Building God’s Church Together
August 25, 2019
Main Point: When the forces of evil threaten to undermine God’s mission, God’s people must not capitulate but rather look to the Lord TOGETHER for strength to continue His work TOGETHER.
I. The opposition God’s people encountered
Nehemiah 4:1–3  Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “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!”
Nehemiah 4:10 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.” (ESV)
- It’s not uncommon for believers to encounter trials that greatly tempt them to discouragement, even despair.
- You’ll notice, the main problem for the returned exiles wasn’t that the walls lay in ruins. The main problem wasn’t the amount of rubble.
- We know because we know the end of the story. The walls were eventually rebuilt.
- The main problem for the people was the deep discouragement, disillusionment they 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 are obeying God, and the use of “flaming arrows” of discouragement (Eph. 4:16) 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.
– JI Packer
- At times, when faced with discouragement, hopelessness and fear, it can be good to consider – “have one or more of Satan’s ‘flaming arrows’ of discouragement lodged deep in your soul?”
- Which raises an important question – how should God’s people respond to the opposition from the Enemy and the resulting discouragement they at times face?
II. How God’s people responded
Here’s how the people responded:
- They looked to the Lord
- They prayed and
- They got to work!
- What a great prescription for dealing with discouragement.
Nehemiah 4:13–17  So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows.  And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”
- How did God’s people respond to the opposition and discouragement?
- Nehemiah first called the people to remember the Lord.
- He says remember The
- How great He is
- How powerful He Is
- How awesome He is.
- This reminds us – at some point, in order for things to be rebuilt marriages, families, churches– the focus of God’s people at some point must come off the rubble.
- For our focus to come off the rubble, it is necessary that we first do what Nehemiah led the people to do that that is remember the Lord who is great and awesome.
- Have you failed to remember the Lord? Have you failed to remember Jesus? He is the All-powerful One, who gave His very life for us.
- The Enemy’s chief tactic is to get people to forget the Lord….to get their eyes off of our Savior.
- If he can get them to forget the Lord, they’ll stop depending on Him, and if they stop depending on Him, people lose hope and the work ceases.
He calls you to an assignment that you cannot do without Him. The assignment will have God-sized dimensions. When God asks you to do something that you cannot do, you will face a crisis of belief. You will have to decide what you really believe about God. Can He and will He do what He said He wants to do through you? What you do in response to His invitation reveals what you believe about God regardless of what you say.
– Henry Blackaby
- When the taunts of Sanballet and Tobiah threatened to undermine the mission of rebuilding the walls – Nehemiah prayed with confidence.
Nehemiah 4:4  Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. (ESV)
- The people prayed. They also got to work.
Nehemiah 4:15–17  When our enemies heard that it was known to us and 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. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah,  who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. (ESV)
- To get to work means giving ourselves wholeheartedly to building God’s kingdom.
- That means engaging in good kingdom work–in doing the things God Himself has called us in His Word to do.
- Building God’s kingdom means we give ourselves to building our marriages with the gospel.
- Building God’s kingdom means we give ourselves to our children and grand-children and those in the next generation we have relationship with.
- Building God’s kingdom means we give ourselves to building God’s church TOGETHER.
- For some, giving ourselves wholeheartedly to building God’s kingdom in these ways and others may require adjustments
“To get from where you are at to where God is will require major adjustments. These adjustments may relate to your thinking, circumstances, relationships, commitments, actions, and/or beliefs…..To move from your way of thinking or acting to God’s way of thinking or acting will require adjustments. You cannot stay where you are at and go with God at the same time.”
– Henry Blackaby
The people remembered the Lord, they prayed, and they worked. Good fruit resulted.
Nehemiah 6:15–16  So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days.  And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. (ESV)
Questions For Discussion/Application:
- Ask someone in the group to summarize the basic story of Nehemiah.
- What parallels do you see between the story of Nehemiah and the lives of God’s people today?
- What does it mean to “remember” the Lord as Nehemiah sought to lead the people to do?
- In what ways is God calling you/us to get to work “rebuilding walls” ?