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The Cloud of Witnesses

Former title Lessons From the People of the Bible



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Lesson 6: Nehemiah – Don’t Let The Urgent Ruin The Important


Nehemiah 6.

Don’t Let The Urgent Ruin The Important

Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem found that Nehemiah was more than equal to their wicked schemes. They tried every weapon in their arsenal to stop, discourage and divert Nehemiah from the task in hand. However, Nehemiah was a man of God. He had been called by God to do a job and nothing but nothing from the enemy was going to stop him.

It didn’t mean he enjoyed it; it just meant that he was determined and knew the result was worth it. His enemies also knew that if they didn’t stop him soon, nothing would and their cause would be lost forever. So they hatched a plan to get him away from the work. Firstly, to join them in one of their villages, which was a bit obvious, wasn’t it? Secondly, to take refuge in the temple, of all places.

Nehemiah was neither gullible nor a fool. He sent his replies and carried on working – doing his job. I love Nehemiah’s comments. To the invite to the Temple he said, “I realised that God had not sent them.” That’s discernment. How we all need that, don’t we?

I think the older I get the more I need it. We long to help people but we also need to understand that the enemy is able to send people to us just as easily as God can. The ones from the enemy come and drain us, frustrate us, and time-waste. We need to recognise them as soon as possible and deal with them appropriately.

I also love his reply regarding visiting them in their village – “I am carrying on a great project and cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Interestingly, he said it four times. Come with me will you to Calvary. Jesus is hanging on the cross. Matthew records the scene and describes what the elders and chief priests said - “He saved others but He can’t save Himself. He’s the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him.”

By faith, I can’t help hearing Jesus say, “I am carrying on a great project and cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”

Had Jesus ‘come down’, we would be destined for God’s wrath and Hell. Yes, it was an insult; yes, it hurt Jesus but by God’s grace and mercy – Jesus didn’t come down. He carried on the great project and died to complete the work He came to do. Amazing Grace!

Nehemiah and Jesus give us the ultimate examples – Don’t give in and don’t give up – the goal is too precious. Maybe you are involved in reaching out to those who have no relationship with God right now and you are feeling discouraged. Can I encourage you, don’t give up and don’t ‘come down’ – You are carrying on a great project – don’t let the work stop!

Nehemiah would say to us today...

Get to know the enemies’ tactics. He is against everything you do and stand for. A sidetrack is as effective as an all-out attack because the result is the same – the work stops. So wise-up, keep your eyes on the goal and don’t let anything divert you or get in the way of your success.


Father, I long to run my race swiftly, resolutely, and passionately to the end. Please protect me from giving in to temptation and the diversions of the enemy. Help me focus single-mindedly on the goal and destiny You have for me. Amen.

Additional readings

Joshua 1:1-9; Luke 9:51-62; 1 Timothy 4:1-8; Revelation 2:1-7.


Why do we so often ‘give-in’ to the ‘squeaky’ wheel?

What are the potential diversions in your life?

What warning signs can you establish in your life, which will help protect you from getting sidetracked?

To whom are you accountable - spiritually?

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