|Difficulties||7 lessons||Reading Bible||Image of Jesus|
What does this mean?
Being a disciple means follow the Lord Jesus, living as Jesus did. So too must believers serve and follow the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. We can to do so in four steps:
- Working with the Holy Spirit
- Calculating the costs
- Showing a new devotion
- Recognizing the certainty of forgiveness.
1. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit
| : Soul|
Clothing: neat and well cared
|Basement||: Body||Sexlife, old life|
Having the Holy Spirit work in your life: in mind, soul and body. And without working against or resisting in any way, but by giving the Holy Spirit complete freedom in all areas of your life to shape you for the task.
Jack and Margot have bought a house. They have great plans for the decorations. Before the marriage, they know that the old inhabitant is still living there, but soon might die. But on their wedding day, they are informed that the old person is still alive. The plans remain. After 3-5 years the person is still living in their house. The plans start to fade away.
So it is too with the working of the Holy Spirit. We accept Jesus Christ, Who bought us with His blood. And our body becomes a temple (house) of the Holy Spirit. But then comes the question: Do we continue in the old way (the old life), or do we work with the new owner, the Holy Spirit?
2. Calculation of the costs
|Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them, "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king,||going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not,while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. "Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill; men throw it away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear".|
3. A (new) devotion
John the Baptist: As proclaimer of the gospel of God.
Elijah: As miracle worker using prayers for healing the sick.
|The Lord Jesus Christ had the true devotion:||Fully surrender to the Will of God|
Curing the sick (and the sick of heart: the sinner)
Completely willingly until the death on the Cross of Golgotha
|The believer:||Surrender of himself/herself completely to the Holy Spirit|
Surrender of the mastery of your own will to God
Surrender of your responsibilities to the Lord Jesus Christ and let Him take care of you, let Him guide you at all tasks, that He orders you.
4. Certainty of forgiveness
Certainty of the forgiveness of sins: Matthew 11:28-30; Phil. 3:14 and 1 John 1:9. Although we stumble and sin repeatedly, we have in the Lord Jesus Christ the certainty of forgiveness of sins, if we confess them to him.
What does Luke 14:25-35 mean?
Luke 14:25-35: The Lord Jesus does not attract, but repulse.
Becoming a disciple of Jesus means that you must trust the Lord Jesus Christ 100%, and give the Holy Spirit the complete freedom to shape you. Why does the Lord demand 100%?
- He gave Himself 100% and died on the Cross of Golgotha.
- If you do not give 100%, it is hindering your spiritual life. You will experience a continuous brake on your tasks, since the Lord every time says "NO" to your own work.
Being a disciple has all to do with completely surrendering for the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hate: is to put yourself at the second place, and to put the Lord Jesus Christ at the first position.
Renouncing your sinful life for Jesus, means the certainty of being accepted by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).
Why does the Lord Jesus Christ give you (temporarily) a cross to bear (weakness, illness, burden, handicap, suffering)?
To understand better those, who already have a load in their lives!
There are many people, who do not wish to bear that cross. Bearing a cross has been associated with dying. Those who are not prepared to die (by themselves), cannot expect to become disciples of Jesus (Hebrew 4:12-13 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of heart. And before Him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him on Whom we must place our trust).
The life of the soul has to do with your feelings. Feelings may tell you that you are not able. The sword of God pierces soul and spirit. We are must not depend upon our feelings, but must follow Gods instructions!
Medically you are not able to divide joints and marrow, unless a person dies. A disciple must discard their egoism. Becoming a disciple is a process of growing during your life. You cannot lose your complete egoism that would be asking too much. If you surrender yourself to the labour of the Holy Spirit, you shall lose your egoism progressively, and the Holy Spirit will show you which sections of your ego you need to lose. AND do not do this upon your own strength, but through the fruit and power of the Spirits labour.
If you take up your cross (yoke), and you are prepared to bear the cross (which the Lord puts upon you at that moment), soon you will not feel the yoke, since a huge blessing is coming upon you. Sometimes the yoke can be enormously heavy, so that you may think that you will collapse. Then ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words to pray in all honesty and holiness to God and to tell the Lord God and the Lord Jesus Christ that you are not longer capable of bearing the yoke (and tell why). Often the Lord let will remain the yoke with you, because He is standing besides you, and you must continue, otherwise you are not useful to the Lord, and is He not able to shape you. In some cases, however, He will listen to you, and (temporally) remove the yoke.
YES, being a disciple means (sometimes) bearing a cross.
The Lord Jesus says: "Follow Me". Not walking in front, but walking behindthe Lord Jesus Christ, and also not walking beside.
Sometimes the believer wishes to progress, to hurry. But God has a time schedule for your life. Sometimes a believer wishes too much, and they are not yet ready for the task or yoke, which God is going to put him or her. Patience is a good practice. Sometimes first God must make some preparations (at another believer, disbeliever, authorities), so you must wait for Gods time!
Going behind Him is much easier!!! When you are walking in front, over and over again you need to ask in which direction you are suppose to walk, and you must stand still until the Lord Jesus is again besides you. Resulting in impatience, doubts, insecurity and questions!
Following: You can only follow, when you walk behind someone.
IS: receiving it all from God, that then are cleaned and purified by God. God gives you all necessities for His work and your capabilities for His service.
You never receive when you are walking in front, you only receive when you walk behind Him! Who follows the Lord Jesus Christ comes at the place where the Lord wants you. Those who walk in front of Jesus, do not arrive at the place the Lord wishes (since you already turned too early to the right or to the left).
|And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And Sermon as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay. Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the labourer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart. As you enter the house, salute it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town." Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.||When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes. "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household." So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughteragainst her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward".|
What does this mean?
Gods Plan for His disciples is perfect
It is very important to understand Gods instructions, that He wishes you to follow His Plan for your life.
The Lord Jesus give very detailed instructions of how he wants the work to be performed. God determines for you, where He wishes you to work. So, you canNOT choose your own working area. God only gives you the power in the area where He wishes you to work for Him, never outside that area. Certainty of your destination you will receive when you are obedient.
God gives you a destination. You will become stressed as soon as you try to go beyond that area, and on top of that your labour is not blessed and without any fruits. No one outside your area will become a Christian!
God prepares us for the task which we as his disciples must fulfill. He tells us, that we must not take any artificial stimuli but, in order to do great things ( but must through the power of the Holy Spirit). See Acts 3:1-10, no silver and gold . . . . but healing.
Thank the Lord for the limitations for your gifts. When you are not capable of working with children, then some one else can do that job and you can devote yourself to what the Lord asks you to do. We (believers) are all members of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12: 12-30), every believer (Christian) has their tasks and order within the Body of Christ.
In 2 Cor. 12:9 the Lord says: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. The Lord does not give power, in order that He can work fully in you. So never be concerned about your own weak equipment for the task to do. God takes care of all things, spiritual equipment (through the power of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells inside you), financial means and nourishment.
Gods work follows the rules of the Lord. Gods method is not equal for everybody. He not only assigns your task and locality, but also your working method. Every disciple receives a different method for working. Therefore do not envy the abilities of your brother or sister (their gifts). Be not critical, but just ask the blessings upon their and your labours.
From Gods Word, the Bible, learn the methods by which Jesus taught His disciples, when instructing them and learn what is most suitable for with you. Pray for wisdom and ask the Lord to reveal His Will and your talents.
A board or church council ought to support the called person. The board or council may never work against the called one or tell how they must do their labour. God equips and uses every individual in His way and ordains that the parish, board and council are only there to help and guide, build up and support in prayer behind the called one. All must pray for their own labour and fulfillment of the Holy Spirit.
In your labour, the Lord points out to you the dangers. So do not be afraid of dangers, for God informs you of them (providing it is His wish). The Lord will NOT protect you when you are doing as he wills or when you do not work in His strength.
Sometimes you may receive a heavy burden to pray for yourself or fellow brethren or sisters and disbelievers. Do NOT shun this, take your time (hours) to pray. The Lord has a purpose of that burden (and hours in praying). The Lord wish to be worshiped, and during prayer He can reveal you things and tasks, make things clear to you and that you support your brethren and sisters against the attacks of Satan. Take your time to listen to Him, so that He can show your the way to follow.
Sheep: image of weakness, that cannot do anything on its own.
Innocence: be careful, be obedient, be alert.
God does NOT say that we stay out of the hands of disbelievers, imprisonment and torture are possible. However, disbelievers can only kill the earthly body, not the soul of the believer. For the believer receives at the Coming of the Lord an imperishable body. Then the believer will be in Heaven for eternity. The disbeliever can only touch the earthly things, but cannot destroy heavenly matters.
Do not be concerned about witnessing for Christ (providing your have prepared yourself in prayer).
The Heavenly Father takes care of us. Even in the most distressing situations.
These verses may not sound very diligent in our ears, but escaping is not possible. Let us rejoice therefore about the blessing behind it. For the Lord has already passed through it and He remained faithful until death. Therefore He can go besides us and understand us (Hebrew 4:14-16).
The reward of our perseverance and persistence.
The mission of God consists of:
- God is glorified
- The Parish of the Lord Jesus Christ is built up (the believers grow in knowledge of Gods Word, and surrender completely to the Holy Spirit).
- The Kingdom of God is expanded and souls are saved.
God is glorified by:
- John 15:9-10 Obedience worked through Love (Love, see 1 Cor. 13)
- John 15:16, 19 Remaining in the Lord Jesus Christ
- John 17:11 Unity between the Lord and you, you and your fellow-men
- John 3:7 Remaining righteous
- 1 John 4:17 Confidence
- Hebrew 12 Seeing in God, the certainty of fulfillment of prayers.
Unfortunately there are many lukewarm and sleeping Christians, and this saddens the Lord. For the Lord Jesus Christ gave His Life for the Christians and God does not wish that any one perishes, but that all receive eternal life in Jesus Christ. But for this He needs many believers, Christians, who proclaim the Gospel and provide the necessary money for that labour. When Christians fail, many perish, this is the responsibility of Christians.
What are the reasons that Christians are lukewarm and sleeping?
- One does not read daily the Bible (see Reading the Bible). The Christian does not pray before they start reading the Bible and do not ask for filling with the Holy Spirit in order to understand and learn from Gods Word, resulting in one not understanding the Bible, it is hidden. Resulting that Biblical knowledge is failing to be spread and proclaiming the gospel and Biblical teaching are inefficient.
- No daily prayer. Romans 8:27; Hebrew 13:15-16; Isaiah 59:16 and 1 Samuel 12:23.
- One is not willing to serve the Lord (Hebrew 12:15-16, Romans 15:26-27).
- One is focused upon their disappointments, own sorrow, misfortune, that one has stopped reading the Bible, praying and proclaiming Phil. 3:14.
- Praise and thanksgiving have vanished Ephesians 5:20, Phil 4:4 and 2 Thessalonians 2:13.
- One fails to confess their sins 1 John 1:9. If one persists in this, the result is one quenches the Spirit, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19.
- One neglects to meet together with fellow-believers, Hebrew 10:25.
- There is lack of love for the fellow-man and towards the Lord.
For all these eight matters you are solely responsible yourself. The much commonly heard excuse is: "Yes, but I do not have enough time." Is this really an acceptable excuse for the Lord? How would you like it, when the Lord tells you "Now I do not have time for you." Is the Lord only good enough when you are in great despair, and then suddenly the Lord must be there for you?
Be honest, that is not the way it works?
How much time and money did the Lord invest in you in order to save you, and to ensure that you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?
The Lord allows us all to use materials and revenues of His possessions: the earth.
Man is only a steward. Man is allowed to harvest corn and wheat. But without rain, no harvest, but drought and hunger.
So, as a believer you are a steward over your time and body. You are in His service. The Lord Jesus Christ has bought you, freed you from the power of Satan with His precious blood and His death. He has given you eternal life and given you a heavenly commonwealth (Phil. 3:20).
You freely accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and took this action. But this action has consequences too.
In His Word, the Bible, the Lord Jesus has given many commands to his believers (that you may fulfill in His strength and Grace). Your service upon earth is very short, 1- 60 years? That is in no relation to the rich and eternal life, which awaits you in Heaven. If you had not come to faith in Jesus, then eternal death awaited you in the lake of fire.
What is Gods main command? We read this in John 13:34
A new command I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
The Lord Jesus loved us so much, that He gave His Life for us. So we too must love one another. Loving means to surrender and give all for the other person, also in deeds! The Lord wishes, that you love Him with your complete heart, soul and strength! He wishes that you serves Him.
Why will you not serve Him out of gratitude? For you have received the spirit of sonship (Romans 8:15). What a grace and privilege God has given to you.
So are there any more reasons to do these seven commands?
Yes, read Luke 14:14-24. Many had no time or another excuse. Then the lord became angry. He ignored the invited and gave their seats to others. Why would you waste your reward? You are still able to earn many rewards in Heaven:
- If we persists and stay loyal, we shall reign with the Lord Jesus Christ as kings in His 1000-years Kingdom 2 Timothy 2:12.
- If we suffer with Him (1 Peter 3:13-18 patiently suffer), we receive eternal glory 2 Timothy 2:9-10.
- If we retain boldness and hope until the end, we shall enter the house of Christ (differently from the house of God) Hebrew 3:6, Phil. 3:1014.
- If we commit ourselves completely to bear witness of the gospel, we shall receive imperishable wreath 1 Corinthians 9:19-27.
- If we kept our faith until the end, we shall receive the crown of righteousness 2 Timothy 4:7-8.
- If we endure temptations well, we shall receive the crown of life James 1:12, Revelation2:10.
- If we have given all honour and thanksgiving to the Lord, we shall receive a crown Revelation 4:9-10.
Let us never forget that our short suffering (10-60 years?) here on earth is in no way a comparison to the eternal (billions of years) of glory, peace, rest and enjoyment in Heaven.
God must have the first place in your life, before your wife / husband, before your children, before your hobby / work. See Revelation 2:4-5 and Luke 14:26.
Let us give honour and time which we own Him to the Lord.
Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that you will receive the inheritance as your reward from the Lord; you are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23).
|The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the capital, that Hanani, one of my brethren, came with certain men out of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that survived, who had escaped exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, "The survivors there in the province who escaped exile are in great trouble and shame; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire." When I heard these words I sat down and wept, and mourned for days; and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, "O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments; let thy ear be attentive, and thy eyes open, to hear the prayer of thy servant which I now pray before thee day and night for the people of Israel thy servants,||confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against thee. Yea, I and my father's house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances which thou didst command thy servant Moses. Remember the word which thou didst command thy servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return tome and keep my commandments and do them, though your dispersed be under the farthest skies, I will gather them thence and bring them to the place which I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.' They are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power and by thy strong hand. O Lord, let thy ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants who delight to fear thy name; and give success to thy servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man." Now I was cupbearer to the king.|
What does this mean?
Nehemiah, his spiritual life and assignment.
Nehemiah become affected when he learnt about the despair in Jerusalem. Nehemiah lived in the citadel Susa. Here was prosperity and protection. Still his heart was occupied with the problems of his brethren who remained imprisoned in Jerusalem. His movement guided him into prayers and consequently into action.
The different forms of prayers:
- The serious praying.
Nehemiah begin to pray in the month Chislev (December) and still prayed in the month Nisan (March). So he prayed at least four month. That became the base for his labour.
Our prayers are never rewarded, if we are not committed to the case for which we are praying.Nehemiah prayed seriously. He went up so very much in praying, that he even wept and mourned. He was so busy in praying, that he forgot to eat (fasting).
- Nehemiah pleaded especially for the grace of God. He was not indignant at the needs of the brethren.
- The consistent prayer.
By now I am praying day and night to Thee. The prayer is not only during the quiet hours. The case for one which is moved, one carries it continuously upon his heart. This matters one is continuously discussing with God, even during work and also when one is resting. Hebrew 4:16 "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need".
- A humble and confessing prayer.
Nehemiah himself was correct person, upon whom none found fault. For he was the kings cupbearer. Still he confessed the sins of his nation. He united himself with them and interceded: Heavily we have misbehaved against You.
- The Scriptural prayer.
Nehemiah begin to plead upon what God Himself had said. One must accept and plead upon Gods promises. In fact, you must remind God of His promises. But of course you must meet with Gods conditions.
Appeal starts with yourself. Pray for the cleansing in your life, confess your sins. Nehemiah confessed, though there was no fault with him. He pleaded: It is Your case. We are Your servants. We are Your people. It is Your power, and so on.
- Nehemiah had never be mournful before in the presence of the king. Our witness may shine the happiness of the Lord. This king was godless and the enemy of Israel. Nehemiah prayed to God when he was with the king. He shot hastily a prayer up to God. He prayed for his people, but he went too to the king to request for his assistance. Especially Nehemiah's prayer led into practical service.
Many persons do wish to pray for other people, but they fail to change to practical action.
Praying also means that we offer practical assistance to those for whom we are praying. That can be by assisting ourselves where needed, or by requesting another person who is able to do so to provide assistance, or by giving of financial aid.Be correct in the labour of God. One must keep promises. Be careful to retain the trust of people, especially disbelievers (here a committed appointment with a godless king).
The boldness of Nehemiah grew. He continued: "If it pleases the king ...."
One was not be pig-headed, but humble and submissive.
Nehemiah received from the godless king all necessary equipment:
- Letters for the governors
- Wood for the gates, wall of the city and his house
- Officers of the army and horsemen for protection.
- Nehemiah prayed day and night
- Nehemiah had compassion for his case
- Nehemiah willingly offered himself for the case.
