A Mind to Work! #4

Thursday, May 23, 2019

So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6 KJV).

It is a verse from Israel’s ancient records, but the underlying principle is most beneficial to us if we are willing to hear and believe it.

The Jews under Nehemiah’s direction build the sections of the wall of Jerusalem (chapter 3). Also, they reconstruct the various gates or entryways. In spite of the opposition and snide remarks from their enemies (2:19), God’s people are not deterred. They have determined not to let Satan get the advantage.

Watch how chapter 4 opens: “[1] But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. [2] And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? [3] Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.

“[4] Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: [5] And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders. [6] So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.” (Here is today’s Scripture, please notice.)

Sinful Gentiles, men cooperating with Satan, continue to make fun of God’s work. The LORD has ordered Jerusalem and its walls to be rebuilt, so the Devil has naturally taken the opposing view. Verse 7, “But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth,….” Satan is relentless….

A Mind to Work! #3

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6 KJV).

It is a verse from Israel’s ancient records, but the underlying principle is most beneficial to us if we are willing to hear and believe it.

Nehemiah chapter 2 continues: “[9] Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. [10] When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel. [11] So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days….”

“[17] Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. [18] Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. [19] But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? [20] Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.”

When Israel’s enemies (Arabs, Palestinians) heard that a man, Nehemiah, had returned to Jerusalem to seek Israel’s best interests, those adversaries became willing tools of Satan. They laughed at Nehemiah and his Jewish brethren, attempting to discourage them from rebuilding the city wall. Nehemiah correctly responded, “The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.” He had already trusted God’s Word, and they were heartened to rebuild….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is it permissible for us to be proud of our accomplishments?

A Mind to Work! #2

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6 KJV).

It is a verse from Israel’s ancient records, but the underlying principle is most beneficial to us if we are willing to hear and believe it.

Nehemiah, a Jew, lived 450 years before the Thessalonians of Paul’s ministry. He was in Persia (modern Iran), born there after the Babylonians captured and exiled Judah nearly 150 years prior. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had ransacked Jerusalem, and burned its walls and Temple. Nehemiah is despondent, depressed to learn that Jerusalem still lies in ruins after all these decades. (Read Nehemiah chapter 1.)

Persian King Artaxerxes asks Nehemiah why he is unhappy. Chapter 2: “[3] And [Nehemiah] said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? [4] Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. [5] And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.

“[6] And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. [7] Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; [8] And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.”

The LORD God has granted Nehemiah favor with Artaxerxes. Now, Nehemiah can return to rebuild Jerusalem and especially its walls….

What a Stiff Neck! #6

Friday, April 5, 2019

“For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” (Deuteronomy 31:27 KJV).

A Christian lady was expressing her frustration over her unsaved family members being “stubborn” as concerning believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Or, in Bible terms, they are “stiffnecked.”

The Scriptures say, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Mankind refuses that truth: he resolutely believes he is good. Here, the lost person sees Jesus Christ as unnecessary. Commandments are viewed as “help” to get to God and merit His favor. A sinner, instead of realizing his or her “lostness,” stubbornly cleaves to works-religion. Man does not see himself as the evil monster he really is; he just cannot agree with God and take a negative view of himself. Falling for the strange delusion that he can keep God’s laws perfectly, his efforts replace (!) Christ’s finished crosswork. It is truly a miracle when the unsaved escape such trickery: that enlightenment comes through the Scriptures to a sincere heart.

God’s Word pronounces, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Christ’s finished crosswork offends the Christian’s flesh (sin nature) as it upsets the lost person’s flesh (see above). Christians also obstinately cling to works-religion: they come to faith in Christ alone by grace alone through faith alone, knowing Calvary alone can save them, but then they labor to please God for rewards (material blessings, physical health, et cetera). It is truly a miracle when the Christian escapes such deception: that enlightenment comes through the Scriptures to a sincere heart.

Honestly, God does not want our “good works;” He desires our trust in Christ. Grace not works! Jesus Christ gave His life to us, not for us to then use a legalistic system to simulate it, but for Him to live it in and through us as we believe His words to us. It is our faith in His faith—His faithfulness not ours, His crosswork not ours, His efforts not ours! Let us cease being “stiffnecked!”

LORD, Defend!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof. As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it (Isaiah 31:4,5 KJV).

Behold, God ultimately delivers Jerusalem!

Zechariah chapter 12: “[2] Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem…. [8] In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. [9] And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”

At His fiery Second Coming, Christ flies from the third heaven, through outer space, and penetrates Earth’s atmosphere. From the air, He fights the Antichrist and his allies attacking Jerusalem (Revelation 16:14-16; Revelation 19:11-21). Isaiah chapter 31 continues, “[8] Then shall the Assyrian [Antichrist] fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited. [9] And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.”

Zechariah 14:1-4: “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east….”

LORD, Hear!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God (2 Kings 19:15-16 KJV)

Will God pay attention to King Hezekiah’s prayer?

Back in chapter 18, verse 13, Sennacherib King of Assyria attacked and captured all the fenced cities of Judah. King Hezekiah, ruler of Judah (in Jerusalem), gave Sennacherib all the silver in the Jerusalem Temple, the treasures of the king’s house, and gold from the Temple (verses 14-16). However, Sennacherib sent officials to taunt Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem, claiming he would attack the city anyway (verses 17-37).

In chapter 19, Hezekiah prayed to the LORD, even instructing representatives to go to the Prophet Isaiah for to learn the Word of the LORD (verses 1-7). A written message from the Assyrians reached Hezekiah (verses 8-13), teasing and intimidating the Jews even more. In today’s Scripture, Hezekiah has heard this latest news and is praying in the Temple (verse 14).

His prayer continues: “[17] Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, [18] And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. [19] Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD God, even thou only.”

The LORD replies to Hezekiah’s petition by sending Isaiah the Prophet (verses 20-34): He will defend Jerusalem for His sake and for His servant David’s sake! Verse 35, “And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand [185,000!]: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.” Indeed, 700 B.C., God delivered Jerusalem here—a small glimpse of her deliverance from Gentile armies yet to come!

Something in Which to Glory!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

“As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:12-14 KJV).

In what shall we glory? About what shall we boast? In what shall we find value?

Religion produces people who enjoy bragging all about their “dedication to God.” “Look what I did—the ceremonies in which I have participated, the many prayers I faithfully recited daily, how much I put in the collection plate, see how many pleasures I gave up to please God! Come, see how much I love Him!” Dear friends, the Apostle Paul found great value in something—but that something was not what he did. All that human flesh can accomplish pales in comparison to the work in today’s Scripture.

As Lent begins, the time when religionists temporarily (a mere 40 days) relinquish some pleasant food or activity, let us remember that our performance is often non-performance. Once we place ourselves on that treadmill of “do, do, do,” we are guaranteed to fail at some point. Human flesh is simply too weak to maintain 100 percent—that is sin! Even concerning one rule, we cannot keep it perfectly. We mess up eventually.

If ever we believe that our puny works are worth bragging about, let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul in today’s Scripture. While some boast in their religiosity (in the passage, the Judaizers applauding their rite of physical circumcision), and such denominationalists today urge us to obey their church’s instructions so they too may boast in our ability, let us eschew such foolishness. Being imperfect, all their works do not measure up to Christ’s finished crosswork. At Calvary, we find the only sacrifice that will ever please the God of the Bible. If we must boast, let us brag that He did what we could never, ever do!

See our archived Bible Q&A: “Should Christians observe Lent?