Sermons

Wed, Jun 27, 2018

Nehemiah 3

The walls of a city are critical for the safety of its inhabitants. We might not think much of walls today, or maybe we do. Interestingly God is very interested in the walls surrounding Jerusalem. Notice what Isaiah 49:15-16 (NKJV) says, “15 "Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. 16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”
Series:Nehemiah
Duration:57 mins 11 secs

Nehemiah 3-4

 

The walls of a city are critical for the safety of its inhabitants. We might not think much of walls today, or maybe we do. Interestingly God is very interested in the walls surrounding Jerusalem. Notice what Isaiah 49:15-16 (NKJV) says, “15  "Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. 16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”

 

This is how God - and the Jews who cared about the things of God – felt about the walls of Jerusalem. The crumbled walls were a symbol of Judah’s humiliation.The toppled stones and charred timbers were a Hebrew Ground Zero you might say. The broken down walls were a scar on the nation’s psyche - a symbol of defeat. And God knew His people would never fully recover until the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt. That's why God sent Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of the city.




Sandy Adams shared a true yet funny story that kind of sums up what Nehemiah is facing in his struggle to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

 

Danny Murtaugh, former Pittsburgh Pirate manager, once said... “I’d like to have (on my team) that fellow who hits a home run every at bat, strikes out every batter, and throws perfectly to each base from the outfield. Any manager would want a guy like that... The only problem is to get him to put down his cup... and come down out of the stands and do those things...”

 

In other words, it’s easier to criticize, than it is to mobilize – to talk about it than to take action and get in the game. And this is especially true in the church. The church today has far too many pundits and not enough players. We need men and women of action. Thank God Nehemiah was a man of action.

 

As we finished up last week Nehemiah was met with opposition to the work right out of the gate. Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem attempted to break up the work through discouragement. The devil knows that when many people get discouraged they quit, they give up from the work God has called them to do. Thank God for the Nehemiah’s of the world who see with the eyes of faith and respond with actions based on trust.  



20  So I answered them, and said to them, "The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem."

 

When Nehemiah called the leaders together, he told them what needed to be done, and encouraged them by relating how the hand of the Lord had been with him so far, and also of the king's words. The Jews were excited and ready to begin. Their enemies, Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, scoffed and tried to stop the building project by raising the false cry of "rebellion against the king." But Nehemiah was not intimidated; the God of heaven had promised success. The people were united, and that is necessary if God is going to bless (Psalm 133:1-3).

 

Philippians 1:6  

6  being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;



Psalm 133:1-3 (NKJV)

1  Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!

2  It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments.

3  It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing-- Life forevermore.



Nehemiah 3

 

As we read in chapter 3 the priests were the first to begin the task by repairing the Sheep Gate. This gate, located in the northeastern corner of the city, was so named because the sheep destined for the temple altar were brought through it. The gates are mentioned counterclockwise: the Sheep Gate (vv. 1, 2); the Fish Gate (vv. 3-5); the Old Gate (or Corner Gate) (vv. 6-12); the Valley Gate (v. 13); the Refuse (or Dung) Gate (v. 14); the Fountain Gate (vv. 15-25); the Water gate (v. 26); the Horse Gate (v. 28); the East Gate (v. 29); and the Miphkad Gate (Inspection Gate, NASB) (v. 31). Verse 32 brings us back full circle to the Sheep Gate. Two other gates are mentioned in the book—the Gate of Ephraim (8:16) and the Prison Gate (Gate of the Guard, NASB) (12:39). There were twelve gates in all, even as there will be twelve gates in the New Jerusalem Revelation 21:12, “Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel” It is significant that God keeps a careful record of all those who serve Him; this is seen in the listing of the names of those who repaired the walls and gates.

 

God never forgets our labors of love!

 

Chapter 3 reveals that Nehemiah was not only a great motivator, but as well a competent organizer.

 

Sandy Adams said of Nehemiah, “Nehemiah knew the answer to the riddle, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer: “One bite at a time.” That was his plan for the colossal undertaking of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He divided the wall into small sections - then assigned each section to a different family. The wall was built one bite at a time.”

