Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God and Confess the sin.
Praise God for the wonderful and astonishing privilege of being a bond slave of Christ. Confess the sin of not always thinking and living humbly as such. Pray for the Lord’s help to love Him and others with your whole heart.
Please ask the Holy Spirit's help as you come to his Word.
Please read Nehemiah 2:17-20.
Notes previously prepared by Rev. Dr. Tim Donachie, with slight amendments.
Nehemiah 2:17-20 – Putting Our Hand to the Work.
When Nehemiah had seen the situation and had made a realistic assessment, he then turned to the leaders of the people to make them aware of the situation. In his approach, Nehemiah demonstrated great wisdom:
1. He did not blame the leaders of the people for sitting around for decades simply accepting that nothing could be done. He pointed out what was clearly evident to them 'you see the bad situation we are in'.
2. He asked for their help and support, 'Come let us rebuild'. This was not to be something that Nehemiah was going to do, this was a joint project for the people of God.
3. He gave a clear reason for the rebuilding – 'so that we will no longer be a reproach'. God's name, cause, and people were being despised, and just like David when he heard the taunts of Goliath 1, Sam. 17:26, Nehemiah wanted to remove the reproach and honour God.
4. He encouraged them by telling them of how God had blessed him and made the heathen king support the rebuilding project. The response of the people was immediate and positive. Not only did they say that they would 'arise and build' they actively 'put their hands to the good work'. The church of Jesus Christ has a similar task to that facing Nehemiah – there has been so much devastation caused within the professing church by laxity in doctrine, discipline, and practice, and it is very easy to simply believe that is how it is always going to be. Like Nehemiah, we need to make a realistic assessment, realise that it is a work for all of God's people, acknowledge that it is the glory and honour of God that is at stake, trust in the God who has been so good to us in the past, and be determined to 'to put (our) hands to the good work'.
No sooner had the officials and the people 'put their hands to the good work', than the opposition arose. It should be no surprise that as soon as God's people begin to be enthusiastic about working for God, the devil will stir up his agents to oppose it! The opposition to Nehemiah came from the very same people who had been so displeased that 'someone had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel', Nehemiah 2:10. Tobiah appears to have been a man of influence, Nehemiah 13:4. The name "Tobiah" means "Yahweh is good" – a strange name for a man who was an opponent of the work of God. His companion, Sanballat, was connected by marriage to priestly families, Nehemiah 13:28. He was also an influential man, described in one ancient document from this period as "governor of Samaria". It was no doubt disappointing for Nehemiah and the Jewish leaders to get opposition from within their own community, but it is often the case that those who are quite satisfied with the status quo will seek to resist those who want to do something for God, and they will often use the same tactics used by Tobiah and Sanballat, mockery and derision. Their statement, 'what is this thing you are doing?' suggests that it was a foolish enterprise and bound to fail, and they further sought to suggest that they were in danger of incurring the anger of the king. Mockery, misinformation, and lies are often part of the strategy of those who would oppose anything that would advance the cause of Christ. The believer is engaged in a spiritual warfare and is being opposed by the father of lies who, from the very beginning, has tried to undermine the confidence of the people of God in the Word and will of God – 'Did God actually say…?' Genesis 3:1. The child of God must respond as Nehemiah did.
A Higher Authority.
It is interesting that Nehemiah did not seek to answer the accusations of Tobiah and Sanballat by explaining exactly how he was going to carry out the proposed work or to show them the letter that he had received from the king authorising him to do the work. Rather than engage in fruitless discussion, Nehemiah made confident and striking statements:
1. 'The God of heaven will give us success'. Here is an amazing avowal of confidence in God. Nehemiah knew that he had been sent by God to do God's work, and the feeble mockery and threats of a couple of self-important officials were not going to deter him. It is the same confidence shown by the apostles in Acts 5:29, 'We must obey God rather than men'.
2. 'We his servants will arise and build'. Tobiah and Sanballat may have thought that they were on solid ground in their opposition because they were the servants of the king. Nehemiah does not correct their misapprehension but appeals to a much higher authority – they are the servants of the God of heaven and are doing his work. When God authorises his servants to work, there is not a power on earth that can prevent them.
3. 'You have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem'. Nehemiah was declaring with great boldness that he was building the city of God where His name would be honoured and glorified, and that those who opposed the work had no place in it. This is a solemn message for those within the professing church of Christ who constantly criticize and seek to hold back spiritual growth and outreach. Like Tobiah and Sanballat they may reside within the organised church as they did in Jerusalem, but they have no real part or lot in it.
Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Psalm 125. Link to the words. Link to it being sung.
Memory Verses to lay into your heart and mind.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
James 1:2-3, “Count it all joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 21 – Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?
Answer – The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God became man, and so was and continues to be God and man, in two distinct natures and one person for ever.
Comment – We cannot get salvation on our own terms but on God’s terms. Christ is the only Redeemer. The Son of God voluntarily came into this world and without ceasing to be what he always was (the second person of the Trinity) he became also what he was not (a true man). We call this the incarnation, Jesus is not someone halfway between God and man, but he is both God and man. And in our nature, Christ is now in heaven as our ever-living Saviour.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God that He is who He is, and that we do not have to defend either Him or our labours for His glory. Pray that we would adopt Nehemiah’s approach of making confident assertions based on who God is, rather that seeking to negotiate with the world.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC