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    • August 11, 2016 1:48 PM EDT
    • AMEN CINDYLOU. ALL OF THOSE OF US WHO LOVE OUR JESUS HAVE BEEN CALLED AND CREATED FOR A SPECIAL PURPOSE!

    • July 31, 2016 5:20 PM EDT
    • Amen Faithy We were ALL created for a purpose… ALL born into these End Times Walking through these Last Days before Jesus comes for His Bride..

       
      JUST for a such a time as this…
       

    • July 6, 2016 12:49 AM EDT
    • ESTHER 1: BORN FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS....

       
       
      We were ALL created for a purpose…

      ALL born into these End Times…

      Walking through these Last Days before Jesus comes for His Bride..
       
      JUST for a such a time as this…
       
      Know this…it is NOT coincidence that you ARE here, right now, this VERY minute on earth…your life, your light, and your purpose WAS/IS being slowly, perfectly, & finely knitted together by the hands of our most amazing Jesus Christ into a tapestry of power, beauty, purpose, witness, and reward for JUST such a time as this.

      These past Bible Studies should have SHOWN us that NO MATTER our circumstances, high or low, rich or poor, educated or not, & NO MATTER the evil plots and plans of mankind, this lost world, or of satan and his demons…Jesus Christ PREVAILS.

      His Will, His Hope, His Belief, and His Faith in US as in ALL these flawed people of The Bible who went from obscurity of the pit into the palace… these people who went from stuttering, doubting, frightened, young and inexperienced people in their own wilderness and barrenness of this world and from nameless, faceless obscurity into GREAT LIGHTS for Almighty God and Jesus Christ.

      Tonight…we will AGAIN SEE what Almighty God accomplished with/through a nameless young orphaned Hebrew woman named….Esther.

      ESTHER 1...

      A Queen Is Deposed & King Xerxes (Xerxes) holds a big feast. Esther is the LAST of the historical books of the Bible, so the deeds of Queen Esther cast a ray of light forward into Israel’s history from a dark time.

       
      Verses 1-2 tells us of King Xerxes and his vast domain.
       
      “Now it came to pass in the days of Xerxes (this was the Xerxes who reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia), in those days when King Xerxes sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the citadel…”

      King Ahasuerus is well known to history, though more commonly under the name King Xerxes. He inherited the vast Persian Empire from his father, Darius I (who is mentioned in passages such as Ezra 4:24, 5:5-7, 6:1-15; Daniel 6:1 and 6:25; Haggai 1:15 and 2:10).

      The existence of Xerxes and his rule is extremely well attested; archaeologists have discovered the ruins of the VERY palace where these events happened.

      Also, in those days when King Xerxes sat on the throne of his kingdom which was (approximately 483 b.c.), he was planning for a doomed invasion of Greece, which would take place several years later. At this time the city of Athens was in its classical glory and in Greece they were celebrating the 79th Olympic games.

      And at this time in history, the Persian Empire was the largest the world had ever seen. It covered what we call today Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel; and also parts of modern day Egypt, Sudan, Libya, and Arabia.

      Biblically at this time, Ezra had returned to Jerusalem after it had been conquered by the Babylonians. The temple had been rebuilt some 30 years before, although more simply and without the glory of Solomon’s temple.

      Also, really cool to know, is that 40 years later, under the successor of Xerxes (Artaxerxes I), Nehemiah would return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the previously conquered city.

       
      Verses 3-9 tell us about the THREE ROYAL FEASTS.

      The FIRST feast was for all government officials, where Xerxes showed off the glory and splendor of the riches of his kingdom. This feast lasted for 180 days.

      The SECOND feast lasting seven days was for all the people who were present in Shushan the citadel, which means capitol city.

      The THIRD feast was for the women in the royal palace, and was conducted by the wife of King Xerxes, Queen Vashti.

      Sadly, then as now, the REAL reason behind these feasts was PRIDE. Xerxes & Vashti wanted to IMPRESS everyone with his wealth, power, majesty, and of course the people PAID for it all out of the public treasury…NOT from Xerxes personal monies. Sound familiar?

       
      Verses 10-11 tell us WHY Queen Vashti is deposed.

      King Xerxes demands that Vashti display her beauty before the MALE guests at the feast. And it is NO surprise to anyone after 7 days of eating and drinking constantly Xerxes was for the moment a loud, happy drunk.

      Jewish historians tell us King Xerxes call for Queen Vashti, who was very beautiful, to come before the men at the feast stemmed from a good-natured argument over who WAS the most beautiful, so Xerxes was determined to show them just how beautiful Vashti was, by making her appear before them wearing ONLY her royal crown.

       
      Verse 12 tells us that Queen Vashti refuses to appear before the drunken ALL MALE guests of the feast; therefore Xerxes was furious.

      Though Vashti was by no means a follower of the true God, she had enough wisdom and modesty to know that this was something she should not do, show up within the private chambers filled with drunk men & do so naked.

       
      Verses 13-22 tell us King Xerxes banishes Vashti.

      When the drunken King Xerxes heeded this advice from Memucan, he showed himself to be unreasonable and wrong. He should have HONORED the dignity of his Queen. Yet, history’s profile of Xerxes shows him to be an unreasonable and foolish man in many cases.

      One example, it is recorded that Xerxes executed the builders of a bridge because an ocean storm destroyed it; then he commanded that the water and waves be whipped and chained to punish the sea.

      HA! Wonder if he was drunk as a hoot owl then too.

      Additionally, forgive me Christian brothers, but the OTHER purpose for the harsh treatment of Vashti was so that she would not set a bad example for the other women of Persia. These drunk, ticked off men, were not thinking clearly and they FEARED all the other women would begin to balk at commands given by their husbands like Vashti did.

      However, the means used here to gain and preserve this respect were foolish. NO ONE can demand or coerce respect - if it isn’t freely given, then it isn’t worth anything.

    • July 6, 2016 12:44 AM EDT
    • ESTHER 2.…

      Esther 2 - tells us about the gathering together of a harem for King Xerxes & Esther being crowned queen.

       

      Verses 1-4, tell us a SEARCH is made for a replacement for Queen Vashti.

      “After these things, when the wrath of King Xerxes subsided, he remembered Vashti, what she had done, and what had been decreed against her. Then the king’s servants who attended him said: “Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king; and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the citadel, into the women’s quarters, under the custody of Hegai the king’s eunuch, custodian of the women. And let beauty preparations be given them. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti. This thing pleased the king, and he did so.”

      This is broader than just the events of the previous chapter. Esther 2:16 indicates that there was a FOUR YEAR SPAN between chapters one and two. During that time King Xerxes MADE his great, unsuccessful invasion of Greece and he came home a DEFEATED man, wanting to cheer his heart through sensual diversions. Jewish historians tell us that there were a total of 400 women selected.

      Verses 5-7 tell us about Esther and her family.

      “In Shushan the citadel there was a certain Jew whose name was Mordecai…And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.”

      Esther (whose Jewish name Hadassah means “Myrtle”; the Persian name Esther means “star”) was raised by her cousin Mordecai since the death of her father and mother.

      Verse 8 tells us Esther is TAKEN, not that she AGREES, but is TAKEN without consent into the king’s harem by Hegai, the King‘s Chief Eunuch & custodian of the women in the harem. It is also worth noting that Hegai is SPECIFICALLY mentioned by the Greek historian Herodotus as being a TRUSTED officer of King Xerxes.

      Verse 9 tells us that Esther enters the courts of the king & enters the harem & is given favored treatment in the palace by Hegai. Esther is separated from the other women, & given the BEST & MOST spacious rooms, a bigger allowance, & 7 maidservants to tend to her every need.

      In this, her godliness ensured a fulfillment of Proverbs 3:3-4, which says, “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.”

      Verses 10-11 tells us that Esther conceals her Jewish identity, because Mordecai ordered her to…, yet Mordecai worriedly paced in front of the court of women each day awaiting word of how Esther was doing & what was happening to her.

      Verses 12-14 tells us that it took A YEAR to prepare a woman to be presented to the King.

      The FIRST six months they were anointed with oil of myrrh.

      The SECOND six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women.

      After one year, EACH young woman went to the king, and she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the women’s quarters to the king’s palace. In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned to the SECOND HOUSE of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who kept the concubines. None of them would return to XERXES again unless He delighted in her and called for her by name.

      Persia was one of many countries famous for its aromatic perfumes and ancient customs for the preparations of brides, including ritualistic baths, plucking of the eyebrows, the painting of hands and feet with henna, facial make-up, and applications of a beautifying paste all over the body, meant to lighten the color of the skin and to remove spots and blemishes and all hair from their bodies.

      Another REASON for the lengthy time of preparation was to tell if the women had been pregnant upon coming into the harem, so that the king would not be charged with fathering a child that was not his.

      On the surface this sounds wonderful. A whole year of constant spa treatments. Yet the destiny of these women should also be considered: one evening with the king. If he chose them from the 400 others to be his queen, then she would be his companion (until she displeased him). As for the 399 who lost, they were banished to the harem where they stayed the wife or the concubine of the king, but rarely if ever saw him afterwards. And they were NEVER freed nor allowed to marry another man, essentially living as a perpetual widow for life.

      Verses 15-18 tells us that Esther IS selected as queen.

      “Now when the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his daughter, to go in to the king, she requested nothing but what Hegai the king’s eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her. So Esther was taken to King Xerxes, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king made a great feast, the Feast of Esther, for all his officials and servants; and he proclaimed a holiday in the provinces and gave gifts according to the generosity of a king.”

      Esther’s humble wisdom was shown in the way that she allowed HEGAI, the custodian of the women, who KNEW the King best, to assist her preparations & advise her.

      This remarkable course of events WASN’T an accident; it WASN’T just because of luck or fortune or Esther’s good looks or sparkling personality. God had a plan, and Esther is part of it. As Psalm 75:6-7 says. “For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.”

      In EXACTLY the SAME way, we HAVE a place in God’s plan. Wherever you are at right now, God HAS a purpose for it - maybe a short purpose, or a long one; perhaps a large purpose or a small purpose, but Jesus Christ HAS a reason.

      Verses 19-20 tells us Mordecai saves Xerxes life & rises in prominence.

      “Mordecai sat within the king’s gate”… This position indicates that Mordecai was associated with the decision makers and men of influence in the kingdom.

      Verses 21-23 tell Mordecai hears an assassination conspiracy and informs the king, saving the king’s life.

      “In those days, while Mordecai sat within the king’s gate, two of the king’s eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, doorkeepers, became furious and sought to lay hands on King Xerxes. So the matter became known to Mordecai, who told Queen Esther, and Esther informed the king in Mordecai’s name. And when an inquiry was made into the matter, it was confirmed, and both were hanged on a gallows; and it was written in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.”

      This threat of assassination was real. Xerxes WAS eventually murdered by his prime minister, who placed Artaxerxes I on the throne.

      The word gallows is literally tree; refers not to a hanging with a noose around the neck, but to impalement on a stake. A pointed stake is set upright in the ground, and the culprit is taken, placed on the sharp point, and then pulled down by his legs till the stake that went in at the groin passes up through the body and comes out through the neck. A most dreadful species of punishment, & the culprit lives a considerable time in excruciating agony.

    • July 6, 2016 12:41 AM EDT
    • ESTHER 3...

      Haman’s determines to destroy the Jews.

      Verse 1 tells us. “After these things King Xerxes promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and set his seat above all the princes who were with him.”

      Haman was an ungodly man, but God had a purpose in allowing him to be promoted. Haman was a descendant of Agag, who was the king of the Amalekites, the people who were Israel’s sworn enemy for generations (Exodus 17:14-16).

      Verses 2-3 Mordecai’s refusal to bow before Haman or to pay him homage.

      “And all the king’s servants who were within the king’s gate bowed and paid homage to Haman, for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai would not bow or pay homage. Then the king’s servants who were within the king’s gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you transgress the king’s command?”

       

      Verses 4-6 tells us that the wounded pride of Haman drives him to seek retribution against not only Mordecai and his people - the Jews.

      “Now it happened, when they spoke to him daily and he would not listen to them, that they told it to Haman, to see whether Mordecai’s words would stand; for Mordecai had told them that he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him of the people of Mordecai. Instead, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes; the people of Mordecai.”

      Apparently, Haman did not first notice Mordecai’s resistance. It had to be pointed out to him by his aides. Haman was an extremely proud and insecure man; he could only consider himself a success if everyone else thought he was a success. Haman’s ANGER/INSECURITY led him to take out his wrath upon ALL the Jews in the kingdom.

      Verse 7 tells us Haman determines the exact date he will strike out against the Jews.

      “In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Xerxes, they cast Pur (that is, the lot), before Haman to determine the day and the month, until it fell on the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.”

      “Pur” was the Persian word for the lot, something like dice, used to leave a decision to chance – or to the God who guides every chance.
      Since this took place in the first month, the casting of the lot determined that the Jews would not be attacked and massacred for at least 11 months.

      Verses 8-9 Haman tell Xerxes his plot & proposal.

      “Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other people’s, and they do not keep the king’s laws. Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain. If it pleases the king, let a decree be written that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who do the work, to bring it into the king’s treasuries.”

      Haman’s charge was the MOST dangerous possible; it was a half-truth. YES, the Jews were a certain people scattered and dispersed; and YES they had their own laws. But their own laws, to this point, did NOT prevent them from keeping the kings laws as LOYAL subjects.

      Haman suggested organizing the mass murder of the Jewish people. Haman also neglected to tell king Xerxes how many of these certain people there were in his kingdom; Xerxes probably considered this a relatively small threat.

      And paying ten thousand talents of silver, was the promise of a bribe. This money would NOT come from Haman’s own pocket; it would be obtained from the property of slaughtered Jews.

      Verses 10-11 tells us Xerxes AGREES to the plan.

      “So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. And the king said to Haman, “The money and the people are given to you, to do with them as seems good to you.”

      Again, King Xerxes probably had NO idea what he agreed to; he probably believed that he merely agreed to the execution of a handful of dangerous revolutionaries in his kingdom.

      Verses 12-15 tell us the decree IS published.

      “Then the king’s scribes were called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and a decree was written according to all that Haman commanded; to the king’s satraps, to the governors who were over each province, to the officials of all people, to every province according to its script, and to every people in their language. In the name of King Xerxes it was written, and sealed with the king’s signet ring. And the letters were sent by couriers into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their possessions. A copy of the document was to be issued as law in every province, being published for all people, that they should be ready for that day. The couriers went out, hastened by the king’s command; and the decree was proclaimed in Shushan the citadel. So the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Shushan was perplexed.”

      This was an empire WIDE death sentence to ALL Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day. This was like other attacks against the Jewish people in history, except that it was announced well in advance.

      So the king and Haman sat down to drink…Xerxes may NOT have understood what he had just done, but Haman KNEW what he was going to do. Remember this, ALL this came to pass because of the insecurity and wounded pride of ONE wicked man - Haman.

    • July 6, 2016 12:38 AM EDT
    • ESTHER 4...

      Esther’s Decision

       

      Verses 1-3 tells us that Mordecai & the Jewish people mourned their death sentence.

      “When Mordecai learned all that had happened, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city. He cried out with a loud and bitter cry. He went as far as the front of the king’s gate, for no one might enter the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth. And in every province where the king’s command and decree arrived, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.


      Mordecai ALSO KNEW the character of the laws of the Persians - that they could NOT be changed once decreed. And Mordecai’s reaction was IMITATED ALL OVER the Persian Empire in public expressions of grief and horror.

      Verses 4-7 tells us Mordecai explains the problem to Esther.

      “So Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her, and the queen was deeply distressed. Then she sent garments to clothe Mordecai and take his sackcloth away from him, but he would not accept them. Then Esther called Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs whom he had appointed to attend her, and she gave him a command concerning Mordecai, to learn what and why this was. So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the city square that was in front of the king’s gate. And Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries to destroy the Jews.”

      Queen Esther, like ALL queens before her may have lived in a palace, but she lived in isolation from the outside world. She could NOT understand WHY her cousin Mordecai made such a spectacle of himself.

      Verses 8-12 tell us Mordecai’s FIRST request & Esther’s appeal to him in response.

      “He also gave him a copy of the written decree for their destruction, which was given at Shushan, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her, and that he might command her to go in to the king to make supplication to him and plead before him for her people. So Hathach returned and told Esther the words of Mordecai. Then Esther spoke to Hathach, and gave him a command for Mordecai: “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live. Yet I myself have not been called to go in to the king these thirty days.” So they told Mordecai Esther’s words.

      Mordecai CHALLENGED HER TO INTERCEDE on behalf of her people before the king.

      Esther EXPLAINED THE IMPOSSIBILITY of what Mordecai demanded. Even she was ONLY allowed to come to the king when HE CALLED, and if she came on her own, she could be EXECUTED for daring to approach the king without an invitation.

      Apparently, the life of a queen of Persia was NOT one of great intimacy/relationship/companionship with the king. Esther had NOT EVEN seen her husband for an entire month.

      Verses 13-14 tells us Mordecai’s SECOND REQUEST.

      “And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

      Mordecai REMINDED Esther that she could not remain insulated from this decree anymore than anyone else. Mordecai’s TRUST was in the FAITHFULNESS OF GOD, not in the faithfulness of Esther. He KNOWS that God will not let His people down, even if PEOPLE DO let God down.

      Mordecai reminded Esther that though the fate of God’s people rested in God and not in her, her own fate DEPENDED ON HER OWN faithfulness to God.

      “FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS” tells us Mordecai KNEW that God had PROMOTED THIS ORPHAN IN EXILE for a reason - and Esther MUST HAVE THE COURAGE & WISDOM to see that reason and fulfill it.

      This principle applies to us also. JESUS PROMOTES US or PUTS US IN A PLACE FOR A REASON, and we need the courage and wisdom to SEE that reason and to walk in it.

      Verses 15-17 tell us Esther’s decision.

      “Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” So Mordecai went his way and did according to all that Esther commanded him.

      TALK ABOUT GUTSY…Esther took the determination of the Lord, when she said she WOULD GO and make a bold appearance before the king, but ONLY IF she was supported by prayer and fasting.

      IF I PERISH I PERISH! Esther carried a bold attitude towards her mission. She was determined to be obedient, no matter what the cost.

      Jesus exhorts us to have the SAME attitude! “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul“(Matthew 10:28). Paul was also an example of this attitude. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain!” (Philippians 1:21).

    • July 6, 2016 12:37 AM EDT
    • ESTHER 5...

      Esther’s Bold Request…The FIRST Banquet

       

      Verses 1-5 tells us Esther invites both king Xerxes AND Haman to this banquet.

      “Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, across from the king’s house, while the king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, facing the entrance of the house. So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter. And the king said to her, “What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you; up to half the kingdom!” So Esther answered, “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.” Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, that he may do as Esther has said.” So the king and Haman went to the banquet that Esther had prepared.”

      Esther showed COURAGE in her willingness to appear before the king without being summoned by him. This took special courage because King Xerxes did NOT have a good reputation for treating his queens WELL.

      Esther also showed TACT by not blurting out her ultimate request right away. She wanted to first WIN the king’s confidence in her - and she wanted Haman at the banquet to ultimately expose his wickedness.

      Verses 6-8 tells us Esther’s request at the first banquet.

      “At the banquet of wine the king said to Esther, “What is your petition? It shall be granted you. What is your request, up to half the kingdom? It shall be done!” Then Esther answered and said, “My petition and request is this: If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, then let the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.”

      King Xerxes REPEATED this offer to Queen Esther. It was more of a proverbial expression than a literal offer for anything up to half of the kingdom. But Esther put off the request for one more day, promising to reveal her petition at a second banquet on the next day.

      Verses 9-13 tells us Haman’s frustration with Mordecai.

      “So Haman went out that day joyful and with a glad heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, and that he did not stand or tremble before him, he was filled with indignation against Mordecai. Nevertheless Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh. Then Haman told them of his great riches, the multitude of his children, everything in which the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and servants of the king. Moreover Haman said, “Besides, Queen Esther invited no one but me to come in with the king to the banquet that she prepared; and tomorrow I am again invited by her, along with the king. Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.”

      MISERABLE HAMAN, who had just been honored by King & Queen of Persia, but the disapproval of ONE MAN makes him feel worthless. This is an accurate description of how empty the rewards of this world are.

      Almighty God MEANT this HUNGER FOR ACCEPTANCE in each of us to be ultimately FULFILLED IN HIS PRECIOUS SON JESUS CHRIST - “because we are accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6), accepted before God because of who we are in Jesus.

      Haman restrained himself, which PROVES the hand of God WAS/IS in control. God would not allow the fury of Haman to take action until all the proper pieces were set in place to ultimately defeat his plan.

      Verses 14 tells us Haman happily receives counsel to ask for Mordecai’s execution the next day at the second feast.

      “Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows be made, fifty cubits high, and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it; then go merrily with the king to the banquet.” And the thing pleased Haman; so he had the gallows made.”

      For these FRIENDS of Haman, it wasn’t enough to just punish Mordecai’s people (remember the genocide against the Jews is already set in motion), or merely to kill Mordecai. They wanted Haman to ask for a PUBLIC, humiliating execution of Mordecai on gallows 75 feet high.

      We should NEVER UNDERESTIMATE the destructive and distorting power of HATRED. The same irrational, violent hatred that made Haman want to see Mordecai hang to his death is the same irrational, violent hatred that made man want to hang Jesus on a cross.

    • July 6, 2016 12:34 AM EDT
    • ESTHER 6...

      Honor for Mordecai…The King’s question.

      Verses 1-3 The King has a sleepless night.

      “That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. And it was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, the doorkeepers who had sought to lay hands on King Xerxes. Then the king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” And the king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”

      This was a remarkable example of Providence in action. King Xerxes can not sleep, and he can choose 20 different diversions to fill his sleepless night – but he commands that a book be brought to him and read. The one commanded to bring the book could have brought any one book of the records of the chronicles, but he brought one particular book. The book could be opened to any page, but it was opened to the exact page telling the story of Mordecai and how he saved the King from assassination. Almighty God HAD a plan and HE GUIDED EVERY STEP along the way.

      Even as king Xerxes had a book of the records of the chronicles (literally a book of remembrance), so Almighty God ALSO has a book of remembrance. “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.” (Malachi 3:16)

      Xerxes SHOWED a RARE concern for a common subject, & considered a reward for Mordecai.

      Verses 4-5 opens with Haman in the courts of the king.

      “So the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to suggest that the king hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. The king’s servants said to him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.”

      It was NO coincidence that Haman entered the king’s court at just that moment; it was NO coincidence that Haman came at that moment to ask for the execution of Mordecai; it was NO coincidence that king Xerxes wanted to honor Mordecai at just that moment.

      If this Book of Esther shows us anything, it shows us that ALMIGHTY GOD MANAGES the affairs of men, even WITHOUT their knowledge. God KNOWS what He is doing and in the courts of heaven there are NO coincidences or surprises.

      There is NO such thing as GOOD LUCK, CHANCE, FATE, OR KISMET for children of Almighty God.

      Esther wasn’t LUCKY to be queen; Mordecai wasn’t LUCKY to have overheard the assassination plot; it wasn’t LUCK OR CHANCE that made Haman enter the royal courts at this time with this heart. All of these events were ORCHESTRATED BY ALMIGHTY GOD and not by luck.

      This becomes difficult, of course, when bad things happen to us. It is easy to see God’s management of all things when we see good things happen. But what about the bad? Even then, we must trust God’s total plan, realizing that “ALL things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

      Verse 6 King Xerxes asks a question of Haman.

      “So Haman came in, and the king asked him, “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?” Now Haman thought in his heart, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?”

      God ARRANGED ALL THINGS, so that not only will all the Jews be ultimately protected, but also so that both Mordecai and Haman would get what was coming to them.

      God often allows fallen man to set his own trap; allowing Haman to make his pride and arrogance BE THE CAUSE of his ultimate humiliation.

      Verses 7-9 tells us Haman’s answer on how the king should honor the man who pleases the king.

      “And Haman answered the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head. Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor. Then parade him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!’“

      Haman, in his childish desire to be praised and honored by all, asked for things that really mattered VERY little, except to puff one up with pride. Haman was a tragic man who can only believe he has done well when he heard applause. It is a good and sometimes appropriate thing to have applause here on earth, but it is tragic to live your life SEEKING THE APPLAUSE OF THE LOST WORLD. We should instead seek and be satisfied with the applause from Heaven.

      Verses 10-11 The King tells Haman HE must lead the chorus of praise for Mordecai.

      “Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry, take the robe and the horse, as you have suggested, and do so for Mordecai the Jew who sits within the king’s gate! Leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken.” So Haman took the robe and the horse, arrayed Mordecai and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!”

      IMAGINE the face of Haman at that moment; to see that the king took his advice completely, but gave the honor to his arch enemy - the man that Haman came to ask for his execution. The ultimate humiliation was for Haman to honor Mordecai in such a public way; humiliation is only really humiliation when IT IS PUBLIC.

      Verses 12-14 tells us of Haman’s mourning, warning, and a hasty departure to Esther’s banquet.

      “Afterward Mordecai went back to the king’s gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. When Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him.” While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs came, and hastened to bring Haman to the banquet which Esther had prepared.”

      Covering his head meant that Haman acted as if someone dear to him had died. In fact, his pride had been dealt a death-blow.
      Haman’s wife and his advisers could see the future well enough. Haman would not prevail against Mordecai, but Mordecai would prevail over Haman.

    • July 6, 2016 12:31 AM EDT
    • ESTHER 7...

      The SECOND Banquet & Haman’s End

      Verses 1-4 Esther finally makes her request: please spare my life!

      “So the king and Haman went to dine with Queen Esther. And on the second day, at the banquet of wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request, up to half the kingdom? It shall be done!” Then Queen Esther answered and said, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. Had we been sold as male and female slaves, I would have held my tongue, although the enemy could never compensate for the king’s loss.”

      Esther showed great TACT. She did not immediately identify herself as a Jew, targeted for massacre - even as Haman also hid the identity of the group he targeted when he made his request.

      Esther also showed WISDOM in how she framed her request. She appealed on a personal basis, knowing that she has never done anything but please the king.

      Verses 5 tells us The king’s outraged reaction

      “So King Xerxes answered and said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who would dare presume in his heart to do such a thing?”

      Xerxes SHOULD have known that it was actually HE himself who authorized such a plan. He was the one who gave authorization to Haman to carry out this plot, though he did do it IN ignorance.

      Verse 6 tells us Esther identifies the guilty party.

      “And Esther said, “The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!” So Haman was terrified before the king and queen.”

      Esther EXPOSED the truth about Haman – that he was not a faithful servant of the king, he was instead an adversary and enemy, more interested in his own fame and status than the benefit of the king.

      Haman NEVER imagined that Esther was a Jew; now he stood before the king being rightly accused of plotting the murder of the king’s wife.

      Verses 7-8 tells us Haman’s doom is sealed.

      “Then the king arose in his wrath from the banquet of wine and went into the palace garden; but Haman stood before Queen Esther, pleading for his life, for he saw that evil was determined against him by the king. When the king returned from the palace garden to the place of the banquet of wine, Haman had fallen across the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, “Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house?” As the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.”

      Xerxes was FURIOUS to realize that Haman had played him for a dupe in getting this decree to kill the Jews in effect. For all of Haman’s pleading, he only got himself into DEEPER trouble - now he was accused of personally assaulting Esther!

      Covered his face means they covered Haman’s head as a preparation for execution.

      Verses 9-10 tells us about the execution of Haman.

      “Now Harbonah, one of the eunuchs, said to the king, “Look! The gallows, fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke good on the king’s behalf, is standing at the house of Haman.” Then the king said, “Hang him on it!” So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s wrath subsided.”

      God often works this way TODAY as well, so we SHOULD pray as the King David did. “Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity; Yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood. He made a pit and dug it out, and has fallen into the ditch which he made. His trouble shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown.” (Psalms 7:14-16)

      Perhaps the greatest example of this was when Satan thought that he won by getting the crowd to crucify Jesus, but the cross turned out to be the instrument of satan’s defeat.

    • July 6, 2016 12:28 AM EDT
    • ESTHER 8...APPEALS TO THE KING

      Verses 1-2 tell us Esther’s proclamation & appeal to Xerxes to Help the Jews.

      “On that day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. So the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai; and Esther appointed Mordecai over the house of Haman.”

      Haman SHOULD have lived his life after the conclusion of Solomon, who carefully considered these things: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

      Verses 3-6 tells us Esther’s request for the salvation of her people.

      “Now Esther spoke again to the king, fell down at his feet, and implored him with tears to counteract the evil of Haman the Agagite, and the scheme which he had devised against the Jews. And the king held out the golden scepter toward Esther. So Esther arose and stood before the king, and said, “If it pleases the king, and if I have found favor in his sight and the thing seems right to the king and I am pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to annihilate the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces. For how can I endure to see the evil that will come to my people? Or how can I endure to see the destruction of my countrymen?”

      Even though Haman was defeated, the decree of the king still stood against the Jews. How could God’s people be preserved when a decree of the king cannot be revoked?

      Verses 7-14 tells us King Xerxes makes a counter-decree, allowing the Jews to protect themselves on the day they were scheduled for annihilation.

      “Then King Xerxes said to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew, “Indeed, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows because he tried to lay his hand on the Jews. You yourselves write a decree concerning the Jews, as you please, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for whatever is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.” So the king’s scribes were called at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day; and it was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded, to the Jews, the satraps, the governors, and the princes of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, one hundred and twenty-seven provinces in all, to every province in its own script, to every people in their own language, and to the Jews in their own script and language. And he wrote in the name of King Xerxes, sealed it with the king’s signet ring, and sent letters by couriers on horseback, riding on royal horses bred from swift steeds. By these letters the king permitted the Jews who were in every city to gather together and protect their lives; to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province that would assault them, both little children and women, and to plunder their possessions, on one day in all the provinces of King Xerxes, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province and published for all people, so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. The couriers who rode on royal horses went out, hastened and pressed on by the king’s command. And the decree was issued in Shushan the citadel.”

      The king could NOT revoke the previous decree, so he simply made another decree giving support to the Jews against their attackers.

      NOTICE the URGENCY…Christians should show a similar URGENCY when it comes to being heralds of the decree that the justice of God has been satisfied for us in Jesus Christ.

      Verse 15 tells us of Mordecai’s promotion.

      “So Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, with a great crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.”

      Verse 16 tells us of the joy for the people of God.

      “The Jews had light and gladness, joy and honor.”

      In the same way, we who adore and follow Jesus Christ KNOW our course is NOT finished; our salvation is NOT yet complete - yet we can rejoice, because of our confidence in our king - being confident of this very thing, that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

    • July 6, 2016 12:21 AM EDT
    •  ESTHER 9...

      Esther 9 - Victory for the Jews, who defeat their enemies, with the help of King Xerxes.

      “Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, the time came for the king’s command and his decree to be executed. On the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them. The Jews gathered together in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Xerxes to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could withstand them, because fear of them fell upon all people. And all the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and all those doing the king’s work, helped the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them. For Mordecai was great in the king’s palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces; for this man Mordecai became increasingly prominent. Thus the Jews defeated all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, with slaughter and destruction, and did what they pleased with those who hated them.”

      We have our own enemies to deal with; but with the King of Kings on our side, we have no reason to fear - What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

      Verses 11-17 tells us at the king’s invitation, Esther asks for the complete defeat of all the enemies of the Jews.
      “On that day the number of those who were killed in Shushan the citadel was brought to the king. And the king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the citadel, and the ten sons of Haman. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It shall be granted to you. Or what is your further request? It shall be done.” Then Esther said, “If it pleases the king, let it be granted to the Jews who are in Shushan to do again tomorrow according to today’s decree, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows.” So the king commanded this to be done; the decree was issued in Shushan, and they hanged Haman’s ten sons. And the Jews who were in Shushan gathered together again on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and killed three hundred men at Shushan; but they did not lay a hand on the plunder. The remainder of the Jews in the king’s provinces gathered together and protected their lives, had rest from their enemies, and killed seventy-five thousand of their enemies; but they did not lay a hand on the plunder. This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. And on the fourteenth day of the month they rested and made it a day of feasting and gladness.