Why is daily prayer NECESSARY?
- We all have reasons to thank God daily, for He has given His Son to die for our sins and we can every second of the day have unity with God the Father. We can be grateful for the suffering, dying and resurrection of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
We may give thanks for our rich and abundant food and drinks that we receive from Him daily and that we are not born in a country of poverty, hunger and cold.
We may give thanks for our health (and we are not a disabled person of sufferer of chronic pain).
We may give thanks for the hearing of our prayers. For the fact, that the Lord is in everything working for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). For in fact God has raised His Son at His right side, where now He is our High Priest (Hebrew 4:15) and prays and pleads for believers (Romans 8:34).
We may give thanks that the Holy Spirit lives in each believer, He gives us love, power and wisdom. For the Holy Spirit Who cleanses us of sins, so that we by confessing our sins are able to continue in unity with God and bear the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
- Daily intercession is necessary for workers in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why?
- The Bible commands it: Hebrew 13:7 Remember your leaders.
- They have the full battle against the power of darkness and Satan.
- Continuously they must forfeit their ego, sometimes means a struggle of self denial, in order to live in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ and be example for others.
Often one conquers souls through witness in attitude, so that disbelievers are seeing the change in out lives and witnessing the image of the Lord Jesus Christ in us.
- They must give much love to persons who hate and ridicule them.
- They battle against false teachings, yoga, T.M., spiritualism, horoscopes, abortion, homosexuality, and so on. These are attacks against the power of darkness and Satan. Not only disbelievers dislike this, even brethren and sisters in Christ attack the Christian leaders upon these issues, because they say: "For God is Love", but one forgets what God tells in His Word, the Bible, and that God is Holy and does not condone any sin!
- They point brethren and sisters towards their sins. The leaders must do that with much love and if possible with meekness, but RELENTLESSLY. However they are human too, and sometimes they are felt to be hard and cold. So intercession is very much needed that the Holy Spirit convinces, and gives much love and insight to the parish man.
Many more reasons are to noted. Here are provided some reasons for the necessity of intercession for Gods workers.
- The intercession is needed also for weak brethren and sisters, in order that they may put aside and conquer certain sins (Drunkenness, addiction to smoking and drugs, vanity, coldness and hardness, returning to old earthly living, and so on).
Who was Nehemiah?
Nehemiah was cupbearer of the king, we are able to read in the last verse. That is a honour, considering a Jews in exile, being a cupbearer of the (enemy) king. And what a trust. Someone in that position can easily poison the king, someone who in principal should be hateful and hostile towards the king for he was carried away from his own country and exiled to a strange country. Nehemiah's knowledge may have been vast, for there were very many cupbearers in the country and kingdom of the king, but Nehemiah was rewarded with the favour to be the kings cupbearer. In this we clearly see that Nehemiah took his time for research and to do a precise study of the things that obtained his interest. Showing from Nehemiah 2, where he was able to explain in detail his desires to the king.
Nehemiah was informed about the needs of Jerusalem in the month Chislew (November and December) and in the month Nisan (March and April) he went to the king with his desires. So for at least three months he prepared himself. First he invested the need in Jerusalem, making an inventory what was needed, calculating any possible resistance and attack of the enemy (in Israel) and how to present his case to the king. First he calculated the costs (as well as for himself), before presenting the case for the king.
Do we, believers, go that well prepared to our King, the Lord Jesus Christ?
Or something comes to mind, and without thinking and calculation, planning of handling we present it to the Lord and request without any consideration?
If something (vast) comes into our path, first we must take a break, calculate the costs, estimate the enemy and make a plan (of attack). After we have (very) well prepared it (using prayer), then we can present it to the Lord and request His permission and His consent. Then when we are able to answer the questions which the Lord asks us, we are ready. Otherwise we will receive an irrevocable NO, you we not achieve anything or get an answer at all, no blessing and our work will fail. When you are well prepared, then the Lord will guide you along, and you must follow His guidance, and you can expect His blessings upon your (spiritual) labour, as well as Gods protection against the evil powers and Satan, and protection against persons who wish to harm you, and you will see fruit upon your labour.
|In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, "Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing else but sadness of the heart." Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, "Let the king live for ever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchers, lies waste, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?" Then the king said to me, "For what do you make request?" So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favour in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' sepulchers, that I may rebuild it." And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), "How long will you be gone, and when will you return?" So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah; and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house which I shall occupy." And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me. Then I came to the governors of the province Beyond the River, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent with me officersof the army and horsemen. But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard this, it displeased them greatly that some one had come to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.||So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; and I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no beast with me but the beast on which I rode. I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Jackal's Well and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which had been destroyed by fire. Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King's Pool; but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass. Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall; and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing; and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest that were to do the work. Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer disgrace." And I told them of the hand of my God which had been upon me for good, and also of the words which the king had spoken to me. And they said, "Let us rise up and build." So they strengthened their hands for the good work. But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they derided us and despised us and said, "What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?" Then I replied to them, "The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build; but you have no portion or right or memorial in Jerusalem".|
What does this mean?
Nehemiah request to the king
Nehemiah was thinking of his people in Jerusalem and that made him very sad. Sadness was not allowed in the presence of the king. Therefore that got the attention of the king and he asks: "Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick?" Rightly Nehemiah becomes frightened, because he is sad in the presence of the king, which was forbidden. Nehemiah prays quickly to God. And now it shows how well prepared Nehemiah had his case (at least 3 months of preparation, starting in the month Chislew (Nehemiah 1:1 November/December until the month Nisan (Nehemiah 2:1 March / April)), for he is able to answer the king's questions. Pay attention to Nehemiah's modesty: "If it pleases the king". Nehemiah continues with his plan and his arguments: "send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' sepulchers, that I may rebuild it."
Nehemiah had prepared his case well, for he could answer the kings questions: "How long will you be gone, and when will you return?" And Nehemiah set the king a time. That certainly was not a short period. Nehemiah 2 starts in the twentieth year of king Artaxerxes, Nehemiah returns in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon (Nehemiah 13:6). So he request a period of absence of 12 years! AND Nehemiah got it!
Nehemiah must have will prepared it, for 12 years is a long time of absence.
And Nehemiah continued with "If it pleases the king". He counted upon enemies, and therefore he requested letters of protection from the king and the kings permission to build walls around the city Jerusalem, yes even money (may give me timber) of the king. Then his enemies we not be able to attack him and accuse him at the king of Babel. Nehemiah had prepared everything well and he was very frank, honest and clear in his plans towards the king of Babel. He did not hide anything.
How do we approach, believers towards our King, the Lord Jesus Christ? Do we approach respectfully, well prepared, devoutly frankly and honestly? Is the case not self interest, but completely focused upon Gods Kingdom? Do we estimate well our enemies, requesting protection of God for us against Satan's, powers of darkness and human enemies?
Do we receive the good hand of God over us and our labour, like the king gave all to Nehemiah and the good hand of God was over Nehemiah?
The appeal of Nehemiah upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem
- It was a powerful appeal, because it was based upon prayer and personal calling. Nehemiah was a man of God, but he remained human.
Note the fact, that upon arrival in Jerusalem, he needed 3 days of rest (Nehemiah 2:11 compare with John 4:6).
His appeal was born out of personal conviction (Nehemiah 2:12-16, see also Galatians 1:16).
Nehemiah had to lay down all loads. He left his beast behind and continued with a in-depth research, a true wrestling through the ruins. Nehemiah disliked superficial research, even it took troubles and great pains, he continued his investigation. First he wished to do a detailed research in order to be able to calculate in the minute detail and to exclude any possible surprises. Do you go that well prepared in proclaiming the gospel and doing the work of God?
Pay also attention to Nehemiah's way of working. Again first he goes (with only a few men, verse 12) to investigate, but does NOT inform any of his fellow-citizens, the priests, the nobles, the officials and the rest that were to do the work (verse 16). Just after investigation and thorough research, when he is certain of his case, Nehemiah informs in verse 16 and 17, the Jews, priests, officials and rest.
Personal research is very important and must be undertaken thoroughly. The Lord does NOT answer to a superficial research.
First calculate the costs, make a plan before presenting it to your leaders and fellow-believers.
- It was a powerful appeal, because he had united himself with the debt of the people:
- You see the adversity in which we are.
- Come let us.
- So that we no longer are a disgrace.
In time of despair and defection, we easily blame others. Nehemiah did not criticize anybody.
Is not Nehemiah identical to Chris's figure?
- It was a powerful appeal, because Nehemiah witnessed of the Gods hand, that had been good upon him.
Sometimes one is discouraged when one is trying to involve persons in the labour of God and they refuse. In that case, do research:
- Did you prepare yourself enough in prayer?
- Did you do a thorough research beforehand?
- Are you yourself committed to the case?
- Is it really a task given by God?
The reaction of the enemies of Gods work upon Nehemiah's work:
In verse 1 they are two, in verse 19 adds the Arab Gesem and it continues to grow.
