to be rebuilt?
- Not a desire to see his “home-town” win the prettiest village award, nor about beautifying the City, but a heart to see the identity of God's people protected & secured.
- "pleasing God is more important than pleasing people"
- This required jealousy for integrity needs to be long-term and not incidental: Spurgeon called his monthly magazine "The Sword and the Trowel" because he knew we must be prepared to build and to fight simultaneously.
The walls in Jerusalem were not just for protection from physical threat, but also from corrupting spiritual integrity (Ch 13):
The walls we build here at Beacon will be tested...
- What are they?
- Walls = "Securing identity and community"
- Community/cell life; Relationships/Accountability; iron sharpens iron
- Service – protects our identity (“Love one another”) - are you serving?
- Our leaders - Nehemiah spoke to the nobles & officials & people in that order, not just "everyone": the vision dissipates from leadership down, protection too. This is why we are being more deliberate about Cell leadership, etc
So, "we" build our walls, and what happens? Attack! v1-3 = taunts, 7,8,11 = death threats
- Why? Jerusalem was herself a threat (economic: on the E-W trade rte)
- The church is also a threat itself in the spiritual realm; we will face opposition
We need to remain continually vigilant for our family, our marriages, our church life, our personal integrity...
- Opp comes from inside AND outside the church
- OUTSIDE: The Jews were literally surrounded: see v7 = N, S, E & W!
- We are surrounded too:
- Accusations of fundamentalism/dogmatism
- Taunts on the subjects of Evolution/abortion/sexuality, etc
- HOWEVER, unfortunately, also from within the church [v10 & 12]
- = cynicism & unbelief – don’t be one of those people
- apathy – if you don’t want opposition, don’t do anything!
- those who don't grasp vision or trust God or the leaders (v10&12)
- [elders look out for ungodly agendas: Tobiah 13 yrs on in temple!]
- 1st RESPONSE = v4 & v9: PRAYER! THEN practical arrangements (v9)
- 1ST RULE OF FIGHT CLUB = "PRAY"!
ensured HIS promises were fulfilled: that His Son Messiah came at the right time through the right blood-line (including Zerubbabel!!!)
- He will fulfil his purposes today too. So pray with that in mind!
- Prayer helps us see this. Here's a nuclear fusion of truth:
- take Isa 43.10b :"Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me"
- and Psa 119.68a: "You are good and do good"
- Two amazing atoms of truth, now combine them, & pray again!
- v14-15 : Nehemiah follows the same: remind, then pray...
- PRAYER ALWAYS REMINDS US OF THE TRUE PERSPECTIVE
- THEN came the action, “setting the guard”, where the weaknesses were, stationed... SWORD AND TROWEL IN HAND
- as we grow, as we repair cracks, as we close our breaches, opposition & attack is inevitable - BE PREPARED!!!
- In order to repair them, we need to know where they are:
- Resisting temptation can be helped by general rules of thumb/look for the patterns (when/where/who/how do I feel before etc?)
- Rick Warren: "Sin always has a temporary payoff. You wouldn’t do it if it didn’t. If sin had the pain of a root canal, it wouldn’t be a problem. There’s pleasure in sin. The Bible says it’s fun. But the pleasure is short-term. When you sin, you’re trading short-term pleasure for long-term damage and destruction. It’s not a good deal."
- Corporately, our breaches can be:
- Disunity; cynicism & unbelief; gossip; pride; apathy
- KNOW YOUR/OUR BREACHES!!! DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT...
It is easy to run hard for a period and then run out of steam
- REMEMBER: within 13 yrs: intermarrying again, Tobiah in temple!
- Apathy is a big enemy to the church; we must remember we are in this for the long haul... The people of Judah began to think the job was too much: "The builders' strength is failing; there's too much rubble; we can't do it by ourselves" (v10)
- BUT: they were simply losing sight of what resources they had and Who was on their side! When you lose sight of Who: read Book of Revelation (chapter 19!).......
- All it took was a man of vision like Nehemiah to show them not only the preferable future, but also that they COULD do it
- And then, despite overt opposition & threats AND with a reduced workforce (½ holding the armour or carrying spears)
- AND the builders working with swords strapped to their sides
- THEY DID IT IN 52 DAYS! A WHOLE CITY'S WALLS! About 4.5 miles (Josephus)
- Having a heart of jealousy for the integrity of God's people is not arrogance, or lack of humility, it is only reflecting God's own heart:
- Zech 1.14: "Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion"
- If we don’t have that heart, we have some serious talking with God to do...
- A JEALOUSY 4 INTEGRITY of God's people reflects our God's hrt, and is reflected in how we build the walls that protect our identity and community – SWORD AND TROWEL IN HAND
- Look at Nehemiah's prayer in 4.4-5: How do we reconcile this kind of prayer with what we've been led to believe is the “appropriate” heart to pray with?
- How can cell enable a long-term perspective amongst us?
- Discuss the difference between genuine tiredness – and the need to take some “Sabbath” time out - and a need to persist in God’s strength. How many of us feel tired and what do we usually do about it?