Summary: Message 8 in our exposition of Nehemiah exploring how Nehemiah dealt with internal squabbling that interfered with the wall project.
Chico Alliance Church
We have been carefully analyzing the correlation between the opposition Nehemiah faced as he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem and the opposition we face as we seek to build and secure the walls of protection around our own life. The walls of Jerusalem were destroyed because of their refusal to obey the Word of God. Our walls likewise disintegrate because of our refusal to walk in obedience to the clear principles of life written down for our good and God's glory. Nehemiah committed himself and all of his resources to help restore those ruined walls and encourage his brothers in Jerusalem. This was no small commitment for Nehemiah. He was a man of great influence and significance in the Persian Empire as cupbearer to King Artexerxes. He was willing to risk it all and even his life to help those in distress.
Because Nehemiah knew how to pray, he was able to respond to each attempt by the enemy to block the restoration project. Satan does everything he can, as did Sanballet against Nehemiah, to block the wall building process so that he might gain destructive access to our life.
1--He tried Questioning authority which was met by a declaration of privileged position and a denial of any part by the enemy,
2--He tried malicious mocking of their person and performance which was confronted by praying to God and pressing on in the work
3--He tried intimidation which was met by prayer and a continual guard.
4--He tried discouragement and fear which was met with 5 basic actions.
* Developed family fighting skills
* Dealt with fear by encouragement
* Determined to press on in the work
* Directed a balance between building and battling
* Devised a spiritual "911" system.
This morning we will look at an age old tactic of the enemy employed to disrupt any progress toward godliness.
We fight a subtle foe. When he fails to succeed by direct intimidation, he will use people closest to us to obstruct growth. So far, Sanballet has failed to bring a halt to the wall building of Nehemiah. Nehemiah has been on top of every scheme thus far. Sanballet has been working behind the scenes for some time and now pulls an ace out of his robe that he hopes will do the job. Nehemiah now faces a challenge that has been a problem since the time of Cain and Abel. The scenes verbally painted in Nehemiah's journal now cycles from vivid external strikes by Sanballet to the vicious internal strife from within their own ranks. The work is delayed once again, disabled by discord.
Jesus clearly identified the badge of a bonafide believer.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35
Unity and love were the hallmark of the early church. Rich and poor, slave and free, Greek and Jew experienced the wonder of Christ's love genuinely manifested on a horizontal plane.
Yet we still find some disturbing exhortations written to some of the early churches.
Many churches and even entire denominations were born out of conflict and division. It is an attitude that often permeates everything they do. Rather than building walls against the Sanballats, we often erect barriers against fellow saints. Rather than learning to put on love the perfect bond of unity and letting the peace of Christ rule our hearts, we put out one another and let selfish ambition rule our hearts.
5. Scheme #5 Stir up internal strife 5:1-19
a. Nehemiah describes the problem 5:1-5
"There was a great outcry from the people and their wives against their Jewish brothers."
1--Larger families lacked basic needs and had no resources.
2--Famine forced families to mortgage their homes for food.
3--Families were forced to borrow to pay high taxes.
4--Families were force to liquidate all their assets and go into slavery to fellow Jews.
The situation was difficult. A great influx of people had streamed into Jerusalem from captivity. The land had not been worked for many years. Famine was in the land. Taxes were high. The people had diverted their attention from raising crops to raising walls. There was continual harassment and pilfering of the crops and supplies from the outside enemies. In addition to all of this, the rich were capitalizing on the situation and exploiting the poor. In spite of a great cooperation in this massive building project there were still those whose focus was selfish exploitation rather than selfless cooperation. They were acting more like bankers than brothers. These were probably some of the same "nobles" who refused to restore the wall in 3:5 and yet are ready to pilfer the poor at every opportunity.