August 21, 2016 – manuscript

Nehemiah 6:1-14 – Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.” Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

10 Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.” 11 But I said, “Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in.” 12 And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me. 14 Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.

Nehemiah 6 is the fifth consecutive chapter where Sanballat and Tobiah have attempted to end God’s plan to rebuild.  In chapter six, they bring in reinforcements because their efforts are failing.

Sanballat was the governor of Samaria.  At this time, the region that included Jerusalem was under Samaritan rule.  His influence would lessen if Jerusalem became independent once again.

Tobiah was a high ranking officer in the Persian Empire.  His marriage gave his high profile status in Jerusalem.  His power and influence intimidated people.

Geshem was an affluent business man.  His personal economy would take a hit if Jerusalem rebuilt.

In Nehemiah 2, Sanballat and Tobiah began to torment Nehemiah before the vision was set and the plans were discussed.  From the very beginning, these guys thought they could beat Nehemiah.  They did not want Jerusalem rebuilt and their mission was to keep everything the way it had been for 130 years.  You might recall from chapter two the rebuild of Jerusalem was essential for Jesus Christ to complete his mission and for the Father to receive maximum glory.  Salvation, atonement and redemption were made available because Nehemiah was obedient to what God asked him to do.

While Sanballat and Tobiah were on a mission to maintain what they thought was right, they were in the way of what God wanted to accomplish.  In chapter six, they are determined to make their plan happen and the only action step that is left is to get rid of Nehemiah.

In verse two, Sanballat and Geshem call for a meeting in the plain of Ono.  This plain is 27 miles outside of Jerusalem.  The meeting destination would take Nehemiah from the work for an entire week.

In verse five, Sanballat sent for Nehemiah a fifth time.  This request came with an open letter.  According to the customs of the day, letters were always sealed and never opened until delivered.  The conspiracy behind sending an open letter presented an invitation for any willing person to read the letter.

In verse six, the letter implies that Nehemiah committed treason by attempting to becoming King in Jerusalem.  If this were true, the King would send his guard to settle the matter; it was not the place of another governor.

In verse thirteen, Nehemiah recognizes that Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem are working to assassinate his character.

In verse fourteen, Nehemiah asked God to remember the guys who were trying to make him afraid.

The point is this — don’t be Sanballat, Tobiah or Geshem.  Every one of us is capable of doing what these three guys did to Nehemiah.  Every one of us can fall into the trap of seeking our own agenda.  Don’t be the man or woman or group who prohibits the Father from receiving maximum glory because you’re on a mission to maintain what has been for as long as you can remember.

Nehemiah 6:15-19 – 15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. 17 Moreover, in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18 For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah: and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah as his wife. 19 Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence and reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to make me afraid.

Nehemiah stood firm in the promises of God.  Nehemiah followed through with God’s plan.  The wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt faster than anybody thought possible.  Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem tried to drive fear into Nehemiah.  It didn’t work.

Verse 15 says when the news spread about how quickly the walls were restored, the neighboring nations were afraid because they perceived this work had been done with the help of God.  These nations were full of fear because they remembered the history of God going to battle on behalf of Israel.  They had good reason to be afraid of getting in the way of God’s plan.  Church, if God’s plan is different than your plan, do you fear getting in the way?

When it might have seemed that Nehemiah had a smooth road of leadership ahead of him, his own people turned on him.

In verse seventeen, the nobles of Judah were in correspondence with Tobiah.  The nobles here in chapter six are the same nobles that inspected the wall with Nehemiah in chapter two.  They supported Nehemiah when he first presented his crazy plan to rebuild the walls.  The work is complete and they’re now communicating with the enemy.

In verse nineteen, the nobles have compromised their values.  Their conduct is guilty of treason.  Once again, Tobiah begins to send hate mail.

Nehemiah continues to stand firm in the promises of God.

Church, from this day forward, you have one primary job.  Many little jobs, but one primary job.

Be a Nehemiah!  Be the man or woman that runs to the cross of Jesus Christ so quickly that others have a hard time keeping up.  Be the man or woman that chases the dream God has given you.  Be the man or woman who perseveres for First Baptist Church.  Be the man or woman that doesn’t allow any person, thing or agenda to come between you and God’s dream being accomplished in this church.  Be the man or woman that seeks to be rejuvenated on Sunday morning.  Be the man or woman that allows God to change your heart, mind and soul.  Be the man or woman that carries the supernatural power of Jesus Christ into this room.  Be the man or woman that people try to scare away and run off because you walk so closely with Jesus Christ.  Be the man or woman whose life brings transformation to everything you touch.  Be that person!  First Baptist Church needs you to be that person.  Warren, Indiana needs you to be that person.  Huntington North High School needs you to be that person.  Your co-workers need you to be that person.

What if a dozen people sitting in this room right now decided they were going to be a Nehemiah?  The ripple effect could be immeasurable.

Nehemiah left a pretty sweet job because he knew the mission of God was worth pursuing.  He had no clue how God would use his faithfulness 445 years later.  The Savior of the world walked through the gates that Nehemiah worked so hard to rebuild.  Jesus was put on trial inside the walls Nehemiah risked his life for.

Do you have the fire, passion and drive that Nehemiah had to rebuild?  What are you willing to risk so God can use your faithfulness far beyond your comprehension?  Where is the consuming fire of Jesus Christ residing in the place right now?

Are you one who wants God’s mission to prevail more than anything else?  Are you one who wants to be a Nehemiah?

Would you make yourself vulnerable and stand where you are?  I would like to pray for you.