Summary: Jesus challenged us to be as wise as serpents. In this message we will learn from the attacks on the Jews in the book of Nehemiah, and use it as inspiration to aggressively go after the lost.
Wise as Serpents
In our messages so far in the book of Nehemiah we have been talking about the building of walls to keep the enemy out. Today we are going to switch places with the enemy and talk about how to take down walls or overcome them. I think we can learn some things from the enemy of our souls about attacking a cities walls.
Ne 4:1 But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.
There are 2 repeating actions in the book of Nehemiah:
1. The enemy did not want the walls to be built and took every imaginable step to prevent that.
Intimidation (Captain of the Army of Samaria)
Whispers and plots 10x's the Jews by the wall, 5 x's with a threat of legal action.
Bad spiritual advice
The enemies attacks were varied, persistent, and continual. Something to remind yourself of.
Illus: I almost got away with it. A man who broke out of prison 4 times. The last time he dyed a white prison jersey green to look like medical personnel and simply walked out. It took a 113 green markers to do it. He was constantly looking for a way out. In like manner Israel's enemies were constantly looking for a way in.
Lu 16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
We should be diligent for ways to speak to and influence lost people.
2. The second constant of Nehemiah, was Nehemiah's continued resistance to the enemy. A good theme verse for Nehemiah's life would be:
Neh: 6:3 I am doing a great work and can't come down.
Today I want to combine the story of Nehemiah with one of Jesus' teaching in Mt. 10:16 ..."Be ye therefore wise as serpents."
The great lesson the serpents teach us in the book of Nehemiah is don't let walls get built that will make it difficult for you to have influence in people.
The serpents or enemies of God were obsessive about this in the book of Nehemiah, from start to finish: Ne 2:10 When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard [of it], it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.
In the end of the book, after the walls were built, we read of one of the priests emptying a room in the temple and giving it to Tobiah to live in. The enemy was finding sneaky ways to get around the walls.
There you have the two lessons we learn to be as wise as serpents.
1. Don't let walls go up.
2. If walls get built, find a way around them.
1. Don't let walls go up.
There are 3 major types of spiritual walls in scripture
A. Stumbling blocks
B. Fortified walls.
C. Walls up to heaven.
A. Stumbling blocks
Mt 18:6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Mt 18:7 "Woe to the world because of [its] stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!
The Greek word translated stumbling block (offense KJV) is scandalon, which is the word scandal in English.
What is interesting is the definition of the word is:
1. The trigger of a trap, that which sets a trap in motion.
2. An impediment placed in the way that causes one to stumble.
The idea of the text is something that happens that makes a child turn from faith in God. A stumbling block is the beginning of a wall, it is the smallest of walls and yet it can have lifelong consequences.
If we are going to be as wise as serpents, we need to be serious about stumbling blocks. Do you know how many stumbling blocks are placed in front of Christian children in the public school. Everything we believe is mocked and ridiculed.
We need to fight this little walls from going up, because experience has taught us they can have lifelong consequences.
B. Fortified walls
Pr 18:19 An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel. (NIV)
A fortified wall is a wall that has been added to, it has been strengthened, reinforced, and built higher. That is what memory does to hurts if you are not careful, it enlarges them.