- We know, that Gods grace is great. Here it is displayed. The people of Jericho, the city cursed by God, wishes ALSO to build, God in His grace wishes to use them (Joshua 6:26, 1 Kings 16:34).
- The sins of the Gibeonites (Joshua 9 and 10), were forgiven and they ALSO were allowed to build on the wall of Jerusalem.
Why such a sharp reason of Nehemiah against the persons in verse 10 and 19?
- Sanballat, the Horonite, was an inhabitant of Horoim, the land of Moab (Nehemiah 13:1-3; Numbers 22:1-6).
- Tobiah was an Ammonite (Neh. 13:1-3).
Nehemiah followed the Scriptures closely, Everyone who follows the Bible closely, may expect Gods blessing upon their labours, BUT also resistance. When there is no resistance, you may wonder what is the reason. For Satan does not like that Gods work is growing!
Direct your eyes upon the Lord Jesus Christ. In Nehemiah we read, how he directed his eyes continuously upon God, but also that the enemies grew in numbers.
- Geshem, the Arab (verse 19), was an Edomite or Ismaelite. Both Esau and Ismael are in the Bible types of the natural man. The natural person may and can not build at Gods Kingdom. Never employ persons within Gods labour, who are not re-born. THAT GOES WRONG!!! Make use of the spiritual gifts, and never of natural gifts!
But we also see that the godless king, Nehemiah rewards time off to fulfill Gods assignment and task, yes even the godless king provides materials. Therefore a believer can accept money and materials from a disbeliever, if God puts it in their hearts to assist His work (remember the Salvation Army, many disbelievers give their old clothing and put money in the Christmas' boxes). But the labour itself, the (church) service, the proclaiming of the gospel, must exclusively be performed by reborn Christians in the Lord Jesus Christ!!!
|Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and they built the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and set its doors; they consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Tower of Hananel. And next to him the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built. And the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired. And next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, son of Meshezabel repaired. And next to them Zadok the son of Baana repaired. And next to them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles did not put their necks to the work of their Lord. And Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And next to them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, who were under the jurisdiction of the governor of the province Beyond the River. Next to them Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths, repaired. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, repaired; and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired. Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph repaired opposite his house; and next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah repaired. Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahathmoab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters. Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate; they rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and repaired a thousand cubits of the wall, as far as the Dung Gate. Malchijah the son of Rechab, ruler of the district of Bethhaccherem, repaired the Dung Gate; he rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And Shallum the son of Colhozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate; he rebuilt it and covered it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars; and he built the wall of the Pool of Shelah of the king's garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the City of David.||After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, ruler of half the district of Bethzur, repaired to a point opposite the sepulchers of David, to the artificial pool, and to the house of the mighty men. After him the Levites repaired: Rehum the son of Bani; next to him Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, repaired for his district. After him their brethren repaired: Bavvai the son of Henadad, ruler of half the district of Keilah; next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section opposite the ascent to the armory at the Angle. After him Baruch the son of Zabbai repaired another section from the Angle to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. After him Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired another section from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib. After him the priests, the men of the Plain, repaired. After them Benjamin and Hasshub repaired opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah repaired beside his own house. After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the Angle and to the corner. Palal the son of Uzai repaired opposite the Angle and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king at the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh and the temple servants living on Ophel repaired to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower. After him the Tekoites repaired another section opposite the great projecting tower as far as the wall of Ophel. Above the Horse Gate the priests repaired, each one opposite his own house. After them Zadok the son of Immer repaired opposite his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, repaired. After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah repaired opposite his chamber. After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, opposite the Muster Gate, and to the upper chamber of the corner. And between the upper chamber of the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants repaired.|
What does this mean?
First in Nehemiah 3 a description is given of the 10 different gates:
|1.The Sheep Gate||\|
|2. The Fish Gate|||||They were burnt and had to be|
|3. The Old Gate||>||repaired. For the repairs,|
|4. The Valley Gate|||||see Nehemiah 3.|
|5. The Dung Gate||||
|6. The Fountain Gate||/|
|7. The Water Gate||\|
|8. The Horse Gate|||||It seems that these ones|
|9. The East Gate||>||did not any repair.|
|10. The Muster Gate||/|
11. Neh. 8:17 The Gate of Ephraim Revelation 21:12 Speaks of 12 gates
12. Neh. 12:39 The Gate of the Guard
The high priest Eliashib built at the gate, but attached no bars, in the end he even let in the enemy (Nehemiah 13:4-5, 28).
We must seal off our work and our lives, so that the enemy (ego, works of the flesh, Satan) cannot sneak in.
At start, the high priest gave a good example, for he was prepared to work with his hands.
The best environment is there where you are best motivated, to protect and to guard. In verse 10 we see that Harumaph was busy opposite his own house. See also the verses 23, 28 and 29, they too were working opposite their own home.
- The labour became divided and everyone completed his task, that was given to him. So too the believer must build in harmony. No differences between churches (Roman-Catholic, Reformed, Baptist, and so on).
- Everyone works together and closely to one another. In that way, they were working effectively and there was no need to push aside another person.
- Everyone did what he could. God uses the gift(s) of every believer. God wishes that the believers work at the place, where God places them, there where He places at that moment. NOT at the place, where we possibly will be in the future. NO, we must serve at the place where the Lord sets us at present.
Also women are labouring too. Gods labour is not only reserved for men, women too have received their own tasks! Often women take care of the most difficult tasks. With them is the motherly love!
So we see that all were willing, except with the nobles. Even the rulers were willing to do the lowest of work, namely at the lowest gate: The Dung Gate. The Dung Gate was the gate through which the dung was carried.
The gold smith with fine hands was willing to build the wall, rough labour.
- The working area starts in your own family, your own environment.
God tests sometimes the willingness of the believer!!!
|Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he ridiculed the Jews. And he said in the presence of his brethren and of the army of Samaria, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore things? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?" Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, "Yes, what they are building-- if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall! Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn back their taunt upon their own heads, and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from thy sight; for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders. So we built the wall; and all the wall was joined together to half its height. For the people had a mind to work. But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry; and they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. Andwe prayed to our God, and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. But Judah said, "The strength of the burden-bearers is failing, and there is much rubbish; we are not able to work on the wall." And our enemies said, "They will not know or see till we come into the midst of them and kill them and stop the work." When the Jews who lived by them came they said to us ten times, "From all the places where they live they will come up against us." So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall,||in open places, I stationed the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked, and arose, and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, "Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes." When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail; and the leaders stood behind all the house of Judah, who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were laden in such a way that each with one hand laboured on the work and with the other held his weapon. And each of the builders had his sword girded at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, "The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us." So we laboured at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn till the stars came out. I also said to the people at that time, "Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labour by day." So neither I nor my brethren nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon in his hand.|
What does this mean?
The tactics of Satan: 7 attacks
- The mockery, the accusations and contempt
One mocks you when you proclaim the Gospel. Also the Lord is mocked. The enemy holds you powerless. One pulls down all and reminds you to the small numbers of Christians and your poor results. Nehemiah's reaction is praying. God will do it for us, we do not need to progress in our own power, but in the Lords power. Nehemiah prays and continues working. He continues despite all mockery. He honours the power of God. Good works are an answer to mockery. Nehemiah gives the correct example.
Your influence as a (church/gospel) leader and example can be colossal
- The open attack on the builders
The enemies increases in numbers. We see that the attacks become more open and increase in force.
The answer is: a. Praying
b. Placing a guard
1 Peter 5:8 a. Watch and pray
b. Be alert
- The builders become discouraged
Juda is one of the fellow-labours. Do not labouring discouraging other people! That works paralyzing.
Stimulate the other persons!
- Attempt to surprise unexpectedly
Nehemiah is knowingly. God shows him the evil practices. Where does it shows?
- God shows it through His Word, the Bible.
- God gives knowledge and insight to resist Satan.
- Nehemiah armed people. See Ephesians 6:10-20.
The sword is an image of the Word, the Bible. Be working in such a way within the society, that during you labour you keep occupied with Gods Word.
Also there are persons, who are only keeping guard. And persons, who only work with two hands. For example: One group remains behind in constant prayer, while the other group is proclaiming the gospel in the red light areas or among drug addicts.
|Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brethren. For there were those who said, "With our sons and our daughters, we are many; let us get grain, that we may eat and keep alive." There were also those who said, "We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine." And there were those who said, "We have borrowed money for the king's tax upon our fields and our vineyards. Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children are as their children; yet we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved; but it is not in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards." I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, "You are exacting interest, each from his brother." And I held a great assembly against them, and said to them, "We, as far as we are able, have bought back our Jewish brethren who have been sold to the nations; but you even sell your brethren that they may be sold to us!" They were silent, and could not find a word to say. So I said, "The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? Moreover I and my brethren and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us leave off this interest. Return to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the hundredth of money, grain,||wine, and oil which you have been exacting of them." Then they said, "We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say." And I called the priests, and took an oath of them to do as they had promised. I also shook out my lap and said, "So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labour who does not perform this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied." And all the assembly said "Amen" and praised the LORD. And the people did as they had promised. Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, neither I nor my brethren ate the food allowance of thegovernor. The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens upon the people, and took from them food and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God. I also held to the work on this wall, and acquired no land; and all my servants were gathered there for the work. Moreover there were at my table a hundred and fifty men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations which were about us. Now that which was prepared for one day was one ox and six choice sheep; fowls likewise were prepared for me, and every ten days skins of wine in abundance; yet with all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the servitude was heavy upon this people. Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.|
What does this mean?