 

Nehemiah is a type of the Holy Spirit – and one of the ministries of the Spirit is to help us find our place in the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit gives gives as He wills and bestows upon our lives different callings, and ministries. You could say the Holy Spirit assigns every follower of Christ a place on the wall where we can help in building up the kingdom. God wants every Christian to be on the wall.

 

1  Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They built as far as the Tower of the Hundred, and consecrated it, then as far as the Tower of Hananel.

 

I have always appreciated Jon Courson’s take on the progression of the gates and the symbolism found in them as we go.

 

The sheep gate is where the Christian walk begins as we realize that Jesus is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. (Isaiah 53:6) “All we like sheep have truly gone astray, but the Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all,”

 

Even after we’re saved, the rebuilding process always begins with a renewed focus on the Lamb, a greater love for Jesus.



2  Next to Eliashib the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.

3  Also the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars.

 

Once we see the Lamb of God and become linked to him, the next thing we’re called to do is to be workers for Him. At the fish gate, we do just that as we fish for men’s souls (Matthew 4:19). Yet, as we share the good news of the Gospel, people ask us questions, which leads us to the next gate…

 

 

4  And next to them Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz, made repairs. Next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs. Next to them Zadok the son of Baana made repairs.

5  Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord.

 

Sadly, there are always within every group those who won’t get involved, those who are a poor example of service.

 

6  Moreover Jehoiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors, with its bolts and bars.

 

I like what Jon Courson writes here, “When questions arise, we are drawn back to the old gate—the solid teachings and doctrines of the Word—in order to get the firm foundation of faith every believer must know in order to be effective in service.”

 

7  And next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite, Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and Mizpah, repaired the residence of the governor of the region beyond the River.

8  Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. Also next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs; and they fortified Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall.

 

Nehemiah points out that some times we have to set aside the things we would prefer to do for what needs to get done.

 

9  And next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, leader of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs.

10  Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph made repairs in front of his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabniah made repairs.

 

Jedaiah was a smart man. He didn’t have to go far to work. He worked right in front of his own home. A great reminder that the work of God should always start at home.

 

I like that old adage, “If its not happening at home don’t export it.”

 

11  Malchijah the son of Harim and Hashub the son of Pahath-Moab repaired another section, as well as the Tower of the Ovens.

12  And next to him was Shallum the son of Hallohesh, leader of half the district of Jerusalem; he and his daughters made repairs.

 

I love watching families find ways to serve the Lord together. “The family that prays together stays together.”

 

13  Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired a thousand cubits of the wall as far as the Refuse Gate.

 

After being saved, after witnessing and being driven back to studying the Word, we come to the valley gate—times of trial and difficulty—for, as any teacher knows, testing always follows teaching. Peter would say 1 Peter 4:12. “Don’t be surprised concerning the fiery trials that come your way,”  James would echo in James 1:2–4,“Count it all joy when you fall into various trials because the testing of your faith works patience,” “But let patience have her perfect work that you may be entire and complete, lacking nothing” (see In other words, praise the Lord for the valley gate.

 

The dung gate was where refuse was carried out of the city. When we’re in the valley, we invariably say things we shouldn’t, do things we ought not, have attitudes that are amiss. So we need to go through the “dung gate,” to admit our failure and confess our sin. Then, once confession is made, we come to another gate…



14  Malchijah the son of Rechab, leader of the district of Beth Haccerem, repaired the Refuse Gate; he built it and hung its doors with its bolts and bars.

15  Shallun the son of Col-Hozeh, leader of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate; he built it, covered it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired the wall of the Pool of Shelah by the King's Garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the City of David.

 

The Fountain Gate, the gate where we drink of the Holy Spirit…

 

16  After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, leader of half the district of Beth Zur, made repairs as far as the place in front of the tombs of David, to the man-made pool, and as far as the House of the Mighty.

 

The House of the mighty may have been the headquarters of David’s mighty men.

 

17  After him the Levites, under Rehum the son of Bani, made repairs. Next to him Hashabiah, leader of half the district of Keilah, made repairs for his district.

18  After him their brethren, under Bavai the son of Henadad, leader of the other half of the district of Keilah, made repairs.

19  And next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, the leader of Mizpah, repaired another section in front of the Ascent to the Armory at the buttress.

