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The Wall is Completed

Nehemiah  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Nehemiah reports that the wall around Jerusalem is complete in only 52 days despite heavy opposition. Godly leadership combined with believers who work together AND trust the Lord can produce amazing results!

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Nehemiah 6:15–19 NKJV
15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. 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. 17 Also in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them. 18 For many in Judah were pledged to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah. 19 Also they reported his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.

Whenever the Lord does a mighty work in the life of the church or in our personal lives, we often experience a “spiritual high” of sorts.
If we are healthy, we’ll take a minute to enjoy what He has done and recount the journey; both with it’s joys and difficulties.
This is one of the most productive times we can have as a believer-the times when we stop and remember the journey.
This helps prepare us for the next part of our walk with the Lord and hopefully, teach us using both good and bad experiences.
The bad is where we struggle.
We tend to camp out in a few places with the bad.
We talk about the negative in a light that places little to no blame on ourselves.
We talk about the negative with a “could’a, should’a, would’a” attitude, without intending to think about a fix for next time.
We bury the negative as if it never happened.
Then, sometimes, hopefully not too often, there are circumstances like we see in today’s passage.
We see in verse 15 that the wall was built in a miraculous time period.
We see the focus upon the enemies outside the wall (16).
And a focus upon the enemies inside the wall (17).
Today we are going to look at the end result of the miraculous, but not in the way that we normally see it.
Today shows us that the end result isn’t always peachy.
Sometimes when we, as a church, or you and I as an individual, follow the Lord’s leading and guidance there are more conflicts with which to deal.
First, let’s set the tone with the miraculous.

A Miraculous Completion (15)

Nehemiah 6
Nehemiah 6:15 NKJV
15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days.
This doesn’t seem too miraculous, so let me show you why it’s a big deal.
According to scholars, the length of the wall appeared to around 2.5 miles, it’s thickness was around 8 feet, and it’s hight averaged 39 feet.
And obviously, all of this work was done without the aid of modern machinery.
To put this in perspective, when Jerusalem was part of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, the Sultan had the city walls rebuilt. It took them four years to complete the job.
In fact, 52 days seemed so improbable, that the historian Josephus recorded it done in two years.
The Works of Josephus: New Updated Edition Chapter 5: How Xerxes, the Son of Darius, Was Well Disposed to the Jews, as Also concerning Esdras and Nehemiah

(177) He also gave orders that the builders should keep their ranks, and have their armor on while they were building. Accordingly, the mason had his sword on, as well as he that brought the materials for building. He also appointed that their shields should lie very near them; and he placed trumpeters at every five hundred feet, and charged them, that if their enemies appeared, they should give notice of it to the people, that they might fight in their armor, and their enemies might not fall upon them naked. (178) He also went about the compass of the city by night, being never discouraged, neither about the work itself, nor about his own diet and sleep, for he made no use of those things for his pleasure, but out of necessity. (179) And this trouble, he underwent for two years and four months; for in so long a time was the wall built, in the twenty-eighth year of the reign of Xerxes, in the ninth month. (180) Now when the walls were finished, Nehemiah and the multitude offered sacrifices to God for the building of them; and they continued in feasting eight days. However, when the nations which dwelt in Syria heard that the building of the wall was finished, they had indignation at it; (

Even modern archeologists, William F Albright and his student, John Bright disagree with the Biblical account and lean toward Josephus’ account. (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 4, page 715)
In a book published in 2008, Miriam Davis wrote about an archeologist named Kathleen Kenyon. Her work showed the wall’s thickness to be around 8ft, but it’s length to be shortened quite a bit, with the “finish [being] rough, as might be expected in work executed so rapidly.” (Kenyon, Jerusalem, pp. 111; id., Digging Up, pp. 183-84).
The fact that people try to help out the Biblical text gives evidence of the miraculous.
In verse 15, the wall was finished on the 25th day of Elul. Elul corresponds to the months of August-September. This means they started in building the wall during the hottest time of the year!
This completion was indeed a miracle!
People always try to explain away the miraculous.
The six days in Genesis can’t possibly be six days, but a representation of days to millions of years; (yet we believe in a risen Lord, but…)
The risen Lord couldn’t have died, but only passed out.
And all the talk of hell from the lips of Jesus do not represent a literally place of torment and separation, but only of an absence from God.
This was truly, a miracle.
Even when miracles happen, there is opposition.

