Monday, 14 April 2008 07:52

Being Victorious [2]

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In our series on the book of Nehemiah, we are studying chapter 6 and looking specifically at how Nehemiah overcame all the resistance against him and the cause of the Lord he was pursuing. We saw last time, looking at the opening verses, that Nehemiah was, by Gods grace and for our example, a man of godly priorities and godly perception. He would not be distracted from the calling God had given him, and he saw through the deceitful schemes of his enemies who sought to do him mischief or harm in whatever way they could. How that is needed in our times as well. O Lord, give us Nehemiah-like people today, Nehemiah-like church members and church leaders. Let us now learn still more about Nehemiahs stand against all his enemies as he worked on that holy project of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. It would be good to have your Bible open to this passage as we continue, looking at how Nehemiah withstood all the attempts to get him off course and to wipe him out even.

Now notice with me how Nehemiah overcame his enemies also by means of his godly piety. He was guided not only in the way of godly priorities and godly perception, but godly piety. What I mean here is that the text clearly shows us Nehemiah, by Gods grace, was a man of moral uprightness and integrity of heart. He was not someone seeking selfish gain and glory, but rather wholeheartedly giving himself for Gods cause and honor.

This piety of Nehemiah comes out in the next attempt of Sanballat to ensnare Nehemiah as told to us in the verses 5-8. Failing to get him out for a conference meeting, Sanballat now attempted to get Nehemiah down by way of false rumor and open slander. Sanballat sends an open letter, one that was not sealed but whoever wished to read could do so, charging that Nehemiah was looking to set himself up as king of Jerusalem and Judah and that he was just out for his own fame and gain. Sanballat tried to scare Nehemiah with these false rumors and he wickedly suggests a meeting to clear up this matter once for all.

But Nehemiah knows these charges of Sanballat are just plain false, and his life as person and leader of the people give no evidence that he is trying to make a name for himself. Nehemiah was out to serve the Lord and he was out for Gods honor and the peoples good in his responsibilities. Sanballat was just speaking lies and Nehemiah could say to Sanballat as he does in verse 8, There are no such things done as [you say] but thou feignest [invent] them out of thine own heart.

Do you and I live in this guileless godly way as well, not having ulterior motives in our lives especially as confessing believers, but being out genuinely and with transparency to seek and serve the Lord and out for His honor above all? Do you too not want to live in any sin and to be holy before God and others? Paul urges for this in Titus 2:7&8, where he says, In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. Peter exhorts likewise in I Peter 2:11&12 urging there for Gods people, to be as strangers and pilgrims, [and to] abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation [conduct] honest among the Gentiles: that whereas they speak evil against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Do we take this to heart today as we should?

Surely this is how Nehemiah, by Gods grace, aimed to live and we see here his enemies trying to dig up false charges about Nehemiah. Not that Nehemiah was without sin, but he aimed to live uprightly in all his ways, and as a man of godly piety his enemies could find no legitimate charges against him. Is that how you live, and seek to live, by Gods grace? Too often we read about those who confess Christ being into this sin and that evil, first secretly so, but then it becomes public, and what a dishonor that brings to Gods Name and to His cause and people. Will you prove Nehemiah-like in our day, seeking to reflect, by Gods grace, the godly priorities and perception and piety he showed?

Nehemiah was also a man of godly prayer. Look at verse 9. Nehemiah sees how the enemies were trying to make them afraid, and to weaken their hands in the work so that it would not be completed. Nehemiahs recourse is to appeal to God for His help and for His strengthening and protecting hand on them. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands. We have seen throughout the book how Nehemiah so depended on the Lord in all his ways. What can we accomplish on our own? We have no resources for seeking and serving God and good of ourselves. We have no resistance against the devil and this world, or our own heart by nature, in and of ourselves. As Jesus says in John 15:5, Without Me ye can do nothing! The psalmist of Psalm 127:1 states accordingly, Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Do you realize this too in your heart and life? Are you one who from the heart then daily looks to the Lord? Do you, like Nehemiah here, repeatedly appeal to God for His mercy and help all along lifes journey, especially also in living in the way of true faith and obedience and service before God and in this world? Are you a person living in humble hearty dependency upon the Lord and can friends and family see and say this about you too as something so clearly evident in your life, as was the case with this Nehemiah?

