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Psst . . . Have You Heard?

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
June 3, 2024 12:00 am

Psst . . . Have You Heard?

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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June 3, 2024 12:00 am

In this episode, Stephen dives into Nehemiah 6, exploring the relentless attacks Nehemiah faces from both outside enemies and internal betrayers. As the Red Dragon, the Devil, ramps up efforts to stop the rebuilding of Jerusalem, Nehemiah encounters ridicule, fear, and discouragement. Stephen highlights the critical piece of armor Nehemiah relies on: the helmet of salvation, which protects the mind against the enemy's assaults. Join us to discover how Nehemiah's steadfast faith and discernment amidst the enemy's schemes can inspire and equip us in our own spiritual battles.

Truth for Life
Alistair Begg

Build, the kind of life that stays at times at the hard labor of building a pure life, building a marriage, building a family, building a church, building a reputation that cares about unbelievers and your testimony to them.

You build one piece at a time as you build a path to them. Build in such a way that when there are phases of completion, those around you have to say, have to be brought to the conclusion, can only define us in terms of a sovereign involvement of our God. If you're involved in doing anything good for the Kingdom of God, Satan wants to stop it. He has several tactics that he uses to do just that. One of the schemes and tactics that Satan uses is false rumors designed to discredit you and the work that you're doing.

Has that happened to you? It happened to Nehemiah. Everywhere he turned, Satan tried to prevent him from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen Davey takes us to Nehemiah 6 where we'll see the latest attack, the attack of false rumors. The piece of armor as we have tried to relate what Nehemiah was going through with the believers' own battles and the armor that we are to wear, there is one piece that doesn't seem to get much headlines or much press. It is the piece of armor known as the helmet of salvation. It is that helmet that protects our minds as it were.

It is that helmet which must be employed when we are assaulted in one of these three areas. We need to think correctly. We need to think biblically. We need to think theologically and reflecting upon, meditating upon, considering the truths of the redemption and how they relate us to each of the three persons of the Godhead are part of this weaponry that causes us to stand against the lures of the red dragon who will come along and say you really don't belong, you really do not have value, and you really can't pull that off. Nehemiah will face his most difficult battles because they are primarily battles that will require biblical thinking. One author commenting on this chapter that we're about to look at said that this was a battle of nerves. And so it was.

Let's find out why. Nehemiah chapter 6 verse 1. Now when it was reported to Sanballat, Tobiah, to Geshem, the Arab, and to the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall, and that no breach remained in it, although at that time I had not set up the doors in its gates, then Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to me saying, come, let us meet together at Sheferim in the plain of Ono. But they were planning to harm me. So I sent messengers to them saying, I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you? They sent messages to me four times in this manner, and I answered them in the same way. Did you notice from verse 1 the timing of this attempt?

Basically to create confusion. We'll see how. Verse 1 tells us that the walls are finished. There's no breach, no hole, no easy passageway for the enemy. However, the gates have not yet been hung.

In other words, it's the last possible moment for the enemy to stop the work before those massive gates are hung which can be closed and locked. It's also the best time perhaps to approach Nehemiah with some lure because perhaps now more than ever he could feel somewhat self-confident that the project is going to be completed, and he could let his guard down and slip into this trap. And the request from his enemies comes in this form of a polite invitation to begin dialoguing together. Come, let us meet in Ono, which happened to be, by the way, an oasis.

It was fertile land with trees and water, another luring thing about this particular invitation. It's as if they were saying, come on, Nehemiah, we know we've been dogging your heels for months, but let's get together and talk it over and let's meet over there in that oasis. What do you say?

Let's just relax together for a few days. Four times they asked if he wanted in all expenses paid vacation to the Ono Resort and Conference Center. And four times Nehemiah said the same thing, no, no, no, no. While it looked good on the outside and he ran the risk of appearing cold and heartless and not necessarily interested in keeping peace by refusing their invitation, he knew, he discerned while it seemed no one else did that they were trying to trick him. So on the outside, it looked like they wanted to get together and people must have been confused as to why he wouldn't go along with it, but he knew that it was just a facade. They didn't want to make amends. They didn't want to talk it over. They didn't really want to reach an agreement.