      REMEMBER that Haman & his 10 sons were descendents of the ancient Amalekites (comparing Esther 3:1 and 1 Samuel 15:8-33). God commanded Saul, the son of Kish, to execute the full extend of God’s judgment against the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:2-3). Samuel failed; but this later descendent of the tribe of Benjamin and a son of Kish named Mordecai (Esther 2:5-6) & Esther completed God’s judgment against the Amalekites.

      Verses 18-19 tell us of the creation of The feast of Purim, a GREAT celebration among the Jews of the Persian Empire.

      The principle of remembering God’s great deliverance is good; we too often forget His great works. Today, Purim is one of the more popular Jewish feasts, with costumes, games and noise.

      The story of Esther also shows us that in the outworking of His plan, God can use the evil of man. God did not make Xerxes drunk, or make him demand that his queen present herself in an immodest way before the lords of the kingdom; yet God allowed this wicked action of man to fulfill a purpose in His greater plan. We find assurance in the truth that no other person, no matter how evil they are, can defeat God’s plan for our life, no matter what they have done to you or will do to you.

      Jesus moving…Jesus is answering…stand…watch…no fear, no doubt, Jesus WILL deliver and WILL redeem HIS Children…

    • July 3, 2016 1:58 AM EDT
    • NEHEMIAH: 1

      Nehemiah's Prayer when he hears of Jerusalem’s crisis condition.

      FIRST….SOME HISTORICAL AND TIMELINE BACKGROUND TO HELP US BETTER UNDERSTAND NEHEMIAH & THE BIBLICAL TIMES HE LIVED IN.

      NEHEMIAH LIVED some 1,000 years AFTER the time of Moses and some 400 years BEFORE the birth of Jesus, & the nation of Israel and the Jewish people were in a desperate state.

      WHY?

      Their nations were destroyed, First the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel and then the southern Jewish kingdom of Judah. The city of Jerusalem was COMPLETELY conquered by the Babylonians and the once-glorious temple of Solomon was DESTROYED.

      ALSO…when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, they DEPORTED almost everyone from the city and the region - for some 70 years, Jerusalem was a GHOST TOWN, with the potential to end up like many ancient cities - completely forgotten except to history.

      When the Jews were deported to Babylon, they began to make homes for themselves there. They settled down, and many still followed the God of their Fathers, but they did it from Babylon, with NO DESIRE to return to the land God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

      Some of these faithful Jews were raised up to places of prominence in the governments they were deported to. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego became leaders in Babylon; Esther was made queen in the courts of a Persian king.

      BUT…AFTER 70 YEARS of captivity in Babylon, they were given the opportunity to return to their homeland, the Promised Land. Out of the some two or three MILLION Jews deported from the land, only 50,000 decided to RETURN to the Promised Land. That's only something like 2%! But they did return, and in the days of Ezra, they rebuilt the temple and laid a spiritual foundation for Israel once again.

      NOW HERE COMES NEHEMIAH….The Book of Nehemiah begins 15 years AFTER the Book of Ezra ends; almost 100 years after the first captives came back to the Promised Land; and some 150 years after the city of Jerusalem was destroyed. After this long time, the walls of the city of Jerusalem were STILL in rubble.

      Before this, citizens of Jerusalem had TRIED to rebuild the walls but had failed. In Ezra 4:6-23, we see that some 75 years before they tried to rebuild the walls, but were stopped by their enemies. No one thought this obstacle could be overcome, so the walls lay in ruin and the people stayed in trouble.

      VERSES 1-3 tells us Nehemiah hears of Jerusalem's condition.

      “The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, "The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire."

      In Shushan the citadel: Nehemiah lived in Shushan, the capital city of the Persians, and he lived in the citadel - that is, the fortified palace of the Persians. Right away, THIS TELLS US THAT Nehemiah is someone important, living in the palace of the king of Persia.
      NEHEMIAH ASKED AFTER THEM…RIGHT HERE WE SEE THE HEART OF NEHEMIAH….HE MIGHT LIVE IN PERSIA…BUT his heart and his interest were in Jerusalem - 800 miles away. He wanted to know from those returning how the people and the city were doing.

      We might think that an important man like Nehemiah had more important things to think about than a distant city he had never been to, and a people he had mostly never met. Yet, because his heart was for the THINGS OF GOD, his heart was NOT on himself, but FOCUSED ON others.

      Nehemiah had the heart of Psalm 137:5-6, which says, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth; if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.” If Jerusalem was special to God, then it was also special to Nehemiah.

      The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire: The news he received was not encouraging. The people were called survivors; this was not a hopeful title. They were in great distress and reproach, and the walls of the city itself were broken down and the city gates are burned with fire.

      The bad state of the people and the bad state of the city walls were intimately connected. In the ancient world, a city without walls was a city completely open and vulnerable to its enemies. They had NO defense, NO protection at all.

      AND an unwalled city was always a backwater town, with nothing valuable in it. If there were anything of value in an unwalled city, it could be stolen away easily because there was NO defense to stop it.

      AND…those living in an unwalled city lived in constant stress and tension; they NEVER knew when they might be attacked and brutalized. Every man lived in constant fear for his wife and children. The temple could be rebuilt, but never made beautiful, because anything valuable would be taken easily.

      No wonder the people lived in constant distress, in constant disgrace (reproach), living only as survivors. God has MORE for us than to be MERE SURVIVORS. God not only WANTS us to be conquerors, but more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37), AMEN?

      Verse 4 tells us Nehemiah's reaction to the news about Jerusalem and its people.

      “So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”

      Nehemiah's immediate reaction was extreme. He didn't just feel bad for Jerusalem and its people; right away, there was no strength in his legs (I sat down), and he began to weep and to mourn.

      Mourned for many days: God was going to use Nehemiah to do something about this situation. But first, God did something in Nehemiah. Any great work of God begins with God doing a great work in somebody FIRST…BEFORE HE SENDS THEM TO DO SOMETHING GREAT FOR OTHERS.

      AND WE NEED TO SEE AND REMEMBER AND UNDERSTAND, GOD WAS NOT WRINGING HIS HANDS IN HEAVEN…YOU NOTICE, JUST AS WITH JOSEPH, God prepared FOR THIS DAY AND TIME AND NEED LONGGGGGG ago.

      HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?

      Nehemiah's IMPORTANT & TRUSTED position in Persia, with a heart curious about the welfare of Jerusalem and its people. Now we see that he had a heart that broke over their needy state.

      God saw the need in heaven, but little would be done until HIS CHOSEN RIGHT MAN BEGAN TO FEEEEEEEL THE NEED ALSO. God would do something great to meet that need through Nehemiah.

      AND WE NOW SEE THAT THERE WAS NOOOOOO WAY Nehemiah could do this alone. He had to be a leader - one who influences other people - to get this job done.

      Nehemiah is a book ALL about leadership - something we obviously need today. Since leadership is influence, leadership applies to everyone. Everyone has an area of leadership. In some way, each one is a leader; the question THEN BECOMES ARE WE a good leader or a bad leader, AMEN?

      Leaders MUST prepare themselves for difficult work because it won't be easy.

      REDPATH SAYS OF THIS PASSAGE…"There is no winning without warfare; there is no opportunity without opposition; there is no victory without vigilance. For when ever the people of God say, 'Let us arise and build,' Satan says, 'Let me arise and oppose.'"

      Leaders MUST have a big vision, and Nehemiah had one. "Through me, God is going to correct a problem that's been around a hundred and fifty years. Through me, God is going to do something that completely failed down before." We must have a vision, a goal, that is big enough.

      I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven...Nehemiah's reaction went beyond an immediate emotion. Many times a concern will come over us in a flush, and then quickly pass. But if it is from the Lord it will ABIDE AND GROW and the burden will remain until the problem that prompted the burden is solved.

      We NEED TO SEE AND UNDERSTAND WHAT NEHEMIAH DID NOTTTTTTTT DO….he did not complain, whine, or "see who could fix this problem." He immediately did what he knew he could do - pray, and intensely seek God in this situation.

      The God of heaven: Nehemiah also had a clear understanding of Whom he fasted and prayed to. There are many "gods" people trust in but ONLY the God of heaven can really meet our needs.

      Nehemiah's prayer SHOWS US THAT PRAYER IS ESSENTIAL IN OUR DAILY LIVES AND ESPECIALLY SO IN LEADERSHIP, AMEN?

      If our vision is so big that only God can accomplish it, then you obviously must pray. If prayer isn't absolutely necessary to accomplish your vision, your goal isn't big enough.

      It appears that Nehemiah prayed for four months before he did anything. Later, when the work of rebuilding the walls actually begins, it only takes 52 days to finish the job. But that 52-day project had a four-month foundation of prayer.

      Nehemiah took his pain and stress TO GOD in prayer - and seemingly, was able to leave it there. Prayer WILL relieve your stress. You may be trying to relieve stress through entertainment, but all that does is divert your attention. Entertainment doesn't give any solutions to stress. Prayer WILL give you strength; when you wait on the Lord in prayer, He will renew your strength (Isaiah 40:31).

      Verses 5-7 tells us Nehemiah comes to God in humility.

      “And I said: "I pray, LORD God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father's house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses."

      Humility BEGINS by simply understanding there is a God enthroned in the heavens, and I am not Him! Nehemiah recognizes exactly who God is: LORD God of heaven … great and awesome God … who keep Your covenant … and mercy … with those You love.

      Humility also understands our COMPLETE dependence on God. When Nehemiah desperately asked God to hear the prayer of Your servant (let Your ear be attentive … Your eyes open), it reflected his complete dependence on the LORD. Only God could help, and if God would only hear, Nehemiah knew He would help.

      NEHEMIAH KNEW…God will allow you to be fruitless to expose your need for total dependence ON HIM, JUST HIM AMEN?

      Humility will also CONFESS OUR SIN OPENLY TO JESUS. Nehemiah plainly and simply confessed sin, without any attempt at excusing the sin.

      NEHEMIAH SHOWS US WE MUST ALWAYS AVOID EXCUSING ourselves in the confession of our sin. May we never say, "Lord, if I sinned" or "Lord, I'm sorry, but You know how hard it was" or other such nonsense. We can find great freedom in open, honest confession, without any attempt at excuse or wondering "if" I sinned or not.
      Humility identifies with the needy. Obviously, Nehemiah was a godly man; but he openly and passionately put himself with his father's house, and prayed by using "we" instead of "they."

      "You never lighten the load unless first you have felt the pressure in your own soul. You are never used of God to bring blessing until God has opened your eyes and made you see things as they are." (Redpath).

      Verses 8-10 tells us Nehemiah comes to God looking to God's promises.

      "Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.' Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand."

      REMEMBERRRRRRRR….This is a powerful way to come to God, asking Him to remember HIS promises. Nehemiah said, "LORD, You made a promise to Moses and this nation, I ask you now to make good on it." Nehemiah quoted from both Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 30.

      This, no doubt, is the THE SECRET TO GREAT POWER IN PRAYER: to plead the promises of God.

      As a parent and now a grandparent…as human, flawed, & limited as I was & am, I strived to keep my promises to them. And truth be told, I even got a bit frustrated and annoyed when my children said REMEMBER YOU PROMISED ME!

      BUT WE ALL NEED TO UNDERSTAND, JESUS CHRIST LOVES IT WHEN WE REPEAT HIS PROMISES TO HIM… WHEN WE SAY JESUS YOU PROMISE ME IN YOUR WORD…" BUT JESUS IS DIFFERENT…HE LOVESSSSSS IT WHEN WE REMIND HIM OF HIS PROMISES & OFTEN DEMANDS THAT WE SEEK HIS WORD AND HIS PROMISES AND SPEAK THEM OUT IN PRAYER BEFORE OUR PRAYERS BECOME EFFECTIVE.

      HERE IS A CONFIRMING WORD OF JUST THAT IN Psalm 81:10, WHICH SAYS, “God says to His people, Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” God will not open His storehouse until we open our mouths in asking Him to perform His promises.

      IFFFFFFFFF you RETURN to Me, and IFFFFFF you KEEP My commandments and do them: Nehemiah quoted JESUS CONDITIONAL promise. The condition was returning to God, and keeping His commandments. He really couldn't know if the nation was keeping the commandments, but he knew that he was keeping them, and because he had identified himself with the nation in their sin the nation could also identify itself with Nehemiah in his godly fulfillment of these conditions.

      Verse 11 tells us Nehemiah prays with a heart READY to do something.

      "O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man." For I was the king's cupbearer.”

      GRANT ME MERCY WITH THE KING…Nehemiah concluded by asking God to bless him when he would soon speak to the king of Persia about the matter. Nehemiah was going to do something about the sorry state of Jerusalem's walls and people, and he knows without God's intervention, he can do NOTHING, AMEN?!

      LET YOUR SERVANT PROSPER…This is a prayer of a man of action, not a sideline critic. Nehemiah does not pray "God, make it all better" or "God, get someone else moving on this problem." Instead, his prayer is "God, HERE I AM, USE MEEEEEEE, to make it better."

      CHARLES SPURGEON SAYS IT BEST… “Laying the matter to heart, he did not begin to speak with other people about what they would do, nor did he draw up a wonderful scheme about what might be done if so many thousand people joined in the enterprise; but it occurred to him that he would do something himself."






      NEHEMIAH 2

      OPENS WITH Nehemiah's Commission as THE KING’S CUPBEARER


      Verses 1-2 tells us Nehemiah stands before the king.

      “And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before. Therefore the king said to me, "Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart." So I became dreadfully afraid,

      The last verse of Nehemiah 1 told us that Nehemiah was the king's cupbearer - a significant position in any ancient royal court.

      WHY?

      The cupbearer was a personal TRUSTED BODYGUARD to the king, being the one who TASTED THE WINE AND FOOD BEFORE the king did - making certain NO ONE could poison the king.

      KIDNER, A GREAT CHRISTIAN HISTORIAN tells us, The cupbearer was a HIGH official in the royal household, whose basic duty of choosing and tasting the wine & food FIRST to demonstrate that it was not poisoned, and of presenting it to the king, gave him frequent access to the king's presence and made him potentially a man of influence.

      The king, therefore, had to have TREMENDOUS FAITH AND TRUST in his cupbearer, who had to be a man of faithful and impressive character. If the cupbearer could be turned against the king, assassination would be EASY.

      The cupbearer ALSO was a servant to the king; he was responsible for CHOOSING most of the foods and wines the king and the court would enjoy.

      The cupbearer was also a TRUSTED ADVISOR to the king; since he was constantly in the king's presence, and greatly trusted, and a man of character, it was natural the cupbearer would often be asked his opinion on different matters coming before the king.

      In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes: As Nehemiah gave wine to the king, GOD TOOK GREAT CARE TO GIVE NOTE OF THE SPECIFIC DAY the events in Nehemiah 2 began.

      WHY?

      First, to show that Nehemiah PRAYED & WAITED 4 MONTHS with the kind of heart described previously in Nehemiah 1. During those four month, Nehemiah's prayer was likely "LORD, either take this burden from my heart or show me how to be the man to answer this burden."

      The date is ALSO important, because it establishes the date given TO RESTORE Jerusalem and its walls.

      WHY?

      BECAUSE Daniel 9:25 says that EXACTLY 173,880 days from this day - which was March 14, 445 B.C. - Messiah the prince would be presented to Israel. Sir Robert Anderson, the eminent British astronomer and mathematician, makes a strong case that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy EXACTLY, TO THE DAY, entering Jerusalem on April 6, 32 A.D., precisely 173,880 days from Nehemiah 2:1.

      OUR TRIUNE GOD IS PRECISE AND EXACT AND PINPOINT ACCURATE…WE CAN TRUST HIS WORD…ALWAYSSSSSSS!

      On that particular day, Nehemiah NOTED that he had NEVER been sad or depressed in the presence of the king, and on this day when the king took notice, Nehemiah became dreadfully afraid.

      WHY WAS NEHEMIAH AFRAID?

      As was true in the courts of many ancient kings, it was FORBIDDEN to be sad in the presence of the king. The idea was that the king was such a WONDERFUL PERSON that merely being in his presence was supposed to make you HAPPY & FORGET ALL OF YOUR PROBLEMS. When Nehemiah looked sad, it could have been taken as a terrible insult to the king.

      AND…When the king said "This is nothing but sorrow of heart," Nehemiah knew the king had NOTICED his sadness, and that the king took it SERIOUSLY. Nehemiah must have wondered if the next words from the king would be, "Off with his head!"

      Nehemiah was also afraid because he knew that he was going to the king for something VERY important. There was a lot riding on what was going to happen in response to this question.

      Nehemiah understood it was NOT his place to change the king's heart. He prayed and left it up to the LORD, instead of dropping hints and trying to MANIPULATE THE KING & THE SITUATION, AMEN?

      Then one day, four months later, the king's heart WAS different. Are we making the mistake of trying to change someone else's heart, instead of leaving it up to the LORD to do it? REMEMBER NEHEMIAH WHEN WE ARE DISCOURAGED…GIVE IT TO JESUS AND IN HIS PERFECT TIMING EVERYTHING WILLLLLLLLL CHANGE AND/OR BE ANSWERED!

      Verse 3 tells us Nehemiah's response.

      “And I said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?"

      May the king live forever! Nehemiah had probably said this many times before. This was probably almost a MOTTO among professional cupbearers; since they tasted the wine and food before the king did, they naturally wished the king a good long life…because to WISH OTHERWISE, MEANT THE CUPBEARER DIED FIRST, AMEN?

      The city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire: With this, Nehemiah explained why he was sad. Jerusalem was a destroyed, disgraced city.

      No one had to tell the king this was a disgraceful state of affairs; he would immediate sympathize with Nehemiah's concern for the dignity, safety, and well-being of his people.

      We see also Nehemiah's great tact and wisdom, because he tells of his concern without specifically mentioning the name of the city. The king would naturally have a bad association with the name "Jerusalem," knowing from history it was a city rebellious against the Persians and resistant to their rule. Nehemiah gets the sympathy of the king on his side BEFORE he reveals the city!

      Nehemiah's answer was not only wise, it was HONEST. Often, when are we visibly depressed or troubled, and when someone asks us about it, we simply reply "Nothing's wrong!" or "Oh, I'm O.K." At those times, we aren't honest.

      Many people are troubled by this dilemma. No one wants to be a whiner, boring others with our problems when the other person may only be asking out of common courtesy. On the other hand, we know the tremendous value there can be in sharing our concerns with someone else who CAN AND WILL PRAY WITH AND FOR US and perhaps share some wisdom from the Bible.

      One way to live in this kind of honesty is to seek out others whom WE KNOW AND TRUST, and sharing with them our struggles and needs. But if we don't know a person well enough to feel confident sharing our personal life, we can still ask them to pray for us in general. They DO NOT NEED TO KNOW ALL THE DETAILS to pray.
      WHY?

      BECAUSE GOD KNOWSSSSSSSSS ALL THE DETAILS AND HE IS THE ONLYYYYYY ONE THAT NEEDSSSSSS TO KNOW ALL THE DETAILS, AMEN?

      Also, when someone asks if we are troubled, we can be open to the idea that this person is special gift to us at this time.

      However, we must AVOID two traps.

      First, we must avoid "shopping" for advice - asking many people, telling all of them our problems until we find the advice/answer WE WANT!

      Second, we must be especially careful of talking to others in a way that PUTS THE WORRY, CARE, OR PROBLEM ON OTHER PEOPLES SHOULDERS.

      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

      Nehemiah didn't say to the king, "I'm sad because those incompetents in Jerusalem have had 100 years to build the walls and they haven't done anything. They are a bunch of hardened, uncaring, worthless people." He described the problem WITHOUT CASTING OR PUTTING BLAME ON ANYONE. When we fail to do this, there's a word for it: GOSSIP.

      When we are the person whom others ask for prayer or whom others come to for help, it is helpful to guard against the temptation to know every detail of the problem. Of course it is interesting to hear the details of others problems, but we do not need to know all the fine points.

      WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND OUR PRAYER FOR OTHERS IS STILL PRECIOUS AND VALUABLE IN JESUS EYES EVEN THOUGH WE DO NOT KNOW THE DETAILS, AMEN?
      JESUS CHRIST LIVED, WALKED, TALKED, TEACHED, AND SHOWED HIMSELF TO BE SELFLESS…BUT ALWAYSSSSS OTHERS CENTERED.

      IT BLESSES JESUS WHEN WE ARE OTHERS FOCUSED AS WELL, AMEN?

      We are not less able to lead them to Jesus for His loving care. Some things need to be talked out more than others, but sometimes we want the other person to talk it out more for us than for them.

      Verses 4-8 tells us Nehemiah's request.

      “Then the king said to me, "What do you request?" So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' tombs, that I may rebuild it." Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), "How long will your journey be? And when will you return?" So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. Furthermore I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy." And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.”

      What do you request?…Right away, Nehemiah KNEW God gave him favor with the king. His response wasn't "Off with his head!" but "What can I do to help?" Nehemiah knew that four months of prayer were answered.

      So I prayed to the God of heaven….Knowing his prayer had been answered, Nehemiah prayed again. This was not a long, extended prayer (he could have said, "Well king, let me pray about it for a few days and then I'll get back to you"). Instead, this was an immediate, silent, "Help me LORD!" prayer. Nehemiah knew this was an incredible opportunity, and he did NOT want to miss the chance.

      It is wonderful to labor long in prayer; but prayer does not have to be long to be effective. This is especially true when the situation will not allow a long prayer. SOMETIMES, THE MOST HONEST, POWERFUL, AND EARNEST PRAYER WE CANNNNN PRAY IS LORD JESUS HELPPPPPPPPPP ME!!!

      I ask that you send me to Judah: Nehemiah again showed great wisdom as he respectfully ASKED for a leave of absence and to be sent (you send me) by the king. He asked the king to share his concern for Jerusalem and to BECOME A PARTNER in getting the city and its people back where they should be.

      Nehemiah's VISION & MISSION IS REVEALED. That I may rebuild it. That was a huge job and a big goal. Nehemiah isn't going on a mere fact-finding expedition, or to tell the leaders of Jerusalem what a bad job they were doing. He goes to get the work done, trusting in God all the way!

      Again, Nehemiah shows wisdom by referring to Jerusalem without specifically mentioning the city (send me to Judah, to the city of my father's tombs). Although, we can also say that Nehemiah is not being deceptive. Though Jerusalem might have historically been a rebellious city to Persia, it isn't any longer - and will not be.

      It pleased the king to send me: Nehemiah's sympathetic heart, his months of prayer, his moment of prayer, his great faith, his big vision, and his wise responses were all answered positively. The king was enthusiastic about supporting Nehemiah in this venture.

      I set him a time: As a capable leader, Nehemiah clearly had a plan. The four months in prayer were not only spent in talking to God, but also in listening to Him and in working out a Spirit-led plan for what to do when God did open the door, AMEN?

      Nehemiah knew how long he would need to be gone (I set him a time). He knew he would need letters of safe passage from the king (let letters be given to me). He knew what kind of materials would be needed (timber). He knew what work needed to be done (the gates of the citadel … the city wall … the house I will occupy). Nehemiah knew all of this without ever having seen for himself the condition of Jerusalem before! Nehemiah knew the needs by carefully and patiently seeking God FIRST.

      Nehemiah had a plan, and God always works through a plan. The LORD our God is a planning God: The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. (Psalm 33:11). From the beginning of the plan of salvation in eternity past, God has a plan and is working it out.

      Sometimes it may seem that God blesses a lack of planning, and sometimes it seems God does a blessed work completely different from what we have planned. But in every case, God works through planning - if not our planning, then His planning. But as a general principle, God wants to train us up into the work of being planners, just as He is a planner.

      The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty. (Proverbs 21:5) Faith is no substitute for planning. We aren't more spiritual for failing to plan and for shooting from the hip. There may be sometimes when we simply can't plan, but we should never reject planning.

      He must give me timber: Nehemiah was also a bold man, not afraid to ask others to help when he knew they had the resources to help. Once the king was willing to be a part of Nehemiah's goal (it pleased the king to send me), he went right on to ask for an official seal of approval on the project (letters … for the governors) and for the king to finance the project (that he must give me timber).

      Nehemiah didn't ask because he wanted to take advantage of the king. Instead, he showed honor and respect to the king by inviting him to participate in a worthy work. He knew the king was able to provide these things; he sensed the king's heart was willing, and so he shows the king how he can do what his willing heart wants to do!

      And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me: Though this was a pagan king, Nehemiah still understood that God could work through him in a mighty way. God can provide for our needs in totally unexpected or unlikely ways.

      SO FAR NEHEMIAH SHOWS US AND TEACHES US FIRST AND FOREMOST TO PRAY ALL THINGS, GREAT AND SMALL, UP AND PUT THEM INTO JESUS’ WILLING AND CAPABLE HANDS.

      IT TEACHES US TO BE FOCUSED…AND TO KEEP ON PRAYING, ASKING, KNOCKING, AND SEEKING HIS WILL IN ALL THINGS.

      AND WE SHOULD ALWAYS ASK JESUS TO GIVE US HIS PLAN…NOT OUR PLANS…BUT HIS PLANS FOR ACCOMPLISHING WHAT HE HAS PUT ON OUR HEARTS AND MINDS TO DO.

      AND NEHEMIAH TEACHES US TO REMINDDDDDDDDD JESUS OF HIS WORD…REMINDDDDDD JESUS OF HIS PROMISES PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT HIS WORD….AND IT REMINDS US, WE NEED TO SEEK OUT, TO STUDY, TO BURY HIS PROMISES AND HIS WORD IN OUR HEART SO THAT WE WILL LEARN AND REMEMBER HIS PROMISES AND BE ABLE TO CRY OUT USING THEM WHEN WE PRAY, WHEN WE FACE OBSTACLES, NEEDS, CARES, WORRIES, OR CONCERNS.

      AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, JESUS IS DELIGHTED IN US WHEN WE REMIND HIM OF HIS PROMISES…WHY? BECAUSE THAT MEANS WE HAVE RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS… WE KNOW HIM AND WE TRUST HIM TO DO WHAT NO ONE ELSE CAN KNOW, SEE, OR DO WHEN WE COME TO JESUS WITH A HUMBLE, EARNEST, REPENTANT HEART…WE OPEN THE WINDOWS OF HEAVENS ANSWERS AND BLESSINGS IN OUR LIVES…

      CALL UPON THE NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES…OUR JESUS CHRIST.

      TRUST OUR JESUS CHRIST…HE WILL NEVERRRRR FAIL US.

    • July 3, 2016 1:56 AM EDT
    • NEHEMIAH 2:9

      OPENS WITH NEHEMIAH COMING TO JERUSALEM.

      FIRST….SOME HISTORICAL AND TIMELINE BACKGROUND TO HELP US BETTER UNDERSTAND NEHEMIAH & THE BIBLICAL TIMES HE LIVED IN.

      NEHEMIAH LIVED some 1,000 years AFTER the time of Moses and some 400 years BEFORE the birth of Jesus, & the nation of Israel and the Jewish people were in a desperate state.

      WHY?

      Their nations were destroyed, First the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel and then the southern Jewish kingdom of Judah. The city of Jerusalem was COMPLETELY conquered by the Babylonians and the once-glorious temple of Solomon was DESTROYED.

      ALSO…when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, they DEPORTED almost everyone from the city and the region - for some 70 years, Jerusalem was a GHOST TOWN, with the potential to end up like many ancient cities - completely forgotten except to history.

      When the Jews were deported to Babylon, they began to make homes for themselves there. They settled down, and many still followed the God of their Fathers, but they did it from Babylon, with NO DESIRE to return to the land God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

      Some of these faithful Jews were raised up to places of prominence in the governments they were deported to. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego became leaders in Babylon; Esther was made queen in the courts of a Persian king.

      BUT…AFTER 70 YEARS of captivity in Babylon, they were given the opportunity to return to their homeland, the Promised Land. Out of the some two or three MILLION Jews deported from the land, only 50,000 decided to RETURN to the Promised Land. That's only something like 2%! But they did return, and in the days of Ezra, they rebuilt the temple and laid a spiritual foundation for Israel once again.

      NOW HERE COMES NEHEMIAH….The Book of Nehemiah begins 15 years AFTER the Book of Ezra ends; almost 100 years after the first captives came back to the Promised Land; and some 150 years after the city of Jerusalem was destroyed. After this long time, the walls of the city of Jerusalem were STILL in rubble.

      Before this, citizens of Jerusalem had TRIED to rebuild the walls but had failed. In Ezra 4:6-23, we see that some 75 years before they tried to rebuild the walls, but were stopped by their enemies. No one thought this obstacle could be overcome, so the walls lay in ruin and the people stayed in trouble.


      Verse 9-10 tells us NEHEMIAH NO SOONER ARRIVES IN JERUSALEM THAN HE FACES OPPOSITION.

      “Then I went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.”

      This is another example of Nehemiah's godly leadership. He PERSONALLY WENT - he traveled the 800 miles from Persia to Jerusalem to do the work of rebuilding the walls and the people.

      Many people have a heart touched like Nehemiah's. They may also have the heart for prayer, the wisdom, the vision, the plan and the faith of a Nehemiah - but they stop short of actually going out AND PERSONALLY DOING what needs to be done for the goal to become a reality.

      Sometimes we SUBSTITUTE TALKING INSTEAD OF DOING, AMEN?

      It is one thing to stand around with other believers and talk about doing some evangelism; praying about it, planning it, talking about it - it is another thing to actually go out and do it. God is in the doing of the thing.

      Satan, the world & our spiritual enemies ARE NOT BOTHERED AS LONG AS ALL WE DO IS PLAN, PRAY, AND TALK ABOUT IT… but when God's people start doing something, they take notice.

      Beyond the River…means "beyond the Euphrates River," an important landmark that separated one region from another. Once a traveler crossed the river, they were on the road to the region of Judea and the city of Jerusalem. At this point Nehemiah spoke to the governors of this region who ruled UNDER the Persians.

      Gave them the king's letters…Nehemiah came prepared. He had letters showing he was truly sent by the king. He had captains of the army and horsemen with him. He also had substantial supplies of lumber from the king's forest. Truly, the king of Persia had responded to Nehemiah's invitation to become a partner in the work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, AMEN?!

      Sanballat the Horonite … Tobiah the Ammonite: At the governor's station, Nehemiah met these TWO ENEMIES of Jerusalem and anyone who cared for the welfare of the city. They were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.
      WHY?

      These two cared nothing as long as Jerusalem was weak and vulnerable; even though the temple was there, and worship conducted, that was fine - as long as the people of God were NOT strong, secure, and free from stress.

      DID YOU CATCH THAT? DO YOU NOTICE when this opposition came: not at the heart stage, not at the vision stage, not at the prayer stage, not at the planning stage, but ONLY AFTER PROGRESS CAME IN TO DOOOOOOOOO SOMETHING.

      Some people FEAR ever stepping out for the LORD, because they KNOW opposition will come. They somehow think their life will be better or easier if they stay QUIET, UNDER THE RADAR…in their Christian life and walk before God.

      THAT IS A LIE STRAIGHT FROM THE PIT OF HELL.

      A better life from holding back for Jesus Christ? Tough times ARE going to come anyway; but when we are growing and stepping forth in the Lord, we are FAR MORE EQUIPPED BY OUR FAITH AND TRUST IN JESUS to deal with them, AMEN?

      Verses 11-16 tells us Nehemiah makes a SECRET tour of Jerusalem and her walls.

      “So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode. And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire. Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King's Pool, but there was no room for the animal under me to pass. So I went up in the night by the valley, and viewed the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the others who did the work.”

      YOU NOTICE EVEN AFTER BEING IN JERUSALEM three days, Nehemiah still did NOT tell anyone WHYYYYY he is there and WHATTTTT God has put on his heart: I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem.

      When Nehemiah entered Jerusalem with a military escort and lumber from the king of Persia's forest, people would notice him - but he didn't say anything about his mission until the time was right. Good leaders learn a sense of God's timing.