See next that Nehemiah was also a man of godly principle. We learn that Sanballat and his kind tried another approach on Nehemiah, this time making use of false prophets. Verses 10-14 tell about this evil tactic and how Nehemiah withstood this too on the basis of godly principles. This otherwise unknown man, Shemaiah, acting as a secret agent of Sanballet and Tobiah, tried to get Nehemiah to find refuge in the inner temple of God from his enemies. This call to flee to the inner court of the temple for protection was a ploy to have Nehemiah sin for only the priests were allowed in that inner court according to Numbers 18:7&22. Nehemiah responded on the basis of godly principle saying in verse 11, Should such a man as I flee? And who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.

The point to catch here is how Nehemiah clearly saw through that Shemaiah and others like him were false prophets when calling him to do something in clear violation to Gods express revealed will. And out of principle Nehemiah would not do things contradictory to Gods Word and will. He was a man of godly principle in this regard. How is that with you? Do you live by and stand on the Word of God and what it says is what counts for you and guides you in your ways and in what you do and dont do? Is Gods Word alone your guide and authority in life and His will what you live by, no matter what? Are you a person of godly principle today as Nehemiah was in his time? How alarming that in Nehemiahs time there were in Jerusalem a whole host of false prophets once more, again there to trouble and tempt Gods people. The Bible warns of false teachers and many deceivers gone out into the world also from within the visible church. What need to be on guard and for you and me to be people of godly principle, being lovers of the truth, to withstand all the false prophets also in our times. What reasons to pray also in our times, God, make us Nehemiah-like in our day!

Yes, considering not only Nehemiahs godly priorities and perception, piety, prayers, and principles, but notice further his godly persistence. We are told wonderfully, regardless of all the resistance against it and all the challenges along the way, yet the walls of the city of Jerusalem were completed, and that even in 52 days! It was a wonder, and no one could deny how God so blessed this project. God was with His people who were living for God and good and restoring the city of David to a more honorable state. We are told in verse 16 even the ungodly neighbors had to admit that God was with the people. They perceived that this work was wrought [done] of our God. It is striking how while the enemies constantly worked to discourage the Jews in their rebuilding work, in the end it is themselves that are left disheartened and most discouraged and dismayed as we read in verse 16, they were much cast down in their own eyes. This is the way it will be with all who oppose God and His church and kingdom, indeed, as further history will show, not only with Nehemiah and in his time, but in the fullness of time, when Christ Jesus came as the almighty all-sufficient Saviour of sinners, the long promised Messiah. His is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory!

Our call is with Nehemiah ever to look to Him and to follow after Him, and we shall not be to shame. The whole book of Nehemiah is in view of and foreshadowing of the triumph of the cause of the Lord in and through Jesus Christ, the once crucified but now risen and exalted Saviour of sinners. He is the great ultimate Rebuilder and Protector of His people, even for as many as repent of sin and believe on Him. In and through Him we may be made more than conquerors whatever evil and resistance may come against us from within or from around us. For as many as trust and obey the Lord and His gospel Word, in the end all Gods enemies, including Satan and his demons, will be brought to final and eternal defeat and dismay. Jesus gave the certain and triumphant death blow already with His death in the sinners place on Calvary and then His triumphant resurrection from the dead three days afterwards.

Will you persist then in the way of grace and truth, regardless who or what may oppose you? If you are not yet in that way, the only way of the gospel of Jesus Christ, will you not repent of sin and unbelief and find refuge true and sure alone with Christ Jesus as only Saviour and Lord? It is yet the time of grace, still the day where God is building and adding to His Church and kingdom, and He will use also the book of Nehemiah in our times to call more into His church and kingdom and to stir up His people to be faithful citizens in His church and kingdom.

Oh, for Nehemiah-like people today, where both younger and older will be, by the grace of God, people of godly priorities and godly perception, godly piety and godly prayers, godly principles and godly persistence, and godly perseverance. Will you be Nehemiah-like in our day? Isnt this what will so bring glory and increase to Gods church and kingdom also in our day? Isnt this the only way to live in view of the final triumphant last day soon to come when Jesus returns? Amen.

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