That stuff's been happening in the Middle East for centuries. But underneath, as Nehemiah writes in his diary, the latter part of verse two, they were planning to harm me. And so by refusing, he risked being interpreted as someone that he wasn't. In fact, one of the commentators that I have enjoyed reading put this in the form of newspaper articles that could be read had they been written in this day. Here's how it would have seemed to people watching on.

One newspaper article. From Samaritan sources, it has learned that Governor Nehemiah of Judah has, again, turned down the invitation of Sanballat, head of the district of Samaria, to come to the village of Ono for a conference of the big four, Gajmu leader of the Edomites, Tobiah leader of the Ammonites, Sanballat and Nehemiah. Sanballat issued an announcement today in which he sharply criticized Nehemiah for his repeated refusal to appear at such a meeting, the purpose of which, according to Sanballat, was to simply adjust the relations among these rulers and bring about peace in the area.

For reasons known only to God, Nehemiah was able to discern that this was a trap. They wanted him down there so they could kill him. And his answer four times that cut right to the chase was a very simple answer, no, no, no, no. Now, if I had been asked by these men, I've tried to think what I would have said, I think after the first one I would have said, no. After the second one, well, that's interesting, Lord, they asked me twice, they're persisting, maybe there's some good here, no, no.

Third request, well, you know it is in the fertile region of Ono and it is a resort and maybe I can start a Bible study over there and do some ministry. No, I better not do that. Well, you see, four times, no, no, no, no.

By the way, that's a wonderful word to learn how to say. You need to say no more often to your children. You need to say no more often to television commercials. You need to say no more often to temptation.

You need to say no more often to the shopping mall. Amen? Amen. You need to say no more often to the golf course. Amen?

Oh, Sopranos, head that way. Let's practice saying that little word together, it'll keep you out of a lot of trouble. Okay, on the count of three, one, two, three, no. Say it again.

Louder. Will you listen to temptation's voice this week? Will you live for yourself this week? Verse five, then Sam Ballot sent his servant to me in the same manner a fifth time with an open letter in his hand and it was written, it is reported among the nations and Gage Mews says it, whoever he was, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel, therefore you are rebuilding the wall and you are to be their king according to these reports. You have also appointed prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, a king is in Judah and now it will be reported to the king according to these reports.

So come now, let us take counsel together. In other words, we cannot trick Nehemiah, so let's discredit him. This was an attempt to create a scandal. Let's tell everybody that Nehemiah is rebuilding the wall only because he wants to be the king.

Let's attribute his passion and desire to wrong motive. Let's tell him that he simply wants to follow in David's footsteps and sit upon the throne of Jerusalem and this was a bombshell of a letter. It started a rumor that could destroy the credibility of Nehemiah and that, ladies and gentlemen, was the point. That was their hope. But can you imagine how the news here would rifle through the camp?

Nehemiah just wants to be the king. There would be some that would say, well, I can't believe it, but I can believe it. Frankly, the more interesting the gossip, ladies and gentlemen, the more believable it seems and the faster it will travel. There is something about all of us that causes us to listen and believe anything that is whispered to us. And if you want to get somebody's attention, all you have to do is say, have you heard?

And you have their undivided attention. Begin it with, now here's something confidential. You will guarantee it will not be by saying those words. But once it's out, it's out. Many times the damage is irretrievably done and as one man wrote, commenting on Nehemiah chapter six, trying to squash a rumor is like trying to unring a bell. My friends, if you have ever been on the other end of a rumor or if others have gossiped about you and you know that it has not been true, learn from Nehemiah's example.

