It's Not About the Wall
We've spent 18 sermons on the rebuilding of the wall. But it's not about the wall, it's about the Word, and the worship. In spite of all the dirty devil's efforts to prevent it from taking form, the wall was completed.
15 So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.
Chapter 7 tells how the people got organized, housed and fed, and they all got involved in a big love offering, from the least to the greatest, to jump start their new spiritual life in their new city with their new wall.
The wall is finished, but the real work has just begun. And God's real purpose for the wall is just beginning. Thank God His people in Jerusalem did not have a 'monument' mentality. They didn't see building the wall as the ultimate goal. They understood that what went on inside the walls was what really mattered. What will now happen inside was the reason the walls were built in the first place.
This week a new roof was put right above our heads. It's much better, and looks great, but it's what happens under it that counts!
Once the wall was finished the people began to worship and they had revival! They had an old fashioned, heaven sent, sin erasing, devil chasing, window shaking, soul saving revival!! And it was all based on the Word! It's not about the wall, it's about the Word and worship that went on inside the wall.
5 elements of this worship:
1. It was rooted in a Hunger for the Word.
v. 1 "We want to hear what God has said!" This happened at the water gate, a symbol of the Word! The people gathered there in great number because they were hungry for the Word. Are you hungry for the Word? Is that why you've gathered here today? Are you really hungry for it? Does that mean you'll gather at the gate again tonite? Wed. nite? Were you gathered there at 9:30 this morning in s.s.? Will you be hungry on a Monday or a Thursday too?
A little boy brought his father the family Bible from the coffee table. "What is this daddy?" "It's the Bible, it's God's book." his dad replied. "Then should we give it back to Him since we don't use it?"
How about your Bible? Does it collect dust on a table or shelf? Do you even need to take it home or could it just stay in your seat all week?
Another lady wanted to impress the preacher when he dropped by for a visit. She said to her daughter, "Honey, go get the blessed book mama loves so much." She ran off and returned w/ the Sears catalog!
I hope you're hungry, because we've got a feast set before us, and it would be a shame not to clean our plates!
9 ... the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
We're not gonna have revival in America because of the election results. We're only gonna see revival when God's people want the Word more than they want money, prosperity, or healthcare.
12 ... I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
I'm addicted. I'm addicted to food! So are you!! Just fast from it for 24 hours and you'll know it. In just a few hours you'll find yourself looking longingly at that fridge, saying, remember what we used to have together? Remember when I would throw open your door and indulge in anything I wanted? Oh my love, we can have it all again, you and me!
We've got a love affair w/ our refrigerator and we cheat on it with many restaurants! But abstinence is not the choice we make...at least not for long. Most of us can't go 7 hours without eating, but we can go 7 days without partaking from the Word of God! Something is wrong. We feed the flesh bountifully but we don't feed our Spirit properly. No wonder our flesh grows and our Spirit shrinks up against our spine!
"These hath God married and no man shall part,
dust on the Bible and drought in the heart."
162 I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
That's hidden treasure! David said, I go on a daily treasure hunt, and it's not hard to find gold nuggets in this Book! We may call it hidden treasure, but it's hidden right under our noses!
Nehemiah's people were hungry for the Word more than food, gold, or treasure. Keep in mind they didn't all have copies of the Word. They didn't have a Bible bookstore on the corner. Most of them only heard the Word when someone would stand and read it publicly.
What a hunger they had. They didn't have their own copies, but they longed to hear. We have many copies, and seem content to go about our lives without cracking it open on our own.
2. It was marked by a Hearing of the Word.
v. 2-4a, 5 They were not time conscious, thinking about lunch. They stood for 5 or 6 hours a day, day after day. We won't have real revival until we get over our clock watching [watch clocking?]
Don't misunderstand, I don't think the service should drag on unnecessarily, but we shouldn't rush it or quench the Spirit of God. We need to be sensitive to the Lord's leading as well as to the attention span of the people ... the point is, the people need to GROW in their attention span, especially when God offers us such a feast!
I'm thankful for a church that is attentive. It is a common compliment you get from guest speakers who come here. I never get a complaint even if I go long. I take that back...there was one lady recently who said I was putting her to sleep, but I cut her some slack since we share the same bed anyway!
I try not to be long winded or take advantage of your time. I'd prefer to get finished before you get finished! My goal is to leave you wanting more. So when we do want more and the Lord leads us to continue we should do so!
They say if you can't strike oil in 20 minutes you ought to stop BORING. That's true, but it doesn't mean you have to stop at that either. We don't answer to the clock but to God!
ill.--a little boy went to big church for the first time. He was usually in junior church. He had so many questions at everything he saw. He would look at his father and ask, "What does that mean?" [choir sung / 'what does that mean?' / ushers came forward / ditto / preacher opened his Bible / ditto / took off his watch and set it in front of him - 'what does that mean?' / "Son, that don't mean a thing!"
3b They were attentive. Why waste your time in coming if not to listen? And we're trying to teach our kids that when they are in big church they are here to listen. Church is a place not just to color and try to pass the time, but to show reverence to God and His Word.
