Bible Study Series on the Book of Nehemiah
Nehemiah 4:7-15 Sanballat's Second Attack: Physical Persecution
by I Gordon
- The Sabeans & Chaldeans: power over people to do his bidding. (vs 15,17)
- Fire/Lightning: power to cause storms and lightning (vs 15)
- Tornadoes/Hurricane: power to use tornadoes and nature to cause havoc. (vs 19)
- Sores & Sickness: power to cause sickness in & upon our bodies (ch 2:7)
- Animals: He can cause animals to act under his influence (Luke 8:32-33)
- Thoughts: What we think are our own thoughts can be from him! (Matt16:21-23)
- Physical Deformity: His power can cause deformity in our appearance (Luke 13:11)
Again, keep in mind that God is sovereign. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.'
While in the west, we don't live in a country where physical persecution happens to anything like this extent, physical attacks and trials still come our way and are used by Satan to weaken our desire for God and the Christian life. In fact, it is the promise of God that "In this world you will have trouble". There, it's a promise! But our response to these trials is what God is looking for, and our faith is what He wants to refine.
 So, you're in a spot of bother! Bit of an attack you reckon?? Then who is the one who fights the battle - God or man? Or in other words, who lives the Christian life? Again Nehemiah gives us insight into this aspect, which may help. On the one hand we can NEVER, EVER forget that "the Lord does not deliver by sword or spear (your natural fleshly effort); for the battle is the Lords" (1 Sam 17:47) and that "without me, you can do nothing!" (John 15:5) God living in man is the essence of the Christian life, Christ in us our only hope of returning to the glory from which we have fallen (Col 2:27, Rom 3:23). Anything we try to do apart from this basis is sin because it is not based on faith (Rom 14:23) and in the end will only produce a heck of a lot of wood, hay and stubble!
Yet, we cannot ignore the commands to be alert, sober and watchful (1Thess 6-8), to resist the enemy (1Pet 5:9), and to put on the full armour of God (Eph 6:11). These things are directed at us to do. Nehemiah knew that dependence upon God was essential and prayed to God. He also knew that a true faith and dependence acts, and was on guard, ready, day and night. The two sides of the coin are seen in verses such as "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might", "For this purpose I labour, striving according to his power which mightily works within me", "therefore, let us be diligent to enter the rest", "work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do." It is an attitude that faces every difficulty with "I can't, but you can. Thank you Father that you are everything I need in this situation." and then steps out!
 I tend to play a lot of tennis and if it's an important match then it is necessary to quickly establish where the opponents' weakness is and then exploit it! Cruel I know, but necessary. If they have a bad backhand then I'll keep plugging away at that weakness and sooner or later they will begin to lose confidence and it will become much easier to win points. Our enemy isn't any different. He will exploit the weak areas - be sure of it. Nehemiah knew it. If it means running round your backhand, run round your backhand. If it means not going or putting yourself into situations or places that cause you to be tempted then do that!
 Pop Quiz Time.... For 40 points and a starter of 10, "What command did Jesus give more than any other?" That's right! "Do not be afraid!" He obviously knew human nature pretty well! I like the amplified version of when Jesus came to the disciples walking on the water. They were in a storm (trial) and Jesus wasn't with them (or didn't seem to be. Surprise, surprise!) They were freaking out cause Jesus didn't seem to know anything about it (or care) when suddenly he comes, calm as can be saying 'Stop being frightened, I AM!' He was again reminding them that even when he doesn't seem close, he is still in total control, the eternal I AM. Everything we will ever need.
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