Summary: In this message we will look at ridicule and how to handle it.

“Changing Murphy’s Law”

Nehemiah 4

Perhaps you have heard of Murphy’s Law. Murphy is credited with the famous words, “if anything can go wrong, it will.” Other laws have now been blamed on him as well...

• If everything seems to be going well you have obviously overlooked something

• if you have lost something you will never find it until you replace it; then it will show up

• one more... Left to themselves, things tend to go from good to bad.

As we come into chapter 4 of the book of Nehemiah, everything seemed to be going wrong all at once. The setting is this---the people of Jerusalem had lost all their security---the wall that had once surrounded their city providing them protection, was now lying in rubble-broken down; piled up and had been that way for over 100 years now.

Walls are important. They provide boundaries-they keep out the enemy and they protect those who live there. Presidential candidates are using this as a platform—to build a wall on our border to protect our country. Jerusalem had a wall---they felt protected and now it was gone. Let me ask you---if the front door of your home were damaged and had to be replaced and the person replacing it said “I can take care of it but I need four days to do it and just one problem; during that four days you won’t have a front door-at all. Just an opening there. That will be okay, right?” Could you sleep at night? Florida has a lot of animals. People wouldn’t have to break in... They would just walk in. I know I wouldn’t feel safe.

And neither did the people in Jerusalem. And now Murphy’s Law kicks in and things just start to get even more complicated. I read a situation that took place some years ago in Maryland. A woman named Edith, a mother of eight came home one Saturday afternoon only to find her five youngest children focusing on something on the living room floor. So she slipped up behind them to see what they were doing. When she saw she couldn’t believe her eyes. Smack dab in the middle of her kids was a group of baby skunks. So she screamed at the top of her voice, children, run! So each child picked up a skunk and ran to their bedroom.

If anything can go wrong, it usually will. I believe there is a plague that is sweeping our nation today---I’m not talking about the flu, not cancer---it’s an epidemic called discouragement.

There are three things that I see that make this such a huge problem.

{1} It’s universal. It’s everywhere. And it affects every body.

{2} It’s recurring. Once you have it, you can get it again. There’s nothing you can do to become immune to the disease.

{3} It’s contagious. When a person gets it, it always seems to spread to their closest friends.

The men and women who were working on the wall were excited. Finally they were going to have a protected city again. They’re going to feel safe again. Verse 6 says they worked with all of their hearts. Things were going well, the people were excited and the wall was going up. But when God is at work, the enemies were at work too. And the enemy seems to use at least two strategies.

Strategy 1. Ridicule. Look at verses 1-2. Verse 1 says ….. This would be the 3rd time that we come across SanBallat and every time we read about him he is opposing God’s work. Ridicule is the language of the devil. It’s not his native language by the way. His native language is lying. But ridicule is closely related. John 8:44. He uses lying and ridicule to his advantage. You can be confident, standing tall, at peace with the world but just let someone mock you, laugh at you... And suddenly you will collapse. Goliath ridiculed David when he came out with nothing but a slingshot---the soldiers mocked Jesus and taunted him while he was on the cross. Even before the work started on the wall they ridiculed him. Chapter 2:19... They mocked and ridiculed us. Now it only intensifies.

Notice that in verse two he calls the workers feeble. Don’t you love that word? People is defined as “withered and miserable.” He ridicules them, then he ridicules the job they were doing... He asks them 5 questions and you can just hear the sarcasm in his voice.

• Will they restore the wall?

• How can a few feeble Jews build a small strong enough?

• Will they offer sacrifices to help them?

• Will he finish in one day?

• Can they bring these stones back to life?

Then in v. 3 Tobias, his buddy, steps in and tries to make a joke. He says what are they building that even if a Fox climbed up on it, he would break down the wall?? They become the punchline of every joke possible.

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