Summary: This message focuses on the necessity of change. Change can be very uncomfortable but it is essential to growth.
Keep the Change
Perhaps you have heard of Murphy’s law. His most famous law was this: if anything
can go wrong, it probably will. There are other laws that are attributed to Mr. Murphy as well. Here are a few:
* left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.
* if everything seems to be going well, you have probably overlooked something.
* you will never find a lost article until you replace it. Then it always shows up.
In our text today, everything seems to be going wrong all at once. Mr. Murphy shows up and he reminds Nehemiah that when everything seems to be going great, then you must have overlooked something. It reminds me of a situation that took place several years ago when Edith, a mother of 8 children came home when Saturday afternoon from her neighbor’s house, only to discover 5 of her youngest children huddled together in the LR very focused on something. As she slipped in behind them to see what they were doing, she could hardly believe he eyes. Right in the middle of her kids were several baby skunks. She screamed at the top of her voice, “kids run!” So each child grabbed a skunk and ran to their BR.
If anything can go wrong, it will. Right now across our country there is a plague that is spreading. It’s not the flu, it’s not a virus but it’s an outbreak that is as deadly as the most dreaded disease known to man-it’s called discouragement. There are at least 3 things that make it a huge problem right now. (1) It’s universal. All of us have been discouraged at one time or another. None of us are immune. (2) It’s recurring. Being discouraged once doesn’t suddenly make you immune to this disease. (3) It’s highly contagious. In fact you can be discouraged because others are discouraged.
I think there are 2 main types of discouragement. One set of problems come at us from the outside, the other set attacks us on the inside. Those who were working on the wall in Jerusalem were very excited, at least @ first. They started with a lot of hope. Verse 6 says the people worked with all their hearts. Things were going well, the wall was going up and suddenly Murphy’s law kicked in. You see when God is at work the enemy is also at work. And that was the case with the wall of Jerusalem. Satan used 2 types of external forces to cause them to be discouraged.
(1) Ridicule. Look at verses 1-2. This man Sanballat was opposed to Nehemiah’s effort. Every time we read about him he is standing against the work of God...ridiculing Nehemiah. Someone has said that ridicule is the language of the devil. Goliath ridiculed David, the roman soldiers ridiculed Jesus while he was on the cross. Sanballat had started to ridicule the workers before the work even started in 2:19. Now in chpt. 4 he is doing to again. He ridiculed the job they were doing by primarily asking them 4 questions. Look at them. (1) Will they rebuild the wall? How could this small group build a wall strong enough to protect a city? (2) Will they offer sacrifices? It will take more than their efforts to do this. (3) Will they finish in a day? Do they realize what a big job this is? (4) Can they bring these stones back to life? The materials were old and they were damaged...it won’t work! Then in verse 3 Tobiah starts to ridicule the workers and he makes a joke...their humor was different but try to follow this.....v. 3 foxes. Portions of these walls have been uncovered..the walls were 9 ft. thick so it would take more than a small fox to knock them down. But Tobiah and the others hoped their sarcasm would cause them to cave in to this disease called discouragement.
2nd cause was repression. Verses 7-8. The enemy is now angry. They were all plotting together to stir up trouble. Warren Wiersbe said God’s people sometimes have difficulty working together but the people of the world have no problem at all uniting against God’s work! The references here in v.7 are 4 points on the compass. Samaritans on the north. Ashdod on the west. Tobiah on the east. Arabs to the south. They were surrounded. And when we are surrounded we get discouraged. Then there were internal causes. Pressures on the outside ofetn begin to cause pressures in the inside. Look at verse 10. Now God’s people have started to internalize the voice of the enemy.
1. The first source of this discouragement was fatigue. V. 10. Simply put, the workers were tired. When you are physically drained it is very easy to become discouraged, to be irritable. V. 6 says the wall was built to ½ its height. Ever notice when you are excited about a project that the 1st half of the project goes very quickly-because of the excitement. But then the newness wears off, the work becomes routine, we get tires and then discouragement sets in. It happens because we begin to get overwhelmed and we start thinking I can’t finish this. It’s too much!