Nehemiah 4:1-9

I am gradually making small changes to improve the DE.  Some of the changes are coming from conversations from those using it, like the one today of moving the memory verse up the order.
 
Opening Prayer Thoughts
 
Praise God and Confess the sin.
Praise God for the privilege of public worship yesterday.  Praise Him that He Loves us so much that he is willing to permit all sorts of trials to come into our lives to test and mature our faith.
Confess the sin of complaining when we face difficulty because we do not understand this truth. Pray that God would give you wisdom to do so.



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 1:2-4a “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect,”



Please ask the Holy Spirit's help as you come to his Word.
Please read Nehemiah 4:1-9

Notes previously prepared by Rev. Dr. Tim Donachie, with slight amendments.
 
Ch 4:1-6 – Nehemiah’s Response.
Nehemiah did not call the leaders of the people together to see what could be done to counteract the threat, nor did he seek to answer the criticisms made; his immediate response was to call upon God in prayer. For Nehemiah, prayer was the first resort and not the last!
                a. He called upon God to take note of the reproach they were suffering (v.4). Nehemiah was aware that God was concerned about His people, and that the work they were doing was for God's glory and with God's blessing. It is important for the child of God to understand that God is not distant from their daily lives and struggles, and that it is quite legitimate for them to call upon God to witness their distress.
                b. He called upon God to fight for them (v. 4b - 5). Nehemiah was not going to be distracted from the work that he was doing in order to deal with these opponents. He rather committed the whole matter to God for Him to deal with in His own way. Nehemiah may have considered that it would have been just punishment for his enemies to be plundered in a 'land of captivity', but he is quite content to leave the means of dealing with them in the hands of God.
                c. He called on God to vindicate his own cause (v.5b). By seeking to demoralise the builders, Sanballat and Tobiah had provoked God. Nehemiah was fully aware that this work was not his but God's, and any opposition to the work was seeking to resist the Lord and to undermine the work of the kingdom. In these circumstances, it is quite proper for the people of God to pray against those who oppose them, that their wickedness may be restrained.
 
A Mind To Work.
The result of the prayer of Nehemiah was very quickly seen: "So we built the wall ... for the people had a mind to work". The whole purpose of the mockery of Sanballat and Tobiah was to discourage the builders and get them to stop the work, but the commitment of the cause to God enabled the builders to disregard the opposition to the work and continue with the building.
                a. God answered the prayer of Nehemiah by giving the people 'a mind to work.’ “A mind to work is a gift from God, and no significant job will ever be accomplished until people come together with a mind to work." (David Guzik)
                b. It is interesting to note that Nehemiah's prayer had no effect at all on those who were opposing the work. Nehemiah had prayed that God would deal with their enemies, but God answered the prayer by giving to the people the desire to continue with the work in spite of the opposition that was coming their way. God very often answers prayer in unexpected ways, not as we wish, but as He sees what is best for us and for the work of the kingdom. Undoubtedly the builders would have preferred God to have struck down those who were seeking to hinder the work, but God wanted them to know that He could enable them to complete the work in the face of their enemies.
                c. The work was progressing well. The whole perimeter wall had been almost completed to half the height that was required – they had done tremendously well, but the work was only half done! It is one thing to begin a work for God, but it is far more important to carry on the work until it is completed. There is always a need to count the cost.
 
Ch 4:7-9 – Growing Opposition.
The opposition was now not just centred on Sanballat and Tobiah; v. 7 makes it clear that the builders were surrounded by their enemies – Sanballat and the Samaritans to the north, the Arabs to the south, the Ammonites to the east, and the Ashdodites to the west. All these now formed a confederacy with the purpose of disrupting the rebuilding work.
                a. The threat to the work was now more serious – it had moved from ridicule to a plan to physically attack Jerusalem with the purpose of creating confusion amongst the builders.
                b. Although there was a plan to attack, it was nothing more than a threat! There was no actual action taken. No doubt they hoped that this threat alone would be sufficient to prevent the work continuing. This is often how the devil works as he seeks to undermine the work of the gospel. Sometimes the fear of action or persecution is sufficient even if nothing actually happens.
                c. The opponents of the work wanted to cause a disturbance in the city, setting one builder against another. If confusion could be sown amongst the builders, some taking the threats more seriously than others and deciding to withdraw from the work, the progress of the work would be halted. This is ever the work of the devil; if he can get believers to be at odds with one another, he has gone a long way in undermining the work of the kingdom. It is when the people of God focus their minds on the task that God has given them, trusting in the promises and the protection of God, and not allowing themselves to be distracted, that great things are done for God.



Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Psalm 124. Link to the words. Link to it being sung.



Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 24 – How does Christ fill the office of a prophet?
Answer – Christ fills the office of a prophet in revealing to us by his Word and Spirit the will of God for our complete salvation.
Comment – A prophet was a person who spoke the words that God gave him. Not only about the future but also the present. As we seek Him Christ teaches us through his written Word.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.


 
Thank God.
Thank God that no matter what opposition comes, we can, if we follow Christ, be used of Him in the building of His Bride.
 
Take care in Christ,
Andrew 
 
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC