Summary: How can I stand as a godly person with discernment in a society that does not recognize spiritual success?

November 24, 2002

1Now when it was reported to Sanballat, Tobiah, to Geshem the Arab and to the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall, and that no breach remained in it, although at that time I had not set up the doors in the gates, 2then Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to me, saying, "Come, let us meet together at ?Chephirim in the plain of Ono." But they were planning to harm me. 3So I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?" 4They sent messages to me four times in this manner, and I answered them in the same way. 5Then Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same manner a fifth time with an open letter in his hand. 6In it was written, "It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu says, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel; therefore you are rebuilding the wall. And you are to be their king, according to these reports. 7"You have also appointed prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, ’A king is in Judah!’ And now it will be reported to the king according to these reports. So come now, let us take counsel together." 8Then I sent a message to him saying, "Such things as you are saying have not been done, but you are inventing them in your own mind." 9For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, "They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done." But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

10When I entered the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined at home, he said, "Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night." 11But I said, "Should a man like me flee? And could one such as I go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in." 12Then I perceived that surely God had not sent him, but he uttered his prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could reproach me. 14Remember, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these works of theirs, and also Noadiah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me.

The Wall Is Finished

15So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16When all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. 17Also in those days many letters went from the nobles of Judah to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18For many in Judah were bound by oath to him because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah. 19Moreover, they were speaking about his good deeds in my presence and reported my words to him. Then Tobiah sent letters to frighten me. Nehemiah 6:1-19 (NASB)

Thursday morning the news reported the death of Bonnie Witheral, a 31 year-old missionary serving with the Christian Missionary Alliance church. She was a medical missionary in Sidon, Lebanon.

You might remember from Bible stories of Exodus how Joshua led the nation of Israel to possess the Promised Land. That possession could not include the Phonecian cities of Tyre and Sidon. Joshua could not conquer those cities.

Sidon and Tyre were ancient cities, having been founded long before the Israelites entered the land of Canaan…Both cities were known for their maritime exploits and as centers of trade…Joshua could not conquer the territory (Josh. 13:3-4)….About 870 B.C., Ahab married Jezebel, the daughter of the Phoenician king, bringing Baal worship to Israel’s court.

Sidon is a hotbed of terrorist fanatics (Hezbollah and Al Qaeda). There is much hatred there for Americans and Jews. As such, American missionaries who pray for the peace of Jerusalem are often targeted for attacks.

According to the news reports, a gunman walked into the clinic in which Mrs. Witheral was administering medical aid and pumped 3 bullets into her head and then fled. We pray for her family and church. We have been warned this week that increased terrorist activity is likely in the U.S. if war with Iraq becomes a reality. It is an uneasy time in which we live.

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