Attack 5: The intern Difficulties
Satan does an attack upon the unity in cooperation. He tries to sow quarrel and discord.
The unity in a team is often assailed. When the unity is broken, the environment does notice it. Look at all the evil speaking among believers, and Roman-Catholics and Reformed are against each other (Think of Northern-Ireland: Ulster).
The unity in a team is a first condition, Phil. 1:27-28 "Be subservience to each other".
The answer to Satan's attack is: Consider everything well AND a great personal sacrifice. Do not be in league with the enemy.
Nehemiah goes working. Thoroughly again.
First he listens to the complaints of the people. He investigates them and then, after he had everything well considered (verse 7) and well prepared his words, Nehemiah goes to the nobles and officials to accuse them and confront them with the facts. But it does not stay with that. He calls for a GREAT meeting to put things in order.
Nehemiah's testimony is powerful. Therefore he can react very sharp. Nehemiah exhorts the people. He set himself as an example. The people confess their guilt. Pig-headiness breaks the unity. Be an example to each other.
Nehemiah takes care that one cannot find any fault with him. During the 12 years that Nehemiah stayed in Judah, he took care of himself. He put no burden for his living upon the people, over who he was governor appointed by the king. So as appointed governor by the king of Babel he had full rights for a food allowance. NO, Nehemiah, feared God (verse 9-14).
Verse 18 Nehemiah paid himself everything, and that was not little: per day, 1 ox, 6 choice sheep, fowls likewise were prepared, and ten days skins of wine in abundance. He did not give little, we read "Choice", so best of the best. And it also did not involved a few number of feeding by Nehemiah, in verse 17 we read "at my table were 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations which were about us".
If the believer is capable to provide in his or her living, then he or she must not live from the money of his brethren or sisters in the Lord. We must protect ourselves form slander of the enemy and be good stewards towards the Lord.
|Now when it was reported to Sanballat and Tobiah and to Geshem the Arab and to the rest of our enemies that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, "Come and let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono." But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?" And they sent to me four times in this way and I answered them in the same manner. In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. In it was written, "It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall; and you wish to become their king, according to this report. And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, 'There is a king in Judah.' And now it will be reported to the king according to these words. So now come, and let us take counsel together." Then I sent to him,||saying, "No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind." For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, "Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done." But now, O God, strengthen thou my hands. Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was shut up, he said, "Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple; for they are coming to kill you, at night they are coming to kill you." But I said, "Should such a man as I flee? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in." And I understood, and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me an evil name, in order to taunt me. Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.|
What does this mean?
- The attack of the compromise
The plain of Ono is well-known as a resort. The plain of Ono lies in a coastal plain. It does not belong to the province Asdod or Samaria, but it was in its midst. The enemy chose a neutral ground for the conversation with Nehemiah.
But Nehemiah saw through this attack, this seduction: "Let us meet" meaning taking the leader away and the work would come to a halt. His answer is: "Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?" I have a great labour to do. The work cannot be left to rest.
At evangelical labour, put over and over again the question: Is it a huge labour, does it really mean something for the Lord Jesus Christ?
- It is questionable, when an evil rumour is spread about you, and even more when the evil rumour is confirmed.Nehemiah was a person with authority. So it was not surprising that the enemy spread an evil rumour. Nehemiah served them however with the answer: "For you are inventing them out of your own mind".
The servant of the Lord must know himself for he is totally accountable to God. Be careful not to enter into false rumours. Take them to God and pray for His advice on how to act. Investigate Gods Word and arm yourself with His Word. Take a lesson from Nehemiah's answer.
- All are trying to frighten us.
The attack of Satan is to make us fearful!
With Nehemiah even that strong to kill him. But Nehemiah's answer determined. At this attack there was even talk of prophecy, if it would come from God Himself. They even invited Nehemiah to come into the temple, the house of God (But the entrance into the temple was ONLY for priests, and Nehemiah was not a priest).
Nowadays there is much false prophecy. We can only distinguish when we are living very closely to the Lord and in His Light, and are able to see the source of the prophecy.
It is important:
- To stay very closely to the Lord Jesus Christ.
- To remain walking in the Light of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- To pray for the distinguish the spirits (unmasking of yoga, T.M., acupuncture, sects, that are under the influence of the powers of darkness and Satan).
Pay attention to the tactics of Satan:
"Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple"
What is wrong, would you say, to enter the house of God, the temple? EVERYTHING! Nehemiah was a ordinary Jew, he did NOT belong to the priesthood. ONLY priests were allowed to enter the temple. Every Jew who did not belong to the priesthood, sinned when entering the temple and Gods wrath (deadly) would fall upon him. Here the enemy tries in a cunning manner, presenting it in a beautiful way, let us go to the house of God, resulting that Nehemiah meets with Gods wrath and will be killed. Nehemiah is very well aware of it, and he answers in verse 11: "And what man such as I could go into the temple and live?"
Learn from it. Be aware of the craftiness of your enemies and of Satan. Sometimes it is presented in a religious way (remember yoga (with bibles in the waiting rooms), spiritualism, meditation, worshipping of Maria, sometimes even promoted by the church), while through the eyes of God it is an abomination and it has nothing to do with God, yes it is the opposite. And God turns away from the believer. Therefore investigate the background and motives!!!
|So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations round about us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem; for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah's letters came to||them. For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah: and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah as his wife. Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence, and reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to make me afraid.|
What does this mean?
- Most believers like to live in the world, at the border. They like to hop over to the things in and from the world. Outwardly they are devoted. On each Sunday, they go to church, and continue during the weekdays to live an earthly life and no one notices any difference compared to the disbelievers. Internally they love the world 1 John 2:15-17.
The enemy recognizes that the work is of God. The enemy gets very depressed. How was it possible that the work was completed in 52 days? Reason: they had put together their hands and worked together in unity. IT WAS THE WORK OF GOD!!!
Within the rebuilt walls, there were even among the nobles who felt sorry for Tobiah. The attitude of Nehemiah to Tobiah, the enemy of Gods people and work (Nehemiah2:19) was forgotten.
|Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many. And I said to them, "Let not the gates of||Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they are still standing guard let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, each to his station and each opposite his own house." The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few and no houses had been built.|
What does this mean?
Nehemiah installed the gates and progressively isolated the world. The Christian believer cannot compromise, 2 Cor. 6:14 "Do not be mismated with disbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?", but must chastise himself. Nehemiah 6:18 do not put on an uneven yoke. It is forbidden to work with a disbeliever in proclaiming the gospel or to marry a disbeliever!
- The doors are installed and there is an entrance to Jerusalem, but not for everybody
The door speaks of entry and unity John 10:1-3, 9.
An evangelical message is never complete if there is no invitation to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour from your sins. Let the Holy Spirit guide you with the invitation.
Revelation 21:27 and 22:15 The door also speaks of the fact that certain persons are NOT allowed to enter. That is true for those persons who retain their sins and do not let them go. The door (for the Christian believer: the unity with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ) stays closed when the believers do not confess their sins.
- Isaiah 62:6-7 There are gatekeepers, because the danger continous.The gatekeepers continuously pray to God during day and night, in order that God would rebuild Jerusalem to the glory and honour of God Himself. Verse 7 And let Him no rest.
The gatekeepers become appointed, every person in front of his own home. There one is best motivated to protect and fight for his own household and family. The believer is best motivated to pray for the disbelievers in their own household and family, neighbours and environment and to proclaim the gospel in order that they are not swallowed by Satan and finish up in the lake of fire. The believer must fight against Satan and the power of darkness in order that his disbelieving household and family and neighbours escape from Satan and the power of darkness and do not land into the lake of fire, but come to recognize the forgiveness of sins through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ thereby inheriting eternal life in Heaven.
We must pray continuously, until God hears our prayers and He is praised and glorified and accepted by the disbeliever.
Ezekiel 3:16-21 and 33:1-11 God has appointed the Christian believers to be watch keepers and obliged them to proclaim the good news of salvation, through the blood of Jesus Christ for men who live in sin.
If you do not tell an disbeliever the Gospel, then you will beheld responsible for their loss eternally and you will harm yourself 1 Corinthians 3:11-17.