      Nehemiah came to Jerusalem, full of heart, full of prayer, full of faith, full of wisdom, full of a big vision, full of support from the king, and finally gets to his destination - and he did NOTHING IN THE PEOPLES EYES for three days.

      Redpath says of Nehemiah’s behavior…"It is good to have Christian friends, but it is dangerous to wear your heart on your sleeve. Have a secret place somewhere which nobody knows anything about but you and God."

      AND Charles Spurgeon also says…"You will often find it best not to commit your plans to others. If you want to serve God, go and do it, and then let other people find it out afterwards. You have no need to tell what you are going to do, and, I may add, there is no need for you retelling what you have done, for very, very frequently God withdraws himself when we boast of what is being done."

      I went out by night through the Valley Gate: It seems that Nehemiah set out from the WEST SIDE of the city, and turned left towards the south, continuing counter-clockwise around the rubble of the city walls, until coming back to his starting point.

      And viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire…Nehemiah wasn't just sightseeing. Instead, he carefully studied the broken down walls and the burned gates. The word VIEWED in Nehemiah 2:13 and 2:15 is a medical term for "probing a wound to see the extent of its damage."

      AND REMEMBER TO…for the first time, Nehemiah SAW with his OWN EYES what had been reported to him, and what God had called him to repair. There is no way he could have made this tour with a dry eye, knowing the extent of the damage and the fear, poverty, and insecurity the broken walls meant in the lives of the people.

      The walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire…Nehemiah knew the job of rebuilding the walls couldn't go forth unless he saw exactly how bad the situation was.

      Nehemiah COULD HAVE FOCUSED HIS ATTENTION ON ALL THAT WAS RIGHT AND GOOD WITHIN Jerusalem.

      They WERE back in Judah and, the forced exile WAS over.
      The temple WAS built.
      Sacrifice and worship WERE conducted.
      Progress WAS being made, slow as it was.
      SOOOOO…there WAS MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR in Jerusalem - but sometimes, one must look at what IS wrong, and that is what Nehemiah did.

      We deceive ourselves if we only look to what is good. Some have no trouble with this; they always find it easy to see what is wrong. They are full of criticism. They believe they have the unique spiritual gift of pointing out what is wrong. But Nehemiah teaches us by example - we must look at the broken down towers, and carefully study what is wrong - but ONLY if we have the heart, the prayer, the vision, the passion to be used of God to set it right. There is little use in the Kingdom of God for sideline critics, back seat drivers, and Monday morning quarterbacks, AMEN?

      But with the RIGHT HEARTS - hearts ready to act - we have to take an honest look.

      REDPATH SAYS, "It is utter folly to refuse to believe that things are as bad as they really are. It is vital in any undertaking for God to know the worst, for whenever there is to be a wonderful movement of the Holy Spirit, it begins with someone like Nehemiah who was bold enough to look at facts, to diagnose them, and then to rise to the task."

      When we look at other Christians around us, we see that many are strong, joyful, growing, in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Many have victory over sin and we are thankful for that. But you can also see the figurative walls in their life and see some broken down portions. Some among us are desperately hurting or are trapped in a cycle of sin and want to get out, but don't know HOW TO ASK for help. Some feel like they are on the outside looking in. Some respect God, but haven't yet given their lives to Jesus Christ. God can, and will, build up all the broken down portions of these figurative walls.

      When we take a look at our children, we know that we love them and we care for them. But when we look at them honestly we see their weaknesses of character and the areas where they fall short. We soberly consider what will become of them if those weaknesses dominate their entire personality. We consider what will happen if they grow up rejecting Jesus, and of their future ruin unless God USES US to train and nurture their character.

      In the same way, when we look at our business, our relationships, our friendships, we should take an honest look, and not only look at what is pretty.

      When we look at the church, we love the church and are thankful for what God does here. But when we look honestly, we are probably NOT satisfied with the impact we have made on this community. We cannot say that it is enough or that there should not be far more. We think of the financial support and the outreach and the spread of the Word of God through the church, and yet know that it COULD BE MORE and that the ministry could go out further and broader.

      If someone took a tour of your life the same way Nehemiah took a tour of Jerusalem they might notice many broken down portions in the figurative walls of your life.

      Proverbs 25:28 REMINDS US: “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”

      Many lives are like a city with broken walls - living with a constant sense of fear, poverty, and insecurity. We should NOT hide our eyes from these broken down places; God wants to change them, and make the first steps of change right away.

      The walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire…As much as anything, Nehemiah took time to COUNT THE COST before starting the work. He has a heart, he has faith, he has a vision - but before that vision can become a reality, he has to see exactly what has to be done, and what it will cost - in terms of time, effort, money, and leadership.

      Verses 17-18 tells us Nehemiah meets with the leaders of Jerusalem.

      “Then I said to them, "You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach." And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king's words that he had spoken to me. So they said, "Let us rise up and build." Then they set their hands to this good work.”

      You see the distress that we are in…The citizens and leaders of Jerusalem were not sitting around waiting for a superman to come along and rebuild their walls. In all probability, they had come to accept that it was an impossible job. It seemed that no one COULD fix a 100 year-old problem. Years ago, when someone tried, enemies simply stopped them. So they lived with it.

      Then I said to them…Now, when Nehemiah came and explained his vision for the rebuilding of the walls to the leaders of the city, there was a tremendous amount of importance attached to the meeting. Nehemiah could not do the job by himself, and he was in a lot of trouble if leaders didn't support him.

      No doubt this was something Nehemiah prayed about a lot. He might have prayed something like this, "O LORD, prepare the hearts of the leaders of Jerusalem to support this work You have called me to. Let them see I do not come condemning or criticizing them, only to help. Give me the right words to say, and speak to them ahead of time about this work You have called me to."

      The distress that WE are in…Nehemiah wisely approached the leaders of Jerusalem. He had to. In the accomplishment of any vision or goal - or at least of a God-sized vision or goal, there will be certain people essential to accomplishing the goal - you must have their help. Nehemiah's wise approach gives us an example to follow.

      - WISELY, Nehemiah asked them to notice the obvious…You see the distress; sometimes, the obvious is the hardest to see.

      - WISELY, Nehemiah did not come as if he was there to fix their problem…the distress that WE are in. Nehemiah owned the problem as his also, even though he might not have. Nehemiah didn't play the blame game. He didn't criticize the leaders of Jerusalem. He simply identified right along with them regarding the problem.

      - WISELY, Nehemiah asked for their partnership…Come and let US build the wall of Jerusalem. Nehemiah figured if God could move upon the heart of a pagan king to partner in this work, He certainly could move upon the hearts of His own people to join in! Nehemiah wasn't there to do it for them, but to partner with them in the job of restoring Jerusalem and its people.

      - WISELY, Nehemiah pointed them to the result…that WE may no longer be a reproach. This wasn't really about bricks and mortar; it was about removing a condition of shame, fear, poverty, and insecurity among God's people. The hard work involving bricks and mortar would be worth it, because it would have real spiritual impact in both individuals and the community.

      REMEMBER…When David saw Goliath and was outraged that this monster was casting disgrace on the people of God, he simply said, "Is there not a cause?" (1 Samuel 17:29). Everyone else was self-focused and figuring the odds, and David said, "let's get the job done. I'm willing for God to use me to do it."

      - WISELY, Nehemiah encouraged them in the LORD…I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me. Nehemiah assured the leaders this wasn't HIS project, it was GOD’S PROJECT. If people sense your vision is really all about you, and raising you up, and making you great, they will rightly be hesitant. But if it is from God, and they can see it, they will be thrilled to partner with you.

      - WISELY, Nehemiah gave them confidence by telling of what God had already done…I TOLD THEM them … of the king's words that he had spoken to me. Nehemiah could say, "Look, you can know this is of God; the heart of the king of Persia has been touched by the Lord to support this project!" If something has God's fingerprints on it, people will want to support it; if it has only man's fingerprints on it, they will rightly hesitate.

      And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me…We also notice what Nehemiah didn't do; he DID NOT BEG or MAKE DEALS. Nehemiah had a high calling from God, and HE ASKED others to be part of that vision, but he never stopped treating it like a high calling. He wasn't going to be a carnival barker trying to manipulate people into knocking over milk bottles even when they really didn't want to do it.

      Nehemiah DID NOT offer rewards, incentives, or vacations out at the Sea of Galilee for the ones who got the job done. Those are all external motivations, and aren't God's highest calling. Nehemiah simply said, "Let's stop kidding around. We know there's a job to be done, and God is leading us to get it done now." He relied on the LORD and the leaders to create a true inward motivation.

      MAN’S WAY…EXTERNAL MOTIVATION, SUCH AS: manipulation, guilt, pressure, carnal rewards can work for a while, but are NEVER a part of God's vision for getting things done.

      Let us rise up and build…This response of the leaders of Jerusalem was of God. They said, "Yes, Nehemiah, we're with you!" This was all the more remarkable considering the ways they might have responded - ways we might respond when we are challenged to partner in a work.

      They MIGHT have denied the need for the walls. "You know, we have gotten along without those walls for a hundred years now! After all, we already have the temple!" But we want to do far more than simply "get along." God has more for us, and now is the time to enter in.

      They MIGHT have seen the project as too much work. "Well Nehemiah, it's a fine work, and we hope it goes well for you. Don't think we can help you now." But we are willing to pay the price for something that is truly of God.

      They MIGHT have seen the opposition as too strong. "Nehemiah, why even start? We tried before and our enemies stopped us. It will just happen again." But we have more faith than that.

      Then they set their hands to do this good work…This shows God's hand at work here. Nehemiah's heart, his prayer, his boldness, his big vision, his action, and his wisdom, were all rewarded. This was a God-inspired thing; God moved the hearts of the leaders to do this.

      We know that Nehemiah was a great leader because people followed him. The people he was meant to lead were genuinely influenced by his leadership.

      Verse 19 tell us the opposition rises in response to the work of God.

      “But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, "What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?"

      But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it…Things had been going extraordinarily well, so we are not surprised that opposition came up again. Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official both came to oppose the work.

      Spiritual opposition to the work God wants to accomplish is a reality many Christians fail to take account of, and are thus defeated in what God would WANT them to do.

      The Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, took on humanity to experience spiritual warfare even as you do; He knows what it is to be under attack, how to break through to victory, and so He knows how to lead His people to victory.

      Sanballat … Tobiah…These two first surfaced in Nehemiah 2:10; they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel. They had previously made their opinion known; now they will seek to do something about the progress Nehemiah is making.

      Tobiah (a Jewish name) was a man of influence, being associated with the high priest's family, and getting help from the priests (Nehemiah 13:4). "Tobiah" was a prominent name in priestly families for generations to come. The name "Tobiah" means "Yahweh is good" - a strange name for a man who was an OPPONENT of the work of God.

      Sanballat was connected by marriage to priestly families (Nehemiah 13:28). KIDNER, A CHRISTIAN HISTORIAN SAYS, An ancient document from this period refers to Sanballat as "governor of Samaria."

      These men WERE Jews - were FELLOW brothers - of Nehemiah and the citizens of Jerusalem. We might have thought they would have supported his work, but they do not. Opposition is always difficult; but when it comes from brothers, it is then mixed with the pain of betrayal as well, AMEN?

      The Bible makes it clear we HAVE enemies and opponents also, but chiefly they are spiritual enemies:

      REMEMBER WHAT Ephesians 6:12 SAYS, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against … spiritual armies of wickedness in heavenly places.”

      However, MATTHEW 16:23 WARNS US…that we also realize that attacks from spiritual enemies can come through flesh-and-blood people too. We can experience spiritual attack on a direct inward level from spiritual enemies, or through people who are, wittingly or unwittingly, being USED AS TOOLS by our spiritual enemies.

      They laughed us to scorn…Sanballat and Tobiah used scorn in their attack. They wanted Nehemiah to feel mocked, stupid, and foolish. They laughed us to scorn shows that they showed their spite (and despised us) with a humorous edge.

      This scorn may come to us in an inward feeling ("Who am I trying to kid? I must be some kind of fool!"). Or it may come through the words of those who, if they know it or not, are being used by our spiritual enemies.

      MANY CHRISTIANS are turned away from God's will because they experience FEAR OR SCORN. Men who were not afraid of death have been manipulated because they did not want to be LAUGHED AT. It seems that sooner or later, God will allow every Christian to be tested at this point; as to whom they regard more, MAN OR GOD. We must never be more concerned about what people may say about us than what OUR JESUS REQUIRES OF US, AMEN?

      The way that Sanballat and Tobiah used laughter and scorn AS WEAPONS against the work of God should also make us reflect on our own use of humor. Some Christians who are otherwise well-meaning are tools of the enemy, all for the sake of a FEW laughs.

      Will you rebel against the king?…This shows that Sanballat and Tobiah had a LOW VIEW of God's authority. Their question showed that they figured the king of Persia WAS the highest authority in the land.

      FIRST, they were completely ignorant. They DID NOT KNOW what they spoke about.
      The king HAD given permission, even if they didn't know it.
      The king WAS partner in the work.
      Many times, those who are being used by our spiritual enemies against us simply DO NOT KNOW what they are talking about.

      SECOND, they were NOT concerned with God's authority. Really, it did NOT MATTER if the King of Persia was against this work, if the God of heaven and earth WAS for it. One with God makes a majority. Nehemiah could have turned the question back on them: Will you rebel against the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

      Verse 20 tells us Nehemiah's answer to his opponents.

      “So I answered them, and said to them, "The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem."

      So I answered them…Nehemiah IGNORED their scorn. His bold, straightforward words showed he had NOT been put on the defensive by their mocking, scornful attack.

      When faced with the choice of pleasing man or pleasing God, Nehemiah knew exactly what he would do. Let them mock - he would serve THE LORD.

      And said to them…YOU NOTICE SOMETHING ELSE…Nehemiah did NOT give a point-by-point reply. He did NOT show the document proving the king's support of the project. If he did, Sanballat and Tobiah would have just claimed it was a forgery, or would have come up with another objection. Nehemiah knew that hearts that refuse to be convinced will NEVER be convinced.

      The God of heaven Himself will prosper us…Nehemiah instead proclaimed his confidence in God. "It doesn't matter if you are against us. God's work will succeed."

      YOU NOTICE…Nehemiah DID NOT put the work on hold while a crisis response team figured out the best way to answer Sanballat and Tobiah. He WAS NOT going to let them sidetrack him. He had a work to do and he was going to do it. If you allow your enemies to get you to STOP what you should be doing and give ALL YOUR attention to them, then your enemies HAVE WON.

      There is a touch of holy boldness in Nehemiah's response. "Go ahead and take your best shot. It won't work. God is with us. He isn't with you. You will fail. We will prosper under the hand of the God of heaven!"

      We His servants … will arise and build…Nehemiah proclaimed who he was and what he would do.

      Nehemiah and his followers were servants of God. Sanballat and Tobiah felt confident because they were servants of the king; but Nehemiah is a servant of God.

      Nehemiah and his followers had a job to do. Not for a moment did he say, "Gee, maybe this isn't God's will!" They had agreed to rise up and build (Nehemiah 2:18), and they will do it.

      In facing our enemies, we MUST ALWAYS KEEP FOCUS on who we are and what we should do. Failure to see these will always lead to defeat. These are exactly the things our spiritual enemies WANT US TO FORGET! And sometimes, you just have to proclaim it!

      You have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem…Nehemiah PROCLAIMED the truth about his enemies. They MAY HAVE been Jews by birth; they MAY HAVE been legal citizens of Jerusalem; they MAY HAVE owned property in the city. But their hearts showed they had NO heritage, NO right & NO memorial in God's city.

      Nehemiah sized these two up more quickly than we often do. He knew they WERE NOT for him or for Jerusalem, or for God at all - though they may have claimed to be. It was as if Nehemiah said, "You don't belong here. God's doing a great work here, and you don't want to be part of it. Just move on."

      We can say the same to our spiritual enemies…"You have no heritage or right or memorial in me. I belong to Jesus Christ. You don't belong here. You may as well move on because I'm not going anywhere."

      This opposition DID NOT immediately melt away. We often wish that if we did everything right as Nehemiah did here, then the opposition would JUST GO AWAY, FADE INTO THE WOODWORK…NEVER TO BE SEEN OR HEARD FROM AGAIN.

      But it DID NOT AND IT DOES NOT. These two opposed the work ALL THE WAY until it was finished. But they DID NOT STOP it. God's work got done, and they were proved completely wrong.

      NEHEMIAH SHOWS US AND TEACHES US TO EXPECT SATAN AND THE WORLD TO COME AGAINST US…THEY WILL LAUGH AT US, THEY WILL BETRAY US, THEY WILL SEEK TO STOP US, DEFEAT US, WITH THE WEAPONS OF SATAN AND MANKIND…BUT IT WILL NOT MATTER. IF WE TRUST, CLING TO, AND STAY FOCUSED ON OUR JESUS.

      WE HAVE JESUS CHRIST, THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OVER ALL LORDS. WE WILL NOT BE MOVED. WE WILL GO FORWARD…WE WILL TRUST IN JESUS…WE WILL COMPLETE OUR JOB ON THIS EARTH. WE WILL SHINE, WE WILL STAND, AND THOUGH THE GATES OF HELL COME AGAINST US, ATTACK US, SEEK TO KILL STEAL ROB AND DESTROY OUR MISSION, OUR HOPE AND TRUST AND BELIEF IN JESUS…WE WILL OVERCOME, JUST AS NEHEMIAH DID, THROUGH, WITH, BY OUR JESUS WHO NEVER FAILS US.

    • July 3, 2016 1:53 AM EDT
    • NEHEMIAH: 3

      FIRST….SOME HISTORICAL AND TIMELINE BACKGROUND TO HELP US BETTER UNDERSTAND NEHEMIAH & THE BIBLICAL TIMES HE LIVED IN.

      NEHEMIAH LIVED some 1,000 years AFTER the time of Moses and some 400 years BEFORE the birth of Jesus, & the nation of Israel and the Jewish people were in a desperate state.

      WHY?

      Their nations were destroyed, First the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel and then the southern Jewish kingdom of Judah. The city of Jerusalem was COMPLETELY conquered by the Babylonians and the once-glorious temple of Solomon was DESTROYED.

      ALSO…when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, they DEPORTED almost everyone from the city and the region - for some 70 years, Jerusalem was a GHOST TOWN, with the potential to end up like many ancient cities - completely forgotten except to history.

      When the Jews were deported to Babylon, they began to make homes for themselves there. They settled down, and many still followed the God of their Fathers, but they did it from Babylon, with NO DESIRE to return to the land God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

      Some of these faithful Jews were raised up to places of prominence in the governments they were deported to. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego became leaders in Babylon; Esther was made queen in the courts of a Persian king.

      BUT…AFTER 70 YEARS of captivity in Babylon, they were given the opportunity to return to their homeland, the Promised Land. Out of the some two or three MILLION Jews deported from the land, only 50,000 decided to RETURN to the Promised Land. That's only something like 2%! But they did return, and in the days of Ezra, they rebuilt the temple and laid a spiritual foundation for Israel once again.

      NOW HERE COMES NEHEMIAH….The Book of Nehemiah begins 15 years AFTER the Book of Ezra ends; almost 100 years after the first captives came back to the Promised Land; and some 150 years after the city of Jerusalem was destroyed. After this long time, the walls of the city of Jerusalem were STILL in rubble.

      Before this, citizens of Jerusalem had TRIED to rebuild the walls but had failed. In Ezra 4:6-23, we see that some 75 years before they tried to rebuild the walls, but were stopped by their enemies. No one thought this obstacle could be overcome, so the walls lay in ruin and the people stayed in trouble.


      NEHEMIAH 3

      OPENS WITH…The Building of the Walls

      AND GIVES US A record of the builders.

      Verses 1-2 tells us about the builders near the Sheep Gate.

      “Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They built as far as the Tower of the Hundred, and consecrated it, then as far as the Tower of Hananel. Next to Eliashib the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.

      They built blessed… built blessed… built…Nehemiah 3 is all about work - how individuals pitched in and did the work together, coordinated and led by Nehemiah & lifted the work to Jesus to bless it.

      And built the Sheep Gate…The work is described in reference to the gates of the wall. The gates were the critical entry and exit points to the city, and the places most likely to see an enemy attack. Therefore the work started at each gate and worked out from there.

      DID YOU KNOW…The Sheep Gate was so named because it was the gate where shepherds brought their flocks to sell them. Up until a few years ago, this SAME gate was being used for this same purpose in Jerusalem.

      Eliashib the high priest…This was the first worker mentioned. He rose up to do the work with the other priests, and they worked at rebuilding the Sheep Gate and the section of wall near there.

      Eliashib the high priest acted as a godly leader should; he was out in front of the work, leading by example. He did not act as if he was too "spiritual" for the hard work of rebuilding the walls.

      If you are a leader, others are looking hard at you and they follow your example. If you are slow to work, they will be also; if you are full of discouragement and doubt, they will follow. There is a good reason why Eliashib was first mentioned, and why the rest of the chapter is filled with the names of more than 50 others that followed his example in the work.

      They consecrated it…The idea behind consecration is to recognize something as special/BLESSED, as uniquely set apart for God's glory and service. These city gates were made special to God. Nehemiah and Eliashib knew that God wanted everything set apart special to Him, including these city walls and gates.

      Because the first of the work was specially set apart to God, it was a way for them to say, "All of this work belongs to You, LORD. This is a special work done unto You."

      This is a great secret to joy and success in life: to do everything as unto the LORD.

      “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

      Next to Eliashib the men of Jericho built: Every man's work was important, and though these did not work on a gate, they did the important job of building up the walls of protection and security for Jerusalem.

      Verses 3-5 tells us of the builders near the Fish Gate.

      “Also the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars. And next to them Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz, made repairs. Next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs. Next to them Zadok the son of Baana made repairs. Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord.”

      DID YOU KNOW…The Fish Gate…got its name because of the nearby fish market. The sons of Hassenaah did the work of rebuilding the gate while others helped.

      Made repairs…The word for repairs is the Hebrew word chazaq, used 35 times in this chapter alone. It has the idea of strengthening, encouraging, of making something strong. These are principles that have application to far more than material gates and walls.

      The Bible says that we must be built up and repaired. In Ephesians 4:12, God says the purpose of the church is for the equipping of the saints, and idea behind equipping is to prepare, strengthen, and make something able to be used. We come together as Christians to strengthen one another, IRON SHARPENS IRON, to make us strong and able to live for Jesus and serve Him outside the gatherings of the church.

      SO REMEMBER EVERY TIME YOU PRAY OVER, ENCOURAGE, SUPPORT, AND HELP ANOTHER…YOU ARE FULFILLING EPHESIANS 4:12!!!

      AND JESUS SEES, KNOWS, & IS PROUD OF YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME AND THE HEART AND THE LOVE TO DO SO~!

      Next to them the Tekoites made repairs: The Tekoites did their work. The people of the city of Tekoa were more than willing to work - but their NOBLES DID NOT put their shoulders to the work of their Lord. For the most part, people joined in - but NOT everybody. These nobles from the city of Tekoa thought they were ABOVE the hard work, so they didn't join in.

      Literally, the idea in the Hebrew is that they wouldn't submit - they would not "bend their necks" to what the LORD wanted them to do. The real issue was submission. Maybe they thought they had a better plan, maybe they didn't like how Nehemiah was doing it. Whatever their reason, you can be sure they later regretted it, because they stand IN INFAMY IN THE EYES OF JESUS BECAUSE THEY WERE THE ONLY PEOPLE MENTIONED in this chapter who did NOT JOIN IN & DID NOT HELP in the work.

      Perhaps Nehemiah wanted to record the names of each of these nobles, but the LORD made him have mercy and only indicate them in a general way IN STEAD OF BY NAME…BUT KNOW THIS JESUS KNEW THEIR EVERY HEART, MIND, AND THEIR EVERY NAME.

      Verses 6-12 tells us the builders near the Old Gate.

      “Moreover Jehoiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors, with its bolts and bars. And next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite, Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and Mizpah, repaired the residence of the governor of the region beyond the River. Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. Also next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs; and they fortified Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. And next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, leader of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs. Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph made repairs in front of his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabniah made repairs. Malchijah the son of Harim and Hashub the son of Pahath-Moab repaired another section, as well as the Tower of the Ovens. And next to him was Shallum the son of Hallohesh, leader of half the district of Jerusalem; he and his daughters made repairs.”

      Moreover Jehoiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate…Among the repairers of the Old Gate and its nearby walls was Uzziel, the son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths. Along side him was Hananiah, one of the perfumers.

      These were men of different professions, not professional builders. They were not trained for this kind of work. It would have seemed they had an easy excuse to not do anything, but they jumped in and did the work. They fortified Jerusalem, even though many would not think them qualified or able.

      The most important ability in the work of the LORD is availability. The one with few gifts and little talent, who has a passion and a drive to see God's work done, will accomplish FAR MORE than a gifted and talented person who DOES NOT have the passion and drive to do the LORD's work.

      AND HERE IS ANOTHER TRUTH ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE, RELEVANCE, AND VALIDITY OF THE BIBLE AND ITS TEACHINGS IN THESE MODERN TIMES…

      "Viggo Olsen, who helped rebuild ten thousand houses in war-raved Bangladesh in 1972, derived unexpected inspiration from reading a chapter ordinarily considered one of the least interesting in the Bible: 'I was struck … that no expert builders were listed in the "Holy Land brigade." There were priests, priests' helpers, goldsmiths, perfume makers, and women, but no expert builders or carpenters were named.'"

      The Broad Wall: Today you can see in Jerusalem the remains of this Broad Wall - and broad it is, more than 20 feet (6 meters) wide. Critics had denied the accuracy of Bible history like this, but the archaeologist's shovel constantly confirms the truth of the Bible.

      Rephaiah the son of Hur, leader of half the district of Jerusalem…He worked on this section of the wall. Here was another leader who knew REAL leadership is getting down and doing it - being a servant, HANDS ON, WORKING SIDE BY SIDE WITH EVERYONE…instead of expecting others to do it for you.

      Jedaiah the son of Harumaph made repairs in front of his house…FIVE TIMES in the Nehemiah 3, it speaks of those who worked on the section right in front of their house. Often, we need to give attention to the work of God right at our own homes. If the work needs to be done anywhere, it needs to be done at our homes.

      The names of the men who are said to have made repairs in front of his house are interesting:

      - Nehemiah 3:10 mentions Jedaiah, and his name means He who calls unto God. Our homes must be places of prayer, where the family calls unto God.

      - Nehemiah 3:23 mentions Benjamin, and his name means Son of my right hand, speaking of a protector. Our homes must be places of protection and peace.

      - Nehemiah 3:29 mentions Zadok, and his name means Justice. Our homes must be places of justice and integrity, especially with integrity regarding our marital vows and promises.

      - Nehemiah 3:30 mentions Meshullam, and his name means Devoted. Our homes must be places of devotion and separation to God.

      Malchijah son of Harim…This man is mentioned in Ezra 10:31 as one of the men who was confronted by Ezra for the sin of taking on a pagan wife. That was many years before this, so Malchijah got things right with God and now, years later, he served Him.

      A believer should never let a past failure get in the way of serving God. Repent, set it right, make a stand for righteousness - and get on serving the LORD.

      Shallum the son of Hallohesh … he and his daughters made repairs… Everyone who could help did help in the repairs & that included the women...NEHEMIAH MENTIONED THEM BECAUSE THEY WERE JUST AS IMPORTANT TO JESUS AND TO HIM…AS THE MEN WERE, AMEN?

      With the great number of different people working on the walls, it was imperative that they all work with the SAME MIND AND HEART - or the wall would not be uniform and would not be a strong defense. Yet, each section was a little different because different people worked on each section.

      In the same way, in the family of JESUS, the work must be done with a common vision and mindset - the mind of Christ, as Paul described it in 1 Corinthians 2:16. When believers work together in one accord, yet with each offering their distinctive gifts, the work of JESUS gets done in a glorious way.

      Verse 13 tells us the builders near the Valley Gate.

      “Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired a thousand cubits of the wall as far as the Refuse Gate.”

      Verse 14 tells us the builders near the Refuse Gate.
      “Malchijah the son of Rechab, leader of the district of Beth Haccerem, repaired the Refuse Gate; he built it and hung its doors with its bolts and bars.”

      Verses 15-25 tells us of the builders near the Fountain Gate.

      “Shallun the son of Col-Hozeh, leader of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate; he built it, covered it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired the wall of the Pool of Shelah by the King's Garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the City of David. After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, leader of half the district of Beth Zur, made repairs as far as the place in front of the tombs of David, to the man-made pool, and as far as the House of the Mighty. After him the Levites, under Rehum the son of Bani, made repairs. Next to him Hashabiah, leader of half the district of Keilah, made repairs for his district. After him their brethren, under Bavai the son of Henadad, leader of the other half of the district of Keilah, made repairs. And next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, the leader of Mizpah, repaired another section in front of the Ascent to the Armory at the buttress. After him Baruch the son of Zabbai carefully repaired the other section, from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. After him Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz, repaired another section, from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib. And after him the priests, the men of the plain, made repairs. After him Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, made repairs by his house. After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the buttress, even as far as the corner. Palal the son of Uzai made repairs opposite the buttress, and on the tower which projects from the king's upper house that was by the court of the prison. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh made repairs.”

      By the King's Garden…Charles Spurgeon preached a beautiful sermon on this text, where he spoke of six different gardens of the King: Eden, Gesthemane, the Garden Tomb, the human heart, the church as a whole, and the garden of Paradise in heaven.

      Verses 26-27 tells us of the builders near the Water Gate.

      “Moreover the Nethinim who dwelt in Ophel made repairs as far as the place in front of the Water Gate toward the east, and on the projecting tower. After them the Tekoites repaired another section, next to the great projecting tower, and as far as the wall of Ophel.”

      The Tekoites repaired another section…The section of wall near the Water Gate saw some remarkable service. Apparently, the Tekoites weren't satisfied with the significant work they did before - they went on to do even MORE work. They weren't going to let the bad example of their nobles who did no work (Nehemiah 3:5) keep them from working above and beyond the call of duty.

      Verses 28-30 tells us of the builders near the Horse Gate.

      “Beyond the Horse Gate the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house. After them Zadok the son of Immer made repairs in front of his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, made repairs. After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah made repairs in front of his dwelling.”

      Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah was the keeper of the East Gate… Apparently the gate in front of his house was in good condition, so he pitched in and helped at the Horse Gate. His unselfishness was a great example.

      Meshullam the son of Berechiah made repairs in front of his dwelling: The Hebrew word for dwelling is actually chamber - it refers to a singular room. Meshullam had only one small room, yet he was devoted to God and to the work of rebuilding the walls. It is better to be devoted to God in one small room than to have a mansion and have a heart cold to God.

      Verses 31-32 tells us of the builders near the Miphkad (muster or assembly) Gate.

      “After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs as far as the house of the Nethinim and of the merchants, in front of the Miphkad Gate, and as far as the upper room at the corner. And between the upper room at the corner, as far as the Sheep Gate, the goldsmiths and the merchants made repairs.”

      SO WHAT DOES Nehemiah 3 SHOW US…TEACH US AS CHRISTIANS?

      NEHEMIAH 3 shows us the need for believers to work together to accomplish something.

      It PLEASED JESUS GREATLY to see His people working together in one accord, with one heart, with one mind. God will put us into situations where we must work together, and learn how to lead, how to follow, how to work together with one heart and mind.

      The wall BEING BUILT WAS CONTINUOUS. Any gap compromised the entire structure. Therefore, each space at the wall was important - even if someone did not think so. As well, the wall could never be strong if someone was tearing it down at a different section.

      The work done was a reflection ON THE FAMILY OF JESUS - almost everyone mentioned is mentioned as the son of someone.

      It is in the family our children LEARN HOW TO WORK, and parents must be committed to teaching their children how to be hard workers. In a spiritual sense, our hard work - or lack of it - is a reflection on our spiritual family. Each Christian should be a good reflection of their spiritual family.

