4 lessons part 2 

                  NEHEMIAH

                               Part 2

                                      By: Hans Hofman

 

Strategy

In the first lesson we learned something about  realising our position in Christ and
we also mentioned the word NEED.

In Nehemiah 2 we see more about the person of Nehemiah and his relationship

with God and with his surroundings. According to verse 1 he was never sad while

doing his work. That is not to say that he was never sad elsewhere.

For in fact he and his people were in exile and so were not free. After hearing

about the need  which his own people ( those Jews who had returned to Jerusalem

already) were in, and the condition of the city walls, he was touched to the heart

so that his whole attention was given to the news.

The king saw that he was troubled and concluded that it could only be caused by

“heartache”. In 2:2 we read “Then I was very troubled…”

It is clear that Nehemiah, despite the exile had been able to establish himself in

working for the king. But now he had to express what was really burdening his

soul. This was his great desire and vision to go and help his people and to rebuild

the walls of Jerusalem, so that his people would be able to build up an existence

for themselves again.

Fear of the king didn’t condition his heart, his thoughts and the way he acted as

a result. Nehemiah was focused on God’s plan. Neh 2:3-5 In his prayers

Nehemiah was a whole lot further than this king could have imagined.

He had already worked out how much time he would need to accomplish his

objective and he had worked out a detailed plan for the work.

A feasible strategy had been developed.

 

Without planning and without consultation with God nothing can be  accomplished

of lasting benefit. A missionary once said to me,” Hans, if you don’t undertake

something, nothing will happen.” Jesus teaches us “seek first the Kingdom of God

and His Righteousness…”. This is what we see in the life of Nehemiah,

as he speaks to the king.

 

A second reason why it is important to have a clear aim and a well prepared plan

is so that you can focus on it. Then you have an objective for your life and you

 can motivate others to aim for it. It gives substance to your life with God. It is His

will for our lives that we serve others. Whether that is in building up the life of a

 congregation, mission work, evangelism, pastoral work or social work.

 Together with the Lord you are building up His Kingdom and glorifying His

 name by carrying out the work He has given you ( see John 17:4) “Faith without

 works is dead” James 2:17-24.

 

In Nehemiah’s case this was a building project. Or was it more?  Yes it was,

 for his people were only just managing to survive in this needful situation.

 In a healthy situation they could mean more for others and God’s glory was

 evident in His people. Later we shall see this also in Nehemiah’s history.

 

Directly after Nehemiah’s arrival the enemy sprang into action (Neh 2:10) Satan is

 always disgruntled whenever anyone of God’s people wants to undertake something

 good.

But just three days after his arrival in Jerusalem Nehemiah went out at night.

 He didn’t make  a loud noise about it by shouting “It will all be O.K. lads”.

 No, he started out strategically. Alert and watchful!  Nehemiah began to

 research into the condition of the walls and the gates of the city.

 

ORIENTATION – BUILDING UP

 

  1. Are we (am I) prepared to research the condition of the walls and the gates
    of our fellowship and in my own life and our city? Yes/No…………………….

Will you build up the fellowship, in that which is missing or which is

delayed as a result of too few trained men and women? Yes/No……………

Are you prepared to undertake training for this task?………………………

  1. What was remarkable, as we read in 2:10, was that the enemy had already
    heard something about Nehemiah’s plans, while the leaders of the city had
    not yet been informed. 2:16. Only when his plan was complete did he
    show it to the leaders. Because it was so clearly worked out, God’s
    purpose and His hand in it all was clearly to be seen. They immediately
    began to prepare. “….and with ready hands they began the good work.
    Neh 2:18

Sometimes ideas are put forward without there being a clear plan.

From a point of view of strategy coming up with a clearly feasible plan always has

more chance of success than suggesting vague ideas. Has God revealed a plan

to you? Test it against God’s word then. And prepare yourself to carry it out.

Don’t be passive but be a living stone. Not a rolling stone, but a living stone which

is in harmony with the Corner Stone Jesus Christ. (Eph 2:19-20; 1Pet 2:6)

 

Nehemiah’s plan was the vision which God through the information from a brother

 and Nehemiah’s prayer (Neh 1:2-11) had laid on his heart.

ehemiah had a feasible plan, but he also knew he was surrounded by godless

enemy people who would not let his and God’s plan be carried out without problems.

