Sermons

Summary: Priorities - (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: gcurley@gcurley.info)

Reading: chapter 6 verses 1-19.

ill:

• A reporter was interviewing an old man on his 100th birthday.

• “What are you most proud of?” he asked.

• “Well, “ said the man, “I don’t have an enemy in the world.”

• “What a beautiful thought!

• How inspirational!” said the reporter.

• “Yep,” added the centenarian, “outlived every last one of them.”

Quote:

“Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes”.

Nehemiah’s enemies are identified for us by name in verse 4:

• “Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem and their followers”.

• So far in the book they had been the enemy without,

• In this chapter they try to change their tactics;

• And they will try to become the enemy within!

So far in the story:

• Under Nehemiah's gifted leadership,

• The people had completed rebuilding of the walls of the city of Jerusalem.

• Now all that remained to do was the restoration of the gates;

• Then when the city was secure,

• He could concentrate on strengthening of the community within those walls.

(1). The Intrigue (deception) (verses 1-4):

ill:

• F. E. Smith was a clever lawyer with a quick wit;

• Who served as the British attorney general from 1915 until 1919.

• On one occasion he cross-examined a young man;

• Who was claiming damages for an arm injury caused by the negligence of a bus driver.

• “Will you please show us how high you can lift your arm now?” asked Smith.

• The young man gingerly raised his arm to shoulder level, his face distorted with pain.

• “Thank you,” said Smith.

• “And now, could you show us how high you could lift it before the accident?”

• The young man eagerly shot his arm up above his head.

• You will not be surprised to know that he lost the case!

Using deception to gain an advantage is not a new thing;

• It happens today and it happened way back in Nehemiah times (chapter 6):

• With Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem & their followers.

• Having failed miserably;

• In their attempts to stop the workers from rebuilding the city walls,

• They decide to employ new tactics.

• From now on they will concentrate their attacks on Nehemiah himself.

• After all if you destroy Nehemiah the leader;

• His followers will have no-one to follow and to lead them!

Quote verses 1-2:

“When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates- 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: "Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono." “

In verses 1-2:

• The enemies of Nehemiah, suddenly want to become Nehemiah's friends:

• And they invite him to a conference down on the plain of Ono.

• Ono is a village situated halfway between Jerusalem and Samaria.

• It was a quiet, relaxing place.

These first two verses read like Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem had a genuine desire to make peace;

• It seems that they at long last realise they are fighting a losing battle;

• So they want to meet up with Nehemiah, cut their losses and join up with him!

• They choose a place halfway between them;

• They are saying to Nehemiah; “We are willing to meet you halfway, don’t be a bad neighbour”

• We have a saying; “I wasn’t born yesterday!”

• Nehemiah was aware of what the saying means. He too would not be easily taken in.

Ill:

• Norman “Kid” McCoy, who was welterweight boxing champion in 1896,

• He was also regarded as a formidable puncher,

• And was included in the Ring Magazine's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.

• During one of his fights, McCoy discovered his opponent had a disability,

• He was fighting a contender who had the misfortune of being deaf.

• McCoy wasted no time in taking advantage of it.

• Near the end of the third round McCoy stepped back a pace;

• And pointed to his adversary’s corner, indicating that the bell had rung.

• “Thank you” said McCoy’s opponent. “very kind of you.”

• But the bell hadn’t rung at all,

• And as soon as the other boxer dropped his hands and turned away.

• McCoy immediately knocked him out.

Unlike McCoy’s opponent Nehemiah was not about to be taken in:

• Some commentators suggest that they were trying to trick him into leaving Jerusalem,

• Where he had armed support, to come to a conference where they could ambush him.

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