Drawing Near to the God Who Strengthens His People
Nehemiah 4, 5:15,16
August 2, 2020
Sermon Audio & Video
Context: Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem to lead the effort to rebuild the protective walls surrounding Jerusalem…which had been torn down when the city was destroyed.
Main Theme: When the forces of evil threaten to undermine God’s mission, may we not capitulate but instead, may we look to the Lord for strength to continue His work.
Two aspects of this story to consider:
I. The opposition God’s people faced
- Whenever God’s people seek to advance God’s mission they should expect opposition.
- Nehemiah and the people of Israel were no exception.
- Summarize the story up until chapter 4.
- In chapter 4, regional leaders, Sanballet and Tobiah mocked, jeered and made fun of the workers.
“What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?”  Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!” — Neh. 4:2-3
- In spite of this opposition they faced, the people continued to work.
- However, eventually the evil taunts of Sanballat and Tobiah got to them
- Discouragement, Hopelessness and fear set in and the workers felt like they just couldn’t continue on.
In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” — Neh. 4:10
- In the Christian life, most people at some point face a Neh. 4:10 moment…where there is rebuilding to do, but it just feels like there is way to much rubble. This can be true with respect to marriage and family. It can also be true with respect to the church
- In our story, the main problem the people faced was not the amount of rubble. We know because God eventually came through. The walls were rebuilt in a mere 52 days.
- The main problem rather was the deep discouragement the people felt due to the taunts, the jeers, the threats of Sanballet and Tobiah.
The real theme of Nehemiah 4–6 is spiritual warfare, and Nehemiah’s real opponent, lurking behind the human opponents, critics, and grumblers who occupied his attention directly, was Satan, whose name means “adversary” and who operates as the permanent enemy of God, God’s people, God’s work, and God’s praise. Nehemiah does not mention him (few Old Testament books do), but that does not mean that he was not there. Direct opposition on the human level to those who are obeying God, and the use of “flaming arrows” of discouragement (Eph. 6:16) to destroy hope, induce fear, and so paralyze their endeavors, are two of his regular tactics, and both are in evidence in these chapters. When you see Satan’s fingerprints on events, it is a safe bet that Satan himself is actively present, even if he carefully keeps himself out of sight. – J.I. Packer
- What flaming arrows of discouragement has the Evil one sent your way that have induced fear, undermined hope, and/or tempted you to despondency perhaps even despair?
The Enemy’s goal is to prevent God’s people from working hard, diligently, faithfully to rebuild walls; to rebuild walls in their marriages, families and churches. His goal ultimately is to hinder the building of God’s church and advance of the gospel.
II. The people’s response
- How did God’s people respond to the intimidating, likely demonically-inspired evil voices of Sanballat and Tobiah that they heard?
- How did they respond to the enormous pile of rubble they saw?
- How did they respond to the extreme discouragement they felt? They remembered the Lord and they worked heard.
Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome (Verse 14)
- When it comes to marriage, to children and grandchildren, to the church, to world events — May we not forget, but instead “remember the Lord, who is great and awesome.”
- The people also worked heard.
When our enemies heard that it was known to us that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work.  From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. — Neh. 5:15-16
Questions For Discussion/Application:
- Re-read the text, Nehemiah 4, 5:15,16. Take time together as a group to summarize the story.
- What was the opposition the people of God in this story faced? What is the opposition God’s people today face today?
- What lessons immediately stand out to you from this story that can be particularly helpful to us as believers living in this time?
- How do you think the people in our story felt when faced with the taunts of Sanballet and Tobiah as well as the enormity of the project before them?
- In your life, as you look back, in what ways have you seen God “rebuild walls” ? How have you seen the Lord restore and build up that which sin and Satan had torn down?
- What torn down “walls” do you long to see the Lord rebuild? How do you long to see God move in your family, in the church, in some other area of your life?
- What does it look for you personally and specifically to get to work “re-building walls”? What good kingdom-work has God called you too–in your family, in the church, in the community etc….?
- Take time to pray that God would help us to be faithful to rebuild walls –that He would help us to seek first His kingdom and be about His work.