"THE ATTACKS OF THE ENEMY."
Intro. After Nehemiah had completed the task of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem he kept his promise to king Artaxerxes and returned to Persia where he resumed his duties as the king's cupbearer. Twelve years have passed by and he again sought and received permission to return to Jerusalem where he found that in his absence many things had changed for the worse.
I. THE MAJOR FOE OF NEHEMIAH WHO SOUGHT TO HINDER HIS BUILDING OF THE WALLS HAD NOW JOINED AFFINITY TO THE HIGH PRIEST; THAT IS, HE MARRIED THE DAUGHTER OF THE HIGH PRIEST AND WAS NOW LIVING IN ONE OF THE ROOMS OF THE TEMPLE.
A. We read that Eliashib, who was the high priest had cleaned out one of the storage rooms where the supplies for the temple worship were kept, and had allowed Tobiah to move in.
B. This is that same Tobiah who in chapter -
1. 2:10: Was very grieved that Nehemiah had come to seek to help the children of Israel.
2. 2:19: Who laughed Nehemiah to scorn, and despised him, and said, "What do you think that you are doing?" and accused him of planning to rebel.
3. 4:3: When the wall started to go up mocked and said, "If a fox would bump into it, it would knock it over."
4. 4:7: When he heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being built and the openings began to be filled in, was very angry.
5. 6:1: Who, when he heard that the wall was almost finished and there were no openings left, invited Nehemiah to one of villages to discuss the matter intending to assassinate him.
6. 6:6: He brought an open letter that accused Nehemiah of planning to set himself up as king and rebel against Artaxerxes and threatened to send a letter of accusation to the king.
7. 6:12: Hired a false prophet to try to intimidate Nehemiah through fear to take refuge in the temple to save himself from an assassination attempt.
8. 6:19: Had sent letters to Nehemiah to try to scare him.
C. This evil man Tobiah who had sought so hard to hinder the work of God is now living in an apartment on the temple precincts.
1. Imagine how Nehemiah must have felt to return after being gone just 12 years and find this arch enemy of God in large living quarters in the temple.
2. How could this possibly be?
3. The people had forsaken the temple worship, and this storage room where the supplies for the sacrifices were kept, was not needed, so the priest cleared it out and allowed his daughter and Tobiah to set up living quarters.
D. The other arch enemy of Nehemiah, Sanballat, also had gained the favor of the high priest because one of the sons of the high priest had married his daughter.
E. The enemy had made inroads through these marriages. Tobiah had married a daughter of the high priest, and the son of the high priest had married a daughter of Sanballat.
F. Once again we see the tactics of Satan. If you bar the front door to keep him out, he will come around to the back door to gain entrance.
1. Compromise is a dangerous evil.
2. The Pharaoh of Egypt tried to get Moses to compromise from the demand to allow the people to go out and worship God.
a. He said, "Go, but don't go very far."
b. He said, "Go, but leave your children here."
G. In the New Testament, Paul clearly warned against being unequally yoked together with an unbeliever.
1. I think of how often we see the tragedy of a beautiful Christian young girl falling in love with an unbeliever and being deceived into thinking that after marriage, she will be able to convert him.
a. You maybe can give me a rare example where this did happen, but for every one that you give me, I will give you a hundred where it did not happen, but ended in tragedy.
b. The same is true for the Christian boy who falls in love with a young girl who is an unbeliever.
2. Three things are important for a good marriage.
a. Physical attraction.
b. Emotional compatibility.
c. Spiritual unity.
d. The most important of the three is spiritual unity.
H. Nehemiah discovered that intermarriage with the people of the land had become widespread. He dealt very severely with the problem. He said:
In those days I saw Jews who had married wives of Ashdod, Ammon, and of Moab: And their children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people. And I contended with them, and cursed them, and beat some of them up, and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, that they would not give their daughters to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons, or for yourselves.
I. Nehemiah declared to them that even Solomon as great and wise as he was, was lured into sin by outlandish women.
J. Ladies, I am sorry to say this, but I find myself getting very upset when beautiful women will sell their bodies and cause men to lust after them. They become idols for little girls to try to emulate. The Madonnas and Britanny Spears have done great harm to the morals of our nation. Not only have they corrupted the minds of many men, but they have caused grief and heartache to little girls who follow their example and seek to be sexy at a tender age when they should still be playing with dolls. These little girls too often have ended up in an abortion clinic and will bear emotional scars the rest of their lives.
K. Why are women willing to sell their bodies and souls? The Bible tells us why, "The love of money is the root of all evil."
L. You see so many of these picture perfect women on T.V. talk shows, and other programs, of course, you do not know how much you of what you see is real and how much is plastic, but when you hear them talk, you realize that they have the morals of an ally cat.
II. AFTER TWELVE YEARS NEHEMIAH RETURNED TO THREE MAJOR PROBLEMS.
A. Mixed marriages.
B. The forsaking of the worship.
C. The profaning of the Sabbath.
D. Isn't it interesting that it took only twelve years for the whole moral climate to break down?
E. Can you imagine Nehemiah's consternation?
1. The evil cycle began with lust. Sin usually originates with the desires of our flesh. James wrote:
Let no man say when he is tempted, God tempted me, for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither does He tempt any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. When lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
2. This lust led to the mixed marriages with the people of the land who had no morals, but who actually worshipped sex.
3. This led to a forsaking of God and His commandments.
4. Had Nehemiah not intervened it would have led to a further judgment of God upon the people.
III. NEHEMIAH TOOK SWIFT AND DECISIVE ACTIONS.
A. He dumped Tobiah's furniture out of the room that he had taken in the temple.
B. He ordered the room cleansed and the vessels for the house of God to be brought back in.
C. He ordered the priests to return to their duties and for the rulers to see that they were paid.
D. He reinstated the Sabbath law. He stopped all work on the Sabbath, and would not allow the merchants to bring their wares to the city on the Sabbath day.
E. He took those who had engaged in marriages with the pagans and called for curses to come on them. He beat some of them up and took them by the hair and made them swear that they would not give their children to marry the pagans.
F. These severe and decisive actions kept them from experiencing the judgment of God.
G. There are times when we need to take decisive actions to avert disaster. For as Paul said, "If we will judge ourselves, we will not be judged of God."
H. Often in counseling we advise quick and decisive actions. People often respond "I don't know if I can do that, it would hurt."
I. If I were a medical doctor and you came to me with a blotch on your skin, and I would take a biopsy of the blotch and call you in to inform you that it was a melanoma cancer, but then advise you to not pay any attention to it, maybe it will get better or just go away, because you don't want to operate, for that can be a painful process. I could be sued for malpractice and lose my license to practice medicine.
J. Yes, at times we must take painful, drastic actions to save our lives. What is true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual realm.