52 Days of Purpose

Nehemiah 6:1-16 NIV - When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates—2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.” But they were scheming to harm me; 

Those who had already mocked, threatened, and discouraged Nehemiah and the wall-builders shift tactics when progress is evident.  They pretend to want to hash things out as though they have any concern for Nehemiah.  Enemy tactics often include pointless meetings that are only part of a scheme to harm.

3 so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” 4 Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer. 

Nehemiah persisted by focusing on his holy mission rather than get entangled in meaningless discussions with insincere people who did not support nor desire his vision becoming reality.  Many people need to be aware of pointless or dangerous distractions and follow Nehemiah’s example to stay focused on God-mission.

5 Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter 6 in which was written: “It is reported among the nations—and Geshem says it is true—that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king 7 and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.” 8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.” 

False accusations, slander, and the threat of turning friends into foes was a ruthless enemy tactic.  Rather than defend himself or get drawn into the trap, Nehemiah simply clarified the real issue.  Similar things often happen today when you are leading or doing a good work - the voices that oppose you will resort to slander, false accusations, and deceit to make you look bad in front of others.  Call it what it is.

9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” 

Enemies use fear as a tactic to stop the work of God from progressing to completion.  It is in that season of distress from fear, slander, and deceit that prayer for strength is essential.  Notice Nehemiah prayed that he would not stop serving and fulfilling his sacred mission.

10 One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, “Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you—by night they are coming to kill you.” 11 But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” 12 I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me. 14 Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophet Noadiah and how she and the rest of the prophets have been trying to intimidate me. 

Perhaps the most ruthless tactic of the enemy is to use the very brothers and sisters who should be working with you to intimidate you or make you doubt if God is with you.  Sadly, these were Jewish prophets with an agenda that wasn’t of God.  Nehemiah had disregard their fear-mongering and predictions of destruction, despite the fact they had prophetic ministries.  Pray for the discernment of Nehemiah.

15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. 

Even with liars, slanderers, and for-profit prophets predicting evil, the mission succeeds in 52 days.  Most notably, God gets the glory and credit among all people.  When God’s people are true to His mission and rally around a clear, purposeful vision with a mind to work, God joins the workforce.  Notice that everyone realized this important fact - God did it.  In all out noble labors and efforts to build up the kingdom of God in doing our part, may all who surround us say the same thing:  God did it.  

What God-dream or divine task could you, your family, your serve team, or your church be willing to pursue with all your heart for the next 52 days?  What huge mission seems impossible to accomplish in such a short time?  What would you want everyone else to realize and admit: “God did it”?  What prayers and labors are you willing to dedicate to this cause?  What discouraging or deceitful voices are you prepared to shut out completely to stay focused on this mission?  God’s purpose is worth the price.  God’s power flows to His purpose, so work to serve God’s purposes!