20  After him Baruch the son of Zabbai carefully repaired the other section, from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest.

21  After him Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz, repaired another section, from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib.

22  And after him the priests, the men of the plain, made repairs.

23  After him Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, made repairs by his house.

24  After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the buttress, even as far as the corner.

25  Palal the son of Uzai made repairs opposite the buttress, and on the tower which projects from the king's upper house that was by the court of the prison. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh made repairs.

26  Moreover the Nethinim who dwelt in Ophel made repairs as far as the place in front of the Water Gate toward the east, and on the projecting tower.

 

It was at the water gate that Ezra would proclaim the Word of God (Nehemiah 8:1). Having gone through the valley of experience and with the fullness of the Spirit upon you, you can share the Word with authority and effectiveness. The power of the Spirit and the path of experience will give unparalleled authority in your sharing.

 

For you history buffs its noted that rabbi Nixon was the first rabbi who supervised the work at the water gate.

 

27  After them the Tekoites repaired another section, next to the great projecting tower, and as far as the wall of Ophel.

28  Beyond the Horse Gate the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house.



Revelation 19:14 tells us that when Jesus returns, He’ll be accompanied by a company on white horses. Thus, the horse gate speaks of the rapture and return of Jesus.

 

 

29  After them Zadok the son of Immer made repairs in front of his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, made repairs.



Through the east gate Jesus will enter at His Second Coming. In 1100 A.D., when the Turks heard the east gate was the gate Jesus would enter, they walled it up and sealed it shut. But in so doing, they fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel 44 that says the east gate shall be sealed until Jesus returns.

 

Gotta love it!



30  After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah made repairs in front of his dwelling.

31  After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs as far as the house of the Nethinim and of the merchants, in front of the Miphkad Gate, and as far as the upper room at the corner.

 

Miphkad literally means “Judgment.” When Jesus comes back, He’ll bring judgment with Him. As believers, we will be judged at the bema seat of Christ—not for our sins because they were already judged on the Cross of Calvary—but for that which we have done in service for Him (2 Corinthians 5:10). Unbelievers, however, will appear before the great white throne judgment and will be cast into eternal damnation (Revelation 20:11–15).

 

32  And between the upper room at the corner, as far as the Sheep Gate, the goldsmiths and the merchants made repairs.

 

God has given different work assignments to believers today. He has equipped us with various gifts and abilities appropriate to the calling He has placed on our lives. The Lord knows who is not really involved in His work and those who are doing more than their fair share.

 

1 Corinthians 3:13 "Each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is"  

 

Here, we see the sheep gate mentioned once again. Why? Because everything both begins and ends with Jesus, the Lamb of God. The Alpha and Omega!

 

Remember, there’re no accidents with the Holy Spirit.

In Hebrews 10:7 Jesus said, “In the volume of the book it is written of Me...” Look on any page in Scripture and you’ll find Jesus... including Nehemiah 3.

 

The Christian life starts at the Sheep Gate – embracing Jesus as our sacrifice.

Next is the Fish Gate where we become fishers of men.

At the Old Gate we learn the unchangeable truths of the Bible.

At times we’re by the Valley Gate and need encouragement.

Invariably, we end up at the Refuse Gate where we have to toss out some garbage from our lives.

That’s when we find the Holy Spirit’s refreshment at the Fountain Gate.

And are cleansed by the Word at the Water Gate, And find strength at the Horse Gate.

 

The journey continues until Jesus returns.

When He does, He sets His foot down on the Mount of Olives and enters the Eastern Gate where He judges the nations - the Inspection Gate.

 

Embedded in Nehemiah 3 you find a wall-to-wall account of the whole Bible.

 

 

Nehemiah 4

 

When God begins to bless the enemy begins to battle.

 

Three ways the devil battles against us.

1. Intimidate.

2. Infiltrate

3. Isolation

 

 

1  But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews.

 

Intimidation…

 

“Ridicule is the language of the devil” The devil loves to taunt the children of God. No one likes to be laughed at.

 

2  And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish--stones that are burned?"

3  Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, "Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall."

 

The enemy lies to us. If you have seen the walls of Jerusalem you know a fox could not cause the walls to fall down.

 

4  Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity!