- Singers are appointed
A song is important in the Christian life, because often it is a means of reaching a disbeliever who becomes saved!
In the New Testament Christians are asked to sing spiritual songs Ephesians 5:19.
Col. 3:16 That is happening when the Word of God lives abundantly in you. 1 Cor. 14:15 The songs must be sung with heart and soul. Therefore it is good to learn new songs. Sometimes a meaning of a song is pleasant, because this make people think about its contents. Hebrew 2:12 A song is important.
- Levites are appointed
The temple service must continue. The honouring services must be kept regularly. Although some have a special gift (Ephesians 4:11), all Christian believers in the New Testament are called into priesthood: 1 Cor. 14:40; Hebrew 10:25 and 13:17 and 1 Peter 2:5, 9.
- Hanani and Hananiah are appointed as governors of Jerusalem
The work is and stays too big for one person. Hanani, a brother in the flesh, but also a person who seems to have a heart for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
- Governor of the castle.
- A reliable man.
- God fearing above many.
Those are the characteristically qualities that cannot fail with the servants of God. Reliability is an essential requirement when serving the Lord.
- The city was wide and large, but her inhabitants were few however
Nehemiah had build the city in faith.
Why did not wish the people to live in Jerusalem?
- Because it required a painstaking walk.
- Because of the neighbourly hate of the enemies.
- Living in the country gave many material advantages.
The city was wide and large, but the inhabitants were few, and there were built no houses. Hereby we may glimpse forward to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who says in John 14:2-3: "In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also".
When we compare the city with Heaven, then the city, Heaven, is wide and large, but also in the time of the Lord Jesus Christ the numbers of inhabitants were few (few numbers of Christians), and there were no houses built in the city, in Heaven. For the Lord Jesus Christ went up to Heaven to build places in Heaven for the Christians.
- Verses 69 to 71 tells us about the enormous contribution that the people devoted to the labour. So Christian believers must abundantly contribute to the work of God. And everyone accordingly to their capacities.
|These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but it was not found there, so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean;||the governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food, until a priest with Urim and Thummim should arise.|
What does this mean?
Only those who can testify that they belong to the priestly generation have entrance to the temple and can eat of the most holy. So too for Christian believers, ONLY if they have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour from their sins, ONLY they get access to Heaven and are written into the Book of Life (Revelation 3:5; 21:27). Only the persons themselves who accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour knows that their names are written in the Book of Life.
When one tells to have done confession or to belong to a church and not openly confessed the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord. And as the One, Who died for their sin, then we may put question marks and be in doubt if their names are written in the Book of Life. That will be revealed when the book (the Urim and Thummim) of Life is opened and the priest (The High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ) will pronounce.
|And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden pulpit which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand; and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people; and when he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God; and all the people answered, "Amen, Amen," lifting up their hands; and they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the law, while the people remained in their places. And they read from the book, from the law of God, clearly; and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law.||Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, "Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved." And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. On the second day the heads of fathers' houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the law. And they found it written in the law that the LORD had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should publish and proclaim in all their towns and in Jerusalem, "Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written." So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and dwelt in the booths; for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the book of the law of God. They kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the ordinance.|
What does this mean?
Lessons about spiritual challenges:
- The complete nation came as one man together at the Water Gate. The wall was rebuilt, the doors installed and the keepers were appointed, but the nation wished for more.
Are we content with only creature and material things, or do we wish for spiritual blessings?
- One requested Ezra to bring the book of the law.
Real challenge is not based in the first place upon Ezra or Nehemiah or a parishman, but upon the Word of God, the Bible.
The complete nation listened carefully to the book of the law. The interest in Gods words was very great.
At that time the Aram language, the medium language, contained many difficult words. Therefore the Levites mixed with the people in order to explain the difficult words.
One needs servants who travel through the country to tell the Gospel in simple words, in lieu of proclamation from the pulpit. Ezra was assisted by the Levites, who mixed with the people. They fulfilled an important task.
Real challenge comes not from feelings or emotion, but follows upon the understanding of Gods Word. Through the Holy Spirit explaining the words of God.
- People response:
- The people responded to the reading of the law. Compare this with Kings 18:21.
- Note the attitude of the nation. Facing the ground. See also 2 Chronicles 7:14: There it was accompanied by an egotistic attitude they had no wish to bow, there it received no blessing.
Renewal is there, where people in the spirit of submission wish to be sinners in the eyes of God, and wish to confess sins!
- The nation wept. Do not be afraid of emotions and feelings. God spoke to their hearts, but also to their feelings.
Weeping after conversion is permitted, as long as it does not continue. For the joy is in the Lord, Who is the shelter.
- Pay attention to the results of this spiritual renewal:
- Sending of a part to those for who nothing had been prepared.
Real renewal is not self-centered, but one shares all together. Sharing is a joy in the Lord, so sharing the Gospel brings joy!
One of the Christian things is when he or she sows and propagates, this does not empty the Christian, but it makes their hearts richer and more joyful!
- It brought great joy: do not be sorrowful, there is a time of weeping and a time to enter into the feast of God and to be joyful.
- It brought new obedience after reading the law.
The feast of the seventh month (Feast of booths) was neglected over 1000 years. All that time it was written in the book of law, but nobody had discovered it. Even in the days of David and Salomon it had not been celebrated. The discovery of these neglected teachings and commissions went along with a real renewal.
Honest obedience to Gods Word and commissions goes along with great joy.
Nobody shall be able to call upon their ignorance in front of the Heavenly Father, for they were and are able to read Gods Word, the Bible, insight of the Holy Spirit when they prays for that.
One can attend Bible studies, read Biblical commentaries in order to gain more insight into the Bible and to have a better understanding. One can request fellow-Christians for help.
My people, says God, are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).Satan dislikes nothing more than Biblical advice, teaching and obedience to the Bible.
- Sending of a part to those for who nothing had been prepared.
Bible reading, Praying and Devotion
After the nation had celebrated the Word of God for seven days, a festive meeting took place.
There is much too little festive joy in the Parish of the Lord Jesus Christ. Renewal is also when the Gods Word starts to work inside the Church of Christ, so that parish members are corrected and become obedient.
|Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth upon their heads. And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day; for another fourth of it they made confession and worshiped the LORD their God. Upon the stairs of the Levites stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani; and they cried with a loud voice to the LORD their God. Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, "Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be thy glorious name which is exalted above all blessing and praise." And Ezra said: "Thou art the LORD, thou alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and thou preservest all of them; and the host of heaven worships thee. Thou art the LORD, the God who didst choose Abram and bring him forth out of Ur of the Chaldeans and give him the name Abraham; and thou didst find his heart faithful before thee, and didst make with him the covenant to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite; and thou hast fulfilled thy promise, for thou art righteous. "And thou didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and hear their cry at the Red Sea, and didst perform signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for thou knewest that they acted insolently against our fathers; and thou didst get thee a name, as it is to this day. And thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on dry land; and thou didst cast their pursuers into the depths, as a stone into mighty waters. By a pillar of cloud thou didst lead them in the day, and by a pillar of fire in the night to light for them the way in which they should go. Thou didst come down upon Mount Sinai, and speak with them from heaven and give them right ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments, and thou didst make known to them thy holy Sabbath and command them commandments and statutes and a law by Moses thy servant. Thou didst give them bread from heaven for their hunger and bring forth water for them from the rock for their thirst, and thou didst tell them to go in to possess the land which thou had sworn to give them. "But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey thy commandments; they refused to obey, and were not mindful of the wonders which thou didst perform among them; but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their bondage in Egypt. But thou art a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and didst not forsake them. Even when they had made for themselves a molten calf and said, 'This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,' and had committed great blasphemies, thou in thy great mercies didst not forsake them in the wilderness; the pillar of cloud which led them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night which lighted for them the way by which they should go. Thou gave thy good Spirit to instruct them, and didst not withhold thy manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst. Forty years didst thou sustain them in the||wilderness, and they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell. And thou didst give them kingdoms and peoples, and didst allot to them every corner; so they took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of Og king of Bashan. Thou didst multiply their descendants as the stars of heaven, and thou didst bring them into the land which thou had told their fathers to enter and possess. So the descendants went in and possessed the land, and thou didst subdue before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and didst give them into their hands, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they would. And they captured fortified cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns hewn out, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance; so they ate, and were filled and became fat, and delighted themselves in thy great goodness. "Nevertheless they were disobedient and rebelled against thee and cast thy law behind their back and killed thy prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to thee, and they committed great blasphemies. Therefore thou didst give them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer; and in the time of their suffering they cried to thee and thou didst hear them from heaven; and according to thy great mercies thou didst give them Saviours who saved them from the hand of their enemies. But after they had rest they did evil again before thee, and thou didst abandon them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them; yet when they turned and cried to thee thou didst hear from heaven, and many times thou didst deliver them according to thy mercies. And thou didst warn them in order to turn them back to thy law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey thy commandments, but sinned against thy ordinances, by the observance of which a man shall live, and turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. Many years thou didst bear with them, and didst warn them by thy Spirit through thy prophets; yet they would not give ear. Therefore thou didst give them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. Nevertheless in thy great mercies thou didst not make an end of them or forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God. "Now therefore, our God, the great and mighty and terrible God, who keep covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to thee that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all thy people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day. Yet thou hast been just in all that has come upon us, for thou hast dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly; our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept thy law or heeded thy commandments and thy warnings which thou didst give them. They did not serve thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness which thou gave them, and in the large and rich land which thou didst set before them; and they did not turn from their wicked works. Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that thou gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. And its rich yield goes to the kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sins; they have power also over our bodies and over our cattle at their pleasure, and we are in great distress." Because of all this we make a firm covenant and write it, and our princes, our Levites, and our priests set their seal to it.|
What does this mean?
