Oh! It’s so easy. Pick up a newspaper and start reading … and read until a deep, dark mood decides nothing works out right. Unpleasant, angry feelings fill your inner being. You know that your standards for good living, good government, good decisions and good environment are down the drain with no apology, no compensation. Self-pity and anger, harsh words and abrasive comments burst from you exactly there where the fountains of living water should flow forth to a broken world. What exactly did Jesus say?
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NKJV)
Jesus said it, so it is true and the consequences guaranteed. Trouble and tribulation will come. Would you like to choose your trouble? Lord, not this thank you. Oh no! I would like to surrender my life again and know that He will not allow anything to overwhelm me.
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, NKJV)
This world is a challenge. Maybe we tend to divide our lives into spiritual and fleshly things. We feel justified to criticize world politics, our own politics and the decisions of authorities that we cannot change outside occasional elections until we fall into misery that bar the courage and strength of God’s word and work in our lives.
This is not a life of faith. Faith and the challenge to live fearless are the basis for our whole existence in imperfect and dangerous circumstances. The greater challenge is to look deeper and know that our God reigns over everything and in every possible condition. The purpose of our life is to be made perfect in Christ and respond to life in spiritual maturity. If worry and fear do not lead us into prayer, revelation and testimony of miracles, we live a tragedy.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:3-4, NKJV)
There is a place, Pebble pal, in the Garden of His presence with green pastures and still waters lacking NOTHING. It is all yours, now, this moment.
Paul also had trouble with the politics of the day, aimed against the new movement called Christianity and executed by his own people, causing “tears and trials”…
… serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials, which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; (Acts 20:19, NKJV)
Well, let us have a look at Nehemiah’s regional politics and the trouble it causes him. His response to devious plotting by his enemies was his characteristic quick prayers – resulting in constant communication with God. His narrative is meticulous, leaving the reader under no wrong impression. The wall is finished but the doors of the gates are not done. (Nehemiah 6.)
His enemies are active. Their activity is motivated by their own fear. Jerusalem in ruins with no defense and without organized residents suited them just fine. The picture is changed and they are afraid. Fearful people become bullies – we know that. They try to get to Nehemiah himself, knowing that if they can keep him busy or stir fear in him, the project will suffer. Four times they send messages to get him to talk to them. He refuses to get down from the place he is building. His response illustrates insight into their strategy.
So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave to come down to meet with you?” (6:3)
The fifth time Sanballat wrote a letter, which was not sealed. Did he want the people to see the content and spread the rumors, so that Nehemiah would be alarmed? Sanballat’s words in the letter were carefully chosen to spread rumours of rebellion against the Persian king, the very king who supported Nehemiah’s project. (6:6)
“It is reported among the neighboring nations, and Gashmu is saying that you and the Jews are planning to revolt, and that is the reason you are rebuilding the wall. And according to these reports, you are to be their king.”
Nehemiah answers short and sweet, not wasting time on lies, with a quick one-liner to God: (6:8,9)
I sent a message to him, saying, “Such things as you are saying have not been done; you are inventing them in your own mind.” For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
Every temptation to draw us from duty should quicken us the more to duty.
Then the attack came from inside, fueled by betrayal. Not everyone is on the same page as Nehemiah, determined to finish a God-ordained project and tapping into the source of quick-prayers. He sustains his courage and inspiration by constant communication with God. Semaja entices him to take refuge in the Temple, since Nehemiah’s life is threatened by Sanballat and his cohorts. Nehemiah answers: (6:11)
And I said, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!”
Semaja was bribed to help neutralize Nehemiah. Nehemiah’s insight into enemy strategy revealed empty threats and fear could not get a foothold.
Fear blooms in doubt and insecurity. Nehemiah’s steadfast dedication to the work, his unwavering trust in God’s protection and provision enables him to push for completion in record time. This is a precious principle of life.
The fear-strategy is so cunning; it is even launched among the prophets active inside Jerusalem. Nehemiah bemoans them all to God. (6:14):
My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.
The result is undeniable success. The wall is finished in record time – 52 days. The consequences of this achievement in the enemy camp are a joy to read. (6:16):
And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.
When the enemy looses self-confidence is a day of triumph for me. God’s miracle is acknowledged through grit teeth!
What does it mean for us today?
If you are busy with a great work in the name of our Lord, you do not waste time on fear and intimidation.
You might say you have only an ordinary job to earn money. You are not serving in ministry or any such high and lofty calling-stuff. It does not matter. Everything you do, you do as unto God.
After these signs take place, do what must be done, for God is with you.
(1 Samuel 10:7, NLT)
Every job is a calling. Being a parent, a friend, a sibling or a child to your parents are the stuff a calling is made of. Live it as unto our Father. Do not give in to fear. God has great plans for your life and He promised to be with you always. In Jesus’ own words:
I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20, NKJV)
The key to knowing our enemy’s fear strategy we find in Psalm 37 with the answer of trusting God. Read with me in The Message:
Don’t bother your head with braggarts
or wish you could succeed like the wicked.
In no time they’ll shrivel like grass clippings
and wilt like cut flowers in the sun.
Get insurance with God and do a good deed,
settle down and stick to your last.
Keep company with God,
get in on the best.
This is our life attitude, developed in the strength of the Holy Spirit in our inner being. We have not received a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) We have peace when the rest of the world withers in worry and dread. We cannot allow ourselves to listen to the fearful intimidation around us. We must respect the high calling of God in our life.
Our calling is our family and closest relationships in the first place. See what God has given you and build your wall. Further on in Psalm 37 is encouragement against the negative forces of life.
Less is more and more is less.
One righteous will outclass fifty wicked,
For the wicked are moral weaklings
but the righteous are God-strong.
God keeps track of the decent folk;
what they do won’t soon be forgotten.
In hard times, they’ll hold their heads high;
when the shelves are bare, they’ll be full.
What is the last word on Nehemiah’s success?
A jolly feast with a live band! Do not forget the feast in God’s honour.
Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps. (12:27, NKJV)
Just read about the choirs and trumpet-playing priests, marching around the wall from gate to gate, giving thanks, feasting and singing at their handiwork.
Many sacrifices were offered on that joyous day, for God had given the people cause for great joy. The women and children also participated in the celebration, and the joy of the people of Jerusalem could be heard far away. (12:43, NLT)
Yes indeed, the enemy heard their rejoicing.
Nehemiah closes his narrative with a full report on sustainable management with focus and diligence. (12:44-47)