Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God and Confess the sin.
Praise God that everything, without exception, in our lives is under His Sovereign control. Praise God that He is doing all things for the good of the Bride and the glory of his own name. Matthew 10:29-31. Ephesians 1:22. Confess the sin of failing to grasp this truth and to live consciously upon it.
Please ask the Holy Spirit's help as you come to his Word.
Please read Nehemiah 3:23-4:3.
Notes previously prepared by Rev. Dr. Tim Donachie, with slight amendments.
Ch 3:23-32 – Working Together.
The people were working hard to rebuild the walls, and both nobles and people were co-operating together in order to improve the safety and security of their community. There appears to have been an almost universal willingness for the residents of Jerusalem to work together in spite of all the social, economic, and other differences that there were between them. James Philip makes this very useful comment on the way that the people worked together, and related it to the way Christians should work together in the Church: "Furthermore, everyone was 'next to' someone else, and obviously they could not all have been congenial companions. But it is certain that Nehemiah did not have time to be scuttling around trying to make sure that abrasive personalities would not be rubbing against one another. One does not have time for that sort of luxury when there is danger in the air and there is work to be done. So, the most diverse types had to work alongside each other, priests alongside the men of Jericho (did this cramp the latter's style?), rulers alongside commoners. This is the great enriching quality in the Church of God, this is the true meaning of fellowship – the coming together of people all different to one another, all unequal to one another, and therefore, because unequal, utterly dependent on one another." It is sad when those who are one in their doctrinal understanding allow personal disagreements and differences to disrupt the work of the gospel. The church of Jesus Christ and individual congregations of God's people have a great task to perform, and it is essential that they learn from Nehemiah and seek to work together for the advancement of the kingdom of God and the salvation of lost sinners.
Ch 4:1-3 – Opposition.
It is no surprise that once the work of rebuilding had commenced and seemed to be advancing well that, once again, Sanballat should make an appearance! When Sanballat and his companion, Tobiah, first heard that somebody had come to seek the welfare of the Israelites (Nehemiah 2:10), they were displeased and disturbed; now that the work was actually under way and was being supported by many of the people, Sanballat became furious and very angry. He had already used derision and mockery to try to prevent the work getting started (Nehemiah 2:19), and now he intensifies his mockery and seeks to get others to join him in his opposition (Nehemiah 4:2). The whole purpose of the attacks of Sanballat was to discourage Nehemiah, and when that did not work, to make fun of the work that the people were doing in order to make them disheartened. This is a classic tactic of the devil as he seeks to disrupt the work of the gospel. Many of God's people will never have to suffer persecution or physical violence, but anybody who seeks to be faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ and to serve him, will be subject to demeaning comments and mockery. Their intelligence will be questioned if they uphold Biblical teaching on creation, their compassion will be denied if they maintain Biblical views of human sexuality, their love will be abused if they proclaim that salvation is to be found in Christ alone. It is so important that Christian people prepare themselves for insult and mockery. Most people like to be liked, and it is not easy when you think that people despise you or think that you are stupid simply because you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must never forget that this is a method that Satan uses to undermine and disrupt the work of God. The positive side is that it means that you are being an effective servant of the Lord.
Ch 4:1-3 – Truth and Lies.
The attacks that came from Sanballat and Tobiah could have been very discouraging for the builders. Like many of the attacks of the evil one, there were elements of truth in what they were saying, as well as blatant lies.
1. They were described as being 'feeble' and that was, of course, nothing but the truth! They had returned from exile a relatively short time previously, they had no great influence or power, and even with regard to the building project, they were not professional builders, but ordinary people seeking to do a job that needed to be done! This, however, is the glory of the work of God! God does not use the great and mighty but chooses the 'weak things of the world to confound the mighty' (1 Corinthians 1:27,28).
2. They were accused of unrealistic expectations. The mention of sacrifice and finishing the work in a day is a mocking suggestion that, somehow, they were going to offer sacrifices and expect that God would miraculously restore the walls for them! This, of course, was never mentioned by Nehemiah, neither was it in his mind. Perhaps the idea was that it would demonstrate to the builders the immensity and near impossibility of the task and thus discourage them.
3. They were accused of vanity. They were 'restoring it for themselves' (Nehemiah 4:2); it was 'their stone wall’ (Nehemiah 4:3). The enemy attempted to make them forget that what they were doing was for God's glory and at His command. They could not prevent the work because Nehemiah had the king's permission, all they could do was to discourage the Jews into stopping. Such is the work of Satan – to discourage believers by pointing out their weakness, suggesting the task is too great, and making them take their eyes off the Lord.
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 23 – What offices does Christ fill as our Redeemer?
Answer – Christ as our Redeemer fills the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, in his states both of humiliation and exaltation.
Comment – The name Christ is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Messiah, meaning Anointed One. Old Testament prophets, priests and kings were anointed with oil when they entered on their work. This points to the way Jesus was specially helped by the Holy Spirit from the beginning of his public ministry.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God that we can work together under Christ as He builds His Church.
Pray that we would see and respond to opposition from the world when it comes, as it will.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC