Monday, 04 February 2008 12:48

Practical Godly Truths [2]

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We are continuing our study of Nehemiah 3, noticing a number of practical godly truths to be learned from this chapter which tells about the people rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, mentioning many names and all kinds of details in that project. Last time the practical godly truths that we noted were, one, that a chapter like this with many names and minute details is still one that much can be learned from. As Paul says in II Timothy 3:16, All Scripture is profitable to lead us in Gods ways, truly to know Him and rightly to serve Him! Secondly, we noticed how important it is, if in any leadership position or role at all, that we be an example to others. Then there was the point about this rebuilding project in Nehemiah 3 beginning and ending at the sheep gate, referring to the gate where the sheep would be led in for the animal sacrifices in the temple. This showed how all the work was done in view of and humble dependence upon the mercy of God as would ultimately be revealed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ and His once for all sacrifice for sin. Never must we forget the all-importance of living and doing everything in view of and trust in Christ Jesus as only Saviour and Lord. Then, a fourth lesson was, as we read in verse 1 about the priests sanctifying or consecrating their work to God, how all of life should be lived in praise to God and for His glory above all. A fifth lesson from this inspired chapter of Gods Word is the importance of order in life, also especially in church life. And the last lesson was the fact that the people worked opposite their houses or district, emphasizing the importance of taking care on the home front that things are being done in dedication to God and in view to His glory. I asked the question regarding this, Do you say too with Joshua in Joshua 24:15, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, and does this show in your priorities and habits of life, your pursuits and your conduct and conversation?

Let us continue and notice some further practical godly truths from Nehemiah 3, God helping us. From verse 5, we learn about the reality that not all were equally committed or involved in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. We read there, And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks [shoulders] to the work of their Lord. While the people were generally united in the rebuilding project, yet there were some who would not participate really nor cooperate wholly. These nobles of Tekoa didnt want to help with this project. Were they just lazy? Possibly. What is more likely is that they had no real interest in the wellbeing of the city of Jerusalem, but they were out more just for themselves. They had made it to a certain level in life, and their lives were relatively comfortable, and they didnt want to be bothered further. These nobles did not consider their God-given calling and responsibility, but rather lived their lives for themselves and for this world.

If you go to Nehemiah 6:17&18, you will find that there were nobles from among Gods covenant people who were compromisers, even with the enemy people around them. We read in Nehemiah 6:17, Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letter unto Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came unto them. For there were many in Judah sworn [pledged] unto him because of intermarriage with the family of Tobiah, and even, we are told in verse 19, these people played a role of spy and informer for Tobiah. In other words, these noble people of Tekoa too, we may believe, were living a double standard, being compromisers with the world. Jesus says in Matthew 6:24, No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Have you learned this practical godly truth as well? If you will sit on the fence of indecision or try to serve both God and this world, you will deny God and follow after this world, and you wont put your shoulders to the work of the Lord.

What kind of reputation will you leave your children, also if you are someone who goes to church? Will you be one known as a person like the nobles of Tekoa, with such an unfavorable reputation and memory? I was struck by the Bible study note in the Life Application Bible concerning Nehemiah 3:5 which reads, The Tekoites were lazy and wouldnt help. These men were the only ones who did not support the building project in Jerusalem. Every group, even every church, will have those who think they are too wise, or important, to work hard. Gentle encouragement doesnt seem to help. Sometimes the best policy is to ignore them. They may think they are getting away with something, but their inactivity will be remembered by all who worked hard. What is worse too is that it will be remembered by the Lord. Beware, Gods Word teaches, if you will not seek and serve the Lord in spirit and in truth.

