Then I sent to him, saying, No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart. For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.
God, strengthen our hands! It is saddening to see that the work of Christ is largely being opposed and crossed by people who call themselves Christians. If it isnt being opposed openly, then it is being crossed secretly (like backbite). If is not being rejected publicly, then it will be condemned privately (in the homes of people, after a service).
The people who are opposing the work of Christ arent merely the Satanists and the atheists, but also (and most of all) the religionists, traditionists and Christian-humanists. These people arent living outside our fellowship, theyre living amongst us. God didn't only say through Paul: [i]"For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock"[/i] but also: [i]"from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves" (Acts 20:29-30)[/i]. These people aren't denying Christ like atheists do. They sing, worship, praise God...but neglect and refuse the whole truth of God. They don't want to be changed radically. They don't want to leave all and follow Jesus...they're seeking own honour and use Christ to add a bit of security to their lives and follow Christ as long as it is suitable to them...
Figuratively spoken (in the context of the book of Nehemiah), these people are living in Jerusalem. They are feeling comfortable and are highly placed. The Church has become a popular place to go to. All ages are being given equal attention. The organisation is running smoothly, until
someone comes along [i]to seek the well-being of the children of Israel (Nehemiah 2:10)[/i]. It says that they were [i]deeply disturbed[/i]. There we go. Everything is running just fine and now some irritating, godly person comes around
seeking the well-being of the Church. Hes preaching the whole counsel of God. He speaks about heaven and hell, about repentance and godliness. About separation from the world and devotion to God. He speaks about leaving all and following Jesus. Hes trying to ruin our organisation! Hes trying to wake up the people here. Hes trying to sow discord. This will cause problems! We need to get rid of this guy.
Who was this guy? His name was Nehemiah. His name means: Consolation or repentance of the Lord. It was a man who heard about the terrible state of Jerusalem. A man who heard about the lukewarm state of the Church.
Where this man saw the outward destruction of Jerusalem, we, as Christians, see the inward annihilation of the Church of Jesus Christ. This man wept, mourned, fasted and prayed to the God in heaven (Nehemiah 1:4). He wasnt seeking the destruction of Jerusalem. He was seeking a revival! But to Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, he had come to put an end to their kingship. They knew what this man of God came to do. The same thing Jesus did when He came to Jerusalem:
Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it a den of thieves. (Mark 11:15-17)
They had to stop this man. This man was disturbing the whole community. He was taking away the peace and pleasure of the church. Therefore, these men began to spread lies, trying to hinder the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Nowadays, it isnt much different. Were not seeking to divide a Church or community. Were seeking revival from God! But the people dont see it, because they dont want it. As Leonard Ravenhill once said:
There are two great reasons we
dont have revival. One: were content to live without it. Two: Its too costly
It doesn't take you to be a non-believer to be an enemy of Jesus Christ. You only have to oppose the cross of Jesus. And God clearly tells us when we are rejecting the cross of Christ (Philippians 3:19):
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
Whose god is their belly
Whose glory is in their shame
Who set their mind on earthly things
[b]Youre an enemy of the cross of Christ[/b] when your god is your belly. Youre only seeking yourself and what you can gain with being a Christian. Youre only seeking own fame and own pleasures. God speaks about that in 1 Timothy 6:5 [i]men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself[/i]. You, as friend of the Bridegroom, are drawing more attention to yourself than to the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ!
[b]Youre an enemy of the cross of Christ[/b] when you glory in what should be your shame. Youre telling everyone that you think smoking isnt wrong. Youre telling everyone that you and your girlfriend have heard from God that it isnt a bad thing to go to bed with each other before marriage. Youre telling everyone that having a relationship with a non-Christian isnt a bad thing at all. Youre like the persons that are being described in 2 Peter 2:20: For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.[b]Youre an enemy of the cross of Christ[/b] when youre earthly minded. What gives you more pleasure: watching Oceans Twelve or being alone with God? If an answer like this comes to mind: What do you mean by being alone with God? Isnt that a bit drab?, youre earthly minded. If you consider praying, reading your Bible, fellowshipping with other Christians as too boring to fill my whole life with, you have set your mind on earthly things. You havent entered into the fullness God has in store for you in Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:10). As Keith Green remarked:
If your heart takes more pleasure in reading novels, or watching TV, or going to the movies, or talking to friends, rather than just sitting alone with God and embracing Him, sharing His cares and His burdens, weeping and rejoicing with Him, then how are you going to handle forever and ever in His presence with no TV, movies, or singles' retreats? You'd be bored to tears in heaven, if you're not ecstatic about God now!
Friends, lets become like Nehemiah who was bitterly grieved about what had happened to the house of God. I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense (Nehemiah 13:8-10)
We will face opposition, but let us endure. Let us be praying men, not trying to defend our rights or our positions. Let us be men of prayer and men of devotion to Christ. Let us seek Christ! Let us not preach about hell, because nobody preaches about hell anymore. Let us preach about hell, because it is part of the whole counsel of God and we are seeking the [i]well-being of the children of God[/i]. Let us not preach [b]against[/b] a community, but let us preach in service to God, for the audience of One (and that will include preaching against sin, lukewarmness etc.). Let us focus on Christ, who was (and is) perfectly [b]balanced[/b] in what He preached and lived. To preach the truth of Jesus Christ without compromise, means to preach both heaven and hell, repentance and forgiveness, sanctification and grace, holiness and being perfect in Jesus, action and rest, war and surrender
it means to prepare the way of the Lord. We dont need to force Him coming. He will come, if only we will prepare His way by living lives that are absolutely surrendered to, sold out to and dependable on God!
The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
"Prepare the way of the LORD;
[b]Make[/b] straight in the desert
A highway for our God.
Every valley [b]shall[/b] be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places [b]shall[/b] be made straight
And the rough places smooth;
The glory of the LORD [b]shall[/b] be revealed,
And all flesh [b]shall[/b] see it together;
[b]For[/b] the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 40:3-5)
[b]Lord Jesus, strengthen our hands![/b]