Summary: Sermon from Nehemiah that commends believers to engage in the call to destroy one kingdom while at the same time work together to build another
The Sword and the Trowel
A Call to Build and to Fight
Introduction: The church that the world loves the most is sure to be the church that God despises. I am not sure if I am one of the few or one of the many who feels that, as believers we are growing tired as we build the kingdom of God while constantly fighting the kingdom of Satan. But we are called to do exactly that! I wonder if We are so concerned with the lies that we are who the world says we are, that we go out of our way to show the world that we are not the bigots they say we are? Why would we compromise the truth to appease the God- haters in this world? some people reason "Well now, we can't be seen as being against anything, because that may offend some people." Well, the one most offended is God and those who claim to love him don't seem to care. Are we going to just sit back as the world dictates to us, what we should believe? No Way!
As the salt and the light in this dark and loveless world we are called to do two things: to Build & to Fight.
Backdrop: Israel was in rubble after King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed their nation to the ground. Nehemiah and his fellow countrymen were building it back up in the face of opposition.
That's the reason I chose this message because it parallels with the church today just as Nehemiah was dealing with people who tore down Israel, today's church is dealing with communities that are torn down by apathy, immorality and corruption and it is our time to build our communities back up.
Transition: I would like to pull three lessons from the fourth chapter of Nehemiah that applies to our church today. First lesson is that We will have an Enemy. Second, We must work in Unity. Third, Building and Fighting is our Destiny.
I. We have a common Enemy
Nehemiah 4:1, 2 - "When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, "What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble - burned as they are?"
Do you ever notice that every time you want to rebuild something good in your life, that there is always someone who wants to tear it down? A great preacher once said that "There's never been a good work that hasn't been met with opposition." If the birthmark of a believer is a bulls eye - then we should wonder if we are doing any good if we do not have any opposition from Satan. Just as a rattle snake rattles or a cat hisses when something puts it in danger, if you can't make the devil roar, you're not doing him much harm; but the more he roars, the more reason angels have to sing! You only catch flak from the enemy when you are over the bulls eye. Only when you hit a nerve does the leg jerk. Jesus said "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." We read in 1 Peter 4:14 - "If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." They lash out at the truth, which is the Lord living in you.
Ridicule is a natural part of the Christian life. If you don't have a thick skin then you might not be cut out to be a servant of God. We read here in the first 2 verses in chapter 4, where Sanballat is making fun of Nehemiah and the Jews who are hastily rebuilding the destroyed wall. If it makes others happy to mock us while we are working let them do it, it shouldn't bother us. Its so disappointing to see good Christians give up their work because of the ridicule of their enemies.
Our enemies work so hard to discourage you with their words. Sanballat tried to discourage them from finishing the wall "are you going to be able to finish that today? Ha ha!" He tries to get them to doubt that they can finish what they are starting. Our enemies will try to get us to doubt that we can finish what we started. Our enemies will try to get us to doubt our calling and our work.
Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said "What they are building - if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!" v. 3