What is very interesting to notice further from our text chapter is how though the nobles of Tekoa would not do their part and share in the work, yet the rest of the Tekoites did their very best in a way that they did extra work. Look at verse 27 where we are told, the Tekoites repaired another piece, [section] as well as the one they repaired as mentioned in verse 5! They apparently did not let themselves get discouraged by the ones who would not cooperate and do their part, and they worked all the harder and we are shown God prospered their work mightily. How much we can learn from this. Dont be discouraged and pulled down when others wont pull their weight in some way. Each must be seek to be faithful as God calls us to be, and those who are will be blessed, and those who care not to be faithful and will not be faithful will have their reward, sadly so. Let us not be dragged down from the pursuit of holiness and more and more zeal for Gods Word and His worship and service to Him, even if and when others will not go along with us. In this regard remember the words of that song entitled, Dare to be a Daniel, Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known. Will you dare to be a Daniel or like Nehemiah or like the faithful Tekoites?

Nehemiah 3 gives us practical godly truths. Are you hearing them and receiving them, taking them to heart in your life and household? Here notice with me another point that surely comes out, especially also when you read further in chapter 4, and that is how the enemies are after Gods people when you are resolved to live for God and His church and kingdom. Chapter 2 already showed this but so does chapter 4. If you will seek and serve God truly, be prepared for assaults from all kinds of enemies from all places trying to stop you or discourage you or disturb you. This is exactly why it is so necessary, time and again, to be into Gods Word and protecting ourselves and equipping ourselves against all the attacks from within, outside of us, and around us. We will learn more about this both defensive and offensive stand we need to take shall we stand also in our evil times and in our day when Satan knows his time is short and is viciously and ceaselessly working seeking whom he may devour.

In this regard let us learn also from our text chapter the great need of the Holy Spirits working in our families and in the church, as well as in each of our lives. While households as a whole may be faithful and zealous in serving God and His cause, yet there can be those in the household whose hearts are cold to the truth and who rather choose the way of the world. I was so struck by this in connection with the first verse and the household of the highpriest, Eliashib. We read in a later reference not only some disturbing things about this Eliabshib himself but about one of his grandsons clearly choosing the way of the world and even the enemies of Gods people. Nehemiah 13:28 tells us that one of the grandsons of Eliashib was a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite, and we are told that Nehemiah drives him out of the priesthood of the Lord. So this grandson of Eliashib became married into one of the main enemy families of Gods people and it seems he still held his post too in serving as priest in the temple till Nehemiah drove him out. You see from this the slippery slope of sin and worldliness and how easy it can creep in among us too! How careful we must be and how prayerful and how much we need the working of the Holy Spirit in our own lives and that of our covenant seed, initially and continually, shall it be well with us.

Are you convicted of this as well, and realizing and praying that each person also in our covenant families be born again of God, and truly converted to Christ the Lord, by His Spirit and Word? How urgent this is also in our times for the church at large and the up and coming generation. Do you pray for the regenerating, illuminating, convicting, faith-working, and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit for yourself and for many others too?

One more gospel practical truth I would mention. Is it not striking to you too that while in this passage so many were involved in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, yet altogether their labours, though successful at the time through the blessing of God, still it was not enough to guarantee the safety of the people and the establishment of Jerusalem as the city of God forever? No, but what the Israelites of old could not accomplish even altogether, one day, the Greater than Nehemiah, the Saviour Messiah God accomplished through His coming and with His life-giving ministry through His death and resurrection on sinners behalf. The Jerusalem in Nehemiahs day foreshadowed the heavenly Jerusalem, that city which, as the author of Hebrews writes, hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. [Hebrews 11:10] As the same book of Hebrews also states in chapter 13:14, here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come, namely, the heavenly Jerusalem, where Christ the Lord reigns forevermore, and where perfect righteousness and peace, safety and glory is found.

Nehemiah 3 is part of Gods redemptive history all in preparation and fulfillment of His full gospel plans through Jesus Christ the Saviour. A right view of this chapter must have us look to and think on Him, Who single-handedly through His Person and saving work, even with the shedding of His blood, has accomplished so great salvation for all His people, as many as trust and obey Him. Let Nehemiah 3 direct you to Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, and go forward and onward, ever following in His footsteps, to be resident of His church and kingdom here on earth and forevermore.

Practical godly truths - Nehemiah 3 is full of such. It is a chapter Gods true people wouldnt want missing from the Bible, and one that we can be so guided by and thrilled about that it is in the Bible. You wont live as if it is not in the Holy Bible will you? Amen.

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