Summary: Nehemiah 4:7-23, discussion of when God is working in an individual's life or a church's life, Satan is at work as well.
God’s Working! Satan is Too
Throughout our study of the book of Nehemiah, we’ve seen a common theme develop within the first 4 chapters: when God is working, Satan is working double-time to discredit the work of God and His servants. Nehemiah was a servant of God who believed solidly and firmly in the power of prayer. He had experienced the power of God. He had seen the purpose of God being fulfilled. He had the promise of God all over him. Nehemiah was a true follower of God – Nehemiah was a true leader.
Leaders oftentimes run into supposed brick walls. These walls of defense place a temporary setback or sometimes even a permanent setback to the work of God in an individual’s life or within the collective life of a church. Leadership has a choice – either surrender to forces of evil, or follow God’s will. Before we get into the text, remember this, following God’s will is not always the easiest thing to do or the most popular thing to do. As a matter of fact, it is sometimes the most difficult thing to do. Nehemiah provides a tremendous example once again of how to respond to evil forces. This example that has been provided is one that still is relevant in the church today.
I. Threats and Plans of Sanballat, Tobiah, and the merry band of misfits
• Remember verse 4, Nehemiah prayed for God to plunder the enemy.
• Even though he prayed, the threats and plans of the enemy grew to an enormous strength. They all plotted to come and fight Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. (v.7-8).
• Note the NASB – “They were very angry”, they “conspired”, they were ready to “come and fight”, and cause a major “disturbance”
• These folks were a major league distraction. They may not have done anything, but their words caused enough of a distraction to deter the work for a small time.
• John Ortberg, in his article “Taking Care of Busyness” – “For most of us, the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.”
II. Problem of fatigue setting in on the workers
• V. 10 NASB – “The strength of the burden bearers is failing, yet there is much rubbish; and we ourselves are unable to rebuild the wall”
• “Our most notorious industrial accidents in recent years – Exxon Valdez, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, the fatal error of Korean Air Lines 007 – all occurred in the middle of the night. The Challenger Space disaster, key NASA officials made the ill-fated decision to go ahead with the launch after working twenty hours straight and getting only two to three hours sleep the night before. That error in judgment cost the lives of seven astronauts and nearly killed the US space program. We ignore our need for rest and renewal at the peril of others and ourselves” (Martin Moore-Ede, Twenty Four Hour Society)
• Fatigue always comes with fear. When you are tired even the smallest obstacle seems large.
• Vince Lombardi – “Fatigue makes cowards of us all”
• How do we overcome the problems of fatigue and fear?
III. Pray and Post
• V. 9 “But we prayed to our God, and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat”
• Ray Steadman – “When you begin to move with God to change things in your life for the better, you will find that you are first met with derision, and if you keep persisting, someone is going to get very upset with you and attack you in a vicious, perhaps physical, way.”
• Nehemiah responded with prayer – and then posted a guard
• Blending of resources of the spiritual life with those of the material world is a marvelous picture of how believers ought to face threats, recognizing that we need action on both levels.
NOTE NEHEMIAH’s RESPONSE
1. He carefully looks over the situation and evaluates what is needed
• This approach is necessary if we are going to improve our own lives
• We must observe exactly where we are under attack
• What are we addicted to? A wrong habit, a drug, an attitude of mind? Bitterness of spirit.
• When we have identified the source of attack, we must post a guard at that point.
• ILL – Coaching
2. He reviews the spiritual resources available to them
• They had a power at work in their lives that their enemies knew nothing about
• The great and awesome God who was with them would stand with them in their peril.