      THIS CHAPTER SHOWS US EVIDENCE OF NEHEMIAH’S HUMBLE, YET STEADFAST LEADERSHIP.

      Nehemiah was an effective leader because he made each man accountable for his work. Each man had a section of wall he was responsible for, and it was known he was responsible for it. No one wanted it to be seen that they were a poor worker in God's cause.

      By giving each man a sense of responsibility for the work, they helped ensure the work would be done right. It made each man accountable.

      Nehemiah was an effective leader because he noted who did the work and who didn't - the list demonstrates this.

      Nehemiah was an effective leader because he organized the work for maximum efficiency. Everyone had their section, and the work was organized around the gates - the places most needful of the work.

      Nehemiah was an effective leader because he knew where to start. He began with the spiritual aspect of the work (the high priest's work is mentioned first), and by consecrating everything to God.

      Nehemiah was an effective leader because he got both "high" and "low" to join together in doing the work. The leaders and the high priest worked together with the man who lived in a single room.

      Nehemiah was an effective leader because he was willing to let people try new things - goldsmiths, priests, women, and perfumers ALL became construction workers.

      Nehemiah was an effective leader because he made people focus on their own house first.

      Nehemiah was an effective leader because he didn't disqualify people because of a past of sin and compromise, nor because of their sex or lack of building skills. ALL they needed was a WILLING TO HELP & A DETERMINED HEART.

      JESUS SEEKS THE SAME THING…A WILLING AND DETERMINED HEART!

    • July 3, 2016 1:51 AM EDT
    • NEHEMIAH 4

      OPENS WITH Sanballat and Tobiah, ENEMIES OF GOD, try to stop the work & ridicule the work of God.

      Verses 1-3 tells us the attempt to discourage the workers.

      “But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish; stones that are burned?" Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, "Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall."

      REMEMBER…Sanballat and Tobiah were FIRST deeply disturbed when they heard a man wanted to help the people of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:10). Then they used scorn and intimidation to prevent the work from starting (Nehemiah 2:19). Now that the work had begun, they were furious and very indignant.

      And mocked the Jews…The nature of their discouraging attack is evident. They used a mocking, sarcastic tone and mocked the Jews … these feeble Jews … will they … will they … will they … even if a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.

      Will they sacrifice has the idea of, "Will they seek God through sacrifice and expect Him to miraculously build the walls? Will they pray the walls up?" Will they complete it in a day has the idea of "Do they have any idea what they are taking on? This isn't an easy project."

      Like MOST ATTACKS OF DISCOURAGEMENT BY SATAN, MAN & THE WORLD, there is a TRACE OF TRUTH in the words of the enemy.

      WHAT DO I MEAN BY THIS?

      As builders, the Jews WERE feeble.
      They WOULD NOT IN AND OF THEMSELVES BE ABLE TO COMPLETE SUCH A GREAT DEAL OF WORK IN ONE DAY.
      They DID NOT HAVE THE BEST materials to work with.

      A lying, discouraging attack will often have some truth in it, but it will NEGLECT THE GREATER TRUTH: God was with them and has promised to see them through.

      Sanballat and Tobiah sought to bring the discouragement through criticism.

      Charles Swindoll points out that there were many of them together doing the sarcastic, mocking criticism - and observes "critics run with critics." One measure of a leader is to be able to measure criticism; to not allow one to be run down by the critical, while still be sensitive to God's voice even in the midst of criticism.

      Discouragement is such a POWERFUL WEAPON OF SATAN AND THE WORLD because it is somewhat the OPPOSITE OF FAITH IN JESUS.

      Where faith believes God and His love and promises, discouragement looks for and believes the worst - and tends to pretty much forget about who God is and what He has promised to do.

      He will break down their stone wall…Tobiah made a HUGE mistake.

      WHY?
      He called the wall THEIR stone wall; it WAS NOTTTT their wall at all, but God's - he was criticizing God's wall, God's work.

      Critics who bring nothing but discouragement often miss what God is doing; because they don't like the wall, they can't believe it is God's work. In the same way, the church is God's church; Jesus loves His bride. One should always be careful about the way you talk about Jesus' bride, AMEN?

      Furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews…Because Nehemiah and the workers DID IN FACT have legal protection from the king (proven by the letters mentioned in Nehemiah 2:7), Sanballat and Tobiah had NO authority to actually stop the work. All they could do was to DISCOURAGE the Jews into stopping.

      The EXACT SAME ATTACK comes into the life of the believer who is legally set free by his King. Yet they can be discouraged into drawing back from what God has set before them.

      CHRISTIANS work differently under faith or under discouragement. We pray differently under faith or under discouragement. We read and hear the word differently under faith or under discouragement. It is no wonder that Satan works so hard to keep us FROM FAITH AND PRAYER and keep us in discouragement.

      “Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:38-39)

      Verses 4-5 tells us Nehemiah comes against the discouraging attack with prayer.

      “Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.”

      Hear, O our God…Nehemiah's response was a great example for us all. He DID NOT debate THEM.
      He DID NOT form a committee to assess the situation/danger.
      He DID NOT even deal with the two enemies directly either.
      Instead, he TOOK IT TO GOD in prayer.

      For Nehemiah, prayer was a FIRST RESOURCE, not a LAST resort. When times of opposition come, God wants us to RELY ON HIM - and the purest way of expressing our reliance on God is through prayer.

      Hear, O our God, for we are despised…In his prayer, Nehemiah first asked for God's attention and mercy. God did care about Nehemiah and the work of rebuilding, but Nehemiah needed God to display it and he also needed to sense God's presence and care.

      Turn their reproach on their own heads … give them as plunder … do not cover their iniquity…Nehemiah then asked God to battle their enemies FOR THEM. He depended on God to fight the battle. God gave him a work to do, and he would not be distracted from it.

      This prayer seems pretty tough, but prayers in the Psalms are even tougher: Breath their teeth in their mouth, O God! (Psalm 58:6) Let their dwelling place be desolate; let no one live in their tents (Psalm 69:25). It is proper for a child of God to pray such a prayer, because they are giving their violent inclinations over to God, and letting Him deal with them.

      If we are angry at someone or have a real enemy, then we can go at them in prayer. Never in the sense of praying evil upon them, but in turning them over to a good and just God, because He knows exactly what to do with them, AMEN?

      They have provoked You to anger…Finally, Nehemiah's prayer gave God a reason to show mercy and to come against his enemies. Nehemiah recognized that this was God's cause, not his own.

      Verse 6 tells us the result after the attack and Nehemiah's defense in prayer: the work continues on with greater and greater strength.

      “So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.”

      So we built the wall…God answered the prayer by giving them all a mind to work. A mind to work is a gift from God, and no significant job will ever be accomplished until people come together with a mind to work.

      This is EXACTLY what Satan wants to destroy with his attacks - the mind to work. He wants to make us feel afraid, despairing, defeated, or passive, or self-focused, or discouraged.

      CHARLES SWINDOLL says it best…"Critics demoralize. Leaders encourage. When the critics spoke, the workmen heard them and were demoralized. But when the capable leader stepped up and said, 'Let's look at it God's way, stay at the job,' the crew members were back in there."

      For the people had a mind to work…AND YOU NOTICE…The immediate answer to the prayer made NO DIFFERENCE in the enemies. The prayer was answered in the people of God doing the work. Nehemiah's prayer asked God to take care of his enemies, and God answered by taking care of His people.

      We often miss God's answer of our prayers, because we pray for Him to do a work in the lives of others we are in conflict with - and He answers by moving in our lives, but we resist that moving. It is as if He tried to give us a mind to work in a situation, but we resisted it.

      The entire wall was joined together up to half its height…The work was half finished. It was an exciting, but dangerous time; much had been done, but much was left to do. Fatigue and discouragement were ready to set in, if given an opportunity.


      Verse 7-8 tells us Sanballat and Tobiah plan to lead a violent attack against the work.

      “Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion.”

      The gaps were beginning to be closed…The wall was only half as high as it should be, but it was almost continuous now. Therefore, the enemies of the work became very angry.

      It must be that the work of God often makes the enemy of our soul angry. He must often rage against the progress being made by God's people in touching a lost world for Jesus Christ. It's NOT A BAD THING to make the devil angry, AMEN?

      All of them conspired together to come and attack…As the work progressed the enemies became more serious. Now they didn't simply complain or mock, they threatened and planned for violence.

      On the one hand, this was serious: the wall was built to protect against the attacks of violence, and now it seemed that the very building of the wall may prompt an attack to come. It would have been easy for the people to fear and to think perhaps all their work would be made useless.

      BUTTTTTTT….On the other hand, this wasn't serious at all. We notice that they DID NOT attack - they just RANTED, RAVED AND TALKED about it. Sanballat and Tobiah were hoping that the threat of attack would be enough. Satan uses the same strategy of fear against us, and if we are paralyzed by a threat the threat has worked - even when nothing actually happens against us.

      And create confusion…This is an important strategy of Satan - to create confusion among the people of God. A confused people will never move forward and fulfill God's work. They are usually confused because they are distracted by the enemies tricks instead of focusing on God and His promises.

      Verse 9 tells us the attack WAS defended by prayer and watching.

      “Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.”

      Nevertheless we made our prayer to God…Nothing would make them stop depending on God through prayer. They might have given up, believing the continued attack was a failure on God's part to answer prayer before - but they had more trust in God than that.

      God ALLOWED the attack to go on, even though He could have instantly swept it away. Yet He allowed it to continue because He was DELIGHTED THAT HIS PEOPLE DREW CLOSER TO HIM with a deeper trust than ever before. God did His perfect work both in building the walls and His people.

      We set a watch…They also knew that prayer didn't mean they were to do nothing. They used sanctified common sense to do what they should have, protecting against attack, using willing servants of God to be the wall until the wall was built.

      It isn't hard to imagine some super-spiritual among them saying, "Now Nehemiah, we don't need to set a watch. We have prayed, and God will protect us." Nehemiah would likely respond, "Yes, God will protect us, and He will as He finds us doing our duty before Him. Set the guard."

      When we see an area of our Christian life that needs particular attention, it isn't enough to pray. You need to set a watch as well - give special attention and accountability to that area of your life until you are walking in consistent victory.

      Our prayers do not replace our actions; they make our actions effective for God's work.

      Day and night…This shows that Nehemiah was determined. He wouldn't let the security of daylight or the sleepiness of night keep him from the work. This sent a powerful message.

      AND WHAT WAS HIS MESSAGE?

      "We ARE committed. This IS going to succeed, BECAUSE God is with us, and will enable us to OVERCOME every obstacle."

      It sent a message to the enemies saying, "You will NOT succeed. God's work IS going on, and will NOT be stopped. We WILL make whatever sacrifices necessary to see it done - weary days, sleepless nights, it doesn't matter."

      AND MOST IMPORTANTLY…It sent a message to God: "We trust in You, and our faith is a living faith - a faith of actions, not just words. We love and trust You, LORD."

      Verse 10 tells us the challenge from the inside: discouragement among the people because the work seemed too big.

      “Then Judah said, "The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall."

      Then Judah said…Judah was SUPPOSED to be the strongest, bravest tribe. It was the tribe of great kings and ultimately, the Messiah Himself. It was a special challenge and a discouragement to have this word come from the tribe of Judah.

      Nehemiah and the Jews rebuilding Jerusalem have been standing strong in the face of attack; but now that the rebuilding work is at the half-way point, and wall is almost continuous, special challenges arise.

      The strength of the laborers is failing…The half-way point (mentioned in Nehemiah 4:6) is a dangerous place. Much remains to be done, but fatigue sets in because much has already been done.

      It isn't enough to just begin well. Many a team has had a great first half - only to lose in the final minutes. The rebuilding work has gone very well and many obstacles have been overcome - but the job isn't done yet, the game isn't over yet, there is still time to lose.

      There is so much rubbish…The work of rebuilding the walls was not only construction, but cleaning and hauling away the rubbish. The ruins of the walls, lying in waste for 100 years had become a collecting point for all kinds of rubbish.

      Clearing away the rubbish was not an option - it HAD to be done. The destroyed parts of the wall and the accumulated rubbish HAD to be cleared away so the walls could be rebuilt upon their foundations. If they didn't do this, the walls wouldn't stand at all.

      In our Christian life, nothing much can be built for God's glory unless rubbish is swept away as well. Taking out the garbage can be discouraging work - but it must be done.

      We are not able to build the wall…So the excavation work had to start. Before they could build the walls up, they had to tear down and clear away the rubbish. They had to go down before they could go up.

      It WAS difficult because often, the work of building is a lot easier - or more fun - than clearing away the rubbish.

      It WAS difficult because as the mound of rubbish was torn down, the city was even more vulnerable than before. We can see some thinking, "Don't take away the rubbish; our enemies are near and you merely clear a path for them to come in."

      It WAS difficult because there have always been those who will defend any heap of rubbish, no matter how useless it is. "Well, my grandfather had that pile of rubbish, and if it was good enough for him, it is good enough for us!" This is bad thinking; we should clear away the old, so we can build on the true foundation.

      The heart of the people as shown in verse 10 must have been a discouragement for Nehemiah; it's easy to lead when your followers are full of enthusiasm and have a heart to work. But what do you do when that begins to fade?

      Verse 11 tells us the challenge from the outside: the enemies plan a surprise attack.

      “And our adversaries said, "They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease."

      And our adversaries said…Verse ten may mark the lowest point in the spirits of those doing the work. Things were already in a bad state, and the discouraged workers felt like giving up. Now, the enemy planned its raid on the workers, to crush those rebuilding the walls.

      They will neither know nor see anything…It is doubtful these enemies knew exactly how discouraged the people of God were. But certainly, the counsels of spiritual darkness in high places knew - and the attack was planned.

      We can almost imagine the spiritual ranks of darkness suggesting to the adversaries of God's people: "Now! Now is the time to attack! Do not delay, and you will crush them!" They knew Israel's state of discouragement made an evil victory possible.

      The attacks we suffer from spiritual forces of darkness are just as strategically timed. Our spiritual enemies know when we are discouraged, tired, angry, or proud in self-confidence.

      They will neither know nor see anything…Often, attacks from the adversary are successful only if they come as a surprise. When God's people are on guard, the enemy sees little victory.

      Kill them and cause the work to cease…The enemies of God's people paid a back-handed compliment by saying this. They knew by now the only way to get them to stop serving God and doing His work was to kill them.

      SADLY…this cannot be said of every servant of God today. For many, the devil does not have to kill them because discouragement, compromise, money, relationships, frustration, or trouble get them to stop serving God, AMEN?

      Verse 12 tells us God allows the Jews to be warned about the coming attack.

      “So it was, when the Jews who dwelt near them came, that they told us ten times, "From whatever place you turn, they will be upon us."

      The Jews who dwelt near them came…This is a wonderful example of the power and goodness of God. The enemies of God and His people did their best, but God was always in control. The enemies did NOT know there were faithful Jews listening to their plotting.

      They told us ten times…It is easy to picture this scene, and see the informants repeating over and over again, "An attack is coming! It's for real! They will defeat us!" From whatever place you turn, they will be upon us!

      These who overheard the plan didn't have the wisdom to know what to do in response. They were in a panic, and they were probably troubled that Nehemiah DID NOT ALSO panic.

      Verses 13-14 tells us Nehemiah organizes the defense.

      “Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, "Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses."

      Therefore….These verses tell us what Nehemiah did, but we can also think of what Nehemiah could have done in this situation.

      He could have done nothing - and even been spiritual about it. "Well brother, we're just trusting in the Lord. We prayed about it, and believe the Lord will deliver us somehow."

      He could have panicked - and started thinking it was his job alone to defend against the attack.
      What he did was to wisely and calmly trust God in the midst of the storm, and to do the concrete things God would have him do to obtain the victory.

      Their swords, their spears, and their bows…Nehemiah commanded them to bring out their armor. It was time to get serious, to put on the full armor, and to get ready to fight with every resource they had.

      Do not be afraid of them. Remember the LORD, great and awesome… Nehemiah put their mind in the right perspective. The challenge was great but there was no reason for fear. He who was in them was greater than he who was in the world, AMEN?

      Fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses…Nehemiah reminded them what they were fighting FOR. We fight most effectively for the Lord when we keep in mind how much there is to lose.

      Verse 15 tells us the enemies shrink back.

      “And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work.”

      When our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing…Once they saw the defenses of the people of God, the enemies shrunk back. They didn't want a battle because they knew they would lose. What the enemies wanted was for the people of God to hand them the victory on a silver platter through failing to watch and be ready.

      All of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work…This was the victory. Defending against the attack was not the victory; the people of God would not be at peace and security until the wall was rebuilt. Getting on with the work was the victory.

      When we are under spiritual attack it is easy to feel that just enduring the storm is the victory. It isn't. The attack often comes to prevent your progress and work for the LORD. Victory is enduring the attack and continuing the progress and work for the LORD, AMEN?

      Verses 16-18 tell us of the sword and the trowel.

      “So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah. Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me.”

      So that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon…Some of the servants did the work of defending and some did the work of building. The workers had a sword at their side and a trowel in their hands to get the work done. The kingdom of God is built with both a sword and a trowel, a sword (JESUS WORD & HIS PROMISES TO US) to come against every spiritual force of wickedness in high places, and trowel (HEART & HANDS) to do the work of building up the people of God.

      Verses 19-23 tells us the plans are made to keep a ready defense.

      “Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, "The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us." So we labored in the work, and half of the men held the spears from daybreak until the stars appeared. At the same time I also said to the people, "Let each man and his servant stay at night in Jerusalem, that they may be our guard by night and a working party by day." So neither I, my brethren, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me took off our clothes, except that everyone took them off for washing.”

      The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another…Nehemiah knew they had to keep in communication if the work was going to be done. The trumpets were a new way of communication there to meet the challenge.

      Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there…They stayed ready to sound the alarm at the slightest notice. They would not be caught off guard.

      From daybreak until the stars appeared…They dedicated themselves to the work all the more, working hard from sunrise to past dark, even spending the night out at the job site to protect against attack.

      So neither I, my brethren, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me took off our clothes…They kept their clothes on all the time because they did not want to be caught unprepared. They were always ready to respond to the blast of a trumpet.

      NEHEMIAH 4 SHOWS US AND TELLS US THAT AS CHRISTIANS WE NEED to be armed with the same attitude today. WE NEED to be always ready, always clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, always wearing the armor of God, ready for ANY PHYSICAL OR SPIRITUAL ATTACK AND PLOTS OF SATAN AND/OR MAN. AND TO BE READY, LISTENING FOR that final trumpet blast that will gather us together with our LORD, AMEN?

    • July 3, 2016 1:49 AM EDT
    • NEHEMIAH 5 OPENS WITH THE ENEMIES NEW TACTIC TO DESTROY THE WORK....MONEY PROBLEMS!

      The Work Is Threatened Internally by FINANCIAL PROBLEMS...

      Verse 1 tells us A great outcry of the people stops the work of rebuilding the wall.
      "And there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren."

      And there was...Chapter four ended on a note of great victory. The people of God were doing the work of God, and they did it despite all obstacles. They worked with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other, and they would not let their enemies stop them. But in this section of chapter five, there is no mention of working on the wall, indicting that the work had stopped.

      Against their Jewish brethren...The work STOPPED because of strife among God's people.

      The enemy could not stop the work of God by INSULT. RIDICULE...SARCASM...VERBAL THREATS...OR EVEN PHYSICAL THREATS OF KILLING THEM ALL.., but the work DID STOP when God's people weren't unified and working together & some were taking advantage of the famine and robbing their fellow Jews blind.

      A great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren meant one group fought against another. When God's people fight one another they certainly are neither fighting the real enemy nor getting God's work done.

      Verses 2-5 tell us the reason for strife among God's people: MONEY & DEBT problems.
      "For there were those who said, "We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain, that we may eat and live." There were also some who said, "We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine." There were also those who said, "We have borrowed money for the king's tax on our lands and vineyards. Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children; and indeed we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been brought into slavery. It is not in our power to redeem them, for other men have our lands and vineyards."

      We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain, that we may eat and live...Nehemiah is not primarily a book about money; it is a book about rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and bringing God's people into a place of peace, security, and blessing. Yet money problems directly affected the rebuilding work.

      Most the time money problems affect a building project because there isn't enough money to do the work. But the job of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem seems to have been paid for by the king of Persia, who provided the necessary building materials for Nehemiah (IN NEHEMIAH 1:8) and sent him with royal guards (IN NEHEMIAH 1:9).

      Nehemiah's money problems were different; they were money problems AMONG the people that harmed the unity among the people of God.

      Let us get grain for them, that we may eat...People had money problems because they worked hard on the walls and did not spend the same time on providing for the needs of their household.

      If you want to spend much time directly ministering to the needs of God's people and in spreading the gospel, in most cases it will affect your ability to provide, AMEN?

      Ministry TAKES TIME, and time spent on ministry is time you aren't making money. If one gets to the place where the ministry is your way of making a living, one should be used to not making a lot of money - or the transition will be rather difficult.

      Because of the famine...People had money problems because there was a famine, which made food more expensive. It was so expensive that some mortgaged their property JUST to provide food.

      A famine is no one's fault; many of the financial problems people face are really not the fault of anyone. Yet there may be fault in how the problems are addressed.

      For the king's tax...People had money problems because the government kept taxing them even though they weren't working as much and even though the cost of living went up.

      SOUND FAMILIAR?

      These taxes were not the fault of those who were hurt by them. Neither Nehemiah nor the people acted as if these taxes were unfair, yet they were STILL a hardship.

      We have borrowed money … indeed we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves...People had financial problems because the loans they had taken out to live cost interest, and some were in default. Therefore some had to give their children as servants to their lenders to pay off the debt.

      As will be indicated later IN NEHEMIAH 5:11, (THE HUNDRETH PART), the rich were taking advantage of the crisis to MAKE money off the poor, charging 12% interest a year.

      It isn't unusual for money problems to create strife and completely disrupt what God wants to do. If Nehemiah and his people did not find a way to do what God wanted them to do with their money and money problems, the work of God would be stopped - without a single arrow being fired by the enemies of God.

      We sometimes want to separate what we do with our money from our walk with God. This is a huge deception from Satan.

      Buying a house is a spiritual decision, NOT just a financial one.

      Taking a job, choosing a career, deciding how much money you should make - all these are matters that will directly affect your walk with God, both now and in the future.

      If we don't handle our money with the RIGHT heart, and make financial decisions with an eye to eternity, we can make mistakes that will affect the work of God in our lives for years and years.

      Essential to handling our money with the right heart before God is being A GIVER. Being a giver to the work of the Lord helps us always remember that God and His kingdom COME FIRST.

      The New Testament tells us IN 1 CORINTHIANS 16:1-4 that...our giving should be regular, thoughtful, proportional, and private

      AND IN 2 CORINTHIANS 9...that it must be generous, freely given, and cheerful.

      Money problems are rarely ONLY money problems. We often think if we just had more money, our money problems would go away. It isn't true - and that's a proven fact, just by looking at the lives of many of those that win a lottery or come into unexpected riches.

      If they had money problems before - if they didn't know how to handle their money, and glorify God with it - they WON'T know after. The same problems will soon show up again, often times BIGGER than ever.

      Verse 6 tells us Nehemiah's immediate reaction: ANGER.
      "And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words."

      And I became very angry...Nehemiah became angry because these money problems were caused, in part, because of THE GREED of those who wanted to make a profit off of the money troubles of others, something Moses' law clearly said WAS WRONG (IN EXODUS 22:25).

      I became very angry when I heard their outcry...Nehemiah became angry because these money problems led to a lack of unity among the people of God. This unity that was more precious than any amount of money.

      I heard their outcry and these words...No mention was made of the work on the walls. Nehemiah got angry because these money problems stopped the work of the LORD in rebuilding the walls. It must have frustrated him that they could stand so strong against an enemy, but fall so quickly to these kinds of problems.

      Verses 7-11 tells us Nehemiah's WISE response: confronting those who were in the wrong.
      "After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said to them, "Each of you is exacting usury from his brother." So I called a great assembly against them. And I said to them, "According to our ability we have redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. Now indeed, will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us?" Then they were silenced and found nothing to say. Then I said, "What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies? I also, with my brethren and my servants, am lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop this usury! Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also a hundredth of the money and the grain, the new wine and the oil, that you have charged them."

      After serious thought...This was great leadership from Nehemiah. He was a man passionate enough to get angry; but wise enough to not act until he had considered the matter carefully.

      I rebuked the nobles and the rulers...Nehemiah was NO coward. When people were in the wrong, he confronted them. He told the truth, and from the result (IN NEHEMIAH 5:12-13), we can judge that he must have told the truth in love.

      Nehemiah teaches us that the way a leader SHOULD approach problems is head on.

      Each of you is exacting usury from his brother...Usury is interest that is either too high or should not be charged at all. The Bible says it is wrong to make money off of someone's financial need; if someone needs money for the most basic needs of life, they should be given money, not loaned it at interest.

      Of course, loaning money at interest is permitted for things that are not absolute necessities. Yet God's people must always use great wisdom and self-control in borrowing money.

      We have redeemed our Jewish brethren...Nehemiah noted that when Judah was conquered, many Jews were sold as slaves to foreigners and many of than had been bought out of slavery by other Jews. Because of this, it was very wrong to have Jews being sold into slavery to other Jews because they couldn't pay off high-interest loans.

      Should you not walk in the fear of our God? This is where many business deals go wrong before God, because there is NO REGARD for God's will or wisdom. The only concern is if a deal can be made, and if money will come from it; not if it is right or wrong.

      Restore now to them, even this day...Nehemiah was not asking the nobles and the rulers to just feel bad, or to just stop what they were doing; they had to set the wrong they had done right. If money had be charged unfairly or collateral was taken unfairly, it had to be set right.

      Verses 12-13 tells us the response of the rulers and nobles who had done wrong.
      "So they said, "We will restore it, and will require nothing from them; we will do as you say." Then I called the priests, and required an oath from them that they would do according to this promise. Then I shook out the fold of my garment and said, "So may God shake out each man from his house, and from his property, who does not perform this promise. Even thus may he be shaken out and emptied." And all the assembly said, "Amen!" and praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this promise."

      We will restore it...This was good. Nehemiah wisely told the truth in love, confronting these brothers; and they received the rebuke, doing the right thing and admitting they had been wrong.

      Their teachable, correctable spirit was impressive; too few are willing to admit they are wrong and to do what is right - especially if money is involved.

      So may God shake out each man … who does not perform this promise...Nehemiah wisely knew their words were NOT enough. Their actions HAD to be followed through with real action - and it was: the people did according to this promise.

      With the oaths, and public record of all this, Nehemiah assures accountability - something we often need to help us do what our spirit is willing to do, but our flesh is weak to do! Perhaps accountability is a missing step in dealing with an area where you are having a hard time doing what is right.

      Verses 14-16 tells us Nehemiah LEADS BY EXAMPLE: HE did not tax the people.
      "Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the governor's provisions. But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God. Indeed, I also continued the work on this wall, and we did not buy any land. All my servants were gathered there for the work."

      Neither I nor my brothers ate the governor's provisions... Nehemiah was a great example of putting the work of God ahead of his own personal interest. He certainly had the right to tax the people for his support (others had done it before him), but he didn't take that right because it wouldn't help the work of God.

      The apostle Paul is another GREAT example of someone who had the right to be supported, but didn't take that right because it was better for the cause of the gospel (TOLD TO US IN CORINTHIANS 9:1-15).

      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

      DOES THIS CHALLENGE THE QUESTION:Should ministers be supported today?
      IT ALL DEPENDS...It is all a question of what IS BETTER for the cause of the gospel. If it IS BETTER for a minister to be able to devote himself FULL TIME to the care and teaching of God's people, he SHOULD BE supported, by the church, outreach, or Christian organization.

      If it is better for him NOT to be supported that way, he shouldn't.
      There's something VERY VERY wrong with a minister who will ONLY minister to God's people IF THE MONEY IS RIGHT, AMEN?

      Because of the fear of God...Nehemiah did what was right before God, not what was "right" for his own cares and concerns - because he knew he would have to answer to God.

      I did not do so, because of the fear of God...Nehemiah could say this because it didn't matter to him what OTHERS DID, OR how the crowd ACTED, OR WORRYING ABOUT what the rest of the world thought.

      NEHEMIAH LIVED BY ANOTHER STANDARD.

      HE LIVED BY THE GOD WHO SEES ALL STANDARD, AMEN?

      We should have EVEN BETTER standards than Nehemiah did, and we should say, when confronted by the sin this world takes for granted, I did not do so, because of the love of Jesus.

      JESUS LIVED, BREATHED, WALKED, AND TALKED THE STANDARD WE SHOULD STRIVE FOR....AND THAT STANDARD IS? AN OTHER'S CENTERED LIFE, AMEN?

      Verses 17-18 tells us Nehemiah's example of generosity.
      "And at my table were one hundred and fifty Jews and rulers, besides those who came to us from the nations around us. Now that which was prepared daily was one ox and six choice sheep. Also fowl were prepared for me, and once every ten days an abundance of all kinds of wine. Yet in spite of this I did not demand the governor's provisions, because the bondage was heavy on this people."

      And at my table were one hundred and fifty Jews and rulers... Nehemiah not only DID NOT TAKE when he could have; he ALSO GAVE when he didn't have to. He received a lot of food from the king's provisions, which he COULD HAVE SOLD for his own profit, AMEN?

      Instead, he gave them away to be the example of generosity - feeding as many as 150 people regularly.

      Yet in spite of this I did not demand the governor's provisions... Nehemiah could have taken more (the governor's provisions), but he didn't. Therefore, Nehemiah was an example for what he did not take and for what he did not keep.

      Because the bondage was heavy on this people...Nehemiah, in his own life, lived the way he told the nobles and rulers to live - to not take personal advantage of another's need. He did what every godly leader must do: he never expected more of his followers than he expected of himself.

      Verse 19 tells us Nehemiah's prayer, asking God to remember his good deeds.
      "Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people."

      Remember me, my God...Some think that Nehemiah was wrong for saying all the good things he did. Jesus clearly taught us that our good works must not be done to show others how spiritual we are.

      REMEMBER WHAT JESUS SAYS IN MATTHEW 6:1-4, which says,
      "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly."

      Remember me, my God, for good...But in his prayer, Nehemiah DID NOT look for praise from man - but from God. In fact, Nehemiah probably originally intended that NO ONE else see all or part of this book, because it was written as a diary.

      In our own private time with the LORD, it is entirely appropriate - and right - to say, "Remember me, my God, for good" - to have confidence in our heavenly reward, instead of the praise of men.

      According to all that I have done for this people...We should be glad that God took this personal diary of Nehemiah and gave it to us. It shows us that a leader must first lead by example, and that Nehemiah could tell other to do what was right here because his own walk was right. His public words and private actions said the same thing.

    • July 3, 2016 1:47 AM EDT
    • NEHEMIAH 6....

      OPENS WITH THE WALLS COMPLETED & NEHEMIAH IS ATTACKED AGAIN IN THREE PHASES.


      Verse 1-4 tells us... THE FIRST ATTACK AGAINST NEHEMIAH: SNARE OF THE ENEMY'S FRIENDSHIP!

      "Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, "Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono." But they thought to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?" But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner."

      Our enemies HEARD that I had rebuilt the wall: The wall was ALMOST FINISHED- the gaps were closed, but the gates were not yet finished. For the enemies of Nehemiah and the work of God, this was a "now-or-never" time. If they didn't DO SOMETHING immediately to stop the work, the walls will be completely finished.

      Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono...At this time, Sanballat and Geshem TRIED to arrange a meeting with Nehemiah - by ALL OUTWARD appearances, a friendly meeting, AN OLIVE BRANCH, perhaps even a reconciliation or a vacation. Their invitation may have had the sense of a break for a few days of rest and relaxation out on the plain of Ono.

      But they THOUGHT to do me harm...ALMIGHTY GOD GAVE NEHEMIAH DISCERNMENT to see through the outward appearance, and to understand what Sanballat's friendly offer was REALLY all about.