Opposition from the outside (16)

Nehemiah 6:16 NKJV
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.
We live in a society that says, “Wow! You’ve done it! There were hard times, but you are there.”
Which loosely translates to this:
“Hard times were expected on the way up, but now that you are there, everything is okay.”
Think for example about these contemporary examples:
The same-sex marriage proponents say, “It was just like civil rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s, and we made it. It’s now legal to marry another person of the same sex, so I don’t understand why you are upset.”
People oppose those who are pro-life say, “The woman has a right to choose AND the law is on our side. Why would you oppose this? Does an unborn baby have more rights than a woman?
Friends, many simply can’t believe that there would be opposition!
Nehemiah led his people to rebuild the wall in 52 days!
He organized help from King Artaxerxes.
Nehemiah 2:5 NKJV
5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”
Nehemiah 2:4 NKJV
Then the king said to me, “What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven.
Nehemiah
Gathered up material.
Nehemiah 2:7–9 NKJV
7 Furthermore I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me. 9 Then I went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.
Neh. 2:
Chapter 3 saw the people working side by side, toiling in the hot sun to rebuild the wall.
They then faced opposition and armed themselves WHILE WORKING!
Nehemiah 4:13–14 NKJV
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. 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.”
Neh. 4:
There was also oppression within as well.
Nehemiah 5:1 NKJV
1 And there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren.
Neh. 5:
Friends, it was a difficult time!
They had there opposition from the outside on the way to their goal!
Now they have it after they’ve completed the wall.
The reality is this: if you are a born again believer you WILL experience opposition from the outside.
Matthew 7:13–14 NKJV
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Church, you will experience opposition from the outside!
It may come in the form of a city ordinance, pressure from people to conform to what other churches are doing, or a popular cultural false teaching that beats the doors of the local church through false teachers or weak members.
Matthew 7:24–27 NKJV
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

Opposition from the inside (17-19)

Nehemiah 6:17–19 NKJV
17 Also in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them. 18 For many in Judah were pledged to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah. 19 Also they reported his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.
We all know this is true.
One of the hardest lessons you’ll ever have to learn is this:
Hurt from family is worst kind of hurt.
Nobody likes to be cursed, spit upon, or pushed around.
We’ve all had that coworker who seems to dare someone to smack him on a daily basis.
Most of us have seen the rude customer yelling at the clerk, almost daring you to get involved so they can yell at you too.
But nothing hurts like the cutting remarks from a close family member.
This is the lesson I’ve learned regarding inside opposition-or opposition inside the church: it really hurts because the one who hurt you, professed to be a believer-a brother or sister in Christ.
Check out the context here:
The nobles in Judah: these were people who claimed to be followers of Yahweh. They followed the law, believed in God, and used the term “Jew” to identify themselves.
There are those in the local church who might read their Bible, believe in Jesus, and claim to be a Christian, but create strife inside the body because their sinful desires are more important than the body of Christ.
Many in Judah were pledged to him: why? Because their interests lay in earthly matters instead of heavenly ones.
Look at verse 18
Nehemiah 6:18 NKJV
18 For many in Judah were pledged to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.
They were pledged to Tobiah because of who his people were rather than their concern for being a people of the Most High God.
Why do we have opposition from inside the body today?
Personal selfishness over concern for the body.
Jealousy about who gets what rather than a heart of service.
Corporate greed and desires for the things that another church is blessed with rather than working with what God has given a particular church for a particular time.
Church, let me encourage you as you work for Him.
When you’ve labored, and loved, and worshipped, prayed, studied, evangelized, and discipled, don’t get too comfortable thinking you’ve made it.
Opposition from the outside is certain and sadly, so is opposition from the inside.
Opposition from the outside is hard to take, but think of it as an opportunity for sanctification.
Opposition from the inside is harder to take, but remember that some Christians may be in a bad place and will repent. Pray for them. Love them well.
Other people claim to be Christians, but are not. Use this as an opportunity to
ask them how they came to Christ. If you see that they’ve not received Christ, share the Gospel with them.
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