There were people who had mixed with these godless people through marriage

with them and who had been taken away from God by them. Nehemiah says

about them “Didn’t Solomon, the king of Israel sin like this?  Even though there

was no other king like him among the nations, and he was loved by God,

and God had placed him as king over all Israel, yet the foreign wives caused him to

sin…” (Neh 13:23-24,26-27) See also the (language ) integration problem in

 Neh 13:24. As a result of this it was very difficult to teach these people the law

 (God’s word) and to accept them into the society of those who served God.

 The language of Nehemiah was Judaean, as it was also of the community which he

 was building up.

 

Watchfulness and perseverance

 

There are also other obstacles which prevent us from walking with God.

These are time-consuming activities which fill our lives with unimportant things.

 For instance you can watch or listen to news broadcasts ten times a day and

 become so negatively loaded that the same misleading spirit gets the chance to

 take hold of your thoughts and draw you further away from God.

 It can even make you feel so devout and spiritual by being involved without

 stretching out your hand.

 

The same spirit tries to discourage people with negative statements or by causing

 divisions in your home and family just before you go to a service or before you go

 out to do evangelism or another such work for God.

 

This happened also to Nehemiah, but what answer did he give his enemies in
2:20? ….........……………………………………………………………………………… 

 

3. Was the enemy silenced from then on? 4:13…………………………………….

 

      4. How do we see Nehemiah respond to this?  4:4-5……………………………….
 

      5. How did he and his team respond further? 4:6……………………………………

 

      6. What did the enemy do as a result? 4:7,8………………………………………….

 

      7. Nehemiah and his team had committed themselves firmly to their
          assignment and maintained their relationship with God. Even in this busy
          and tense period, indeed especially then, they maintained contact with God.
          How did Nehemiah and his team react to the enemies’ plot?
          4:9  …………………………………………………………………..........................

 

      8. Then in 4:10 we see the first sign of panic? burnout? laziness/
         
Manipulated by and looking at the enemy?
        
Judah calls, “The strength of the burden bearers is failing and there is much

         rubbish; we are not able to work on the wall.”

   
The enemy continues with their plan. But Nehemiah too carries on and doesn’t

let himself be distracted. We see in 4:12 that it was really necessary to be

warned ten times before something is done in terms of defence.

Nehemiah wasn’t going to let himself be intimidated or manipulated or

distracted by the enemy. He concentrated on God and His purpose.

How did Jesus respond to similar situations? John 8:1-20  ………………………..

9.   Jesus refuted His opponents with the Word just as He did during the

      temptations in the wilderness Matt 4:1-11
     
How did the apostles deal with enmity, persecution and intimidation?

      Acts 5:17-20, 24,25………………………………………………………………………

 

10. The apostles too refused to be intimidated. They obeyed their master and

      carried on with the assignment He had given them: preaching and teaching

      the Good News that Jesus is the way to life.

 

What did Jesus say in John 8:14?…………………………………………

And in Jn 18:33-37?…………………………………………………….......

What did He say in Jn 16:5?…………………………………………….....

And in Jn 17:4………………………………………………………….........

 

Jesus gives us in these verses a clear example of how we can and must know

who we are, by whom we have been saved  and have been sent and what our

assignment or calling is. This is the most strategic knowledge that is necessary

if we are to stand our ground in the spiritual battle. “” My people are destroyed for

lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from

 being a priest to me…”Hose 4:6

Let us simply follow the example of the Lord Jesus and of Nehemiah and

together with Paul proclaim, “If God be for us who shall be against us?” Rom 8:31.

 

We also find in  Isaiah a very powerful promise which should be woven into our

defensive systems: ”No weapon that is fashioned against you shall prosper,

and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgement.

This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me,

says the Lord. (Isa 54:17)

 

Strategy :

         Orientation - Building up -

                                        Watchfulness- Perseverance

 

Nehemiah didn’t bother to make compromises. No, he encouraged his fellow

workers not to be afraid and spurred them on not to give up, but to think

about their families and their homes and to fight for them. Neh 4:14

 

After the battle seemed to have ended they not only continued, but remained

watchful and prepared. 4:15-20

 

The people had a clear strategic objective. Everyone had a particular task in the

work and in the defence as a whole.

Also the church of Jesus Christ must remain watchful and prepared.

The weekly prayer meeting and your personal quiet time with God are like the

 spears and shields of the watchmen of Nehemiah. Bible study and the teaching

 in the fellowship meetings serve to equip you for His service. See Eph 4:11-16.

 

 PART 3