Summary: If we are to finish the work God is calling us to do we must apply the 3 actions that Nehemiah used to finish the work.
Starting is always easier than finishing a job. If we are to finish the work God is calling us to do we must apply the 3 actions that Nehemiah used to finish the work.
What do you think is easier: Starting a job or finishing a job? Although there are challenges to just getting started I believe the greater challenge is in actually following through and making sure the job gets finished. We see this in home improvement projects all the time. I have a friend who recently told me how much he loves to get projects started around his house – so much so that he has a whole list of halfway completed projects in and around his home. In order to get the jobs done he actually went out and hired a friend to get those tasks completed. Smart man!
When it comes to fulfilling our mission as a church of changing the spiritual landscape of our community, or when it comes to following the ways God is calling us to change the status quo of our lives – it is always easier to get started than to finish the job.
But that’s nothing new. We’ve been studying the first few chapters of the book of Nehemiah, and in it we’ve learned about how Nehemiah was called by God to do what seemed almost impossible and rebuild the wall of Jerusalem which had been laying in rubble for over 100 years. We’ve learned how God gave Nehemiah favor with the King of Persia in order to go and do the work and how, because he prayed and waited for the right time, God gave him success in organizing the people for the hard work. We’ve learned also that doing the work invited ridicule and opposition from others and even made the people get tired, weary, and afraid. But through it all Nehemiah reminded the people to keep their focus on God, and as we learned last week, he instructed them to “Remember the Lord who is great and awemsone, and FIGHT!”
This week we’ll see how Nehemiah continues to wade through the obstacles his enemies place in his path, and how he manages to do what seems so difficult for us – how he finishes the job!
1 When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates- 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: "Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono."
But they were scheming to harm me; 3 so I sent messengers to them with this reply: "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?" 4 Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.
5 Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter 6 in which was written:
"It is reported among the nations—and Geshem says it is true—that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king 7 and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ’There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us confer together."
8 I sent him this reply: "Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head."
9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, "Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed."
But I prayed, "Now strengthen my hands."
10 One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, "Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you—by night they are coming to kill you."
11 But I said, "Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!" 12 I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.