Summary: This message is a part of my series titled Facing the Giants which builds on the popular movie. This message deals with distraction...why we are distracted, how Satan uses this powerful tool and what we can do to combat it.
Weapons of Mass Distraction
If we look carefully at the scripture one of the things that quickly emerges is this fact: life is a struggle....it is a battle from beginning to end. In the book of Ephesians Paul tells us “ For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” These powers of darkness show themselves in many forms. Paul described them a darts or arrows and tells us again in verse 16. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
These darts are the weapons that Satan uses and as much as anything they are designed for the specific purpose of distracting us from serving Christ. And so I’m referring to them this morning as weapons of mass distraction.
Here in Nehemiah 6 as in many other places in scripture we learn that Satan has 2 main ways of working. The first tactic is fear. Satan is prowling around as Peter reminds us...Satan is like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
But He has another battle plan as well. He not only uses fear, he also uses flattery. Paul says that Satan masquerades himself as an angel of light. He comes with deceptive promises and flattering words telling us that what he is proposing will not cost us anything. Whatever method he uses...know this..his aim is to distract and to destroy each of us. And the thing is Paul says that we are aware of his schemes. We know this is how he operates and so we must constantly be on guard. To distract us Satan will try to make you afraid or make you feel good about yourself.
I have taught before on the topic of building the wall. You will remember that the wall had been burned down and Nehemiah felt led to bring the people together and rebuild it. So each group worked on a specific section until it was rebuilt.
Now we come to a new chapter and the wall has been completed. All that remains is to set the gates and the work will be finished. And so Satan begins his plan of distraction.
The enemies were now desperate. They could see the handwriting on the
wall....the wall was going up. But they still had some hope they could stop the project. So the deception begins. They say let’s meet together on the plain of Ono because even though we are opposed we all have to live together. Sounds reasonable, but Nehemiah saw right through this plan. So he says oh no to Ono.
He says I’m carrying out a great porject....why should I come down? He knew they were plotting to kill him.
Look at veses 5-9. Well if they can’t kill him physically they will assassinate his character. 4 letters have been sent, Nehemiah says no to each one..then a 5th one is sent...and it is an open letter..not selaed for all to read. And it is full of rumors. This is another way Satan works...he circulates rumors. And he often lots of help.
And the problem with rumors is that people believe them. I get emails all the time describing things that could happen or things that will not happen if I do not respond. If you use email you get them too. For 30 years letters and emails now have been making their way trough the Christian community saying that Madelyn Murray Ohair is petitioning congress to have all Christian programming removed from the air waves. I cannot count the number of times well meaning people have brought me copies of a petition for me to sign and then to circulate. But Christians bet involved and we get distracted.
Why is it that we are so willing to believe the worst? I think this is especially true about people who are in leadership positions like Nehemiah was. Leaders are sometimes blamed for things they didn’t do and then criticized for the things they are doing. Rumors get started and unfortunately people believe them. Pastors sometimes get anonymous letters...I still remember the first one I got in 1981...they stick with you. And they distract us from our calling...we try to figure out who they are from and more than that..why the wrote it. Best thing is to never open them.
Nehemiah responds to this letter and says ...verse 8-9.
So they develop a new distraction. A plan to discredit Nehemiah. Here is the plan. Again they use fear. Verse 10.
Now it is difficult to understand what they were trying to do here without understanding the OT law. But here is the deal. The area where they were going to take Nehemiah was off limits to everyone except the priest. We know this from the book of Numbers 18:7. They would tie a rope to the leg of the priest in case he died while he was inside so they could drag him out because they were not allowed to enter. So if they can get Nehemiah to go in and then tell everyone then his leadership would be in question and he would be put to death. Let me ask you a question...do you think that churches ever get distracted? And when we do what happens to the church? Let me give you 6 statements that are made frequently that distract the church.