Summary: Sermon #3 in the series taken from Nehemiah 6-7 reveals Nehemiah’s ability to avoid various kinds of distractions so he could finish the task at hand.
#3 in the Nehemiah series: Nehemiah Chapters 6-7
"Weapons of Mass Distraction"
Castle Hills Christian Church: May 18, 2008
The book of Nehemiah is a book about building a wall. It’s interesting that archeologists have just recently found a portion of wall that dates back 2,500 years to the time of Nehemiah.
The section of wall that was discovered faces the Mount of Olives and is located just outside what is called the Dung Gate. It was dated to Nehemiah’s time by pieces of pottery that were discovered in the same stratum.
I had a little wall project myself this week. (A plumber knocked a hole in my bathroom wall to fix a leaky pipe behind a sink. I had to repair the wall and make it look like the rest of the wall. That turned out to be a bigger project than I expected.)
When you think about it, there have been a lot of famous walls built throughout history … and they were built for all kinds of reasons.
• The Great Wall of China is one of the most famous walls. It was built to keep the invaders OUT.
• On the other hand, the Berlin wall was built to keep the people of East Berlin IN.
• The Vietnam memorial wall was constructed in Washington DC to honor fallen soldiers.
• Every year, people journey from all over the world to pray at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
• There is an 81-foot long wall in Cambridge, Massachusetts that was built as an Art Display Wall.
• Rockwall, Texas got its name because of a strange rock wall in the area.
• The most costly wall in the world is said to be the Crystal Wall in Austria. It contains 12 tons of pure Crystal.
• I read an article, though, that makes me wonder if the wall our government is building on the Mexican border might have it beat. The article said this:
A 14-mile section of wall in the San Diego area has been in the works since 1996. (that would be over 10 years now) That project spent $39 million to date and the government plans another $35 million for it. By my calculation that is about $5,286,000 per mile.
One of the reasons that wall is such a problem is that it has met with lots of opposition. From what I’ve heard, sections get dismantled about as soon as they are put up. Nehemiah’s wall also faced a lot of opposition. But that’s where the similarity ends. In spite of all the opposition, the wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt in an incredible 52 days.
When we get to Nehemiah chapter 6, the Wall is 98% finished. The only thing left to do is to hang the gates. It seems like a time to celebrate … but right when the project was ALMOST done Nehemiah was hit by what we could call “weapons of mass distraction.”
Nehemiah had enemies from the very beginning of the project. But none of their efforts had paid of . So now they tried to distract Nehemiah from finishing the project. Their first tactic was to FLATTER him by inviting him to meet with them at a sort of Summit Meeting.
1. Flattery – Nehemiah trusted God for his reward
Nehemiah 6 starts this way: 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- Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: "Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono." Nehemiah 6:1-2
You might remember those names from Chapter 1. Sanballat and his gang had been out to get Nehemiah from the beginning. Now they were pretending to be his good buddies. It kind of reminds me of LUCY in the Charlie Brown comic strips. You remember … Over and over and over again she talks poor Charlie into kicking the football while she holds it for him. Every time he falls for it --- and every time she pulls the football away at the last minute.
Well, Nehemiah wasn’t about to fall for that kind of trick. He knew these guys were up to no good when they invited him to meet them on the plain of Ono. So he just said “oh no” to Ono!
Four times they sent the invitation, and four times he gave them this answer: "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?" Nehemiah 6:3
Nehemiah had his PRIORITIES straight. He wasn’t about to let anything distract him from finishing the great work that God had set before him.