13th December 2018

Resisting Distractions

“When our enemies heard of it, and all the surrounding nations saw it, they thought it a very wonderful achievement, and they recognized that this work had been accomplished by the help of our God.”
Nehemiah 6:16 (NEB)

In reading the New English Bible, my favourite book of the Bible so far is Nehemiah, and chapter 6 in particular has stood out. Nehemiah has returned to Jerusalem to assist with the rebuilding of the wall. At this point three men in particular, Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, are attempting to cause trouble, and reading this chapter I found myself thinking three times, “Satan would do this to us if he could!”

The first time in verses 1-4 they invite Nehemiah to come and talk things over with them—it was a delaying tactic and they were seeking to do Nehemiah harm. The wall had been built and only the doors left to put in the gates. The last thing these men wanted was for Nehemiah to complete his task, so persuasion was used to get him to stop his task. Nehemiah’s response? “I have important work on my hands at the moment; I cannot come down. Why should the work come to a standstill while I leave it and come down to you?” Four times this happened but Nehemiah was consistent and refused to be deflected from the job given to him by God. How many times has this happened to us, we start well but end up distracted and so the task comes to a standstill?

The second time in verses 5-9 Sanballat tries again, this time with the threat of a false report backed up by fellow conspirator Geshem, that rebellion is planned and that Nehemiah would set himself up as king. These two men were trying to make Nehemiah come down to talk with them—this time with threats and intimidation. Nehemiah’s response? “No such thing as you allege has taken place; you have made up the whole story.” How often has Satan tried to intimidate, threaten and manipulate circumstances so that we would cease to do God’s work?

The third time in verses 10-14 Nehemiah visits Shemaiah since he is confined to his house. There, Shemaiah tells Nehemiah “Let us meet in the house of God, within the sanctuary, and let us shut the doors, for they are coming to kill you – they are coming to kill you by night.” This time direct threat of death is used to intimidate Nehemiah, but he realises that this prophecy was not from God and that Sanballat and Tobiah had bribed Shemaiah. Nehemiah’s response? “Should a man like me run away? And can a man like me go into the sanctuary and survive? I will not go in.” How many times has Satan stirred people to conspire against us to our harm? We should remain firm in our convictions since we are able to go into the sanctuary that is God’s throne room for the help we need when we need it the most.

In verses 15-19 we see just how much pressure was put on Nehemiah by those around him, but he never wavered from the task given him, and the wall was finished in 52 days. The enemies surrounding Jerusalem had to admit just how wonderfully the job had been achieved and they had to acknowledge that God’s will had prevailed. In the end this is exactly what Satan will have to do when God has achieved His will in our lives.

Prayer
Father in Heaven, help us to recognize the wiles of Satan trying to distract us from you and from doing your work. As we focus on your work, others will see and glorify you. We pray in Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by Rosemary Gent

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About the Author:
Rosemary Gent attends Nottingham Grace Communion.

Local Congregation:
Nottingham Grace Communion
Lucy Brown Hall
Attenborough Lane
Beeston
NOTTINGHAM
NG9 5HZ

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Richard White
Email: nottingham@gracecom.church

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