3. It was marked by an Honor for the Word.
v. 5-6 There it is! They said Amen! Do you? When you say amen you honor the word of God, and you help me out too because saying that to a preacher is like saying "sic 'em" to a dog! They lifted up their hands! Do you? Why not? Is it because you don't want to be associated w/ some holy rollers? I can understand that, but do you want to be associated with God in the way the Bible says to? I suggest if you want to differentiate yourself from those then you don't have to do it the way they do it, but let's not let the devil steal this from us. Don't quench the Spirit, if you feel it.
You say, "It's too easy for people to get carried away." Maybe. But it's easier to cool down a zealot than to warm up a corpse! We're Baptists. The greatest danger we face is not becoming a bunch of fanatics it's being so cold and indifferent that we can't get excited about the Word of God!
The Bible says in many places for us to lift up holy hands to Him. Is He worth the effort of that? Is He worth the effort of an Amen? If you're not comfortable with that atmosphere you might not like heaven! My Bible says there's gonna be shouting and raising of hands in heaven. Don't get me wrong. We shouldn't come to church to put on a show. In other words, don't intentionally tip your cup over, but if it runs over...let it run over!
If you're not comfortable doing that then don't for my sake. It's a principle we're trying to teach here. I know things are to be done decently and in order, but the Bible is pretty clear that God doesn't expect us to sit in church like cigar store wooden Indians either, with faces of stone! Is He worth the effort of an Amen or a holy grunt? Look at the end of the verse...
Is He worth the effort of coming forward and bowing our faces to the ground at the old fashioned altar?
4. It was marked by their Handling of the Word.
v. 7-8 It wasn't enough for them to just read the Word, somebody had to explain it. It's called preaching! We don't just need people to stand and 'give a talk', we need the preaching of the truth of the Word! It doesn't matter how brilliant the oratory, how clever the outline, or touching the poem is, if it's not rooted in the Bible...if it's not exposing the power of the Word it's worthless!
I'm not impressed by 'preachers' who stand and read one verse and then say 'look at me' and give a talk w/out going back to the Word at all. Do they think what they have to say is more important than what God has to say?
Bible preaching is taking the Word, explaining it, illustrating it, and applying it to everyday life! And there's a famine in the land for that kind of preaching. That's the kind of preaching that builds great Christians, and I believe great churches!
And keep it simple, because you shouldn't have to have a PhD to understand the preacher. And the mysteries of the Word are revealed to babes and those who come to Christ like a little child anyway. The gospel really is simple...easy so anyone can understand it. So when you hear one of these high talking professors preach don't kid yourself, just because a river is muddy doesn't mean it's deep!
ill.--John R. Rice said to put the jelly on the bottom shelf where the smallest soul can reach it!
v. 7b 'their place' = their s.s. class, their small group.
These 13 men in v. 7, and the Levites, were leaders who explained the Word more, even one on one as needed. That's real discipleship!
I'm glad we have pastors and teachers and disciplers here who take very seriously the way they handle the Word.
hunger, hearing, honoring, handling...
5. It was marked by their Heeding of the Word.
v. 9-12 Tirshatha in v. 9 = governor.
The goal of Bible preaching is life transformation. But it's not hearing the Word that transforms lives. And not just understanding it. It's obeying the Word that transforms lives. Giving heed. "Be ye doers of the Word, not hearers only." [James]
It's not about the wall, it's about the Word and the worship.
Their transformation began with:
9b What were they weeping over? Their sin! Their separation from God!
10b Nehemiah and Ezra had wisdom and stepped in to encourage the weeping that there was hope and help in the Lord. The devil wants to turn conviction into guilt, and there is a difference between a broken spirit and a morose spirit.
The devil wants to bring you down and keep you down. The Spirit of God wants to bring you down in order to lift you higher than ever! Preaching may at first make you mad, but then it makes you sad, so the Lord can make you glad!
There's nothing sweeter to us than the joy of the Lord - and there's nothing more appealing to the world than to enter a church where the joy of the Lord is evident! I feel sorry for the sad sacks that sit in church and look at the floor. They're determined not to laugh, not to smile, and not to hint at enjoying the service. They may not like it around here because we're gonna enjoy the Lord!
v. 12-17a What in the world is going on here? It's a restoration of the feast of tabernacles or booths. In Bible days God's people were commanded to have a festival once a year and go out away from their home to a brush arbor and camp out in a festive atmosphere. It was a recognition of the fact that they once permanently were encamped in the days of Moses. It was a memorial.
So here they are restoring the feast of tabernacles and I can almost see them gathering their sticks to build with and I can imagine the enemies like Sanballat saying, what are you doing? Making booths. Why? Because God said to! That's revival!!
Mourning leads to joy which leads to obedience...which leads to revival!
It's not about the wall, it's about the Word and the worship.
ill.--a man bought his wife a nice new car, and he told his wife that if she was ever in an accident, he put the insurance info. in the glove box. Well she had an accident, and she was terrified to tell him she had wrecked the new car he bought her. She was shaking and so flustered. She remembered to look in the glove box, and as she opened the insurance binder a note fell out...it was from her husband. It said, if you are reading this, it's probably because you wrecked the car. I'm just glad you're doing well enough to read. I want you to remember, it's just a car, and you are all that is important.
We've been doing a lot for our building, but let's remember what's really important. Let's pray for what goes on inside this building, and the effect we are seeking to have outside of it as we go our way.