Nehemiah 9 tells us that the nation entered into a true worship and new devotion to God. A quarter of the day they read Gods Word. An other quarter of the day they spent confessing their sins.
Nehemiah 9 contains the longest prayer of the whole Bible.
It is interesting to compare Nehemiah 9 with Ezra 9 and Daniel 9.
- Before the prayer-meeting started, the sins were confessed and resolved. The separation of strangers was completed.
- The Levites stood on a wooden platform and proceeded in prayer:
1. Pray for the speaker(s) at the conference.
2. Pray for the announcements, subject in the service.
- The prayer begins with true worshipping. The people kneel (their hearts submissive) for God. Everyone participating in prayer.
Stand up, praise the Lord. Unite the people in prayer
- The emphasis in prayer should show the mercy and justice of the Lord, revealed in the history of the children of Israel. Note the words: "Thou has ......"
1st round: Confession: Everyone confesses quietly his or her sins.
2nd round: Everyone prays quietly for their own burdens of prayer.
3rd round: Now prayers are spoken loudly and openly in the prayer-meeting.
God guided His nation out of Egypt and guided them in the desert during daytimes with the cloud column and during night with a fire column to shed light. The believer in the dark world is guided by the Lord Jesus Christ, and if the believer allows it, he is guided by the indwelling Holy Sprit to the position where God wishes him or her to be in the Body of Christ. The Israelites had the free choice to have them guided by God and the column to the Promised Land Israel. So also the believer has the free choice of surrendering to the working of the Holy Spirit inside themselves or work by the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22 But the fruits of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) and to have them led to the place where the Lord wishes them to be.
But the patriarch of the Israelites started to behave badly and hardened their necks and they did not listen to the commands. And God gave them into slavery. So it is with the believer. The believer must keep Gods commands and let themselves be guided by the Holy Spirit. If the believer fails to do so, then they sadden the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) and finally extinguish the Holy Spirit. Thus that the Holy Spirit can no longer bear the sins and the believer comes under the influences of the powers of evil and Satan and God surrender them to the earthly life with all its sufferings, pain and sorrows.
Should the believer show repentance and regret, then they may return again like the lost son to the Father and they must accept the working of the Holy Spirit again.
Forty years long, the Lord provided his nation with food and water in the desert. And so the believer, who works for God at Gods appointed position, can be assured that the Lord will provide them with their needs (Matthew 6:25-34).
|Those who set their seal are Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah, Zedekiah, .... |
The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who have separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding, join with their brethren, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God's law which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord and his ordinances and his statutes. We will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons; and if the peoples of the land bring in wares or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on a holy day; and we will forego the crops of the seventh year and the exaction of every debt. We also lay upon ourselves the obligation to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: for the showbread, the continual cereal offering, the continual burnt offering, the Sabbaths, the new moons, the appointed feasts, the holy things, and the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God.
|We have likewise cast lots, the priests, the Levites, and the people, for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, according to our fathers' houses, at times appointed, year by year, to burn upon the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the law. We obligate ourselves to bring the first fruits of our ground and the first fruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the LORD; also to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the first-born of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the law, and the firstlings of our herds and of our flocks; and to bring the first of our coarse meal, and our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and to bring to the Levites the tithes from our ground, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all our rural towns. And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive the tithes; and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers, to the storehouse. For the people of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of grain, wine, and oil to the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the gatekeepers and the singers. We will not neglect the house of our God.|
What does this mean?
The reading of the Book of Laws brought a new practical devotion.
Nehemiah 10 gives a description of the commandments. They put their seals (under all committed obligations) of Nehemiah including all those, who had the years of distinction.
It was NOT an oral league. Their league was such firm commitment, that they committed it in writing. They obligated themselves:
- To walk in accordance of the Law of God.
- To separate themselves from the nations of the country.
- To respect and keep the Sabbath as a Holy Day.
- Every seventh year, to let the land lie fallow, see Leviticus 25.
- To sacrifice and to take care of the livelihood of the Levites and the House of God (paying the tenths).
For the church of the Lord Jesus Christ this means, that the believers commit themselves (united) to provide for the financial needs of the labourers of God including the financial materials for that work.
|Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem; and the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem the holy city, while nine tenths remained in the other towns. And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in||Jerusalem. These are the chiefs of the province who lived in Jerusalem; but in the towns of Judah every one lived on his property in their towns: Israel, the priests, the Levites, the temple servants, and the descendants of Solomon's servants. And in Jerusalem lived .......|
What does this mean?
Nehemiah 11 and 12 gave a listing of honours and genealogical register of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Judah, the priests and the Levites.
|The Volunteers:||Despite the renewed blessing, which God had given to Jerusalem, only a few wished to live inside Gods city.|
If one declares they have become part of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, that requires a painstaking and holy way of life!
The believer, who committed themselves to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ, can expect the hatred of the world and the attacks of the powers of darkness and Satan, which can mean a great battle John 15:18-20 and Hebrew 12:1-3.
The priest (every believer) has a task within the Body of Christ. One within the church. Another outside the church, for example proclaiming the gospel. Coffee bar. At present it is not easy to work as a believer within the (liberal) church. Still one as a Christian believer must stay in the position which God decrees.
1 Cor. 12:12, 14-15, 18-22: For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. .... For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. .... But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as be chosen. If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable ... Everyone must serve in the position assigned by the Lord Jesus Christ, for if that person is not at their decreed place they are hindering the environment. If the right upper arm muscle moves itself to the right upper leg, then the complete upper and lower arm is paralyzed. Then the right upper leg has two muscles, that are too strong to pull the leg and you have a conflict and paralyzing again.
If the phalanx in the left hand takes the place of the left radius, than the radius is too weak to carry the load and it is not accounted for its purpose. Everyone has received talents (gifts) from God accordingly to their ability. We must serve at the position where the Lord placed us within the Body of Christ. otherwise the Lord cannot bless our labour and the Body does not function well, and disbelievers will fail to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
|These are the priests and the Levites who came up with....|
As for the Levites, in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, there were recorded the heads of fathers' houses; also the priests until the reign of Darius the Persian. The sons of Levi, heads of fathers' houses, were written in the Book of the Chronicles until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib. And the chiefs of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brethren over against them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, watch corresponding to watch. Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were gatekeepers standing guard at the storehouses of the gates. These were in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priest the scribe. And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. And the sons of the singers gathered together from the circuit round Jerusalem and from the villages of the Netophathites; also from Bethgilgal and from the region of Geba and Azmaveth; for the singers had built for themselves villages around Jerusalem. And the priests and the Levites purified themselves; and they purified the people and the gates and the wall. Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies which gave thanks and went in procession. One went to the right upon the wall to the Dung Gate; and after them went Hoshaiah and half of the princes of Judah, and Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, and certain of the priests' sons with trumpets: Zechariah the son of Jonathan, son of Shemaiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Micaiah, son of Zaccur, son of Asaph; and his kinsmen, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai,
|Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God; and Ezra the scribe went before them. At the Fountain Gate they went up straight before them by the stairs of the city of David, at the ascent of the wall, above the house of David, to the Water Gate on the east. The other company of those who gave thanks went to the left, and I followed them with half of the people, upon the wall, above the Tower of the Ovens, to the Broad Wall, and above the Gate of Ephraim, and by the Old Gate, and by the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate; and they came to a halt at the Gate of the Guard. So both companies of those who gave thanks, stood in the house of God, and I and half of the officials with me. And the priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets; and Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader. And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off. On that day men were appointed over the chambers for the stores, the contributions, the first fruits, and the tithes, to gather into them the portions required by the law for the priests and for the Levites according to the fields of the towns; for Judah rejoiced over the priests and the Levites who ministered. And they performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did the singers and the gatekeepers, according to the command of David and his son Solomon. For in the days of David and Asaph of old there was a chief of the singers, and there were songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah gave the daily portions for the singers and the gatekeepers; and they set apart that which was for the Levites; and the Levites set apart that which was for the sons of Aaron.|
What does this mean?