      REDPATH SAYS OF THIS SCRIPTURE..."Whether you be a pastor or a teacher or evangelist or Sunday school leader, or whatever your position my be in Christian leadership, let me say that there WILL ALWAYS BE THOSE who are friendly to your face, but plan your downfall behind your back. Beware of the fawning, flattering Christian who is always fluttering around you, and who behind your back will be the first to rejoice when you go down."

      DISCERNMENT means the ability to judge matters according to GOD'S VIEW of them, and not according to their outward appearance. We are often deceived by outward appearances.

      REMEMBER 1 SAMUEL 16:7, "The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

      Many people confuse BEING DISCERNING with being negative or cynical; but that is NOT TRUE. Discernment is just as able to SEE THE GOOD where others might miss it. JUST AS DISCERNMENT is at SEEING THE BAD...where others might see good according to the OUTWARD appearance OF A PERSON OR A SITUATION.

      MANY CHRISTIANS THEN AND NOW SUFFER a great deal because they FAIL TO ASK JESUS FOR HIS WISDOM AND DISCERNMENT AND DIRECTION...so they LACK discernment.

      They BLINDLY FOLLOW leaders and teachers who give a GOOD appearance, SAY ALL THE RIGHT THINGS, but THEY DO NOT WALK in the nature of Jesus.
      PEOPLE accept things blindly because it looks good or sounds good, without CAREFULLY PONDERING MUCH LESS ASSESSING AND JUDGING THE PERSON OR THE SITUATION against the whole counsel of God's Word.

      We might even picture Nehemiah going to the Word of God, and equipping himself with discernment.

      Perhaps NEHEMIAH REMEMBERED Proverbs 27:6, which says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."
      That passage alone would have REMINDED NEHEMIAH to not look to outward appearances, but to judge soberly.

      AND WE KNOW THE TRUTH OF THIS, BECAUSE JUDAS CAME FORWARD AND GREETED JESUS WITH A KISS OF LOVE AND PEACE ON THE CHEEK AS A SIGNAL TO THE SOLDIERS & SANHEDRIN PRESENT WHO JESUS WAS.

      MANY HAVE ASKED THE QUESTION...OKAY...SO HOW DO WE DEVELOP GODLY DISCERNMENT?

      FIRST...GO TO JESUS...ASK HIM FOR HIS DISCERNMENT.

      SECOND...if we WANT TO SEE things as JESUS SEES THEM, get to know His Word.

      THIRD...discernment comes through SPIRITUAL MATURITY.

      REMEMBER...HEBREWS 5:12-14 which says that discernment is something spiritual babies don't have (a baby will stick anything in his mouth).
      AND REMEMBER 1 CORINTHIANS 12:10 which says that discernment IS A GIFT FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT, & HE GIVES AS HE WILLS.

      SO WE SHOULD SEEK JESUS AND ASK HIM FOR IT, AMEN?

      WITHOUT JESUS DISCERNMENT, we CAN think a dangerous invitation from an enemy is really an offer of reconciliation.

      We CAN think presumption is faith.

      We CAN think our own noble desires are God's promises.

      We CAN think God is saying "now" or "later" when He is really saying "later" or "now."

      We CAN think someone is a great guy or a spiritual leader when they are really doing damage to God's people.

      SO NEHEMIAH RESPONDS WITH THE RIGHT QUESTION TO THEIR INVITATION...Why SHOULD THE WORK cease while I leave it and go down to you?

      Nehemiah, GODLY DISCERNMENT will not only escape their trap; he won't even ALLOW HIMSELF TO BE DISTRACTED FROM HIS WORK GOD GAVE HIM TO DO.

      If the enemy CAN distract God's people, then he has won; if we can start majoring on minors, and minoring on majors, we've lost our effectiveness for the work of the LORD.

      Nehemiah WAS PERSISTENT in his discernment; the ENEMIES REQUEST CAME FOUR TIMES & each time Nehemiah stood fast and DID NOT fall for it.

      WHY SHOULD the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?... GOD'S DISCERNMENT also gave Nehemiah FOCUS; he knew what God wanted him to be doing and he did it. He wouldn't be sidetracked by things that sounded good, but weren't of the LORD for him.

      Anyone doing a work for JESUS MUST CONTEND with a hundred different noble causes, and a hundred things that might LOOK GOOD AND BE GOOD-- BUTTTTTTTT they are NOT what they are called to do at that time. Discernment gives us focus.

      Verses 5-9 tells us of the subtlety of the enemy's slander.

      "Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. In it was written: It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king. And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, 'There is a king in Judah!' Now these matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together. Then I sent to him, saying, "No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart." For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, "Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done." Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands."

      It is REPORTED among the nations, and Geshem SAYS: Sanballat's slander began the way many verbal attacks do, as a report of what others have REPORTEDLY said.

      EVERYONE...SAVED AND LOST....LOVING JESUS OR NOT...HAS FACED OR IS FACING THIS...RUMOR(S) SPREADING LIKE WILDFIRE & OUT THIN AIR...SLANDER WITHOUT TRUE CAUSE, AMEN?

      SUCH VAGUE HINTS...ACCUSATIONS RUSHING THROUGH THE GOSSIP GRAPEVINE....LIKE:

      YOU DID NOT KNOW? DID YOU HEAR? EVERYONEEEEEEE is talking about" or, "A number of people are saying." Such vague words can very easily give the WRONG impression.

      RUMOR DOES NOT HAVE TO HAVE A GRAIN OF TRUTH TO IT, IT HELPS...BUT THAT IS BESIDES THE POINT...RUMOR, SPECULATION, GOSSIP...WAGGING TONGUES FOR THE SAKE OF WAGGING TONGUES OR HAVING THEIR 15 MINUTES OF FAME, FRONT AND CENTER IN THE MEDIA, IN THE NEWS, IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS, TOWNS....WHEREVER HAS HURT, SHAMED, RUINED, AND DESTROYED MORE PEOPLE...WITHOUT ONE DROP OF PROOF TO SUBSTANTIATE IT, AMEN?

      REMEMBER THE PHARISEES CLAIMED TO ANYONE WHO WOULD LISTEN TO THEM, THAT JESUS WAS THE SON OF SATAN...NOT ALMIGHTY GOD.

      BUT JESUS IGNORED MOST OF IT...IT WAS NOT WORTH WASTING HIS BREATH OVER...BUT ONE TIME, JESUS SOUNDING PART EXASPERATED AND PART AMUSED...SAID...

      SO IF I HAVE THE POWER AND AM CASTING OUT DEVILS, AND I AM THE SON OF SATAN, AS YOU LYING STATE, HOW CAN I POSSIBLY CAST MYSELF OUT OF MYSELF...AND STILL STAND HERE BEFORE YOU???

      NEHEMIAH FELT THE SAME WAY....WHAT SANBALLAT ACCUSED HIM OF WAS FALSE. HE KNEW IT. THE KING KNEW IT. MOST OF THE PEOPLE OF JERUSALEM KNEW IT...AND HE HAD THE KING'S SOLDIERS & A SEALED LETTER OF PROOF THAT HE INDEED HAD THE KING'S BLESSING....BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY HIS GOD KNEW IT, AMEN?

      BUT THAT DID NOT STOP THE LIES FROM BEING SAID AND SPREAD, DID IT?

      THIS GIVES US A PRINCIPLE TO REMEMBER AND TO STAND ON...EVEN IF A THOUSAND PEOPLE OR NATIONS REPORT AND SPREAD THE SAME LIES OR THEIR OWN PERSONAL INTERPRETATIONS OF IT...IT STILL DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE.

      A POPULAR LIE MAY BE MORE DANGEROUS, BUT THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE, GIVE IT ANY VALIDITY, BECAUSE THE LIE IS MORE POPULAR THAN TRUE.

      The Jews plan to rebel … that you may be their king … you have also appointed prophets to proclaim...These BALD-FACED LIES probably OUTRAGED Nehemiah.

      WHY?

      He HAD WORKED HARD & TRUSTED GOD greatly so this work would be done with the blessing of the king.

      He HAD EMBRACED GREAT PERSONAL SACRIFICE to demonstrate that he was not in this for himself.

      And HE WOULD NEVER DREAM OF going to "rent a prophet"!

      NOW HE IS ACCUSED OF THE VERY THINGS he has worked so hard to NOT fall into!

      We may as well accept THESE FOUR THINGS:
      Satan KNOWS our hot buttons.
      Satan KNOWS those lies, those accusations, which really get to us.
      Satan KNOWS how to throw them in your face.
      We CAN NOT STOP it, so we have to learn how to deal with it!

      These matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together....Now Sanballat made a PLAIN IN YOUR FACE THREAT.

      Nehemiah wouldn't be deceived into coming to this meeting (he had too much discernment for that); so now he tried SLANDER AGAINST Nehemiah. AND HIS RESPONSE TO THIS?

      You invent them in your own heart..YOU NOTICE NEHEMIAH CALMLY & STRAIGHT FORWARDLY TOLD SANBALLAT THAT HE WAS A LIAR, & THEN BY CARRYING ON THE WORK GOD CALLED HIM TO DO...

      WHAT NEHEMIAH DID NOT DO...was mount an elaborate defense, trying to prove Sanballat wrong point by point. He wasn't going to waste his time. You don't satisfy men like Sanballat with facts, explanations, and evidence. You satisfy them by giving in to their demands, and Nehemiah would not!

      Sanballat would NOT be defeated by being told he was a liar.
      Sanballat did NOT care if the whole world thought he was a liar, if he COULD SUCCESSFULLY STOP THE WORK WITH A LIE & THREATS. But Nehemiah was steadfast!

      They are trying to make us afraid...Nehemiah had the discernment to see the slander strategy was all about fear, and he wouldn't give into it.
      NO ENEMY CAN MAKE US AFRAID; all they CAN DO IS TRY to make us CHOOSE FEAR - but it is up to us to choose it.

      MANY PEOPLE LIVE paralyzed by the fear of what others are saying about them, or what they might say about them.

      Instead, WE SHOULD FOLLOW NEHEMIAH'S EXAMPLE...we should FORGET about it in these situations. People will talk anyway and there is little you can do about it, other than be determined that THEY WILL NOT MAKE YOU AFRAID, AMEN?

      BENJAMIN FRANKLIN wisely says of this situation, "Since I cannot govern my own tongue, tho' within my own teeth, how can I hope to govern the tongues of others?"

      REDPATH says of this situation..."No man can lead a work of God if he allows himself to be governed by what other people think. He is to secure help, fellowship, prayer, advice, and he is foolish not to take it; but if his ultimate decisions are based on popular opinion he is going to fail."

      AND NEHEMIAH'S RESPONSE TO THIS NEW THREAT?

      "Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands!!!!!"

      We MUST DO what Nehemiah did - PRAY for God's strength, His power in our lives. We CAN NOT overcome the slander and fear of our enemies in our own strength BUT HAVING JESUS FOR US AND WITH US ALWAYS...AS HE PROMISES...WE CAN SAY....not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God WE DO OVERCOME, AMEN?

      Verses 10-14 tells us the scandal of the enemy's religion.

      "Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, "Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you." And I said, "Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!" Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me. My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid."

      Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah.

      SO WHO WAS SHEMAIAH?

      Shemaiah TITLED HIMSELF...AND CALLED HIMSELF A PROPHET...(he pronounced this prophecy), but he was not A GOD CALLED PROPHET. HE WAS NOT FROM THE LINE OF AARON EITHER. Shemaiah offered Nehemiah a safe haven in the temple. The idea was that though Nehemiah was said to be threatened, he could find refuge in the temple.

      WHAT WE AS CHRISTIANS NEED TO REMEMBER...IS THAT ALL THOSE WHO WERE CALLED AS PROPHETS FOR ALMIGHTY GOD NEVER CALLED THEMSELVES PROPHETS. THEY NEVER REFERRED TO THEMSELVES AS PROPHETS...THEY WERE ALL HUMBLE...THEY ALWAYS CALLED THEMSELVES HUMBLE SERVANTS OF THE MOST HIGH GOD OR THE HUMBLE SERVANT OF JESUS CHRIST.

      NOW DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND, OTHERS IN THE BIBLE CALLED GOD'S CALLED PEOPLE, PROPHETS OF GOD, AND JESUS REFERRED TO DANIEL AS THE PROPHET DANIEL, BUT NO WHERE DID THE TRUE PROPHETS OF OUR TRIUNE GOD EVER CALL THEMSELVES OR SELF-PROCLAIM THEMSELVES TO BE PROPHETS.

      TRUE PROPHETS OF JESUS CHRIST ARE CALLED...THEY ARE CHOSEN BY JESUS AND JESUS CHRIST ALONE. THEY CAN NOT EARN A DEGREE OR GO TO A MANMADE SCHOOL THAT ORDAINS THEM PROPHETS...THAT IS A TITLE ONLY OUR TRIUNE GOD CAN GIVE, AMEN?

      ON THE SURFACE IT SOUNDS REASONABLE & A KIND OFFER- and one might even take some Scripture to support it: Psalm 61:4 says, "I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings."

      Nehemiah needed discernment NOW MORE than ever. AND WHEN NEHEMIAH NEEDED DISCERNMENT....JESUS WAS FAITHFUL. HE GAVE NEHEMIAH HIS DISCERNMENT OF WHAT WAS REALLY GOING ON...BENEATH THE SURFACE.

      Should a man such as I flee?

      Nehemiah, knowing the heart of God as it is revealed in the whole counsel of God's Word, had discernment. Shemaiah tried to create fear in Nehemiah, and tried to get him TO DISOBEY GOD based on this fear.

      HOW?

      IN THAT DAY, ONLY PRIESTS were allowed in the INNER temple, and Nehemiah was NOT a priest. He would have been disobeying God if he had done what Shemaiah suggested.

      AND REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED IN 2 Chronicles 26, King Uzziah - who was not a priest - went into the temple, and God instantly struck him with leprosy.

      REDPATH correctly sums it up..."He seeks to persuade Nehemiah into an easy-going, compromising religion that will shirk persecution, that will carry no cross, and that is governed by fear of the opinions of other people."

      Let us meet together in the house of God....Shemaiah KNEW how to use religious talk, but it was STILL A TRAP.

      If Nehemiah believed Shemaiah's religious talk, he would sin and give others something to find fault with and discredit him with & IT WOULD HAVE INSURED THAT GOD PUNISHED NEHEMIAH FOR THEM.

      NEHEMIAH'S RESPONSE...I WILL NOT GO IN!!!

      Nehemiah stood brave against this religious deception. In his commitment to obedience, God revealed to him the heart of Shemaiah - who was no true prophet. Instead, JESUS TOLD NEHEMIAH THE TRUTH....THIS MAN WAS ON SANBALLAT'S PAYROLL.

      My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat...AND DO YOU NOTICE NEHEMIAH'S BEST OF ALL DEFENSE?

      INSTEAD OF LASHING OUT AGAINST Shemaiah and his fellow false-religionists, he simply committed these wicked men - and the situation - TO GOD.
      If God could take good care of Nehemiah, then He could take also take care of Shemaiah according to divine wisdom.

      NOW WE SEE NEHEMIAH'S RESPONSE TO THIS THREE-FOLD ATTACK OF: pretended friendship, slander, and false religion makes us admire him as a leader. But we can love and admire Jesus far more.

      "Come down to the plain of Ono," they said to Nehemiah. But they said to Jesus, "come down from the cross." But Jesus was doing a great work - the greatest work - on the cross, and would NOT be stopped.

      They slandered Nehemiah, but he DIDN'T defend Himself. He spoke the truth and trusted IN GOD. Jesus was also slandered, and did NOT debate His critics - He spoke the truth and trusted in His Father in heaven.

      A false prophet OFFERED Nehemiah an EASY WAY OUT- but it was a way of fear and disobedience. Nehemiah would have none of it.

      Jesus was also offered a way out of the cross from Satan - just worship Satan, and all the kingdoms of the world would be delivered to Him. But Jesus would have none of it.

      Verses 15-16 tells us the wall IS COMPLETED, & ALMOST MIRACULOUSLY WITHIN 52 DAYS.

      "So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God."

      The amount of time it took to finish the job was remarkably short. The walls were in ruins for more than 100 years, and then they were set right in a period of only 52 days.

      Why wasn't the job done in the more than 100 years before?

      It wasn't that no one saw the problem; it wasn't that walls were not wanted. Many people saw broken walls, knew how they ruined the lives of the people of Jerusalem, but no one got past the place of JUST WISHING AND DISCUSSING REBUILDING THE WALLS, UNTIL NEHEMIAH.

      IN GOD'S PERFECT TIMING...HERE COMES NEHEMIAH...A man who did MORE THAN WISH AND BEMOAN Jerusalem LACK OF walls; he grieved, he ached, he prayed, he planned, he asked boldly, he went, he fought, he encouraged, he stood strong, he saw the job through to completion. But he also had people around him with the SAME kind of heart.

      We have such small ideas of how God can use us. God used a man named Nehemiah to set right a 100-year-old problem in less and two months - and the same God sits on a throne in heaven and works THROUGH US, FOR US, WITH US...TODAY, AMEN?

      REMEMBER AT THE BEGINNING...when he heard of the need, Nehemiah prayed for four months (the difference in time between Nehemiah 1:1 and 2:1). But the work itself took less than two months. Nehemiah worked longer in prayer than they needed to work to do the job.

      This shows the spiritual battle was actually greater than the material battle. WE MORE TIMES THAN NOT...THINK THE MATERIAL BATTLE IS FAR GREATER AND MORE DIFFICULT THAN THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE, AMEN?

      BUT RIGHT HERE, GOD SHOWS US AND TELLS US THROUGH NEHEMIAH...THAT EVERY BATTLE A CHRISTIAN FACES IS FIRST WON ON OUR KNEES IN PRAYER AND SEEKING GOD'S WILL, WISDOM, AND WAY, AMEN?

      MANKIND'S PERCEPTION AND LOGIC ARE JUST THE OPPOSITE....FIGHT IN YOUR OWN STRENGTH NOW...PRAY LATER OR AS A LAST RESORT, AMEN?

      THE BIBLE TELLS US THAT GOD'S WAYS, GOD'S THOUGHTS ARE NOT OUR WAYS OR THOUGHTS...BUT HIS WAYS AND HIS WISDOM....ALWAYS WINS...ALWAYS!

      And all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes....When the wall was finished, their enemies were very disheartened. It is a glorious thing to dishearten the enemies of God's people and to let them be discouraged for a while.

      The battles were HARD; the work was BIG; there were CHALLENGES from within and without. But the job WAS now finished, and victory WAS sweet.

      They perceived that this work was done by our God...Their enemies were disheartened not just because the wall was finished, but especially because it was evident that GOD WAS WITH THEM...GOD WAS BEHIND THE WORK AND THAT GOD DID IT. When something has the fingerprints of God on it, all our enemies NOTICE it also.

      AND the enemy is ONLY disheartened when God does the work. If it is the product of man's efforts, they just laugh. Men might be fooled, and see a work of man and be impressed, but angel in heaven and every demon in hell know what has been done by man and what has been done by God, AMEN?.

      A strong, secure people of Jerusalem BECAME A WITNESS to surrounding nations AS WELL.

      Many of us live Christian lives that NO ONE TAKES NOTICE OF, because our walls are broken down. Let the LORD do a building work, and others will notice.

      Verses 17-19 tells us the work is finished DESPITE SOME who were friends with the enemy Tobiah.

      "Also in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them. For many in Judah were pledged to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah. Also they reported his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me."

      FROM PREVIOUS CHAPTERS OF NEHEMIAH...WE NOW KNOW Tobiah was the man who had opposed the rebuilding work with Sanballat.

      In Nehemiah 2:10 he was disturbed that Nehemiah came to rebuild the walls.
      In Nehemiah 2:19 and 4:3 he mocked Nehemiah's work.
      In Nehemiah 4:7 he was angry that the work was being done.
      In Nehemiah 6:1 he was one of the men who tried to get Nehemiah to stop the work, and come to the plain of Ono where he could be attacked.

      For many in Judah were pledged to him...Yet, the nobles of Judah had no trouble being friends to such a man - because he had family ties to many in the tribe of Judah. In fact, they tried to recommend him to Nehemiah (they reported his good deeds before me).

      THIS SHOWS US AND TELLS US THAT EVEN JEWISH BROTHERS OF NEHEMIAH REFUSED TO SEE OR WERE UNKNOWINGLY OR WILLINGLY BLIND TO what was so plain to Nehemiah.

      Perhaps they DID NOT SEE much of the evil work of Tobiah first-hand, so they had a hard time believing it. We imagine them saying, "He's always been nice to us; look at all the good he has done."

      THEN AND NOW....IT SOUNDS FAMILIAR...

      PICK UP A PAPER, TURN ON THE TV, AND YOU WILL HEAR JUST THOSE VERY WORDS SPOKEN OF CONCERNING SOME OF THE MOST EVIL PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD....GACEY WAS SUCH A QUIET UNINTRUSIVE MAN, WHO THREW BIRTHDAY PARTIES FOR THE NEIGHBOR'S KIDS....JEFFREY DAHMER...HE WAS SO NICE TO ME..HE HELPED ME WITH MY GROCERIES...HE WAS SOFT-SPOKEN...UNASSUMING...

      THE BOSTON BOMBERS, THEY WERE NICE KIDS..SMART SHY BUT FRIENDLY, STUDYING HARD...I JUST CAN NOTTTTTT BELIEVE THEY COULD HAVE DONE WHAT THEY DID.

      TODAY MORE THAN EVER...WE NEEDDDDDDDD JESUS WISDOM AND DISCERNMENT IN OUR LIVES. BECAUSE RIGHT HERE IN NEHEMIAH, WE SEE WHAT THE OUTER APPEARANCE OF SATAN AND THOSE WHO FOLLOW AND OBEY HIM ARE LIKE.

      THEN AND NOW...PEOPLE, CHRISTIAN OR NOT, EXPECT EVIL TO LOOOOOOOOOK EVIL....HAIR STANDING ON END, FILTHY SMELLING, HOWLING, RAGING, FOAMING AT THE MOUTH, TEETH GNASHING, FANGS APPEARING AND DRIPPING BLOOD, EYES ROLLING AND RED-RIMMED...IF NOT HEAD SPINNING ON THEIR SHOULDERS WHILE THEY SPEW VOMIT EVERYWHERE...

      NOW THAT VISUAL COMING AT YOU...AT ANYONE...INSTANTLY PUTS EVERY MAN, WOMAN, AND CHILD, MUCH LESS EVERY ANIMAL IN NATURE ON THE DEFENSIVE, OR ATTACK, IF NOT INSTANT RETREAT.

      BUT SATAN IS CALLED THE DECEIVER OF THE BRETHREN FOR GOOD CAUSE...HE USES A KIND FACE, STRONG CHARACTER, WELL LIKED, RESPECTED PERSON WE KNOW, WHO IS A GLAD-HANDING, BABY-KISSING, WELL-DRESSED, WELL EDUCATED, VERBALLY ARTICULATE PERSON TO LEAD HIS ATTACKS.

      THAT IS WHY SO MANY OF THE NOBLES AND RULERS OF JERUSALEM WERE DECEIVED...

      AND IT IS ALSO POSSIBLE...they just didn't have the shepherd's heart, and shepherd's eyes Nehemiah had. Nehemiah was called of God to PROTECT God's people and God's work; he was watching and on guard in a way that others were not.

      NEHEMIAH EXPECTED ATTACK FROM ANYONE AT ANY QUARTER AT ANY TIME...THE PEOPLE OF JERUSALEM DID NOT.

      AND SADLY AS KIDNER STATES IT SO WELL..."Also, in the case of these nobles, there was SELF-INTEREST at work. They HAD financial dealings with Tobiah they WANTED to protect. "His numerous binding agreements (pledged to him) within the Jewish community were probably trading contracts, facilitated by marriage connections."

      They REPORTED HIS GOOD DEEDS before me, and reported my words to him...Undoubtedly, they saw Nehemiah as the bad guy. They figured Tobiah's deeds were good, and Nehemiah spoke some strong words against Tobiah (in Nehemiah 4:4, Nehemiah prays the evil Tobiah planned be turned back upon him, and that he be captured and carried away).

      BUT THEN...Nehemiah HAD KNOWN GOING IN...AND WE SHOULD AS WELL...THAT WE MUST BE WILLING TO BE SEEN AS THE BAD GUY...in order to do what is right by the people of God.

      NEHEMIAH SAW...what the nobles of Judah could not.
      NEHEMIAH KNEW...that Tobiah's good deeds were NOT the whole story - all the while, Tobiah was sending frightening letters to Nehemiah. Those letter were not one of Tobiah's good deeds.

      Yamauchi says of this passage..."Tobiah's friends acted as a Fifth Column. They attempted both to propagandize on behalf of Tobiah and to act as an intelligence system for him. Tobiah himself kept on trying to frighten Nehemiah."

      Tobiah sent letters to frighten me...YOU NOTICE Nehemiah wrote no more about this situation. He wasn't going to demand the nobles change their minds about Tobiah; but he wasn't going to deny what he knew to be true about Tobiah either. He seems willing to let it go and let God take care of it.

      Nehemiah had a work to do, and that work was not really going out to attack people like Tobiah. He could leave the Tobiahs alone, as long as they were JUST ATTACKING HIM....AND NOTTTT attacking the work of God.

      NEHEMIAH 6....TEACHES US TRUST JESUSSSSSSSSS!

    • July 3, 2016 1:45 AM EDT
    • NEHEMIAH 7.....
      OPENS WITH The Wall Guarded BY WATCHMEN NEHEMIAH APPOINTED/TRUSTED TO DO THE JOB.

      Verses 1-2 tells us of the appointment of Hanani and Hananiah.

      "Then it was, when the wall was built and I had hung the doors, when the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, that I gave the charge of Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the leader of the citadel, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many."

      YOU NOTICE EVERYTHING WAS IN ORDER...both practically (the wall … I hung the doors … the gatekeepers) and spiritually (the singers … the Levites); the work was completed and set right.

      The singers and the Levites were there to lead the people in worship; the walls were not rebuilt so the people of Jerusalem could look at nice walls. They were rebuilt so they could worship God with greater glory and freedom than ever before.

      EVERY VICTORY IN OUR LIFE SHOULD TAKE US DEEPER INTO PRAISE, AMEN?
      If we are NOT praising JESUS more, and more deeply, with each passing year, are we really having much victory? Maybe we are making it through tough times - but coming out more bitter and sour than ever. That is not JESUS' victory. His victory leads to a sweeter spirit and to deeper praise.

      I GAVE THE CHARGE of Jerusalem...THIS TELLS US AND SHOWS US NEHEMIAH'S HEART...he wasn't in this for political glory. He had done a work, and now he could let it go. God would still use him in Jerusalem, but he knew it wasn't his place to stay in authority.

      SO WHO WAS HANANI?
      This was Nehemiah's BROTHER, was the one who FIRST told him about the sad state of affairs in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:2). His initiative and concern made him well qualified to govern.

      He was a faithful man and feared God more than many.. this is described Hananiah, who was the CO-LEADER of Jerusalem. This is what God NEEDS & LOOKS FOR in a man or a woman to use them greatly.

      Many folks who aren't all that gifted - they can't sing, they can't remember a bunch of Bible verses, they don't have a knack for teaching, and so forth - can STILL BE USED GREATLY of God if they are other's centered, faithful, and fear God.
      On the other hand, many terribly gifted people may always be frustrated in serving God, if they are NOT other's centered, faithful, and fearing God.

      Verse 3 tells us NEHEMIAH orders a watch set on the walls.

      "And I said to them, "Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard, let them shut and bar the doors; and appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, one at his watch station and another in front of his own house."

      Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard...EVEN AFTER A TREMENDOUS VICTORY HAS BEEN WON...AND THE WALLS REBUILT & THE GATES REHUNG....NEHEMIAH KNEW THE WALLS WOULD NOT PROTECT THEMSELVES. Diligent watchmen must be appointed, and the walls MUST BE guarded.

      The gates were to be opened late and closed early - it was a time for HIGH LEVEL SECURITY.

      Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem...In the Christian life, often a victory is won and later lost because there was NO GUARD. An enemy may come in because we are NOT watching. Walls can be climbed if there is no one there TO STOP the enemy, but an enemy is easily turned back from a wall by a guard.
      IN THE NATURAL, AS WELL AS IN THE MILITARY STRATEGIC MINDSET, THERE IS A MAXIM..."CUT OFF THE HEAD, AND THE BODY WILL DIE."

      IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM THAT IS NOT TRUE...YOU DEFEAT SATAN AND WIN...HE HAS LEGIONS OF OTHER DEMONS/LOST BLIND MANKIND, AT HIS BECK AND CALL, TO COME BACK AND WAIT FOR AN OPENING TO ATTACK YOU AGAIN...AND AGAIN....WE DOOOOOOO HAVE THE WAR VICTORY IN JESUS....BUT WE STILL WILL FACE TRIALS & ATTACKS FROM THE ENEMIES OF JESUS CHRIST UNTIL THE DAY WE DIE, OR ARE RAPTURED & GO HOME TO BE WITH JESUS.

      THAT IS WHAT TOOOOOOO MANY PREACHERS, EVANGELISTS, AND THOSE WHO CALL THEMSELVES MEN AND WOMEN OF JESUS CHRIST, MORE TIMES THAN NOT, FAIL TO TELL BABY CHRISTIANS.

      THE AWE, WONDER, HUMILITY, AND THE NEW BREATHE OF LIFE IN OUR JESUS...LEAVES LITTLE ROOM FOR THOUGHT OF THE DARKNESS...WE FEEL FREE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OUR LIVES...AND WE WALK IN IT....WE ALWAYS SHOULD HOLD FAST TO THAT FIRST TOUCH FROM OUR JESUS...

      BUT WE MUST ALSO BECOME WARRIORS AND WARRIORESSES FOR JESUS...WE MUST STUDY HIS WORD, LET IT SINK DEEP INTO OUR HEARTS AND MINDS, WE MUST KEEP OUR PRAYER WALK, OUR ONE ON ONE RELATIONSHIP TALK TIME WITH JESUS ALIVE AND CONSTANT, AND WE MUST ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR ATTACK FROM SATAN AND MAN.

      THE BIBLE SAYS PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD...IN THESE LAST DAYS...WE SHOULD LIVEEEEEE, DAY AND NIGHT, AWAKE AND ASLEEP....EVER-BATTLE READY WITH THE FULL ARMOR OF OUR JESUS ONNNNNNN. AMEN??

      MATURE, BATTLE-SEASONED, SCARRED WARRIORS FOR JESUS KNOW THIS...AND KNOW THAT WE DO HAVE VICTORY IN JESUS WHEN WE STAND STEADFAST IN JESUS AND HIS WORD'S PROMISES.

      FOR BABY CHRISTIANS, THE FIRST ATTACK, IS USUALLY FROM CLOSE FRIENDS AND FAMILY THAT DO NOT KNOW JESUS....THEY FACE TEASING, TAUNTING, RIDICULE BECAUSE THEY OPENLY, HAPPILY, AND WILLINGLY SHARE THEIR SALVATION WITH ANYONE AND EVERYONE...AND IT IS THEIR LOST CLOSE FRIENDS/FAMILY WHO SLAM THEM/ATTACK THEM FIRST...

      NEW BABIES IN OUR JESUS...ARE NOT TOLD...YOU WILL LOSE FRIENDS...BE PREPARED THAT YOU WILL SUDDENLY FIND YOURSELF CUT OFF FROM YOUR GROUP OF FRIENDS/FAMILY...YOU ARE NO LONGER INCLUDED...OR WORSE, THEY SEEK TO PROVE YOUR NEW FOUND SALVATION A LIE...BY SEEKING TO DRAW YOU BACK INTO THE LIFE YOU LIVED BEFORE JESUS TOUCHED YOU.

      IF WE, LIKE NEHEMIAH, STAY ON GUARD, IN OUR MINDS, HEARTS, AND LIVES...SATAN, THE WORLD, AND HIS DEMONS WILL FALL BACK ON THREATS MORE TIMES THAN REAL OUT AND OUT ATTACKS...BECAUSE WE ARE WEARING THE FULL ARMOR OF OUR JESUS AT ALL TIMES, AMEN?.

