Summary: This sermon was part of a series I preached on Nehemiah’s one holy passion, the glory of God.
One Holy Passion
April 1, 2001
“In Danger of Distraction”
If you have email, you will appreciate the following message I got from an old friend recently. It read
Let it be known:
1. Big companies don’t do business via chain letters and there are no computer programs that track how many times an email is forwarded, let alone by whom. Bill Gates is not giving you $1000, and Disney is not giving you a free vacation.
2. Proctor and Gamble is not part of a satanic cult or scheme, and its logo is not satanic.
3. The Gap is not giving away free clothes. You can relax; there is no need to pass it on “just in case it’s true”.
4. There is no kidney theft ring in New Orleans. No one is waking up in a bathtub full of ice, even if a friend of a friend swears it happened to his cousin. The National Kidney Foundation has repeatedly issued requests for actual victims of organ thieves to come forward and tell their stories. None have. Not even your friend’s cousin.
5. Neiman Marcus doesn’t really sell a $200 cookie recipe. And even if they do, we all have it. And even if you don’t, you can easily get a copy via the internet.
6. Craig Shergold (or Sherwood, or Sherman) in England is not dying of cancer or anything else at this time, and he would like everyone to stop sending him their business cards. He apparently is no longer a “little boy” either.
7. If you are one of those people who forwards anything that “promises” that something bad will happen if you “don’t”, then something bad will happen to you if I ever meet you in a dark alley.
8. There is no bill before Congress that will allow long distance companies to charge you for using the internet.
9. Last, just because someone said in a message, four generations back, that “we checked it out and it’s legit”, does not actually make it true!
And it ends with this warning: “copy, paste, and send this to everyone you know or the program I just put on your hard drive while you read this email will open up your CD-ROM and reach out and slap you upside the head!
Wow, can people be quick to believe rumors! To our shame, the Christian community has been duped for the better part of 30 years by a rumor that made the rounds over and over and over again that suggested that Madalyn Murray O’Hair was pushing legislation before Congress to have all Christian programming taken off the air—I have even seen that passed around since she has been dead! And many of us gulped it up and believed it and got all worked up and called our congressmen—without stopping to check to see if it was true, which it isn’t!
Nehemiah still doesn’t get any rest from his tormentors in Chapter 6. The wall is complete now; all that remains is to set the gates and the work will be done. Desperation is setting in now, and his nemeses Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem are back at work again, using, among other things, rumor as a way to try to bring down Nehemiah. By now, though, we know what the outcome will be! And yet there are some very instructive things we find here regarding how we as a church need to deal with the very real threat of becoming distracted from doing what God has called us to do.
I. Distracting Dangers Nehemiah Faced:
Let’s look at these from God’s Word:
A. A Plot to Kidnap/Murder - :1-4
The enemies were now desperate. And yet they still held out hope that the project could be stopped, or at least that Nehemiah’s leadership could be rendered ineffective. Hanging the doors, the work which yet remained, was a difficult task in its own right. These doors would have to be custom-made; heavy scaffolding would have to be put into place. The work wasn’t finished yet; there might still be time to ruin it, at least in part.
And so they make what Boice suggests looks like a political concession speech: “Nehemiah, it’s no use pretending that we haven’t been opposed to your project—we have. But you have succeeded in spite of us, and now there is no use to carry on our opposition. For better or for worse, we’ll have to live together. Let’s meet for a summit conference to figure out how.” Might have sounded reasonable—but Nehemiah saw through it all. He understood what their intent was: “to harm me!” He knew that the Ono plain, a full day’s travel from Jerusalem, was on the edge of Samaria and Ashdod (and remember, we said a few weeks back that Jerusalem was literally surrounded by enemies). Violence could easily be arranged against him, and could even be blamed on an accident having befallen him.