Look at verse eight. Here's his response. Then I sent a message to him saying, such things as you are saying have not been done, but you are inventing them in your own mind, period. Now listen, there are 10 reasons why you're wrong and I want to give you those 10 reasons and write a long letter. Or I can explain why some of those misguided prophets out there are telling people that I want to be the king. They see prophecy and everything and they want a king and so they assume I'm it and so they say I have not hired them and here's my checkbook.

Look, I haven't made any payments to them. None of that. No self-defense, no self-vindication, no long letter in return. Just simply it's not true.

You've made it up, period. And would you notice how he stays focused on the real issue? Look at verse nine. For all of them were trying to frighten this thinking they will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done. Now did that response settle at all?

No. The gossip spread and many in Jerusalem became suspicious of Nehemiah's motives. In fact, later in this chapter you'll discover that the leaders of the tribe of Judah actually believe the rumor and the princes of the tribe of Judah will eventually become involved in a correspondence with the enemy Tobiah in trying to get rid of Nehemiah.

There is no insurance policy for word of mouth. And here, after being accused of having deceitful motive and proud ambition, he prays in verse nine, but now, oh God, strengthen my hands. And this so hurt him, you cannot help but notice that he didn't pray about the invitation to come to Ono. No prayer. He just said no. In the earlier chapter, they threatened to come and fight him and he straps on his sword and in effect says, come and get me.

And all the workers put on their swords and they kept building. But here, he was personally attacked and his credibility and character was brought into question and here you see him pray. He is alone and he writes in a site in his journal that he uttered to God those agonizing words, oh God, strengthen my hands.

The implication was his hands had become weak. The enemies of Nehemiah and the work of God said, let's trick him, then let's discredit him. But Nehemiah kept on building and so the third attempt was an attempt to create compromise. If we can't trick him, if we can't discredit him, then let's tempt him to sin. Verse 10. When I entered the house of Shemaiah, the son of Deliah, the son of Mehedabil, who was confined at home, he said, let us meet together in the house of God within the temple and let us close the doors of the temple for they are coming to kill you and they are coming to kill you at night. Now imagine somebody telling you, there are enemies of yours and I am on the inside track. I've heard the news. They're going to kill you and they're going to kill you one night. Now try to sleep. You'll hear every noise, every rustling branch, every bark of a dog.

You'll lie there in terror. This sounded so good, it came from a priest. In fact, if you study further, you discover he was a prophet. The English translation sort of obscures the fact that he said this to Nehemiah in the form of an oracle. In other words, he was saying, Nehemiah, I have a word from God. They're going to come and kill you in the night, so let's hide out in the temple. That's the word of God. But Nehemiah saw through this phony prophecy, verse 11, but I said, should a man like me flee? Could one such as I go into the temple to save his life?

I will not go in. Then I perceived that surely God had not sent him, but he uttered his prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballad had hired him. Imagine a priest on the payroll of the enemies of God. A prophet being paid by the enemies of the work of God. He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly in sin.

Now, wait a second. Sin? Was it sin for Nehemiah to be afraid? No. Was it sin for Nehemiah to hide out somewhere in the night? No, I'd have been in the closet somewhere.

Not at all. But if you look closely, you notice that Shemaiah proposed they hide out in the temple. The original language lets us know that this was actually a reference to the holy place. It was a place that only priests could go into.

A person who wasn't a priest could never enter the holy place. To go in there, even though it might mean that he would save his life, he would violate the law of God and he would sin. So, ladies and gentlemen, what we're learning here about this man is that he would rather lose his life than sin. That's somebody hard to tempt, isn't it? How much sin do we allow into our lives before we become even slightly troubled? Would we rather die than violate the law of God?

That was true for him. By the way, this provides great insight on how to determine good counsel from bad. Let me give you some things. How do you determine if it's good counsel or bad counsel? Number one, does the counsel violate your character? I love the way Nehemiah just says, should such a man as I flee? Is a man like me going to run? Am I going to stop what I'm doing and go hide? No.

