Tag Archives: Nehemiah

Walls and Wolves

Nehemiah 3-5; with the people ready to build, not just with words but put to work the words they spoke, we find that there is a tremendous amount of damage. Every gate is identified and the people who will have the responsibility to “shoulder” the work. There is a saying – better together. We can accomplish so much more together than on our own. That statement is true regardless of the size of a church or organization. Something that must be clearly identified and communicated is the specific responsibilities of each entity involved. I have learned from my pastoral ministry years, you can’t over communicate. Invariably there will be some who have felt left out or didn’t get the message. Nehemiah brings both a renewal spirit and the necessary leadership to the project. The purpose has been established “eliminate the reproach” and it would be done through rebuilding the walls. The walls were part of Solomon’s Temple mount project then, and likewise now by the exiles.

Walls serve two purposes – one is the security of the people inside the walls; but also to keep out the unwanted whether animals or people from coming in. During this time in history and for much longer, fortresses and castles had protective walls to be able to defend the people and property from intruders. Jesus also talks about limiting “intruders” into the camp in John 10. Jesus talks about how that the sheep and shepherd have a unique relationship. No one who comes over the Wall is a friend. No one who leaves the sheep when they are in danger is a True Shepherd, but a hireling. Pastors have to protect the sheep as well as provide for the sustenance.

In ministry there will always be the critics and naysayers. We find that the inhabitants of the area at the prompting of Sanballat ridicule the work being done. Laughing and trying to demoralize the people. There are those that work, those that watch and those that ridicule the work being done. It comes with the territory – Keep building. There are three questions the critics ask – each one begins with “Can they . . . ”  Sanballat even has solicited the “money holders” on his side to bring doubt to the work. I have built buildings and have had church members ridicule the building project to the point that many wanted to quit because of the doubt cast on the project; keep building.

What does Nehemiah do? He prays to the Father in Heaven to shut the mouths of the critics and not forgive their sins. Wow, is that spiritual? God was in the work, too many times we give audience to knuckleheads – people  are people and we do not have to be compassionate to blatant sin!

The people had a “Mind to work” and so the building process continued for 52 days. The words didn’t deter the work, so then Nehemiah instituted a guard watch while building continued. Many of the critics and tactics of Satan are “mind games” used to discourage and frustrate the work of God. Dear for their lives, the people came together and defended each other, but the work continued. Brick in one hand and sword in another. The enemy is real, we must take proper precautions against the “wiles of the devil.”

Nehemiah is an encourager and a cheerleader. The pastor and people both need to be encouraged during the work. So intense was the work that the men didn’t stop to change clothes.  But each rotated from building and defending the work and each other.

In church life and revitalization work, there will be enemies against the restoration of the devastation of souls and spirit. Keep building.

While the walls were being built, there were wolves in the camp. The Jews were extracting usury from their own people. They were mortgaging their property and even selling their children into slavery so they could pay taxes inflicted on them by their own leaders. Wolves – hirelings, leaders out for the money not the ministry. Be careful while building the walls of defense that you don’t trap wolves inside!  Nehemiah addressed the injustices against the people. Nobles and affluent people did not identify with the people doing the work. Ministers must be careful not to see the congregation as the means for their own success and opulence, but brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God. Nehemiah addressed the elephant in the room – then provided the example for the nobles to follow. Nehemiah dug deep into his own pocket and paid for the provisions and food needed by the workers.

Wolves abound today; they come seeking to rob, kill and destroy the church and the sheep. Nehemiah does something of leadership that many pastors and minister must do – if there is a known problem, address it, deal with it and move on. DO not let the problem ferment into a conflict and catastrophe.

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Unfinished Work

Nehemiah is the sequel if you will to the book of Ezra. Ezra and Nehemiah are intertwined in the restoration of the Temple and the City walls of Jerusalem. It would be easy to categorizes Ezra as the Spiritual leader and Nehemiah as the civic leader; but that would be wrong. All the Work of God is Spiritual, whether moving rocks so those who come after can plant or build; as scripture tells us, one plants, another waters, but God gives the increase. [1 Cor. 3:7] Both men had a God-given task to do. The 70 yrs. of exile were over, many of the exiles returned after Cyrus’ edict. The exiles were to build the Temple under Zerubbaal, but “found it was not expedient time to build.” Ezra brings a “spiritual renewal” to the people; but the work was still lacking. Nehemiah opens with him asking how things are in the homeland. The brethren tell him things are not well. Nehemiah was the cup-bearer to the King – his face was sad before the King, something that was not acceptable, “why are you saddened?” The people who returned were “reproached” by the people who occupied the barren land. Reproach is a repeated word throughout the book. Reproach means to be “discredited, disapproved of, disgraced, cause for blame, to be continually criticized, or to be censured.” These words are according to our dictionaries. But what is reproach in the Bible? It means to be the cause for blame or ridicule, deserved of criticism and condemnation.

When Nehemiah is asked by the King, he is ready to give answer of the hope that is within him. I have found that I must ask and answer “questions before they become a question.” What I mean is I have to know what the will and mind of the Lord is in situations that have a reasonable opportunity of transpiring. Be ready when someone asks the question. Nehemiah found the will of God by prayer and fasting. There was brokenness in his spirit or the situation. His prayers are to the Lord God, confession and repentance – a godly sorrow for the acknowledged sins of his ancestors. Come clean before God. If I regard iniquity in my heart, my prayers will not be heard. Before Nehemiah approaches God, he had to deal with the “reproach of Israel before God.”

Nehemiah knew he had to deal with the King of Kings before he entertained talking with the king on earth. Prepared to come in the presence of king Nehemiah understood that the LORD God of Israel was at work. Too many times I believe pastors and churches move to a solution without conferring with the Father in Heaven, then wonder why the plans failed. Nehemiah found favor with the earthly king because he found favor [grace] from God first.

From what can be read, Nehemiah was not guilty of the sins he confessed, but the people where, we find brokenness, conviction, confession, repentance and desire for restoration in the prayer of Nehemiah. Restored spiritually, Nehemiah was ready to do the building and restoration of the city of Jerusalem. When Nehemiah asks the king for provisions, the king granted them to him based on “the good hand of My God was with me.”

Of course when the man of God and the people of God began to restore their lives and communities that had been under satanic control – the demons will come out of the woodwork to cause conflict and more confusion. Sanballat and Tobiah the Ammonite [see the lineage of Esau and Ammon with the Amalekites] rise up to thwart the work.

Nehemiah travels to Jerusalem, but doesn’t announce his plans; a friend of mine told me about “vision jacking” when someone finds out your plans and derails them before you can implement them yourself – usually with the intention of foiling them. Nehemiah spends three days just traveling and scoping out the ruins of the city. There is much to be gained by having “boots on the ground” before attempting to execute a plan.  Listening, looking and leaning on the discernment from God, Nehemiah finally talks to the people and gives his prognosis of the situation. Man there is a lot of work to be done! Nehemiah said “let’s build so we will no longer be a reproach.” The reproach follows when Sanballat and Tobiah learn of the people “putting themselves to the good work. Plenty of people can and will be critics when the man of God and the Church decides to follow God’s restoration plans. Keep building!


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