      Verses 4-5 tells us of a list of the returned families in order to see the need to develop Jerusalem.
      "Now the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few, and the houses were not rebuilt. Then my God put it into my heart to gather the nobles, the rulers, and the people, that they might be registered by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of those who had come up in the first return, and found written in it:"

      The people in it were FEW, and the houses were NOT rebuilt...Now that the walls were rebuilt, Nehemiah still wanted to SEE HOW HE CAN BE a blessing to the people of God and the city of God. He noticed that the population was low and there were MANY abandoned houses.

      Then God put it into my heart...Nehemiah wanted Jerusalem to grow and prosper. But before that could happen he must FIRST KNOWWWWW who he had already. Just as when he toured the broken down walls in NEHEMIAH 2:11-16, he needed to know the problem well. So, he took a census and looked at the registry first written by Ezra in Ezra 2:1-70.

      Verses 6-73 is a CONCISE DETAILED LIST OF ALL THE CITIZENS OF JERUSALEM who HAD returned from the Babylonian captivity.

      "These are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his city. Those who came with Zerubbabel were Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel: the sons of Parosh, two thousand one hundred and seventy-two; the sons of Shephatiah, three hundred and seventy-two; the sons of Arah, six hundred and fifty-two; the sons of Pahath-Moab, of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and eighteen; the sons of Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four; the sons of Zattu, eight hundred and forty-five; the sons of Zaccai, seven hundred and sixty; the sons of Binnui, six hundred and forty-eight; the sons of Bebai, six hundred and twenty-eight; the sons of Azgad, two thousand three hundred and twenty-two; the sons of Adonikam, six hundred and sixty-seven; the sons of Bigvai, two thousand and sixty-seven; the sons of Adin, six hundred and fifty-five; the sons of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety-eight; the sons of Hashum, three hundred and twenty-eight; the sons of Bezai, three hundred and twenty-four; the sons of Hariph, one hundred and twelve; the sons of Gibeon, ninety-five; the men of Bethlehem and Netophah, one hundred and eighty-eight; the men of Anathoth, one hundred and twenty-eight; the men of Beth Azmaveth, forty-two; the men of Kirjath Jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty-three; the men of Ramah and Geba, six hundred and twenty-one; the men of Michmas, one hundred and twenty-two; the men of Bethel and Ai, one hundred and twenty-three; the men of the other Nebo, fifty-two; the sons of the other Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four; the sons of Harim, three hundred and twenty; the sons of Jericho, three hundred and forty-five; the sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred and twenty-one; the sons of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred and thirty. The priests: the sons of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred and seventy-three; the sons of Immer, one thousand and fifty-two; the sons of Pashhur, one thousand two hundred and forty-seven; the sons of Harim, one thousand and seventeen. The Levites: the sons of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, and of the sons of Hodevah, seventy-four. The singers: the sons of Asaph, one hundred and forty-eight. The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai, one hundred and thirty-eight. The Nethinim: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth, the sons of Keros, the sons of Sia, the sons of Padon, the sons of Lebana, the sons of Hagaba, the sons of Salmai, the sons of Hanan, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, the sons of Reaiah, the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, the sons of Gazzam, the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, the sons of Besai, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephishesim, the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, the sons of Bazlith, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Tamah, the sons of Neziah, and the sons of Hatipha. The sons of Solomon's servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Sophereth, the sons of Perida, the sons of Jaala, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth of Zebaim, and the sons of Amon. All the Nethinim, and the sons of Solomon's servants, were three hundred and ninety-two. And these were the ones who came up from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not identify their father's house nor their lineage, whether they were of Israel: the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, six hundred and forty-two; and of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Koz, the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name. These sought their listing among those who were registered by genealogy, but it was not found; therefore they were excluded from the priesthood as defiled. And the governor said to them that they should not eat of the most holy things till a priest could consult with the Urim and Thummim. ALTOGETHER THE WHOLE ASSEMBLY WAS 42,360, BESIDES THEIR MALE AND FEMALE SERVANTS, of whom there were 7,337; and they had 245 men and women singers. Their horses were 736, their mules 245, their camels 435, and donkeys 6,720. And some of the heads of the fathers' houses GAVE to the work. The governor GAVE to the treasury 1000 gold drachmas, 50 basins, and 530 priestly garments. Some of the heads of the fathers' houses GAVE to the treasury of the work 20,000 gold drachmas, and 2,200 silver minas. And that which the rest of the people GAVE was 20,000 gold drachmas, 2000 silver minas, and 67 priestly garments. So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the Nethinim, and all Israel DWELT in their cities. When the 7TH MONTH came, the children of Israel WERE IN their cities."

      These are the people … who returned to Jerusalem and Judah...This list WAS IMPORTANT!
      WHY?
      Because EACH of these people WERE IMPORTANT to God, in that they did what so few of their fellow Jews did - they TOOK THE TROUBLE, HARDSHIP, & EXPENSE TO TRAVEL 800 MILES to return back to the promised land after they had already set down roots for seventy years in the Babylonian empire.

      These are people who had a PIONEER SPIRIT; they were WILLING to endure hardship and discomfort, because they had A CALL FROM GOD that was MORE important than their own comfort. Life WAS EASIER in Babylon, but it WAS BETTER IN Jerusalem!

      These are the people...Since only about 2% of the Jews who were carried away into exile by the Babylonians came back, these who DID HAVE the pioneer spirit ARE WORTHY of mention - and they are mentioned TWICE in God's eternal word (Here and in Ezra 2).

      It would be wonderful to have your name in the Bible (at least in a positive light). Though that privilege is too late for us, God DOES HAVE a book of remembrance told to us in Nehemiah 3:16, and surely the names of God's faithful pioneers will be in it, AMEN?

      In this list several things WERE important:

      1. Who the people were was important (specific names were mentioned).
      2. What families they came from was important (many family heads are named).
      3. Their gifts to support the work were important (they are specifically listed towards the end of the chapter).

      These sought their listing among those who were registered by genealogy, BUT IT WAS NOT FOUND!

      WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
      Some could NOT be priests UNTIL their lineage WAS determined. In the Old Testament, one could NOT be a priest unless it was ESTABLISHED THAT THEY DESCENDED FROM AARON, the brother of Moses, and WHO WAS THE FIRST HIGH PRIEST OVER ISRAEL.

      When the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities: This list flows beautifully after the completion of the work, because it reminds us that the work was really all about these people.

      The walls WEREN'T ALL THAT IMPORTANT TO GOD, HE WAS MORE THAN ABLE TO PROTECT THEM WALLS OR NO WALLS AMEN?

      BUT THE WALLS WERE IMPORTANT...IN THE BENEFIT THE WALLS could have in the lives of God's people (enabling them to live in peace and security).

      The building work wasn't all that important; what was important was the benefit the building work had in the lives of God's people (teaching them to work hard, work together, work through adversity and attack, and work till the job is done).

      IN THE SAME WAY, JESUS DOES NOT NEED WALLS TO PROTECT US...HE CAN DO THAT VERY WELL ALL ON HIS OWN, BUT JESUS WANTS US TO LEARN TO BUILD UP AND LEARN TO WEAR AND WALK THROUGH THIS LIFE IN THE FULL ARMOR OF HIS WORD AND HIS PROMISES SO THAT WE CANNNNNNNNNNNN LEARN TO WORK TOGETHER, WORK HARD, WORK THROUGH ADVERSITY AND ATTACK, AND WORK UNTIL OUR JESUS MISSION ON THE EARTH IS COMPLETE...UNTIL OUR WORK IS DONE AND WE GO HOME TO BE WITH OUR JESUS

    • July 3, 2016 1:43 AM EDT
    • NEHEMIAH 8...

      OPENS WITH....HEARING GOD'S WORD SPARKS REVIVAL!

      Verses 1-3 tells us the people gather and ask Ezra to read God's Word.

      "Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law."

      They told Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the Law...This demonstrates that the Spirit of God WAS AT WORK even before the reading of God's Word. People do not gather together as one man for the things of God unless the Spirit of God has moved them, and they do not desire God's Word unless the Spirit of God has moved them, AMEN?

      AND FOR US TODAY, IF WE TAKE THE TIME, AND SEEK TO ATTEND TO THE HEARING OF THE WORD OF GOD, IT IS EVIDENCE THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT IS WORKING WITHIN YOU, AMEN?
      But it is still important to cooperating with that work and to not resist it. We need to cooperate and flow with the work of God's Spirit if the Word of God is going to do its full work in us.

      The book of the Law of Moses...This refers to the FIRST FIVE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE, WHICH ARE: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This was Israel's instruction manual for how to walk before God.

      Ezra the scribe … Ezra the priest: Ezra was the man responsible for having the temple rebuilt, and for returning God's people to worship. Nehemiah, in all his work of rebuilding the walls, just carried on the work Ezra had begun.

      We know Ezra cared about God's Word, because he was a scribe - someone who copied the Bible by hand. We know he was a man devoted to God Himself, because he was a godly priest.

      YOU NOTICE HIS TITLES WOULD HAVE HELD LITTLE MEANING...UNLESS HE WALKED IT...HE LIVED IT TOO...AMEN?

      All who could hear with understanding: This shows us who needed to hear the Word of God. Everyone who could understand it needed to hear it.

      Then he read from it in the open square...Ezra read God's Word from daylight to mid-day. For some SIX HOURS he read God's Word and the people listened.

      This was a move of the Spirit of God. People who will be attentive to the Book of the Law for some six hours are people touched by the Spirit of God, AMEN?

      From morning is literally, "from the light." These people gathered from dawn to hear God's Word. They were willing to sacrifice something to hear it - they wanted it, and like Jacob they would not let go until they had their blessing.

      Verses 4-6 tells us how God's Word was received.

      "So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; and beside him, at his right hand, stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and at his left hand Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground."

      So Ezra … stood on a platform...They had taken the time to build a wooden platform so the Word of God could be heard. They did practical things so God's Word would have the greatest effect.

      There are practical things we can do also to help God's Word have the greatest effect; when a room is comfortable, low in distractions, and the preacher is clearly heard, it helps God's Word have the greatest effect.

      But by far, the greatest preparation must happen IN THE HEART, AMEN?
      We must come, willing to forget about ourselves and our own agenda, and submit ourselves to God's Word - not the preacher's word, but God's Word.

      At his right hand … and at his left hand...On the right hand and left hand of Ezra were men who were supporting him in his ministry of teaching God's Word. The ministry of God's Word has the greatest effect when people can see men who are in support of it and obedience to it.

      When he opened it, all the people stood up...They had a respect for God's Word. They recognized it for what it was - the Word of God, not the word of man. They honored it.

      This is evidence of two things.
      FIRST...that the Spirit of God is at work.
      SECOND...that something good is going to happen.

      Then all the people answered...This work of the Word of God and the Spirit of God had three immediate results.

      1. The people thanked God (by saying Amen when Ezra blessed the Lord)
      2. They prayed (by lifting up their hands)
      3. They worshipped (by bowing down before Him)

      Thanksgiving, prayer, and praise are all GOOD MEASURES of how the Spirit of God and Word of God are working IN US, AMEN?

      Verses 7-8 tells us God's Word is presented so the people may understand.

      "Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading."

      Helped the people to understand the Law...Special men were appointed to help the people understand God's Word. After the reading they needed to understand it because if they did not understand it, it would do little good.

      RIGHT IS AN ANSWER FOR ALL OF US...WE CAN NOT AND WILL NOT UNDERSTAND ALL THINGS OF THE BIBLE, BUT THEN AND NOW.....JESUS WANTS US TO ASK, TO SEEK TO UNDERSTAND HIM AND HIS WORD. SEEKING JESUS WISDOM AND DISCERNMENT AND UNDERSTANDING IS WONDROUS TO JESUS...NOT SOMETHING THAT DISPLEASES JESUS, AMEN?

      AND UNDERSTANDING...needs to be the first goal of any preacher or teacher.

      Helped the people to understand the Law...It is important to see why God's people need special help in understanding God's Word.

      FIRST...because the things of God are spiritually discerned and not intellectually discerned. The Holy Spirit brings spiritual discernment to us, helping us to understand what God's Word says.

      SECOND....because it was first written in a different language, in a different culture, in a different place, and at a far distant time. Teachers KNOW IF WE UNDERSTAND THE TIMES, THE HISTORY WHIRLING WITHIN THAT TIME, AND SHARE IT WITH US...IT help us understand it BETTER.

      THIRD....because THE HOLY SPIRIT will enable our minds to understand & convict our hearts.

      UNDERSTANDING GOD'S WORD....IS LIKE AN ART RESTORER. ANYONE WHO HAS WATCHED THE SLOW, PAINS-TAKING WORK, KNOWS THAT THE REAL BEAUTY, TRUTH, AND FULL PICTURE SLOWLY BUT SURELY, BRINGS THE MASTERPIECE TO ITS FULL GLORY...

      They read distinctly...The RECITER OF GOD'S WORD MUST SPEAK IN A CLEAR, EASY TO UNDERSTAND WAY. .The main goal is NOT TO IMPRESS PEOPLE WITH 14 SYLLABLE WORDS AND INTELLECTUAL ELITISM, BUT TO KEEP IT ALIVE, FRESH, AND REAL EASY TO UNDERSTAND, AMEN?

      They gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading...IN OTHER WORDS, WHOMEVER IS SHARING GOD'S WORD, must communicate the sense of the passage of Scripture, and not his own agenda or favorite personal topics. GOD WANTS PEOPLE TO LEAVE A READING/STUDY OF HIS WORD WITH A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF HIS WORD...not someone's personal interpretation of it.

      Verses 9-11 tells us the response to God's Word makes revival flow
      & the people respond with weeping.

      "And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep." For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, "Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved."

      All the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law...The Word of God was doing its intended work.
      JUST AS 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us two things the Word of God is profitable for: reproof and correction. Sometimes it hurts to be reproved and corrected, and these tears were evidence of some of that pain.

      Do NOT mourn nor weep... Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Levites did NOT want the people to mourn, even though it is a good thing to be sad under the conviction of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Yet if the sense of conviction is greater than the sense that God is doing a good and holy work, then tears are NOT good.

      Our knowledge of our sin should NEVER be bigger than our knowledge of Jesus as our savior. We are great sinners, but JESUS is a GREATER savior, AMEN?.

      Therefore, the joy of the Lord is your strength - even when you are being convicted of sin. When we are convicted of sin we know that God is doing a work in us, so we can be glad and take joy.

      Do NOT sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength...The people felt sad, because they were aware of their own sin. But they could walk in joy because God was doing a great work. Our emotions are not beyond our control; we can do God's will even when we don't feel like it.


      Verse 12 tells us the people choose to rejoice.

      "And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them."

      They understood the words that were declared to them:...They went away praising God, because understanding God's Word brings such a sweet sense of joy.

      Verse 13 tells us the leaders gather for more study of God's Word.

      "Now on the second day the heads of the fathers' houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law."

      The heads of the fathers' houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites...Leaders have a SPECIAL NEED to understand and walk in God's Word. Their ignorance or disobedience affects far more than themselves - it affects EVERYONE they have and influence on.

      Verses 14-18 tells us the people keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

      "And they found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written." Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim. So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner."

      And they found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded by Moses...This was beautiful, simple obedience. Their attitude was that God said it, so we will do it. Even though tradition did not tell them to keep the Feast of Tabernacles (it had not been done since the days of Joshua), but they relied on God's Word, NOT on tradition.

      That the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month...The Feast of Tabernacles was all about remembering how God had blessed and provided for Israel in the wilderness during the Exodus. They could see God's blessing and provision for them right then, and it made something old seem BRAND NEW to them, WHEN THEY LOOKED AT RESTORED WALLS, REHUNG GATES, & RESTORED HOMES THAT HAD LAID IN RUBBLE AND RUIN FOR OVER 100 YEARS.

      And there was very great gladness...Because of their great obedience to God's Word, there was very great gladness. We often are deceived into thinking the path of gladness is in doing our own thing, but gladness and freedom come only through obedience.

      Day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God...This revival began by the Spirit of God working through the Word of God; it continued that way also.

      NEHEMIAH 8 GIVES US VERY IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER AS CHRISTIANS...REVIVAL BEGINS AND ENDS WITH JESUS...IF IT IS TRUE REVIVAL.

      REVIVAL BEGINS WITH READING GOD'S WORD, WITH AN OPEN AND CONTRITE AND THIRSTY SPONGE OF A HEART, MIND, AND BODY THAT WANTTTTTTTTTTTTTS MOREEEEEEEEEE OF JESUS.
      WE REPENT OUR FAILINGS, SIN, SHORT-COMINGS AND WE THEN DO NOT MOURN OVER THEM ANY MORE....WE HAVE REPENTED, GIVEN THEM TO JESUS, HE HAS ERASED THEM IN THE ETERNAL...SO WE CAN MOVE ON...A NEW...REFRESHED...CLEAN IN JESUS, AMEN?

      JESUS WANTS US TO KNOW THAT REVIVAL HAS IMPORTANT STEPS... WE READ, WE REPENT, WE PRAISE, AND WALK IN OUR NEW UNDERSTANDING FIRST.

      REVIVAL BEGINS IN EACH OF US...AND ONCE IT IS BEGUN IN US...AND WE IN TURN SHARE, SHINE, AND SHOW THE LOST AND BLIND AND HURTING WORLD JUST HOW POWERFUL, DEPENDABLE, FAITHFUL, LOVING AND KIND OUR FATHER IS...THEN REVIVAL SPREADS....
      SO SHINE AND SHOW OUR JESUS...IN SMALL AND IN LARGE WAYS AND OUR LIGHT WILL DRAW PEOPLE NOT TO US, BUT TO OUR AMAZING JESUS AND HIS PRECIOUS, PRICELESS GIFT OF SALVATION.

    • July 3, 2016 1:42 AM EDT
    • AEL CONFESSES THEIR SIN

       

      Verse 1 tells us a HUMBLE NATION assembles in humble repentance.

      "Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads."

       

      The children of Israel were assembled...

      After the wall was completed, after the wall was working, after the people had heard and obeyed God's Word, after the Holy Spirit was doing a significant work in the lives of people - now there is a scene of dramatic, humble repentance.

       

      Assembled with fasting...

      Fasting showed their lowly, humble state. They considered themselves so poor before God that they had no food. They also wanted to say, "we are so troubled by our sin, food seems unimportant."

       

      In sackcloth...

      This was wearing rough fabric, like a burlap bag. Again, this was to show their complete poverty of spirit before God. They also wanted to say, "we are so troubled by our sin, the normal comforts of life are unimportant."

       

      With dust on their heads...

      This meant they took little handfuls of dirt and cast them on their heads. This was also to show their lowly state before God, and to say "we are so troubled by our sin, the normal comforts of life are unimportant."

       

      ALL OF THIS REFLECTS A HUMBLE ATTITUDE OF HEART...- humble not only towards God, but also humble towards man. They did this publicly, and others would see them in this public state.

       

      Surely there were those among them who said, "I won't humiliate myself and join in." Others must have said, "I'll do it, just so others can see that I'm spiritual too." But there were many, if not most, who came to God with truly humble, repentant hearts.

       

      Verse 2 tells us an assembly to separate themselves.

      "Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers."

       

      Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners...

      Those who were of the pure line of Israel came forth to confess the sin of their nation; they confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

       

      Confessed their sins...

      This was important. They had to realize and admit their missing of God's mark.

       

      How do we sin?

       

      The English word sin comes from the idea "to miss the mark."

      In an archery tournament, if one did not hit the target in the right place, they would say they "sinned." A sin might miss the target by an inch, or it might miss it by ten feet - but it was still a sin either way. We sin when we do what God has told us not to do (telling us either in His Word, in our conscience, or through legitimate authority), or when we do notdo what God has told to do (telling us in Word, conscience, or authority). Not all sin is the same, but all sin is sin.

       

      And the iniquities of their fathers...

      This was also important, because they had to admit that not only they were sinners, but they came from sinful ancestors. This was especially important in Israel, where there was a tradition of glorifying their forefathers.

       

      This DOES NOT MEAN there was some type of "generational curse" that had to be broken.

       

      God does not punish the children for their father's sin, and it is evil to say He does told to us in Ezekiel 18.

      We do recognize that those raised in an environment of sin may very well repeat those same sins, but not because they must - but because their environment made it an easy choice to make.

       

      They stood and confessed...

      It should not seem strange that after such great victories, both with building and spiritually, that there was such humble repentance. This shows that repentance isn't something we finish after coming to Jesus. It is something that grows as we grow closer to Jesus.

       

      CHARLES SPURGEON says it well..."Repentance grows as faith grows. Do not make any mistake about it; repentance is not a thing of days and weeks, a temporary penance to be got over as fast as possible! No it is the grace of a lifetime, like faith itself. Repentance is the inseparable companion of faith."

       

      ALAN REDPATH says it well, "How often the discovery of something new in the loveliness of the Lord Jesus has brought with it the discovery of some new corruption in our own hearts. . . . God will never plant the seed of His life upon the soil of a hard, unbroken spirit. He will only plant that seed where the conviction of His Spirit has brought brokenness, where the soil has been watered with the tears of repentance as well as the tears of joy."

       

      This great, humble gathering of God's people took place only two days after the end of the joyful celebration of the feast of tabernacles. They had drawn close to God, and now He is drawing them even closer!

       

      Verse 3 tells us an assembly to hear God's Word and to worship Him.

      "And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God."

       

      They stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law...

      The humble repentance and confession of sin would have been an incomplete work if it were not for hearing the Word and worship. God does not show us our sin just so we will humbly confess it, but so that we can walk on in what is right before Him.

       

      They confessed and worshipped the LORD their God...

       

      This brokenness of heart has led them to humbly come before God and hear His Word.

      A sure FIRST STEP OF REVIVAL is this brokenness of heart.

       

      Verses 4-5a tells us those leading the congregation in a prayer of repentance.

      "Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, andChenani stood on the stairs of the Levites and cried out with a loud voice to the LORD their God. And the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said:"

       

      Then Jeshua, Bani…

      This mentions those Levites and leaders gathered to lead the people in their humble confession. It shouldn't surprise us, or make us feel like failures, if we must be led into confession and repentance.

       

      Stood on the stairs of the Levites and cried out with a loud voice...

       

      Obviously, all eight of these men did not pray the following prayer at the same time. Perhaps it was written out and they took turns, perhaps it was spontaneously prayed in succession, or perhaps (and according to tradition), Ezra prayed this prayer.

       

      The following prayer is thought to be the LONGEST PRAYER in the Bible - and yet takes only six and one half minutes to say. Prayer does not need to be long to be glorious and effective, AMEN?!

       

      Verses 5b-6 tells us Praise to the God of all creation.

      "Stand up and bless the LORD your God Forever and ever! Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise! You alone arethe LORD; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You."

       

      You have made heaven...

      After the encouragement to praise, Ezra gave a REASON TO PRAISE - because this is the great God who made it all. Looking at the glory of God's creation gives us a reason to praise Him, to humble ourselves before Him, and to trust Him.

       

      The host of heaven worships You...

       

      God WANTS US TO praise Him, to humble ourselves before Him, and to trust Him - but He gives us good reason to. We sometimes want our own reasons, but God gives us plenty of His own reasons.

       

      Verses 7-8 tells us praise to the God who chose Abraham and made a covenant with him and his descendants.

      "You are the LORD God, who chose Abram, and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and gave him the name Abraham; You found his heart faithful before You, and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites; to give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, for You are righteous."

      You have performed Your words...

      This says to God, "Lord, You promised this land to Abraham and his descendants, and now here we are! Your promise is indeed true."

       

      Verses 9-15 tells us Praise to the God who delivered Israel from Egypt and provided for them in the wilderness.

       

      "You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heard their cry by the Red Sea. You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his servants, and against all the people of his land. For You knew that they acted proudly against them. So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day. And You divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and their persecutors You threw into the deep, as a stone into the mighty waters. Moreover You led them by day with a cloudy pillar, and by night with a pillar of fire, to give them light on the road which they should travel. You came down also on Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them just ordinances and true laws, Good statutes and commandments. You made known to them Your holy Sabbath, and commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses Your servant. You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger, and brought them water out of the rock for their thirst, and told them to go in to possess the land which You had sworn to give them."

       

      You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt...

       

      A SECOND PURE SIGN OF REVIVAL (following brokenness of heart) is reflection on the goodness of God. When our pride is cast down, and our hearts humble before God, we can begin to see Him for who He is - and when we see that, we see how good God is, AMEN?!

       

      Verses 16-17a tells us the sinful response of man to God's goodness.

      "But they and our fathers acted proudly, hardened their necks, and did not heed Your commandments. They refused to obey, and they were not mindful of Your wonders that You did among them. But they hardened their necks, and in their rebellion they appointed a leader to return to their bondage."

       

      But they and our fathers...

      This was a terrible response to the great and good works of God on behalf of Israel. God had been so good to Israel, but they and our fathers acted proudly. Our sin is bad enough; but to consider we sin against a God who has only treated us well is far, far, worse.

       

      Hardened their necks … refused to obey … were not mindful...

       

      This is a THIRD SURE SIGN OF REVIVAL - recognition of our own sinfulness. When we humbly seek God, and see His goodness, we can't help but next to notice our own sinfulness - the blackness of our sin stands out against the brightness of God's purity and goodness.

       

      Verses 17b-21 tells us God's gracious reply to rebellious Israel.

      "But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them. Even when they made a molded calf for themselves, and said, 'This is your god that brought you up out of Egypt,' and worked great provocations, yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, to lead them on the road; nor the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way they should go. You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst. Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness, they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell."

       

      But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them...

       

      God's gracious answer to the rebellion of Israel was glorious. Ready to pardon is especially wonderful, indicating that there is nothing keeping God from pardoning us except our refusal to come to Him through Jesus. He is ready to pardon, if we are ready to receive it.

       

      Even when they made a molded calf for themselves...

       

      This was God's gracious response to Israel - even after they made the golden calf and worshipped it, He still did not forsake them. He still provided the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, He still guided them by His spirit, He still fed them and gave them water. Together it all shows not how special Israel was, but how special God is.

       

      You sustained them in the wilderness...

       

      We are often impressed at how patient God is with the sinner; how He somehow holds back His terrible judgment against those people who deserve it so badly. Yet it seems that His patience toward us is even greater, those who have received so much more from Him, but still act like Israel did.

       

      ALAN REDPATH says it well, "God's mercy with a sinner is only equaled and perhaps outmatched by His patience with the saints, with you and me."

       

      Verses 22-31 tells us the cycle of Israel's relationship with God.

      "Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations, and divided them into districts. So they took possession of the land of Sihon, the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan. You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to go in and possess. So the people went in and possessed the land; You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hands, with their kings and the people of the land, that they might do with them as they wished. And they took strong cities and a rich land, and possessed houses full of all goods, cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and grew fat, and delighted themselves in Your great goodness. Nevertheless they were disobedient and rebelled against You, cast Your law behind their backs and killed Your prophets, who testified against them to turn them to Yourself; and they worked great provocations. Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies, who oppressed them; and in the time of their trouble, when they cried to You, You heard from heaven; and according to Your abundant mercies You gave them deliverers who saved them from the hand of their enemies. But after they had rest, they again did evil before You. Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them; yet when they returned and cried out to You, You heard from heaven; and many times You delivered them according to Your mercies, and testified against them, that You might bring them back to Your law. Yet they acted proudly, and did not heed Your commandments, but sinned against Your judgments, "Which if a man does, he shall live by them." And they shrugged their shoulders, stiffened their necks, and would not hear. Yet for many years You had patience with them, and testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen; therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; for You are God, gracious and merciful."

       

      So they ate and were filled and grew fat, and delighted themselves in Your great goodness...

       

      The CYCLE BEGAN with God showing His goodness to His people (You gave them kingdoms and nations) and with God's people being blessed.

       

      Nevertheless they were disobedient and rebelled against You...

       

      Then, in the time of comfort and abundance, Gods' people turn from Him.

       

      Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies...

       

      Then, God brings correction - a "wake-up call" to His people.

       

      And in the time of their trouble … they cried out to You; and God delivers them: You heard from heaven … You gave them deliverers...

       

      As a result, God's people then turn back to Him.

       

      But after they had rest, they again did evil before You...

       

      Then, blessed and satisfied, God's people again turn from Him, and the cycle continues.

       

      Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; for You are God, gracious and merciful...

       

      As the cycle continues, the motions of each cycle get deeper and deeper - but God doesn't change.

      We sometimes feel as if God has gotten tired of us; that we can't ask him to forgive us for something He has forgiven us for so many times before. But God NEVER gets tired of us, and NEVER turns away the repentant heart.

       

      Verses 32-37 tells us a plea to God for intervention.

       

      "Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and awesome God, who keeps covenant and mercy: Do not let all the trouble seem small before You that has come upon us, our kings and our princes, our priests and our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until this day. However You are just in all that has befallen us; for You have dealt faithfully, but we have done wickedly. Neither our kings nor our princes, our priests nor our fathers, have kept Your law, nor heeded Your commandments and Your testimonies, with which You testified against them. For they have not served You in their kingdom, or in the many good thingsthat You gave them, or in the large and rich land which You set before them; nor did they turn from their wicked works. Here we are, servants today! And the land that You gave to our fathers, to eat its fruit and its bounty, here weare, servants in it! And it yields much increase to the kings You have set over us, because of our sins; also they have dominion over our bodies and our cattle at their pleasure; and we are in great distress."

       

      The great, the mighty, and awesome God, Who keeps covenant and mercy...

       

      Because of who God is, and because of who they are (rebellious and wicked), they needed God to do the work of saving them from their enemies.

       

      Israel, at this time, was NOT an independent nation - they were a province of the Empire of Persia, and were under heavy Persian taxes and obligations. They ask God to deliver them once again from this oppression!

       

      You are just in all that has befallen us...

       

      This gives a good description of what real confession is all about. It recognizes that God is right and we are wrong (but we have done wickedly). Confession is agreeing with God about both things.

       

      REDPATH says it well..."It is a tremendous moment in a Christians' life when he can honestly look up into the face of God and say, 'Yes, Lord, You are right and I am wrong,' when he stops arguing with God, and drops his controversy. He says, 'Lord, yes. I've got what I deserved in this situation. You are right; I am wrong.' That is the thing for which God has been working in your life and mine from the very moment of our conversion."

       

      Verse 38 tells us a Conclusion: a point of decision.

      "And because of all this, we make a sure covenant, and write it; our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it."

       

      We make a sure covenant...

       

      Israel needed to come to this place, where knowing who God is, and knowing who they are, they come and make acovenant with God - even writing it down - to commit themselves to His ways.

       

      We make a sure covenant, and write it...

      The FOURTH SURE SIGN OF REVIVAL - after brokenness of heart, after reflection on God's goodness, after recognition of our sinfulness, is a renewal of our obedience. We come to a place of decision, so this work of God is not just a wonderful experience, but something that shapes our future, AMEN?!

       

      NEHEMIAH 9 TEACHES US THAT...God's work in us often must come to a place of DECISION/CHOICE - where He wants us to make a stand FOR HIM, and against some other things.

       

      WE CAN NEVER FAIL...NEVER LOSE...IF WE STAND FOR AND CHOOSE OUR JESUS CHRIST!

    • July 3, 2016 1:40 AM EDT
    • NEHEMIAH 10

      NEHEMIAH 10 OPENS WITH....Israel's Covenant with God

      Verses 1-8 tells us Nehemiah and the names of THE PRIESTS that signed the covenant.

      "Now those who placed their seal on the document were: Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah, and Zedekiah, Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, Maaziah, Bilgai, and Shemaiah. These were the priests."

      REMEMBER AT THE END OF NEHEMIAH 9, the people had come to a PLACE OF DECISION, RIGHT? SO NOW, collectively, THE NATION was going TO DO something about i! AND THAT WAS BY ENTERING INTO A COVENANT WITH THEIR GOD.