That's not me. That's not what I want to be for God. It would violate my character. Two, does the counsel contradict scripture?

What does the word say? The Old Testament scriptures were clear. You did not go into the holy place unless you were a priest, period. You know how much sin occurs within the body of Christ because people take the word and twist it or ignore it or reject it? What does the word of God say?

Third, does the counsel hinder your commitment? What was Nehemiah committed to doing? Hiding for his life or building a wall?

Building a wall. Verse 14, he adds as an aside to his diary, remember, oh my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these works of theirs, and also Noah Diah, the prophetess, and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me. Evidently, he had division among the prophets of God. Some prophets were saying, Nehemiah is our man.

He's going to be the next king. They were misguided. You had other prophets who were saying, let's get rid of Nehemiah. He's not our man.

So the prophets were divided, and some prophetess named Noah Diah was right in the mix. So we can't trick him. We can't discredit him into quitting. We can't tempt him into sinning. So let's abandon him.

Let's create another attempt at division. Skip down to verse 17. Also in those days, many letters went from the nobles of Judah to Tobiah. Now, you need to understand the postal system is working from inside the city of Jerusalem out to the enemies of God, primarily referenced by Tobiah. For many in Judah were bound by oath to Tobiah because he was the son-in-law of Shekiniah, the son of Aaron, and his son Jonah, and had married the daughter of Meshulam, the son of Barakiah, I think is how you say all those. Moreover, they were speaking about his good deeds in my presence and then reporting my words to him. Now, frankly, I couldn't take a week of this.

Could you? I mean, here you're trying to work with the princes of Judah. They're part of the people that you're trying to help. And they've got this letter thing going with Tobiah, the enemy of God.

And he endured it for months and even years. And there are prophets, and there's a prophetess and others. And did you notice what they're doing here? Verse 17, letters are going back and forth. And verse 19, moreover, they're speaking about Tobiah's good deeds in my presence. In other words, they keep telling me what a good guy Tobiah is. And Nehemiah, you need to get over your problem with Tobiah. Tobiah's a great guy, and we really don't have a part of the camp. And Nehemiah's the only guy who's saying, uh-uh, he's an enemy of God. He's an enemy to God's work. In fact, later on in the book, when Nehemiah goes to revisit Persia, while he's there, the priest, the high priest, sets up an apartment inside the temple for Tobiah.

And he moves in. And the first thing Nehemiah does when he comes back is throw all of Tobiah's furniture out on the street and tell the priest to clean his room out. But how difficult this must have been. The leaders of Judah don't see it, but he did. I am convinced that probably this was the loneliest, most difficult assault on his own life that he had ever faced.

But he wouldn't quit. Look at verse 15, very sweet words. So the wall was completed. You ought to underline that in your text. You could miss it if you didn't. So the wall was completed on the 25th of the month Elul in 52 days.

Can you imagine any sweeter words than those? We finished the wall. Put away your tools. Clean up the mortar.

Take down the scaffolding. Let's swing those massive doors shut. And the city of God was secure. The city of God was bringing honor again to him. There were those who were faithful inside those city walls who were glorifying God at this moment. Ladies and gentlemen, when believers resist the lore of the dragon, two things happen.

Number one, God's work reaches completion. You think about it. For 100 years it couldn't be done. That's all that they heard.

It can't be done. But this time the people had their hearts in the work and a leader who wouldn't quit. And I can only imagine the celebration here as those walls were completed and those doors shut fast as the people of God began to celebrate.

And I can only imagine the nations around them with all of their plotting and all of their planning and all of their intimidating and all of their rumor mongering and the devil behind it all. They had ultimately failed. The wall was finished.

Number two, something else happens, dear friends, and it's even better than that. God's name receives all glory. Would you look back at verse 16 quickly and it came about when all our enemies heard of it and all the nations surrounding us saw it. They lost their confidence for they recognized that this work had been accomplished because of Nehemiah's leadership. That's the reverse version because the people were skilled at building, because the timing was right, because the king had provided letters of security, because the royal forest had provided lumber for the gates.

