Summary: Whenever we face trouble we must rebuild the rubble.
Rebuilding the Rubble
Book of Nehemiah
Rev. Brian Bill
Have you ever noticed that once we commit to ministry, things suddenly get messy? We learned two weeks ago that when we focus on giants, we stumble; and when we focus on God our giants tumble. If you’re serious about asking God to slay some giants in your life, I’m also certain that you’ve encountered some obstacles along the way. 1 Peter 4:12: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” You and I have a choice to make when this happens. We can give up on God, or we can give in to God. I’d like to suggest from the Book of Nehemiah that whenever we face trouble, we must deal with rubble.
Allow me to set the context. After King Solomon died the country was split into two kingdoms. The Northern Kingdom had ten tribes and was referred to as Israel. Judah, the Southern Kingdom contained two tribes. Because of deliberate disobedience, the Assyrians conquered Israel. Even though Judah saw all this happen, they continued to rebel against God. In 586 B.C.the Babylonian army destroyed Jerusalem and deported God’s people to the area we now know as Iraq.
The good news is that many of God’s prophets predicted that this captivity would not destroy the nation and the people would be allowed to go back home. Daniel understood this truth when he was reading the book of Jeremiah. Take a look at Daniel 9:2: “…I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.” This chart depicts the three returns to Jerusalem and also helps us see how the Old Testament books of Ezra, Esther and Nehemiah fit together.
With that as a very brief background, let’s look at what happens in Nehemiah 4. The people have faced their giants, they’re back in the land and they’re whistling while they work on rebuilding the wall. It says of them in verse 6 that the “people worked with all their heart.” And then discouragement sets in. We see this in verses 1-2: “When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews…what are those feeble Jews doing?” Notice that he called the workers “feeble” which means “withered and miserable.”
Friends, whenever you attempt to get involved in the work of God, you will always encounter opposition. When you face trouble, you must deal with the rubble. Are you discouraged today? Let’s look at three causes of discouragement from Nehemiah 4.
Causes of Discouragement
1. Fatigue. Verse 10 reads, “Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, ‘The strength of the laborers is giving out…” Simply put, the workers were tired. They were hitting it hard and needed some rest. The phrase “giving out” carries with it the idea of “staggering, tottering, and stumbling.” When you are physically drained, it is very easy to become discouraged at the slightest problem. It’s also interesting to notice when the workers became fatigued and discouraged. Verse 6 says that the wall was built to half its height. Many times when we start a new project the first half goes quickly because we’re excited about accomplishing the goal. But, when the newness wears off and the work becomes routine and boring, then it’s easy to become fatigued. Verse 10 says: “…we cannot rebuild the wall.” These are the same people who were described in verse 6 as those who “worked with all their heart.”
2. Frustration. Verse 10 continues by saying that there is “so much rubble” that they cannot rebuild the wall. They became discouraged because they were aggravated about all the obstacles. I’m sure they were encountering old broken rocks, dried-out mortar, and other debris that was underfoot. This junk was everywhere. And it was frustrating. Just as they lost sight of their goal, so too we can lose sight of our goal when we have gobs of garbage in our lives. Hebrews 12:1 challenges us to get rid of everything that causes us to be frustrated in our pursuit of godliness: “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race marked out for us.”
I don’t know what the rubble is in your life but it may be television, it might be a possession you’re holding on to, or even an unhealthy relationship. Is there a sin you’ve been playing around with too long? Do you have a drinking or drug problem, or are you involved in some other kind of entanglement that is tripping you up?