|These Sermon outlines were written and submitted by: Joseph M. Willmouth, Pastor of Trinity Bible Church in Biloxi, Mississippi 39532. This contributed article is copyright protected, and the sole property of the contributing author. It may be freely copied and used provided the above credits are included. Document expiration: indefinite.|
Teaching Through Nehemiah
by Pastor Joseph M. Willmouth
Trinity Bible Church, Biloxi Mississippi, in the Book of Nehemiah
"Selfishness, Power, & Believers"
Background: When the enemy fails in his attacks from the outside, he then begins to attack from within. This is where the devil strikes his greatest blow. The devil has already caused discouragement among the Jews, and now he goes a step farther and causes conflict within. One of his favorite weapons is selfishness. If he can get us thinking only about ourselves and what we want, then he will win the victory before we realize that he is even at work. This chapter reveals to us the depths of sin in the human heart and how each of us must learn to love our neighbors as ourselves.
I. The Problem of Selfishness and Power (vv.1-5).
1. "THERE WAS A GREAT CRY" (v.1)Application: Selfishness and Power manifested themselves in the middle of the work. The wealthy businessmen were exploiting the poor to make themselves rich, and they used their POWER to rob some and to put other into bondage. Selfishness and Power are the same source of problems that believers face in churches today, and it has the same effect that it did on Nehemiah's people.A. The great cry was from the "inside"
- The foes outside had not been able to harm as long as there was love and harmony within, but now there is conflict.
B. There were four different groups of people that were involved in this crisis.1) The people who owned no land but who needed food (v.2)
2) The landowners who had mortgaged their property in order to buy food (v.3).
3) Those who complained because the taxes were too high, and they were forced to borrow money to pay them (v.4).
4) The wealthy Jews who were exploiting their own brothers and sisters by loaning them money, and taking their lands and their children for collateral (v.5).
II. The Solution To Selfishness And Power (vv.6-13).
1. Righteous Anger (v.6)Application: It is important to note that the building of the walls did not create these problems; it revealed them. A building program is a demanding thing that tests our faith, our patience, and our priorities; While it brings our the best in some people, it can often bring out the worst in others.A. This was not the flaring up of a sinful temper, but the expression of righteous indignation at the way the businessmen were oppressing their brothers and sisters (Eph.4:26; Psa.4:4).2. Consultation (v.7)
B. Nehemiah was not a politician who asked, "What is popular?" or a diplomat who asked, "What is safe?" He was a true leader who asked, "What is right," and he knew he had the Law of God behind him.A. "I consulted with myself," means literally "My heart consulted within me."3. Rebuke (vv.7-13)
B. Nehemiah put his heart and his head together as he pondered the problem and sought God's direction, so that he could give constructive leadership to the people (Prov.16:32).A. Nehemiah decided to call a great assembly to publicly confront the people whose selfishness had created this difficult and painful situation.- Theirs was a grievous public sin, involving the whole nation; and it demanded public rebuke and repentance.B. He appealed to their love (v.7).- He reminded them that they were robbing their own fellow Jews; BROTHER is used four times here.C. His appeal was based upon God's Word- The Law of Moses forbade Jews to exact interest from one another.D. His appeal was based upon God's redemptive purpose for Israel (v.8).- While God had helped redeem their people, their fellow Jews were putting people bondage just to make money.E. His appeal was based upon Israel's witness to their Gentile neighbors (v.9).- Nehemiah said, " Look, you are causing the enemy to blaspheme because of what you are doing!" Their conduct was certainly anything but a witness to their pagan neighbors.F. He appealed to his own personal practice of lending money (vv. 10-11).- He was lending money to the needy, but he was not charging interest or robbing them of their security.G. He reminded them of the judgment of the Lord (vv.12-13).
III. Correctly Responding To Selfishness And Power (vv.12-13).
1. Nehemiah shook out his robe which was symbolic of what God would do with the money lenders if they didn't fulfill their vow.Application: We must always be willing to admit our wrong doings, and to make things right. Also notice that healing had taken place, because they could come together to worship. Often when we have problems in a church, people will leave instead of coming back together to worship, thus bringing complete healing to all parties.
2.The congregation's responseA. They responded with a assent, "AMEN," So Be It.
B. The congregation worshiped together as the result of putting everything right.
IV. Setting The Right Example When Faced With Selfishness And Power (vv.14-19).
1. Nehemiah used his privileges for helping the peopleApplication: Nehemiah did every thing to please the Lord. He didn't want praise or reward from the people; he wanted only the reward God would give him for his sacrificial service. He knew that the final assessment would come from the Lord, and he was willing to wait. Nehemiah set the proper example even when everyone else wasn't. It's hard to fix the problem if you are a part of the problem. By setting the example, it made it earlier for him to be part of the solution.1) He never used the people to build a kingdom for himself.2. Nehemiah and his assistants did not use the official expense account for their household expenses, nor did they tax the people in order to have something to eat -- they paid their own bills.