No. They recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. In other words, these unbelievers knew that someone supernatural had to have been involved in order for these walls to have been reconstructed in just 52 days. What a way to live.

Do you hunger for this kind of life? The kind of life that stays at times at the hard labor of building a pure life, building a marriage, building a family, building a church, building a reputation that cares about unbelievers and your testimony to them you build one piece at a time as you build a path to them. Build in such a way that when there are phases of completion those around you have to say, have to be brought to the conclusion can only define us in terms of a sovereign involvement of our God. God is glorified and his cause is advanced because the dragon so hates the honor and glory of our God.

No wonder the dragon battles whatever God builds. It should be no surprise to us that there is no advancement of the kingdom of heaven without corresponding opposition from the kingdom of hell. And any time that people say we will advance the kingdom of light the kingdom of darkness comes and will use any method or any mean to stop the word. We need to expect it.

We need to be alert to it. We don't battle against flesh and blood. We ought to put on the armor of God because we struggle against rulers our text says to memorize these days, against powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in high places. There is an unseen and we need to expect that. So keep on building the walls of your character, keep on building the walls of your homes, your personal walk with Christ, your testimony and know all the while that the dragon will continually drop different lures into the waters of your lives to try to trip you up and keep you from building on.

You need to live with that kind of perspective or you will become a casualty with so many others. I read this a few years ago and it so marked me. The story of a man, a young man named Dudley Ting. He was a well-known preacher, a young man who traveled around preaching in revivals and conferences. In 1858, he preached to 5,000 men a meeting that was organized by the Young Men's Christian Association.

We call it the YMCA today. And after preaching, 1,000 of those men, young men accepted the free gift of salvation. God was using him in a mighty way and after that meeting, he went home, went back to the farm, he was waiting for a meeting that night in which he would preach again and he went out to watch in the barn as his father's workers were shelling corn and they had this mule-driven machine with lots of gears and that corn was being shelled and as Dudley stepped forward to watch, the sleeve of his garment caught in one of the gears and it pulled his arm in and severely lacerated his arm. Of course, with primitive medical times and the great loss of blood, he would soon be dead and when it was clear to his father and those workers and others that he would die, his father leaned toward him and said, Dudley, tonight there will be people expecting to hear you preach and instead of that, they will hear the news that you have died. Is there any message that you want me to communicate to them? And he thought, summoned all of his strength up and he said, Dad, tell them to stand up for Jesus.

That night, the assembly hall was packed with people. They had come expecting to hear Dudley Ting preach and instead his father stood and told them of the accident and Dudley's death and then he delivered to them Dudley Ting's final message. A man was there who heard those last words by the name of George Duffield. He would later sit down and compose a poem that we, the church, have sung now for over a century that goes like this. Stand up, stand up for Jesus, you soldiers of the cross.

Lift high his royal banner, it must not suffer loss. From victory unto victory his army shall he lead till every foe is vanquished and Christ is Lord indeed. Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in his strength alone. The arm of flesh will fail you, you dare not trust your own. Put on the gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer.

Where duty calls or danger be never wanting there. Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long. This day the noise of battle, the next the victor's song. To him that overcometh the crown of life shall be, he with the king of glory shall reign eternally. In other words, keep building.

Let finished walls answer the dragon. And so build in your lives so that God is honored with his great name glorified. What a great reminder for us today. You've tuned in to Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davy. If you joined us late or had to step away for part of this lesson, you can go online and listen to it again. You'll find us at The fastest growing way that people interact with our ministry is through our smartphone app. Tens of thousands of people have downloaded that app and are using it to access these Bible-based resources. You can listen to today's lesson or the complete archive of Stephen's teaching at either the website or on our smartphone app. We'll have another lesson tomorrow, so be with us for that, here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-03 00:14:17 / 2024-06-03 00:24:58 / 11

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