Summary: A nation is more than just the walls but the people. For the people to be a people of God, they need to return to the worship of God. 2 things we learn from this chapter, that we need to take note of: (1) watch our character, and (2) remember our identi
RECAP Last Week Sermon Pointers - Schemes of the Enemy - He seeks to:
(1) Distract you. We overcome it by planned neglect. Focus on the GREAT work.
(2) Defame you (rumours & gossips). We take care of our character; trust God to take care of our reputation.
(3) Discredit you (intimidate you). We choose to fear God, not men.
Practice saying YES to God and His priorities, as often as you can.
Practice saying NO to distractions, again and again. Make it into a HABIT.
Nehemiah loved the Lord and was moved by His Spirit to do His will.
• He might be just one man, but we have seen over the past weeks how one man fully committed to and reliant upon God could accomplish His work despite the oppositions and challenges.
• One man can make a difference, if he cares to trust God and make sacrifices.
This is the theme for this series – “Living to Make a Difference”
• We are called to serve God and do His ‘great work’ (words used by Nehemiah).
• We are called to make a difference in our world. Jesus described us as the light of the word and salt of the earth.
• We can because He enables to. So remember this, we live to make a difference.
Up to this point we have seen Nehemiah’s single-minded effort in rebuilding the wall. We did not expect more than that.
• But God has a greater plan than just the rebuilding of walls. [Read 7:1-5, 70-73]
7:5 says, “So my God put it into my heart” to assemble the people for registration by families.
• There was a shift in emphasis now. Building the wall was just a first step (a small one, in fact.)
• Building a people of God – that is God’s ultimate desire.
• 2 things we can learn from this passage: (1) Watch Your Character, and (2) Remember Your Identity.
What really makes a nation? It is more than just the infrastructure, it is the people.
• What makes a nation strong? It is more than just having a wall, but its people.
• Nehemiah was now burdened by God to rebuild the nation (now that the walls have been rebuilt).
So Nehemiah took steps. He put in gatekeepers, the ICA Immigration & Checkpoints Authority who would be responsible for people coming in and out of the city. They watch over all the entry points.
• He set up guards (7:3b) – residents of Jerusalem, assigned at certain posts or near their own houses.
• He appointed his brother Hanani as a community leader, and Hananiah the commander of the citadel (watchtower), to oversee the defence of the city.
It wasn’t only capabilities that Nehemiah was looking for. He was looking for people whom he could trust to do a good job.
• His brother was mentioned in 1:2 as the one who made the long trip to Susa to inform him of the state of Jerusalem city.
• He shared the same burden with Nehemiah and had been with him throughout the entire ordeal. He was someone dependable and loyal.
Hananiah was “a man of integrity and feared God more than most men do.” (7:2)
• Nehemiah needed to say something about this man and he wanted us to know – “I chose him because he is faithful, reliable, and fear God more than anyone else.”
• It was important to him. You need to put the right people at the right place.
• And it is important to us today.
I want to dwell on this thought for a moment – our CHARACTER before God, because this is what makes us the people of God.
Think about that for a moment – if these are the criteria the church looks for, how would you fare?
• Would someone describe you as a person of integrity (reliable), and one who fears God more than most people?
• It is an honour to be known that way, and Nehemiah had such a man beside him. What he needed was dependability.
This is what God looks for, according to Jesus.
• Jesus said in the parable of the talents (Matt 25) that the Master was happy with the “good and faithful” servants, who have been faithful with a few things, and so He would put them in charge of many things.
• It was not about the one, two or five talents, but their faithfulness in their duties.
• We tend to focus only on capabilities but God is concerned about our character.
I was reading an article by Norman L. Geisler, a distinguished professor of apologetics at Veritas Evangelical Seminary in Murrieta, California. This line caught my attention:
“The stark truth is that God is more interested in our holiness than in our happiness. There is no verse in the Bible that says, “Be happy, as I am happy.” There are verses that declare, “Be holy, as I am holy” (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2). Yes, God is more interested in our character than our comfort, and He has been known to sacrifice the latter in order to achieve the former.”