 

Nehemiah fights back with prayer!

 

Christians do their best fighting from their knees.

 

5  Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.

6  So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

 

God did His part and shut down the enemies plans but the people still had to have a mind to work.

 

What is true with the physical walls is also true with the building of spiritual walls.

The Holy Spirit will help us rebuild walls of morality, character, security, and integrity when we fail, but we also need “a mind to work.” If we don’t do our part in obedience to God’s leading, the walls will remain in ruins. We’ve got to apply God’s Word, pray, fellowship, worship. In other words we need to have a mind to work!



7  Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry,

 

“Sanballat” He was a leader among the Samaritans – north of Jerusalem.

“Tobiah”, and the “Ammonites” were east of Jerusalem.

“Geshem” and the “Arabs” – were south of Jerusalem.

“Ashdodites” were Philistines – a people who lived west of Jerusalem.

 

They have trouble on all sides and they are binding together against Nehemiah and Jerusalem.



8  and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion.

9  Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.

 

Nehemiah watched and prayed. Jesus told His disciples, “Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation.”

 

Keep your head in the game… Prayer is about dependency.

 

“You can do more than pray after you have prayed but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” A.J. Gordon

 

10  Then Judah said, "The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall."

11  And our adversaries said, "They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease."

12  So it was, when the Jews who dwelt near them came, that they told us ten times, "From whatever place you turn, they will be upon us."

 

I appreciate what Sandy Adams wrote regarding our need to watch and pray. I’ll paraphrase what he said, “The laborers worked around so much rubbish there was the danger of an ambush. The enemy could easily infiltrate the city, and hide amidst the debris.

 

Spiritually speaking this is the same problem we face in the rebuilding of our lives when we come to the Lord at any time other than our youth. There is so much debris and rubbish from our past. The Bible calls it the “flesh”. You know, evil thoughts, wrong attitudes, bad habits, embarrassing memories, twisted perspectives. We all have them and have to fight through them with the help of God.

 

The Holy Spirit works in our lives to establish new thoughts, healthy attitudes, good habits, biblical perspectives – but the flesh is always there. Like Nehemiah, we’re also rebuilding in the midst of the rubbish – and it’s the flesh that makes it easy for the enemy to infiltrate, and sabotage, and try to destroy the work. Al the more reason we must watch and pray!”

 

13  Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows.

 

Where does the enemy attack? At the foundation and at the openings. He attacks what we believe and where we receive.

 

Proverbs 4:23-26 (NKJV)

23  Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

24  Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you.

25  Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you.

26  Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established.



14  And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, "Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses."

 

Build walls of protection around your family. If you don’t, the devil will pillage those that you love.

 

15  And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work.

 

Its been rightly noted that the enemy never retreats, he merely regroups.

 

Luke 4:13 (NKJV) “Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”



16  So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah.

17  Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon.

 

So then, what does it takes to rebuild the walls of our lives? A sword in one hand, and a shovel in the other... constantly building and battling – ready for war as they work – ready to fight all the while fixing.

 

We need to build and battle! So what if you build walls, but aren’t ready when the enemy attacks. On the other hand, I know believers with a combat mentality - they love to fight - they’re always anti-something, but they never cultivate personal peace, joy, holiness.

 

Verse 17 strikes the balance, “with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon.” It takes a sword and a shovel.

 

We need balanced lives… Spiritual maturity is best evidenced by balance.

 

18  Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me.

19  Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, "The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall.

20  Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us."

 

We are not unaware of the enemies devices.

1. Intimidation

2. Infiltration

3. Isolation

 

If the workers got so spread out from one another the enemy could pick them off one at a time. Thats what happens when the enemy works. He isolates you and there is no one there to help in times of battle. You are left to fight alone.

 

21  So we labored in the work, and half of the men held the spears from daybreak until the stars appeared.

 

Talk about dedication!

 

22  At the same time I also said to the people, "Let each man and his servant stay at night in Jerusalem, that they may be our guard by night and a working party by day."

23  So neither I, my brethren, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me took off our clothes, except that everyone took them off for washing.

 

You’d think that with the dedication of the workers the wall would get done ASAP but as we will see in chapter 5 a problem comes up that brings the work to a halt.  



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