2) Nehemiah and his associates were careful not to exploit the people in any way (v.15).
3. Nehemiah participated in the rebuilding of the wall (v.16).
4. He shared what he had with others (vv.17-18).
"The Tools of Leadership Demolition"
Background: Since Sanballat and his friends had failed in their attempts to stop the people from working, they decided to concentrate their attacks on Nehemiah. If they could eliminate him, or even discredit him, they could mobilize their allies living in Jerusalem and take over the city. Leaders are often blamed for things they didn't do and criticized for things they tried to do. They are misquoted and misunderstood and rarely given the opportunity to set the record straight. If they act quickly, they are reckless; if they bide their time, they are cowardly or unconcerned. People in places of spiritual leadership not only have the pressures that all leaders face, but they must also battle an infernal enemy who is a master deceiver and a murderer. If Satan uses his tools of demolition on a Christian leader, he can cripple a whole ministry and discredit the cause of Christ.
I. COMPROMISE (vv.1-4).
1. The enemy's strategy was, "If you can't whip'em, join'em - and then take them over!" Once the enemy gets a foothold in a ministry, he starts to weaken the work from within; and ultimately, the work will fail.Application: The Jews had nothing in common with Sanballat and his crowd, so there could be no basis for cooperation. Often the world will lie to us to get what they want (v.2), and if they can get believers to compromise their beliefs then they have all but won the war. But we must be like Nehemiah and realize that God's work is to great to be compromised, and that a leaderless project is an aimless project that eventually falls apart.
2. The Demolition Tools of CompromiseA. Satan is a master deceiver and has his servants are ready to join hands with God's people so he can weaken their hands in the work.
B. Sanballet and the others had tried to stop the people's work on the wall but when that failed they tried another tactic, Compromise1) "Come, let us meet together (v.2)
2) "And they sent messages to me four times..." (v.4)
II. SLANDER (vv.5-9).
1. Once the first attempt failed, the demolition crew tried another tool.Application: Slander comes in many different packages, but when you hear statements like, "it's been reported" and "they say," these will lead to trouble in many local churches and ministers. In every organization, there are gossips just waiting for tidbits of slander that they can chew, swallow, and then regurgitate. The tool of slander is used to divide and conquer. But we need to be like Nehemiah, who simply denied the reports, prayed to God for strength, and went back to work, and allowed his character to show the people where his heart was. If we take care of our character, we can trust God to take care of our reputation.A. Sanballat sent an Open Letter (vv.5-7).1) The letter was accusing Nehemiah of wanting to be king.B. If this report got back to the Persian king, there would be immediate reprisal; and that would be the end of the Jerusalem project.
2) Sanballat wanted the public to know the contents of the letter because he hoped to undermine Nehemiah's reputation and authority.
3) If some of the Jewish workers believed what was in the letter, then Sanballat could organize them and create divisions within the ranks.
III. THREATS (vv.10-14).
1. We must always be on guard against the enemiesApplication: Nehemiah was outnumbered, yet he stood his ground. He refused to give in, and He prayed about them and left the matter with the Lord. Nehemiah knew they were false prophets because their message they brought. Maybe if more Christians knew God's Word better, they wouldn't be so easily misled by those who claim to have a direction connection to God.A. Don't be fooled and think just because they tried something and it failed that they will stop.2. Sanballat and Tobiah reached in their tool bag and pulled out some False Prophets (v.12)
B. They just simply reach in their demolition tool bag and pull out another tool.A. Shemaiah (shi-may'uh) (vv.10-12)1) He acted like the enemy was after him alsoB. Noadiah (noh'uh-di'uh) and the others (v.14)
2) He wanted Nehemiah to hide in the temple
3) This was forbidden by the Law of Moses (Num. 18:7)
IV. INTRIGUE (vv.15-19).
1. The walls were completed in 52 daysApplication: Satan is not a quitter but stays on the field even after it looks as if he has lost the battle. Many a careless Christian has won the war but afterward lost the victory. Satan is always looking for another opportune time. Scottish minister Andrew A. Bonar said, "Let us be as watchful after the victory as before the battle." We are probably safer when we can see Satan at work than when his agents are concealed. Open opposition is good for God's work and God's workers because it keeps us alert and trusting in the Lord.A. The enemies self-confidence dissipated as they saw that the work was done with God's help (v16).
B. But they didn't give up (v.19).