Friday, September 26, 2008

Work for the Night is Coming!

September 26: Nehemiah 1-5

3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” . . . Now I was cupbearer to the king.
Nehemiah 1:3 & 11b

2 And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. 3 I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4 Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' graves, that I may rebuild it.”

And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.

18 And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.”
Nehemiah 2:2-5, 8b & 18-20

1 Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. 2 And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!”

7 But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. 8 And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. 9 And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.
Nehemiah 4:1-3 & 7-9

Work for the Night is Coming

The book of Nehemiah begins with some troubling news for Nehemiah, the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. Men who just returned from Judah reported to Nehemiah, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” Devastated by this news, Nehemiah then devised a plan to make repairs to the wall of Jerusalem and to the city gates. Nothing is ever easy, and such was this case; as soon as some non-Jewish men in Jerusalem heard of Nehemiah's plans, opposition began.

Some things never change, do they? It is not unusual in our day to find some jealous people trying to stop or destroy the work of others--even in our churches. How did Nehemiah handle this problem?

But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build.

When Sanballat and Tobiah saw that their jeers were ignored, they decided they needed to do something more forceful to stop the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

7 But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. 8 And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it.

Again, how did Nehemiah react?

9 And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

They not only prayed for protection from God, but they also began to work with a weapon in one hand and tools for rebuilding in the other! What a lesson for us to learn! When obstacles keep coming our way in our Christian walk, do we quickly become discouraged and give up? Nehemiah knew he was in the right, and he knew that God would always be there to aid and protect them.

Have things changed today? No, not at all. We must understand and expect that the more we do for the Lord, the more opposition and problems we will face. Like Nehemiah, let us pray for grace to work all the harder with one hand on a weapon and another on our tools!

As the song implores us, let us:

Work for the Night is coming
When man's work is done!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

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