      AND REMEMBER TOO...Nehemiah 8:38 gives the sense of this: "And because of all this, we make a sure covenant and write it; and our leaders and our Levites and our priests shall seal it."

      In Nehemiah 8:38, MAKE a covenant is literally "cut a covenant".

      AND DID YOU KNOW, IN THE ANCIENT WORLD OF THAT TIME, COVENANTS WERE NOT MADE...THEY WERE CUT.
      WHY?
      BECAUSE ALMOST ALWAYS AN ANIMAL WAS SACRIFICED AS A PART OF THE COVENANT.
      AND THEN AND NOW...A covenant ALWAYS cost something, and our point of decision WILL COST US something TOO.

      WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR US NOW AS CHRISTIANS?

      THE COST IS ..... the self-life, comfort, ease, some of the passing pleasures of this world that can and will corrupt or detour or can derail our walk...our witness for Jesus, AMEN?

      Those who placed THEIR SEAL on the document...IS IT NOT WONDERFUL FOR A NATION AS A WHOLE TO FEEL THAT SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE ABOUT THE SIN PROBLEM AMONG THEM!

      But it was MEANINGLESS....JUST USELESS TALK TALK TALK....UNLESS the people came forth to say "we will do something about this."
      SO HERE ARE THE LEADERS (84 in all) WILLING to put their name on the line for the covenant before God.

      These people in Nehemiah's day KNEW WHAT COVENANTS WERE ALLLLLLLL ABOUT, and how IMPORTANT they were to God.
      They REMEMBERED God made a covenant WITH Abraham, promising that both a nation and the Messiah would descend from him.
      They REMEMBERED God made a covenant WITH Moses and the nation of Israel when He gave them the law at Mount Sinai.

      WE KNOW God made a covenant WITH King David, promising the Messiah would come from his family.

      But THE GREATEST COVENANT, THE NEW COVENANT INSTITUTED BY THE MESSIAH HIMSELF, JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF, WAS YET TO COME IN THE DAYS OF NEHEMIAH, AMEN?

      VERSES 9-13 tells us the names of the Levites who signed the covenant.

      "The Levites: Jeshua the son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, and Kadmiel. Their brethren: Shebaniah, Hodijah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, Micha, Rehob, Hashabiah, Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, Hodijah, Bani, and Beninu."

      VERSES 14-27 tells us the names of the civic leaders who signed the covenant.

      "The leaders of the people: Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, Hodijah, Hashum, Bezai, Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, Ahijah, Hanan, Anan, Malluch, Harim, and Baanah."

      CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT JESUS COULD DO FOR THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD...IF ITS KINGS, ITS RELIGIOUS LEADERS, NATIONAL AND STATE LEADERS, HIT THEIR KNEES, REPENTED, FASTED AND PRAYED AND PRAISED, AND THEN MADE A COVENANT WITH JESUS?

      VERSES 28-29 tells us of the MAKING of the covenant with God.

      "Now the rest of the people; the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding; these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God's Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes:"

      Now THE REST OF THE PEOPLE...The 84 mentioned previously SEALED the covenant, but the rest of the people - that is, everyone who had knowledge and understanding - ALSO MADE the covenant with God.

      Entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God's law...

      YOU SAY WAITAMINNIT HERE...THEY ENTERED INTO A CURSE AND AN OATH?
      HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? AND WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
      IN THOSE DAYS, In making A COVENANT, IT MEANT THAT THEY AGREED TO ACCEPT A CURSE FROM GOD IF THEY DID NOT OBEY HIS LAW AND BROKE COVENANT. They ACCEPTED the curse as a form of His correction, to bring them back to obedience.

      NOW BEFORE YOU SAY....WELL I WOULD NOT ENTER INTO SUCH A COVENANT WITH GOD AND AGREE TO BE CURSED IF I DID NOT KEEP IT.

      BUT THINK ABOUT IT....MANY OF US HAVE DONE A SIMILAR THING.
      HOW?
      We PROBABLY HAVE NOTTTTTTTT PRAYED...JESUS CURSE ME IF I DISOBEY YOU.
      BUT MANY OF US HAVEEEEEEEEE PRAYED...
      JESUS, whatever it takes I want to follow You. Whatever it takes I want to be Your man.
      That is ESSENTIALLY PRAYING THE SAME THING AS WHAT NEHEMIAH AND THE NATION OF ISRAEL PRAYED AND THAT IS A GOOOOOOD PRAYER FOR US TO PRAY, AMEN?
      THEN IF SOMEONE BROKE THEIR PROMISE TO GOD, IT REQUIRED A BLOOD SACRIFICE IN REPENTANCE AND ATONEMENT TO COVERRRRRRR THEIR SIN.

      BUT WE KNOW JESUS ISSSSS OUR SACRIFICIAL LAMB, HIS BLOOD ISSSSSSSSS OUR ATONEMENT BLOOD THAT PERFECTLY CLEANSES AND ERASES AND WASHES AWAY OUR SIN, AND JESUS BECAME OUR CURSE AND PAID ALL OUR SIN DEBT, AMEN?

      AND THERE ARE THOSE WHO TEACH THAT GOD HAD NO REAL USE FOR WOMEN, AND DID NOT CONSIDER THEM WORTHY/CAPABLE OF PROMISES/COVENANTS TO ALMIGHTY GOD SINCE EVE...BUT RIGHT HERE IS ANOTHER PROOF THAT OUR TRIUNE GOD DID LOVE, CARE FOR, INCLUDE, AND CONSIDER WOMEN WORTHY, AMEN?

      Their wives, their sons, and their daughters, EVERYONE, NOT JUST THE ADULT MEN, BUT THE WIVES, SONS, AND DAUGHTERS, WHO HAD KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING WERE INCLUDED.
      AND REMEMBER TOO..THIS COVENANT WAS MADE PUBLICLY...EVERYONE STEPPED FORWARD IN PUBLIC TO SIGN THE COVENANT...Though its MOST significant meaning was between the individual and God, it was ALSO important that other people BE WITNESS to the covenant.
      WHY?
      A public covenant meant accountability.
      THIS REMINDS US TO BE CAREFUL OF OUR WORDS AND OUR PROMISES MADE BEFORE PEOPLE AND THE PUBLIC WHO WITNESS IT, AMEN?
      AND BOY OH BOY DO WE SEE THE TRUTH OF ACCOUNTABILITY IN OUR DAILY LIVES, IN GOVERNMENT, IN THE MEDIA.. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE POLITICIANS AND LEADERS IN ALL WALKS OF LIFE HAD THEIR UNKEPT AND COMPROMISED PROMISES REPLAYED AND HAVE THOSE UNKEPT PUBLIC OATHS & PROMISES COME BACK TO HAUNT THEM, IF NOT DESTROY THEM AND THEIR CREDIBILITY, AMEN?
      SO AS PEOPLE, AND ESPECIAAAAAAAAAALLY AS JESUS CHRIST FAMILY, AS JESUS LOVING CHRISTIANS, WE SHOULD REMEMBER THAT OUR PROMISES AND OUR GIVEN WORD IS NEVERRRRRRR TO BE MADE OR GIVEN LIGHTLY AND THAT WE SHOULD STRIVE TO KEEP OUR PROMISES TO JESUS, AND THEN TO PEOPLE AS WELL, AMEN?

      VERSE 30 TELLS US OF THEIR FIRST AREA OF DECISION...we will be faithful to God when it comes to our romantic relationships.
      "We would not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons;"

      We would not give our daughters as wives to the people of the land...
      WHAT IS THIS AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
      This promise was addressed TO parents.
      WHY?
      BECAUSE IN THAT DAY, parents made ALL the marriage decisions, NOT THEIR CHILDREN SEEKING TO GET MARRIED.

      WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

      BECAUSE IN THAT DAY, CHILDREN DID NOT & WERE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE DATING RELATIONSHIPS, THEY DID NOT SEEK OUT OR SOCIALLY MINGLE WITH MIXED GROUPS. ANY AND ALL INTERACTION WAS UNDER THE CHAPERONE OF PARENTS. THE CHILDREN WERE NOT ALLOWED TO CONSIDER OR MAKE THEIR OWN CHOSEN PARTNERS. FOR SONS AND DAUGHTERS AS WELL, THE PARENTS WERE MADE ALL MARRIAGE CONTRACTS.

      If this covenant were to be repeated today, it WOULD NOT BE FOCUSED AND THE PROMISES HELD AND/OR FOCUSED TOWARDS THE PARENTS, BUT TOWARDS THE INDIVIDUALS WHO WANTED TO GET MARRIED.

      We would NOT give our daughters as wives to the peoples OF THE LAND...This preserved the important principle that a follower of God should ONLY MARRY another similarly committed FOLLOWER OF GOD. It is obvious by experience and observation that it is important to carefully and prayerfully choose your spouse, AMEN?

      Many of us have remarkable stories of how we came together with our mate - some stories are romantic, others are the impossible made possible, and others are kind of strange. Once we are together, God wants to make that marriage SOMETHING SPECIAL before Him, and desires to draw the couple closer together as they DRAW CLOSER TO JESUS, as the sides of a triangle come closer as they come higher up AND DEEPER IN OUR LOVE WALK WITH JESUS.

      But if one is not now married, it is important for them to STILL MAKE the same kind of covenant WITHE JESUS.
      If one has given their life to serving Jesus Christ, there will be MUCH MORE DIFFICULTY, UNEVENLY YOKED AS THE BIBLE SAYS, if they marry someone who has given their life to something else without JESUS AS THEIR CENTER..THEIR ANCHOR...THEIR CORNERSTONE...THEIR FOUNDATION, AMEN?
      If one is in that situation now, JESUS CAN DO GREAT THINGS, but one should never knowingly choose to ENTER INTO A MARRIAGE OR A DATING RELATIONSHIP....AND BE PUT IN THAT POSITION FROM THE BEGINNING.

      The WHOLE IDEA OF CHRISTIANITY AND JESUS CHRIST LOVING CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE ISSSSSSSS closely connected to the idea of COVENANT.

      AND REMEMBER Malachi 2:14 says, "Yet she is your companion, and your wife by covenant."

      COVENANT IS A TRIUNE COVENANT...YOU, YOUR SPOUSE, AND JESUS. Marriage is ALSO a covenant, between them and all family and witness, but most importantly, between them and JESUS CHRIST ABOVE AND BEYOND ALL OTHER THINGS, AMEN?

      When we understand marriage as a covenant, we have something to bond us together that is STRONGER than society's expectations, more CONSTANT than romantic love, and more CERTAIN than happy times - we have a covenant WITH OUR ALL KNOWING, ALL SEEING, ALL CONTROLING ALL THINGS JESUS CHRIST...WHO PROMISES TO BE WITH US, FOR US, NEVER LEAVE US AND NEVER FORSAKE US...SO WE KNOW THAT IF WE STAY CLOSE IN HIM, IF WE LIFT ALL THINGS, ALL DECISIONS, ALL PATHS, INTO HIM IN PRAYER AND TRUST HIM...JESUS WILL FAITHFULLY SUSTAIN US AND BRING US THROUGH EVEN THE WORST STORMS THIS WORLD, MANKIND AND SATAN AND ALL HIS DEMONS CAN HURL AT US, AMEN?

      VERSE 31 tells us THE SECOND AREA OF DECISION.. we will be faithful to JESUS CHRIST when it comes to doing business.

      "If the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and we would forego the seventh year's produce and the exacting of every debt."

      If the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day...WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
      IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, UNDER OLD TESTAMENT LAW, God said that no one could buy or sell anything on the Sabbath day. These citizens of Jerusalem had been breaking this law, and they now covenant with God to obey it. NOW THEY MISUNDERSTAND THIS AND MIS-TAUGHT THIS...HOW? IN THOSE DAYS, AND EVEN TODAY, THOSE WHO FOLLOW THE LETTER OF LEVITICAL LAW...WOULD PASS BY SOMEONE BROKE DOWN ON THE ROAD, OR IF A PERSON'S HOME WAS ON FIRE, OR IF SOMEONE NEEDED MILK OR WHATEVER...THEY THEN AND SOME STILL DO NOW, REFUSE TO LIFT A FINGER FOR FEAR OF BREAKING THE LAW. SOME ARE SOOO RIGID, THAT THEY CONSIDER USING THE TELEPHONE OR TEXTING AS WORKING AND THEY WILL NOT DO IT...

      THAT IS NOT WHAT ALMIGHTY MEANT, AND JESUS CLARIFIED IT DURING HIS WALK ON THIS EARTH...REMEMBER SAYING IF AN OXEN AND CART IS IN THE DITCH AND YOU DO NOTHING, AND HOW ABOUT THE GOOD SAMARITAN...THEY WOULD NOT TOUCH A PAGAN OR HEATHEN OR AID THEM ON THE BEST OF DAYS, MUCH LESS GIVE ANYYY AID TO ANYONEE DURING THE SABBATH. AND HEAVEN HELP A PREGNANT WOMAN IF SHE WENT INTO LABOR ON THE SABBATH...FOR THE RIGID RELIGIOUS....THAT WOMAN WAS ON HER OWN. NO DOCTOR OR MID WIFE WOULD BE CALLED OR SUMMONED OR ASKED TO HELP...WHY? BECAUSE THAT WAS CONSIDERED WORKING.

      ALMIGHTY GOD CLEARLY INTENDED THIS TO MEAN, WORKING AND EARNING AND MAKING MONEY FOR PLEASURE, GREED, GAIN, OR DOING FOR MONEY OR ADVANCE...NOT IF SOMEONE NEEDEDDDD THEIR HELP....BUT THE RELIGIOUS OF THAT DAY TWISTED ALMIGHTY GOD'S WORD TO MEAN THE RIDICULOUS AS WELL.

      We would not buy it from them on the Sabbath...ALMIGHTY GOD ONCE AGAIN CLEARLY SPEAKS TO TRUE MOTIVE HERE, THE TRUE REASON: The motive for breaking this law was clear. They could make more money selling on seven days of the week instead of six days. This was a covenant to only make money IN SIX DAYS AND TO SACRIFICE THE SELFISH EARNING OF IT ON HIS DAY & TO SHOW THEIR OBEDIENCE AND TRUST IN HIM AND GLORIFY HIM ON THE SABBATH, AMEN?.

      AND WE KNOW THIS IS STILL A GREAT CHALLENGE FOR JESUS FAMILY AND THE CHURCH TODAY, AMEN?
      ESPECIALLY WHEN CAREERS AND/OR OUR JOBS OFFER OR INSIST UPON WORKING TO EARN MONEY FOR CORPORATE GAIN WHEN BOSSES, EMPLOYERS, AND BUSINESSES SHOULD RELY ON JESUS AND HONOR HIM ONE DAY OF THE WEEK AND TRUST THAT JESUS WILL MAKE UP TO THEM WHAT THEY WOULD LOSE ON THAT ONE DAY, FOR THEIR HONORING OF HIM.

      JUST AS CHICK FIL A AND OTHER CHRISTIAN BUSINESSES, THAT ARE NOT EMERGENCY BASED OR ESSENTIAL BASED ARE CLOSED ON THE SABBATH DAY, AMEN?

      Many of us - JUST as was true in Nehemiah's day - slip into these GREED OR EARNINGS PLUMPING practices subtly. We don't wake up in the morning saying we're going to cut corners, cheat others, and defraud the system. We do it because we think we need to - bills need to be paid, the kids need things, and so on. Then we do it because it works. But we don't really need to; if we trust JESUS, REALLY BELIEVE HIM AND TRUST WHAT HE SAYS AND GIVE ONE DAY TO LOVE, HONOR, GLORIFY HIM AND TO REST IN HIM...JESUS WILLLLL TAKE CARE OF OUR EVERY NEED. WE SHOULD TRUST JESUS, THE WISEST AND SMARTEST BUSINESSMAN, BANK, CPA, AND PROVIDER AND PROTECTOR THERE WAS IS OR EVER SHALL BE, AMEN?

      VERSES 32-39 tells us...THE THIRD AREA OF DECISION...we will be faithful to God when it comes to supporting God's work.

      "Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to exact from ourselves yearly one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: for the showbread, for the regular grain offering, for the regular burnt offering of the Sabbaths, the New Moons, and the set feasts; for the holy things, for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God. We cast lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for bringing the wood offering into the house of our God, according to our fathers' houses, at the appointed times year by year, to burn on the altar of the LORD our God as it is written in the Law. And we made ordinances to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the LORD; to bring the firstborn of our sons and our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks, to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God; to bring the firstfruits of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oil, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God; and to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities. And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes; and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the rooms of the storehouse. For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the grain, of the new wine and the oil, to the storerooms where the articles of the sanctuary are, where the priests who minister and the gatekeepers and the singers are; and we will not neglect the house of our God."

      To exact from ourselves yearly ONE-THIRD of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: They laid down a YEARLY TAX to support the workings of the temple. They required people to bring wood to the temple on a rotating basis. They committed themselves to obey the command to bring the firstborn and the firstfruits, and the tithe (TEN PERCENT of the produce of their land) unto the house of God.

      They simply did TWO VERY IMPORTANT THINGS:
      FIRST...they agreed to give as God had commanded (the firstborn, firstfruits, and the tithe).
      SECOND....they agreed to give as the special need required (the one-third of a shekel tax and the wood).

      Firstborn and firstfruits were risky ways to give?

      WHY?
      Because your land might not yield much more produce, and your cow or ewe might not give birth again - yet the FIRST still belonged to God, and was given to the priests.
      GOD PROMISED to bless this giving of the firstfruits and firstborn in faith.
      WHERE?

      PROVERBS 3:9-10 SAYS..."Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine."

      We will NOT neglect the house of our God: If before they covenanted to make money only in ways that would glorify God, here they covenant to ALSO SPEND their money in ways that glorify God - and beginning it all with GIVING UNTO the Lord.

      We will not neglect the house of our God...Simply said, the Bible says we NEED TO BE GIVERS. Not so much for the sake of those we give to, but because giving SETS AND KEEPS OUR HEARTS RIGHT about material things. God Himself is the greatest giver, AMEN?

      HE GAVEEEEEE HIS MOST PRECIOUS PERFECT AND PRICELESS SON TO A WORLD THAT DID NOT DESERVE HIS JESUS, AMEN?

      ANDDDDD....If WE CHOOSE TO HOLD ONTO MONEY SO TIGHTLY that you will not be a giver, than you have revealed where your heart REALLY IS is when it comes to money.

      The New Testament speaks with GREAT CLARITY on the principle of giving; that giving should be regular, planned, proportional, and private (1 Corinthians 16:1-4); that it must be generous, freely given, and cheerful (2 Corinthians 9).

      SO NEHEMIAH 10 TEACHES US MANY THINGS ABOUT MARRIAGE, FAMILY, OUR WALK, WHAT JESUS EXPECTS AND MOST IMPORTANTLY ABOUT GIVING.

      WARNING US THAT IF WE ARE RELUCTANT to be a giver as the Bible says you should, WE NEED TO REFOCUS OURSELVES ON THE THINGS OF JESUS AND LESS ON THE TEMPORARY THINGS OF MAN AND THIS WORLD.

      AND IF WE DOUBT THE TRUTH OF JESUS PROMISES WHEN WE ARE CHEERFUL GIVERS...WE CAN ALSO TALK TO THOSE WHO AREEEEEEEEEE FAITHFUL, CONSISTENT, AND JOYFUL GIVERS.
      WE CAN ASK THEM...if it has been a blessing or a curse in their life to give as God says to.
      God promises He will never owe us anything, and we cannot out-give God - though the return is often far better than dollars and cents, AMEN?

    • July 3, 2016 1:38 AM EDT
    • NEHEMIAH 11

      NEHEMIAH 11 OPENS WITH...RECRUITING CITIZENS OF JERUSALEM

      Verse 1 tells us those who will live IN Jerusalem.

      "Now the leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city, and nine-tenths were to dwell in other cities."

      To bring 1 out of 10 to dwell in Jerusalem...It wasn't enough to see the city walls rebuilt and the spiritual renewal of the people of Jerusalem; now they concerned themselves with GETTING more people INTO the city.

      AND WE KNOW THEN, AS WELL AS NOW, For a city to prosper and be great, it MUST be populated, AMEN?
      And for more than 70 years, Jerusalem had been NOTHING but a ghost town. Now, over the last eighty or so years, it has been repopulated, with a new temple built (under Ezra) and the walls rebuilt (under Nehemiah). But the city still needed MORE people.

      Nehemiah also knew THE BIGGER the population of Jerusalem, THE GREATER the resources for defense and strength in battle. He didn't rebuild the walls just to see some conquering army come and break them down again, AMEN?!

      Now THE LEADERS of the people dwelt at Jerusalem...It was good that the leaders of the people SET THE GOOD EXAMPLE by living IN Jerusalem. Leaders MUST SET the pattern by their lives. They had NO RIGHT to expect the people to live in Jerusalem if they themselves WERE NOT living there.

      1 OUT OF 10...The rest of the people submitted themselves to a LOTTERY SYSTEM, where 1 OUT OF 10 would be selected TO MOVE from the surrounding regions INTO the city of Jerusalem. So, in the end, AT LEAST 10% of Judah's population would live in Jerusalem.

      Verse 2 tells us Blessing the citizens of Jerusalem.

      "And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem."

      And the people blessed ALL the men...Apart from the leaders (who had a special obligation) and those selected in the lottery (who were also obligated), there were all the men who WILLINGLY OFFERED themselves to dwell at Jerusalem. These men had a SPECIAL blessing.

      They had a UNIQUE pioneer spirit. They had the ability TO ENDURE some measure of hardship or discomfort to accomplish a GREATER WORK for God's kingdom. THEY REMEMBERED THE COVENANT PROMISE OF GOD WITH ABRAHAM AND CAME BACK TO THE PROMISED LAND AND DUG IN AND DETERMINED TO STAY AND REBUILD, REPLENISH IT, AMEN?

      It was in these days in the REBUILDING of Jerusalem that God asked an important question through the prophet Zechariah:

      Zechariah 4:10 which says..."For who has despised the day of small things? The answer is, "Many of us have!" But these who offered themselves to willingly live at Jerusalem, so as to take what is small and build it up before the Lord, have decided to not despise the day of small things."

      To dwell AT Jerusalem...If such a blessing is reserved for those who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem, there was something special about the challenge of living in Jerusalem.

      To live IN Jerusalem, you had to RE-THINK your view of MATERIAL things. You had to GIVE UP land in your previous region and TAKE UP some kind of new business in Jerusalem.

      REMEMBER THEY LEFT SETTLED HOMES/LIVES AND TRAVELED 800 MILES TO COME BACK TO A BASICALLY DESTROYED, RUINED, EMPTY JERUSALEM GHOST TOWN.

      THEY WANTEDDDDDD GOD'S PROMISE AND BLESSING FAR MORE THAN THEY WANTED A SETTLED MORE COMFORTABLE LIFE IN A FOREIGN LAND, AMEN?

      To live IN Jerusalem, you had to RE-ARRANGE your SOCIAL priorities, certainly leaving some friends and family behind in your old village.

      To live IN Jerusalem, you had to have A MIND TO ENDURE the PROBLEMS in the city. It had been a GHOST TOWN for 70 years, and was now basically a slightly rebuilt, somewhat repopulated ghost town. The city DID NOT LOOK all that glorious and it NEEDED work.

      To live IN Jerusalem, you had to live KNOWING YOU WERE A TARGET for the enemy. There were strong walls to protect you, but since Jerusalem was now a notable city with rebuilt walls, the fear was more from whole armies than bands of robbers. The old village was nice, but not in much danger from great armies.

      AND REMEMBER THIS TOO....Revelation 21:2 tells us...There IS A CITY COMING DOWN from heaven to earth, when God is done with this earth as we know it, and it calls that city New Jerusalem.

      AND SADLY...SOME People today DO NOT WANT to be citizens of the New Jerusalem for the SAME REASONS many DID NOT WANT to be citizens of Nehemiah's Jerusalem.

      NOW TO PREFACE THESE NEXT VERSES...MANY HAVE SAID...I DO NOT LIKE TO TRY AND READ ALL THE NAMES, LINEAGE, TITLES, TRIBES, AND TALENTS OF ALL THESE PEOPLE. AND TO BE HONEST, I DO NOT UNDERSTAND GOD'S POINT IS INSURING THE PROPHETS LIKE MOSES, EZRA, NEHEMIAH TOOK SUCH TIME AND CARE TO LIST THEM BY TRIBE, FAMILY, TALENT, & JOB AND BLOODLINE.

      BUT AS WE HAVE SEEN IN PREVIOUS CHAPTERS...WOLVES TRIED TO SNEAK IN, DID THEY NOT? TRIED TO CLAIM BLOOD LINEAGE TO THE 12 TRIBES OF THE COVENANT. TRIED TO CLAIM THEY WERE PRIESTS DESCENDED FROM THE LINE OF AARON...MADE ALL SORTS OF CLAIMS...BUT GOD KNEW WHAT THEY WERE ATTEMPTING TO DO THEN, AND HE SAW WHAT WOLVES WOULD SEEK TO DO IN THE FUTURE, AMEN?

      I MEAN THINK ABOUT IT, A ROMAN POPE/SCRIBE/LEADER/HISTORIAN MADE A DECREE THAT SAID THIS PEOPLE HAD THE REAL RIGHT TO THE PROMISED LAND...OR THAT PEOPLE WERE THEIR FIRST...ALL OF THEM TOTALLY DISMISSING WHAT ALMIGHTY GOD SAID AND PROMISED, AMEN?

      AND TODAY, WE HAVE ARABS SAYING PARTS OF ISRAEL HAVE ALWAYS BELONGED TO THEM, WE HAVE PALESTINIANS SAYING WE HAVE TITULAR RIGHTS TO PARTS OF ISRAEL BECAUSE SOME MAN WITH A TITLE DECIDED TO GIVE WHAT HE/THEY HAD NO RIGHT TO GIVE TO ANOTHER PEOPLES, AMEN?

      BUT THEN, AS WELL AS THOSE TODAY, WHO CAN AND DO TRACE THEIR DESCENDANTS, THEIR BLOODLINES, BACK TO A PERSON OR PEOPLES...AND CHECK OUT MOSES, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH'S DETAILED LISTINGS OF ITS PEOPLES AND THOSE WHO LIVES AMONG THEM....FIND OUT QUICKLY THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIVED NEAR OR AMONG THEM, BUT THEY WERE NOT FROM THE 12 TRIBES, NOT FROM THE PRIESTS LINE OF AARON, AND THAT THEY DID NOT AND DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO ANYTHING OF GOD'S UNBREAKABLE, UNSHAKEABLE COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM, AMEN?

      AND THE EXACT LAYOUT OF THE PROMISED LAND WAS TOLD TO ABRAHAM, PASSED DOWN TO MOSES...ETC. AND WHEN YOU SUPERIMPOSE GOD'S MAP OVER MODERN DAY MAPS, ALL OF THESE PEOPLES THAT CLAIM RIGHTS TO THEIR LAND, ARE IN FACT LIVING IN AND ON LAND GOD GAVE AND PROMISED TO ABRAHAM THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO, AMEN?

      SO WHEN YOU ARE READING THROUGH THE BIBLE AND YOU COME ACROSS THESE DETAILED LISTS...START SMILING...IT SHOWS US THAT OUR ALMIGHTY GOD IS ALL SEEING AND ALL KNOWING, PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE...AND HE ALREADY ANSWERED THE CHALLENGES OF THAT DAY AS WELL OUR MODERN DAY WORLD A LONGGGGGGG TIME BEFOREEEEE THE CHALLENGES WERE EVER BROUGHT UP!

      Verses 3-24 tells us of the LEADERS who lived in Jerusalem.

      "These are THE HEADS of the province who dwelt IN JERUSALEM. (But in the cities of Judah everyone dwelt in his own possession in their cities; Israelites, priests, Levites, Nethinim, and descendants of Solomon's servants.) Also in Jerusalem dwelt some of the children of Judah and of the children of Benjamin. The children of Judah: Athaiah the son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalalel, of the children of Perez; and Maaseiah the son of Baruch, the son of Col-Hozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, the son of Shiloni. All the sons of Perez who dwelt at Jerusalem were four hundred and sixty-eight valiant men. And these are the sons of Benjamin: Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jeshaiah; and after him Gabbai and Sallai, nine hundred and twenty-eight. Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer, and Judah the son of Senuah was second over the city. Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, and Jachin; Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, was the leader of the house of God. Their brethren who did the work of the house were eight hundred and twenty-two; and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malchijah, and his brethren, heads of the fathers' houses, were two hundred and forty-two; and Amashai the son of Azarel, the son of Ahzai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer, and their brethren, mighty men of valor, were one hundred and twenty-eight. Their overseer was Zabdiel the son of one of the great men. Also of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni; Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the heads of the Levites, had the oversight of the business outside of the house of God; Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, the leader who began the thanksgiving with prayer; Bakbukiah, the second among his brethren; and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun. All the Levites in the holy city were two hundred and eighty-four. Moreover the gatekeepers, Akkub, Talmon, and their brethren who kept the gates, were one hundred and seventy-two. And the rest of Israel, of the priests and Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, everyone in his inheritance. But the Nethinim dwelt in Ophel. And Ziha and Gishpa were over the Nethinim. Also the overseer of the Levites at Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micha, of the sons of Asaph, the singers in charge of the service of the house of God. For it was the king's command concerning them that a certain portion should be for the singers, a quota day by day. Pethahiah the son of Meshezabel, of the children of Zerah the son of Judah, was the king's deputy in all matters concerning the people.

      These are the heads of the province...This extensive list includes TRIBAL leaders (of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin), military men, priests, Levites, gatekeepers, and civil and royal servants.

      Who dwelt IN Jerusalem...All these notable men and their families took the lead by CHOOSING TO SETTLE in Jerusalem, setting a GOOD EXAMPLE for all God's people.

      Verses 25-36 tell us the Jewish villages and towns throughout Judea.

      "And as for the villages with their fields, some of the children of Judah dwelt in Kirjath Arba and its villages, Dibon and its villages, Jekabzeel and its villages; in Jeshua, Moladah, Beth Pelet, Hazar Shual, and Beersheba and its villages; in Ziklag and Meconah and its villages; in En Rimmon, Zorah, Jarmuth, Zanoah, Adullam, and their villages; in Lachish and its fields; in Azekah and its villages. They dwelt from Beersheba to the Valley of Hinnom. Also the children of Benjamin from Geba dwelt in Michmash, Aija, and Bethel, and their villages; in Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah; in Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim; in Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat; in Lod, Ono, and the Valley of Craftsmen. Some of the Judean divisions of Levites were in Benjamin."



      NEHEMIAH 12 OPENS WITH THE DEDICATION OF THE WALL...

      Verses 1-11 tells us of the Priests and Levites in the days of Zerubbabel, the high priest.

      "Now these are the priests and the Levites who came up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, Shechaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah, Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, and Jedaiah. These were the heads of the priests and their brethren in the days of Jeshua. Moreover the Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah who led the thanksgiving psalms, he and his brethren. Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brethren, stood across from them in their duties. Jeshua begot Joiakim, Joiakim begot Eliashib, Eliashib begot Joiada, Joiada begot Jonathan, and Jonathan begot Jaddua."

      Verses 12-21 tells us of the priests in the days of Joiakim.

      "Now in the days of Joiakim, the priests, the heads of the fathers' houses were: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah; of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan; of Melichu, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph; of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai; of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam; of Abijah, Zichri; the son of Minjamin; of Moadiah, Piltai; of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan; of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi; of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber; of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; and of Jedaiah, Nethanel."

      Verses 22-26 tells us of the Levites during the reign of Darius the Persian.

      "During the reign of Darius the Persian, a record was also kept of the Levites and priests who had been heads of their fathers' houses in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua. The sons of Levi, the heads of the fathers' houses until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib, were written in the book of the chronicles. And the heads of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers across from them, to praise and give thanks, group alternating with group, according to the command of David the man of God. Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were gatekeepers keeping the watch at the storerooms of the gates. These lived in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor, and of Ezra the priest, the scribe."

      Verses 27-29 tells us of the gathering the Levites for the dedication ceremony.

      "Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps. And the sons of the singers gathered together from the countryside around Jerusalem, from the villages of the Netophathites, from the house of Gilgal, and from the fields of Geba and Azmaveth; for the singers had built themselves villages all around Jerusalem."

      They SOUGHT OUT the Levites in ALL THEIR PLACES, to bring them TO Jerusalem...The Levites had MANY responsibilities in the life and worship of Israel, but one of the most important jobs they had was TO LEAD the people in songs of worship and praise to God.

      To CELEBRATE the dedication with gladness, both with THANKSGIVING AND SINGING...Mostly, they did not sing without musical instruments. Here are specifically mentioned cymbals and stringed instruments and harps.

      There are at least TWENTY TWO DIFFERENT musical instruments mentioned in the Bible, including the harp, the lyre (an ancient guitar), horns, trumpets, flutes, tambourines, drums, cymbals, and bells.

      The Levites were SPECIALLY APPOINTED to use these instruments TO LEAD the people in worshipping God through singing.

      Sons of the singers … the singers had built themselves villages...There were also SPECIALLY APPOINTED singers. The singers in Nehemiah's day had a CLOSE-KNIT bond, both by families and living arrangements.

      Since the job of these singers was to lead the people in worship of God, they had to be GOOD SINGERS; but MORE importantly, they had to be PEOPLE OF WORSHIP themselves, AMEN?

      There is a HUGE difference between being a great singer and being a great leader of songs of worship to God. Worship should be excellent, but it isn't entertainment. The goal isn't to give the people a good feeling (though that may happen), but TO GIVE GLORY AND HONOR to God, AMEN?

      Verse 30 tell us of their Purification.

      "Then the priests and Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, the gates, and the wall."

      Then the priests and Levites purified themselves...They did this FIRST.

      WHY?

      They could NOT effectively lead the people in worship of God UNLESS they walked in purity before the Lord.

      And purified the people...The NEXT THEY DID this. They brought cleansing to the people the way the Bible said to, knowing that only a purified people could really worship and praise God, AMEN?

      Some HAVE said of this, if NOT SILENTLY OBJECTED TO THIS...They may say, "I know a person who goes to church and seems to be lost in beautiful praise and worship to God, and I also know their life is rather impure outside the church walls. It sure seems they are worshiping God, but are personally impure."

      AND REMEMBER Hebrews 4:12 tells us and warns us that something is wrong there; probably, their worship is NOT A TRUE worship of God in spirit and in truth, but instead a "soulish" experience. All that inwardly moves a person in a deep way is not necessarily of the spirit; it can be of the soul. One of the great works of the Word of God is to divide between that which is truly spiritual and that which is merely soulish., AMEN?

      ALSO John 4:24 reminds us that without purity, we can't worship God in spirit and in truth, as Jesus commanded.

      AND Psalm 24:3-4 asks us all, "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart." WHICH MEANS it in the sense of bringing praise to God.

      AND WE KNOW WE CAN BE made pure and clean before God today, right now, by doing what the Bible says to do - not in following an Old Testament ceremony, but by receiving the word of the New Testament.

      JUST AS 1 John 1:9 reminds us..."If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

      The gates, and the wall...THIRD, their surroundings were purified. Purified surroundings HELP US to walk in purity consistently. The homes and offices of many Christians could use a good purification and cleansing, AMEN?!

      Verses 31-43 tell us TWO CHOIRS lead Jerusalem in joyful praise.

      "So I brought the leaders of Judah up on the wall, and appointed two large thanksgiving choirs. One went to the right hand on the wall toward the Refuse Gate. After them went Hoshaiah and half of the leaders of Judah, and Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, and some of the priests' sons with trumpets; Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Michaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph, and his brethren, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God. Ezra the scribe went before them. By the Fountain Gate, in front of them, they went up the stairs of the City of David, on the stairway of the wall, beyond the house of David, as far as the Water Gate eastward. The other thanksgiving choir went the opposite way, and I was behind them with half of the people on the wall, going past the Tower of the Ovens as far as the Broad Wall, and above the Gate of Ephraim, above the Old Gate, above the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate; and they stopped by the Gate of the Prison. So the two thanksgiving choirs stood in the house of God, likewise I and the half of the rulers with me; and the priests, Eliakim, Maaseiah, Minjamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets; also Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. The singers sang loudly with Jezrahiah the director. Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off."

      Appointed two large thanksgiving choirs...The two large choirs were called thanksgiving choirs for good reason. All praise and worship must have a strong element of thanksgiving to God for it to BE GENUINE, AMEN?.

      DO YOU NOTICE the singers sang loudly. They had to be heard, because as glorious as the instruments were, the people would follow the lead of the singers in worship.

      God made them rejoice with great joy...God did this with the choirs assembled, and the people spread all about. They were then overwhelmed with joy and thanksgiving, considering all God HAD DONE FOR THEM.

      The women and the children ALSO rejoiced...This tremendous experience of worship was FOR EVERYONE...AND INCLUDED THE WOMEN AND THE CHILDREN. There weren't some who weren't able to worship. ALL PEOPLE, WOMEN AND CHILDREN INCLUDED, WERE IMPORTANT TO OUR GOD, AMEN?

      The joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off...Their worship WAS A TESTIMONY to others, and what others heard was not so much the singing itself as THE JOY HEARD IN IT. We often worry about others hearing us sing; what OTHERS THINK ABOUT OUR VOICES, but what God WANTS to hear and what others should hear is not so much your singing, but YOUR JOY IN IT, AMEN?!.

      Verses 44-47 tells us other aspects of this day of joy.

      "And at the same time some were appointed over the rooms of the storehouse for the offerings, the first fruits, and the tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions specified by the Law for the priests and Levites; for Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who ministered. Both the singers and the gatekeepers kept the charge of their God and the charge of the purification, according to the command of David and Solomon his son. For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chiefs of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. In the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah all Israel gave the portions for the singers and the gatekeepers, a portion for each day. They also consecrated holy things for the Levites, and the Levites consecrated them for the children of Aaron."

      Some were appointed over the rooms of the storehouse for the offerings..
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
      This was a day of giving. People brought their offerings, firstfruits, tithes to the storehouse of the Levites, and they did it with joy because they enjoyed supporting the priests and Levites ministering on their behalf.

      Both the singers and the gatekeepers kept the charge of their God and the charge of the purification...This was a day of purity. It was an ongoing concern, not JUST A ONE TIME, ONE DAY, DONE AND OVER ceremony, AMEN?!

      They also CONSECRATED holy things for the Levites...
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
      It was a day of consecration. Holy things were SET APART for the Levites, speaking of the separation unto God.

      REMEMBER THAT EVERY TIME YOU SING PRAISES TO JESUS YOU ARE PURIFYING YOUR SPIRIT, SOUL, MIND, AND BODY BEFORE THE THRONE, WITH ALL OF HEAVEN AS WITNESSES.

      REMEMBER EVERY TIME YOU CRY OUT IN REPENTANCE AND EVERY TIME YOU LIFT UP PRAYERS TO OUR JESUS...YOU ARE PURIFYING YOUR HEART, MIND, BODY, AND SPIRIT!

      AND DID YOU KNOW THAT WE WHO KNOW AND LOVE JESUS CHRIST AND CALL HIM SAVIOR, LORD, & FRIEND ARE CONSIDERED HOLY & CONSECRATED THINGS SET APART AND PRECIOUS TO OUR JESUS?

    • July 3, 2016 1:36 AM EDT
    • NEHEMIAH 13

      NEHEMIAH 13 OPENS WITH NEHEMIAH'S REFORMS

      True worship leads to the nation's obedience.

      Verses 1-2 tells us HEARING THE LAW brings a call to obedience.

      "On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people, and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God, because they had not met the children of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing."

      No Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God...

      WE NEED TO REMEMBER IN THAT DAY, ONLY THE SPIRITUAL LEADERS HAD 24/7 ACCESS TO THE SCRIPTURES. THE OLD TESTAMENT WAS NOT MASS PRODUCED AS IT IS TODAY. SO THE PEOPLE HAD TO DEPEND ON THEIR SCRIBES/PRIESTS TO READ THEM AND TEACH THEM THE WORD, AMEN?

      THIS VERSE RIGHT HERE PROVES IT. AS WELL, THIS VERSE TELLS US THAT EVERY TIME WE HEAR THE WORD OF GOD AND/OR READ THE WORD OF GOD WE FIND/LEARN SOMETHING NEW, AMEN?

      AND THIS VERSE IS CONFIRMED IN JAMES 4:8, "DRAW NEAR TO GOD AND HE WILL DRAW NEAR TO YOU."

      BECAUSE AS THE people drew near to God in worship (as seen in Nehemiah 11 and 12), they LEARNED AND BECAME AWARE OF God's standards.

      In this case THE STANDARD stated in Deuteronomy 23:3-4, where the Ammonites and Moabites were NOT to be regarded as part of Israel.

      WHY?

      DEUTERONOMY 23:3-6 EXPLAINS IT ALL.
      "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD forever, because they did not meet you with bread and water on the road when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. Nevertheless the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loves you. You shall not seek their peace nor their prosperity all your days forever."

      Spurgeon, Redpath, Poole, Trapp, & Clarke, as MOST Bible scholars agree, that the idea of THE ASSEMBLY OF THE LORD refers TO the LEADERSHIP, POLITICAL, CIVIL & RELIGIOUS RULERS OF ISRAEL. These people were barred NOT from the religious life, meaning attending worship, of Israel, if they OBEYED HIS COMMANDMENTS, but from the HOLDING OFFICES IN the nation.

      AND AS FOR THE AMMONITES & MOABITES IN PARTICULAR, GOD EXPLAINS IT IN DEUTERONOMY 23.

      AND WHY DID GOD FEEL THIS WAY ABOUT THE MOABITES AND THE AMMONITES?

      NOT ONLY DID THEY TREAT ISRAEL CRUELLY ON THEIR WAY TO THE PROMISED LAND, BUT WORSE, they also were a people with a DISGRACEFUL beginning.

      REMEMBER IN OUR STUDY OF GENESIS 19:30-38, Moab and Ammon were the TWO SONS born to the daughters of Lot through their INCEST with their father when he was drunk.

      FULL KNOWLEDGE OF THEIR ANTECEDENTS EXPLAINS WHY The Ammonites and Moabites were singled out because of their devious schemes against Israel, when Israel came into the promised land - AND THAT HAD BEEN AT LEAST A 1000 YEARS BEFORE THE DAYS OF NEHEMIAH!

      AND REMEMBER TOO....Long BEFORE the Ammonites and Moabites had schemed against Israel, God had made A COVENANT PROMISE to the father of the Jewish people, Abraham, IN GENESIS 12:3, "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you."

      GOD'S COMMAND about the Ammonites and the Moabites is a simple fulfillment of this COVENANT promise, AMEN?

      Should ever come into the assembly of God...This meant to be regarded as one of the people of Israel and people of God. It meant one could fully participate in the spiritual life of Israel.

      WHAT THIS MEANT...IS AN ISRAELITE became a part of God's covenant BY BIRTH; but an Ammonite or Moabite COULD NOT.

      They FIRST had to become a part of the covenant BY CHOICE- by joining with God's covenant people and leaving their own people & BELIEVING, FOLLOWING GOD'S WORD, HIS COMMANDS INSTEAD OF THEIR OWN PEOPLES BELIEFS/PRACTICES, AMEN?

      BUT REMEMBER THE AMMONITES AND MOABITES WERE PAGANS WHO PRAYED TO/PRACTICED/BELIEVED IN DEVINATION, DARK ARTS, BLOOD SACRIFICE OF CHILDREN, BURNING THEIR CHILDREN IN WORSHIP & HONOR OF THEIR OCCULT...KNOWINGLY OR UNKNOWINGLY FOLLOWERS OF SATAN HIMSELF. GOD WAS RIGHT TO DEMAND AND EXPECT THEM TO WALK AWAY FROM THEIR PEOPLES, THEIR IDEOLOGIES, & THEIR PAGAN PRACTICES FOREVER IFFFFFF THEY WANTED TO BE A PART OF ISRAELS WORSHIP ASSEMBLIES.

      THEN AND NOW...THIS COMMAND WAS/IS A POWERFUL MESSAGE. It said to these Ammonites and Moabites, "You are not a part of the people of God by birth. You must make a choice. You can not live the thinking and deeds of your anti-God culture, and truly join in the spiritual life of God's people. Unless you leave one and join the other, you will never really be a part of this spiritual life. Come join us!"

      However, our God turned the curse into a blessing...THIS REMINDER FROM GOD REFERS TO THE EVENTS OF NUMBERS 22-24, where God blessed Israel, even though the prophet Balaam wanted to curse them. It also reminds us that God is able - THEN AND NOW, more than able TO TURN ANY CURSE into a blessing, AMEN?!

      Verse 3 tells us AFTER HEARING God's command, Israel obeys and separates from the mixed multitude.

      "So it was, when they had heard the Law, that they separated all the mixed multitude from Israel."

      They separated ALL THE MIXED multitude from Israel.

      WHY?

      GOD KNEW, HISTORY PROVES, FOR HIS PEOPLE, HIS CHURCH, ONE DEVIL WITHIN THE CHURCH IS FAR MORE DANGEROUS THAN 1000 DEVILS OUTSIDE THE CHURCH, AMEN?

      AND GOD KNOWSSSSSSSS HIS CREATION. HE KNEWWWWWW they could have, and some probably did AT FIRST, have thought of 20 reasons to NOT DO what the word of God SIMPLY AND CLEAR AS CRYSTAL TOLD THEM TO DO. Instead, they simply obeyed.

      THEN AND NOW, THOSE WHO LOVE THE TRIUNE GOD MIGHT AND SOME DO, HAVE MADE AND STATED FAMILIAR EXCUSES: SUCH AS:

      - "That command was made long ago, and speaks to a different time."
      - "Things are different now."
      - "Let's not go overboard."
      - "Let's assign a task force to examine the issue."

      AND I DO NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT TODAY, I HAVE HEARD CHURCH LEADERS AND OTHER CHRISTIANS VOICE THESE SAME EXCUSES, AMEN?

      ONCE AGAIN, THIS PROVES, THAT NO MATTER HOW INTELLECTUALLY AND SCIENTIFICALLY AND TECHNOLOGICALLY ADVANCED MANKIND HAS BECOME..BASIC HUMAN NATURE REMAINS THE SAME, BUT THEN TO, SO DOES SATAN AND ALL HIS DEMONS, AMEN?

      The mixed multitude...

      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN EXACTLY?

      This refers to those who wanted to associate with the people of Israel, but DID NOT want to count the cost and make a full commitment TO GOD AND HIS COMMANDS.

      AND WE ALL KNOW, THAT EVEN TODAY, there may be people of good will in churches; honorable people, who respect God and His word. Yet they ARE part of the MIXED MULTITUDE because they have NOT RECEIVED God's covenant of salvation in Jesus. Such people are welcome, but it should be understood where they stand. AND UNTIL THEY COME TO, REPENT, INVITE IN, AND ACCEPT THE COVENANT SALVATION IN JESUS....IN THE EYES OF OUR TRIUNE GOD....THEY ARE STILL SET APART FROM THOSE WHO KNOW AND LOVE AND CALL JESUS CHRIST LORD, SAVIOR, REDEEMER, AND FRIEND, AMEN?

      THOSE MIXED MULTITUDES BEING PEOPLE WHO ARE VITAL MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH, PERFECT ATTENDANCE, ON COMMITTEES, OUTREACHS, GENEROUS GIVERS AND SUPPORTERS OF THE CHURCH, THE BUILDING, THE PLACE, THE ORGANIZATION, AS IT WERE, BUT DO NOT HAVE A SALVATION RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST.

      AND SADLY, THE BIBLE TELLS US, AND WE KNOW, THAT THOSE MIXED MULTITUDES WITHIN OUR CHURCHES WILL BE LEFT BEHIND AT THE TRUMPET BLAST, WHEN JESUS APPEARS IN THE EASTERN SKIES, IN THE CLOUDS, AND SNATCHES US UP TO MEET HIM IN THE CLOUDS BEFORE THE GREAT TRIBULATION BEGINS, AMEN?

      Verses 4-9 tells us of NEHEMIAH'S TEMPLE REFORMS.

      "Now before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the house of our God, was allied with Tobiah. And he had prepared for him a large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which were commanded to be given to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers, and the offerings for the priests. But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king, and I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense."

      But during all this I was not in Jerusalem...

      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

      This section indicates that Nehemiah HAD LEFT Jerusalem and went back to his duties in the Persian court. THE BIBLE TIME LINE LEADS US TO BELIEVE NEHEMIAH WAS GONE BACK TO THE PERSIAN COURT FOR 10 to 12 years.

      Nehemiah left sometime after the remarkable spiritual revival noted in the recent chapters. But the real test of revival - the real test of God's work in our lives - is the LONG TERM. It is seeing where we are with the Lord ten years after a season of great work, AMEN?.

      I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah...When Nehemiah came back, he SAW that Eliashib the priest had ENTERED INTO AGREEMENTS with one of the ENEMIES of GOD & Nehemiah's work of rebuilding the wall - Tobiah.

      AND INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, DID YOU KNOW THAT Tobiah was an Ammonite (Nehemiah 2:10) - one of the very mixed multitude that had been put out of the assembly of God's people some 10 years before. AND WORSE, AT THIS POINT IN THE RECORD OF NEHEMIAH, Tobiah was not only PRESENT among the assembly, he actually rented rooms IN the temple courts.

      THIS TELLS US SOMETHING...Tobiah had NOT changed over the years. He did NOT REPENT, CHANGE, OBEY & join the people of God in the terms of His covenant. The problem was evident to Nehemiah - but Eliashib was COMPLETELY BLIND to it.

      And it grieved me bitterly...There were MANY GOOD REASONS WHY this was so distressing to Nehemiah.

      1...Because rooms in the courts of the temple of God were being occupied by a man not only a PAGAN, but who also had a history of actively OPPOSING God's work in the days of Nehemiah.

      2...Because it reflected so BADLY ON Eliashib (a man who was a spiritual leader in Israel) and those around him. It showed that if Eliashib was BLIND to a problem area, there was also NO ONE THERE, IN NEHEMIAH'S ABSENCE who could confront him with the problem.

      3...Because it made Nehemiah question the LASTING VALUE of the spiritual revival he witnessed when last in Jerusalem.

      Therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room...Nehemiah WAS NOT ONE TO SIT BACK MOURN AND GRIEVE.

      He SAW THE DANGER AND THE WRONG AND HE TOOK ACTION - throwing all Tobiah's stuff out of the rooms he occupied in the temple courts, then ceremonially cleansing the rooms, and finally by putting the rooms to their proper use - as storerooms for the sacred things of the temple.

      AND DID YOU NOTICE...HE TOOK THE EVIL INTENTS OF SATAN AND MAN AND TURNED THEM INTO THE GOOD. THIS IS WONDROUSLY REPEATED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AMEN?

      Nehemiah is much like Jesus when He CLEANSED THE TEMPLE from those who profaned it. Both Jesus and Nehemiah had THE WISDOM to not confuse love with being "nice" - and the wisdom to know when to take bold action, AMEN?

      Verses 10-14 tell us of NEHEMIAH'S FINANCIAL REFORMS.

      "I also realized that the portions for the Levites had not been given them; for each of the Levites and the singers who did the work had gone back to his field. So I contended with the rulers, and said, "Why is the house of God forsaken?" And I gathered them together and set them in their place. Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse. And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouse Shelemiah the priest and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah; and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were considered faithful, and their task was to distribute to their brethren. Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for its services!"

      I also realized that the portions for the Levites had not been given them...YOU NOTICE, MUCH LIKE WHEN NEHEMIAH FIRST CAME TO JERUSALEM...HE WALKED OVER ALL THINGS AND TOOK ACCOUNT OF THE DAMAGE, THE WRONG AND THE MISTAKES BEFORE HE ADDRESSED THEM WITH THE PEOPLE AND THE LEADERS.

      NEHEMIAH DID NOT ARRIVE AND START HOWLING....HE TOOK ACCOUNT, HE VISITED AND MADE SURE OF THE TRUE FACTS & STATE OF AFFAIRS BEFORE HE ACTED...THAT IS WISDOM AND DISCERNMENT AND MATURITY IN OUR JESUS, AMEN?

      BUT ONCE NEHEMIAH KNEWWWWWWWW THE TRUTH, HE GOT BUSY. HE WENT ABOUT SETTING TO RIGHTS THE WRONGS, AMEN?

      The people did not obey God's word regarding giving. Because of the lack of support, those who should give their time to the service of God and His people (the Levites and the singers) could not - and they had to leave that service & go back to the fields to earn a living or starve.

      AS WE KNOW, THE LEVITES AND THE SINGERS WERE IN SERVICE TO THE HOUSE OF GOD AND ITS PEOPLE DAILY. THEY DID NOT HAVE TIME TO WORK AND FULFILL THE CALLING GOD HAD UPON THEIR LIVES, SO GOD EXPECTED THE PEOPLE TO PROVIDE FOR THEIR BASIC DAY TO DAY NEEDS WITH TITHES. FOR WOOD, OIL, GRAIN, CLOTHING, AND MEAT TOO. AND SINCE THEY HAD GONE BACK TO WORK IN THE FIELDS, THIS TELLS US THAT THEY WERE LEFT DESTITUTE AND STARVING AND FORGOTTEN BY THE LEADERS AND PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.

      Why is the house of God forsaken?
      The LACK of giving was a way of forsaking the house of God.

      I gathered them all together and set them in their place...Nehemiah set the situation right by expecting the Levites and the singers to recommit to the work of serving God and His people as they should. He also reorganized the collection and accounting of the people's tithes and gifts. NEHEMIAH REALIZED JERUSALEM NEEDED ACCOUNTANTS AND OVERSEERS WHO LOVED GOD, HIS WORD, THE TEMPLE, THE PEOPLE AND JERUSALEM....BECAUSE THEY WOULD BE FAITHFUL TO SEE THAT THE WORKERS SERVING GOD WOULD ALWAYS BE CARED FOR.

      Verses 15-22 tells us of NEHEMIAH'S PRIORITY REFORM.

      "In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, "What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath." So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath. Then I posted some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day. Now the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice. Then I warned them, and said to them, "Why do you spend the night around the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you!" From that time on they came no more on the Sabbath. And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of Your mercy!"

      In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath... The Sabbath was BEING IGNORED in disobedience to God's clear command under the Old Covenant. Foreigners sold and the people of Israel bought ON GOD'S DAY.

      JUST AS JESUS CLARIFIED DURING HIS MINISTRY ON EARTH, GOD DID NOT MEAN, THAT IF A NIEGHBOR NEEDED BREAD, OR WAS HURT AND NEEDED HELP, THAT THEY WERE TO IGNORE ALL THAT ON THE SABBATH. NOR THAT GOD WAS AGAINST THEM HELPING AND SERVING OTHERS ON HIS DAY. WHAT THE TRIUNE GOD DID NOTTTTTTTT ALLOW AND DID NOTTTTTT WANT WAS THEM WORKING AND MAKING MONEY, BUYING AND SELLING FOR PERSONAL GAIN ON HIS DAY, AMEN?

      AND NEHEMIAH KNEW, AND DISCERNED THAT AT THE ROOT, this was a problem of priorities. There is nothing wrong with buying and selling, only when our desire to buy and sell, to make money or spend money, becomes MORE important to us than honoring God. This was a clear way the people of Israel were putting making and spending money before glorifying God & HONORING HIM ONE DAY A WEEK.

      The New Testament makes it clear we are not under the law of the Sabbath in the same sense Israel was under the Old Covenant (Colossians 2:16-17); but we are certainly under the same obligation to make honoring God more important than making money or spending money.

      You bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath...
      WHAT DID NEHEMIAH MEAN BY THIS?

      Nehemiah knew that sin was not only a personal issue. When such open sin is winked at and left uncorrected among God's people, it invites the correcting hand of God.

      Nehemiah wasn't going to sit still for this; he threatened If you do so again, I will lay hands on you! He did not mean the gentle laying on of hands for prayer, but the rough laying on of hands for correction.

      JUST AS JESUS TOOK A WHIP & CHASED THOSE MONEY CHANGERS OUT AND TURNED OVER MERCHANT TABLES AND SENT THE MERCHANTS FLEEING....SO TO WOULD NEHEMIAH GET PHYSICAL AND THROW THEM OUT BODILY IF THEY CONTINUED TO DISMISS AND SHRUG OFF NEHEMIAH'S REFORMS THAT PLEASED AND HONORED GOD. NEHEMIAH DID NOTTTTTT WANT THE CORRECTIVE PUNISHMENT AND WRATH OF GOD TO FALL ON HIM OR THE PEOPLE...SO HE WAS MORE THAN WILLING TO GET PHYSICAL IF NEED BE TO PROTECTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT ISRAEL, AMEN?

      Verses 23-31a tells us of NEHEMIAH'S RELATIONSHIP REFORMS.

      "In those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke according to the language of one or the other people. So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, "You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless pagan women caused even him to sin. Should we then hear of your doing all this great evil, transgressing against our God by marrying pagan women?" And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite; therefore I drove him from me. Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites. Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan. I also assigned duties to the priests and the Levites, each to his service, and to bringing the wood offering and the firstfruits at appointed times."

      In those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab...DO YOU HEAR THE DISGUST AND THE DESPAIR IN NEHEMIAH HERE... HE HAD GIVEN THEM THE LAW, THEY HAD HEARD, UNDERSTOOD, AND COVENANTED TO KEEP THEM...YET IN THE FEW YEARS, 10-12 YEARS HE WAS GONE BACK TO PERSIA IN HONOR OF SERVING THE KING AS HE PROMISED, the Israelites had GONE BACK TO THE WORLD & HAD RESUMED their practice of intermarrying with the pagan nations surrounding them. This was in DRAMATIC AND DANGEROUS disobedience to God's command.

      So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear...From this STRONG REACTION of Nehemiah, we gather he considered this to be the MOST DANGEROUS of their sins - pursing ungodly romance, and getting involved in romantic relationships God had said "NO" to. AND WORSE, THEN NOT TEACHING THEIR CHILDREN THE BIBLE AND THE HEBREW LANGUAGE..BUT ALLOWING THEM TO SPEAK ONLY THE LANGUAGE OF THEIR PAGAN SPOUSES.

      SOME HAVE ASKED WHY PULL OUT THEIR HAIR? TO THE WOMEN OF THAT DAY...THEIR LONG HAIR WAS THEIR CROWN OF GLORY, A SIGN OF PURITY, HOLINESS TO GOD AND TO THE MEN THEIR HAIR AND BEARDS WERE A SIGN OF THEIR PIETY, LEADERSHIP, AND CLOSE WALK WITH GOD...SO TO BE BALD AS A CUE BALL...LET EVERYONE KNOW THAT THEY HAD SINNED GREATLY, WERE UNDER PUNISHMENT AND WERE NOT HOLY UNTO GOD.

      NOW WE KNOW THE HAIR WOULD GROW BACK...BUT EACH TIME THEY LOOKED AT THEMSELVES, OR FELT THEIR HEADS THEY WERE REMINDED OF THEIR SIN....AND MOST DID NOT DAREEEEEEE DO SO AGAIN, AMEN?

      AND THE LOSS OF HAIR IS FAR BETTER THAN THE LOSS OF THEIR SOULS TO THE LAKE OF FIRE AMEN?

      His example of Solomon is well taken (Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? … pagan women caused even him to sin). If Solomon, one of the wisest and most blessed men ever, sinned with unwise and ungodly romance then no one else should consider themselves invulnerable AMEN?

      Verse 31b tells us the CONCLUSION...NEHEMIAH'S CONSCIENCE IS CLEAR.

      "Remember me, O my God, for good!"

      REMEMBER ME...At the end of it all, Nehemiah knew he did HIS BEST to make the people of God strong, safe, and secure. Beyond that, he also led them to be pure, worshipful, and obedient.

      REMEMBER ME O MY GOD FOR GOOD! Yet, this tells us that in Nehemiah's heart of hearts he certainly carried a sense of failure.

      WHY?

      In Nehemiah 10 the people made a SOLEMN SIGNED COVENANT to God that they would NOT do three things:

      1. THEY WOULD NOT have ungodly romantic relationships (10:30).
      2. THEY WOULD NOT buy and sell on the Sabbath (10:31).
      3. THEY WOULD support the work of God with money as He commanded (10:32-39).

      IN A FEW YEARS, THEY HAD DISMISSED THEIR PROMISES, AND HAD BROKEN EVERY ONE OF THEIR PROMISES. NOW NOT ALLLLLLL THE PEOPLE HAD BROKEN COVENANT, BUT FOR THE MOST PART ALLLLLL WERE HELD RESPONSIBLE BECAUSE THEY EITHER BROKE THEM, OR SAW THEM BROKEN, AND KNEW THEY WERE BROKEN AND DID NOTHING ABOUT IT, AMEN.

      Nevertheless, in Nehemiah 13, some 10 to 12 years later, Israel was steeped in the exact sins they vowed to stop. Nehemiah had TO REMIND THEM AND ONCE AGAIN ADDRESS THOSE THREE PROBLEMS.

      1...HE ADDRESSED to address the problems of ungodly romantic relationships (13:23-31)
      2...HE ADDRESSED buying and selling on the Sabbath (13:15-22)
      3...HE ADDRESSED failing to support the work of God as He commanded (13:10-14).

      In Nehemiah 10:39 the people PROMISED: we will not neglect the house of our God. But later in Nehemiah 13:11, Nehemiah had to ask: Why is the house of God forsaken? It was forsaken because Israel did NOT keep its promises before God.

      This makes a point vividly clear: the law - that is, rules, vows, promises, covenants, and the such.

      WHY?

      IT TELLS AND SHOWS US THAT WE ARE ALL ultimately powerless to stop sin BY OURSELVES AND THROUGH OUR OWN POWER. Only the grace of God, THROUGH OUR SAVING AND REDEEMING JESUS CHRIST, alive and flowing in our lives, can give us the power to truly overcome sin, AMEN?

      Paul REMINDS US OF THIS in Romans 8:3, which says, "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh."

      Too many Christians look for VICTORY in the making of rules, of vows, of promises - and fail to find it.

      WHY?

      Because ALL those MAN-MADE MAN CREATED RULES, LAWS, & PRECEDENTS tend to make us LOOK TO, TRUST IN, AND BELIEVE IN ourselves, instead of LOOKING TO, TRUSTING IN, AND BELIEVING IN Jesus, AMEN?

      FROM STUDYING THE BIBLE, AND THE OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY OF ISRAEL, from beginning to end, illustrates this..PERFECTLY....JUST AS OUR TRIUNE GOD INTENDED.

      When the nation was FIRST born at the Exodus, despite the most spectacular miracles, displays of God's glory, and revelation of the law, the people sinned, by crediting a gold calf with their deliverance from Egypt!

      And now here, at the end of the Old Testament history of God's people in the promised land, Nehemiah is pulling hair out - his own and those of sinners - because they couldn't keep their promises to God.

      AND ONCE AGAIN, THE OLD TESTAMENT AFFIRMS THE NEW TESTAMENT AND THE NEW TESTAMENT CONFIRMS THE OLD TESTAMENT...

      THE BIBLE TELLS US AND SHOWS US THAT MANKIND NEEDED A PERFECT WILLING SACRIFICE TO BE SAVED.

      If WE COULD be saved by OUR OWN promises, by our own commitment to Jesus, then His death would have been noble, but unnecessary.
      We aren't saved by some vow we make, or some leaf we turn over, but by trusting in who Jesus is, and what He has done to save us.
      So trust as NEHEMIAH did in our Jesus' grace, mercy, love, faithfulness, and His promises to us in His Word.

      CALL on the name of JESUS!
      TRUST JESUS!
      HE WILL NEVERRRRRRRR FORSAKE OR FAIL US!