The consecration of the walls of Jerusalem
The first part of Nehemiah 12 provides a list of those who returned from Babel. God let sign up the true Jewish by their names to their memory (Ezra 2:12 and 3:2). The faithful ones are NOT forgotten by God:
- The consecration of the wall carries the character of a feast to honour God (Psalm 120). From far and near, the Levites and singers come to attend the feast.
- Make a note of the cleansing, described in verse 30. We come as sinners to accept our Saviour. However, those, who live a holy life, may also put their lives into the hand of the Lord.
Not only the priests and Levites are purifying themselves, also the COMPLETE nation and afterwards the city must be purified by going over the walls around Jerusalem.
All believers MUST PURIFY themselves, before they can approach God in prayer. First confessing their sins. But then rooms and buildings where the service of God (church building, coffee bar, evangelization room, tent) is held, must be purified, before starting the service. It can also mean your own home. No idols, like Buddhist images, Mary images, Cross images, masks, horoscopes, and so on.
After the purification follows the songs of the choirs under guidance of Ezra and Nehemiah.
- One brought that day many sacrifices. In verse 43 we read up to five times about the great joy. Psalm 126:2 "Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy".
Then the gentiles (the disbelievers) must recognize: The Lord has done great things with them. The disbelievers must recognize when they see that the believer has left the old ways of life (no more smoking, no more drinking, but loving, caring, doing the fruits of the Holy Spirit), these are the work of the Lord within the believer.
Nehemiah: An image of the Lord Jesus Christ
- Nehemiah 1: In his prayer
- Nehemiah 2: In seeking the lost ones
- Nehemiah 3: In his work
- Nehemiah 4: In his battle against Satan
- Nehemiah 5: In his blameless way of life
- Nehemiah 6: He did not compromise with the enemy (and satan)
- Nehemiah 7: In his complete work
- Nehemiah 8: In his offering and obedience to Gods Will
- Nehemiah 9 and 10: In faith and submissiveness
- Nehemiah 11 and 12: In his volunteering
- Nehemiah 13: In his labour and way of acting.
|On that day they read from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people; and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God; for they did not meet the children of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them-- yet our God turned the curse into a blessing. When the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent. Now before this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and who was connected with Tobiah, prepared for Tobiah a large chamber where they had previously put the cereal offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests. While this was taking place I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I went to the king. And after some time I asked leave of the king and came to Jerusalem, and I then discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, preparing for him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I gave orders and they cleansed the chambers; and I brought back thither the vessels of the house of God, with the cereal offering and the frankincense. I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them; so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had fled each to his field. So I remonstrated with the officials and said, "Why is the house of God forsaken?" And I gathered them together and set them in their stations. Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses. And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouses Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah of the Levites, and as their assistant Hanan the son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, for they were counted faithful; and their duty was to distribute to their brethren. Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service. In those days I saw in Judah men treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in heaps of grain and loading them on asses; and also wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; and I warned them on the day when they sold food. Men of Tyre also, who lived in the city, brought in fish and all kinds of wares and sold them on the Sabbath to the people||of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I remonstrated with the nobles of Judah and said to them, "What is this evil thing which you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers act in this way, and did not our God bring all this evil on us and on this city? Yet you bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath. "When it began to be dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I set some of my servants over the gates that no burden might be brought in on the Sabbath day. Then the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice. But I warned them and said to them, "Why do you lodge before the wall? If you do so again I will lay hands on you." From that time on they did not come on the Sabbath. And I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come and guard the gates, to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember this also in my favour, O my God, and spare me according to the greatness of thy steadfast love. In those days also I saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab; and half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but the language of each people. And I contended with them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair; and I made them take oath in the name of God, saying, "You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless foreign women made even him to sin. Shall we then listen to you and do all this great evil and act treacherously against our God by marrying foreign women?" And one of the sons of Jehoiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was the son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite; therefore I chased him from me. Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites. Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign, and I established the duties of the priests and Levites, each in his work; and I provided for the wood offering, at appointed times, and for the first fruits. Remember me, O my God, for good.|
What does this mean?
Tobiah, the enemy, the Ammonite is guest of honour in the temple
- Still Tobiah had not changed one bit. The enmity of his ancestors continued to live within him. See John 3:6 and Romans 8:7.
Tobiah was a blood relative of the priest Eliashib. That did not mean yet that he was a spiritual relative!
- Tobiah was accepted, since he was humorous and jovial. Natural factors play sometimes a more important roll than spiritual ones (for humans).
But what does the Lord request? God asks for spiritual ones!
- On the day of the consecration of the wall, they had read Deuteronomy 23. Later on, they had already forgotten it.
The reaction of Nehemiah:
- Nehemiah remembered the Lord Jesus, Who purified and swept clean the temple.
- Nehemiah did NOT compromise. Nor with Tobiah, nor with Sanballat. He made a very conscientious separation from the enemy. Behind his way of acting were also the person who assisted him.
The injustice done to the Levites:
- All was taken care off in the past, it was even written down and beautiful promises were made.
But the nation fails to keep these promises. Deuteronomy 12:19 instructed the nation to support the Levites. So too the believers must support the church, missionary and evangelists. Not only in the beginning, when one has just accepted Jesus Christ, NO, one must keep the promises that they have made.
In verse 10 we see, that the nation does not fulfill their duties and promises, and do no longer support the Levites.
- Why was the House of God (the temple) left over to fate?
Levites and singers had returned to their fields. Was that a lack of faith from their side? Yes, too. It is God, Who takes care of His full-time servant and not the nation. As Gods worker one must look up to God, NOT to people. But the nation is guilty too, they had not kept their promises and commitments. The believers must give their tenths in order to make Gods service possible.
- Was it the lack of supervision that led to the loss of support for the Levites?
Yes, too. Nehemiah took his measures.
The measures of Nehemiah
- He conversed with the leaders. For giving guidance is a great responsibility. Church leaders and vicars have a huge responsibility and care over the parish and evangelists. They must guide the believers in their duties and commitments. And support them up.
- Nehemiah brought them together and sent them out.
- Nehemiah assigned people to take care of the storage rooms.
- Nehemiah was very upset and threw out all the furniture of Tobiah from the court of the temple.
The believer must break radically with his sinful life and throw out all evil (Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like) and in stead do the works (fruits) of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22 But the fruits of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control).
The Sabbath was not respected
- Gods commandments about the Sabbath were forgotten (Exodus 34:21; Deut. 5:14 and Jeremiah 17:21). Are we forgetting to rest on the Sundays?
- The people to whom they were supposed to testify, only saw their defection from God. Sanctify yourself as believer and rest on the Sundays. Is in the quiet of your home, or is there an industrious labouring with washing, carpentry and house work?
Are you like disbelievers doing your shopping on the Sunday and do you let other people work for you?
- The action of Nehemiah:
- He calls it bad and refers to the punishment that follows upon this way of acting.
- >He let close the doors.
- He shows himself inflexible. The enemy persists, but Nehemiah does NOT give in.
The mixed marriages with foreign women:
- Even in the house of Eliashib, the high priest.
- It was sinful, because they did not pay attention to the light which they had been given during the nations history.
- The children are the victim.
- The action of Nehemiah:
- Nehemiah attacked the sins vigorously NOT SOFTLY.
- Nehemiah reminded Solomon (the king) as to the consequences of his disobedience.
- Nehemiah shows them CLEARLY that it is DISLOYALTY to God.
Why is it necessary to give "TENTHS"?
- It is a recognition that our possessions are NOT ours, but the possession OF GOD! Malachi 3:7-10, Genesis 1:28: Over which we are set as stewards by God.
- In the Old Testament, the nation Israel was obliged to give their tenths to the priests in order to support for their living. The priests in turn had also to give their tenths of their tenths (to the high priest). When this did not happen, then the priests themselves had to work and follow the lawlessness of the nation, because the teaching stopped and none instructed in God law. As a Result God Himself turned away from them and poured His Wrath upon them and he gave them over to the powers of the gentiles and the nation was taken captive and exiled from the promised land, which was rich in food and drink.
So too nowadays. If the believers do not give their tenths (For the New Testament Christian believer: as much as possible (financial, (used) clothing, toys, sheets, transportation) see Luke 21:1-4, then:
- One denies that all ones possessions are receives from God (for to have a job it also a gift of God).
- The wages for the vicars and deacons. The result is:
- The failing of teaching
- No knowledge of sins, resulting in lawlessness
- The believers themselves do not receive any reward and will be saved as through fire, because there was no labour so no fruits.
- No support (of living) for the missionaries, evangelists and workers of God. So no expansion of the gospel. Therefore through your failure (your debt) people are lost for eternity, since you are responsible too for the salvation of disbelievers (praying alone is not sufficient) and support for Gods workers. For you are assigned as keeper, see Ezekiel 3 and 33. The result is:
- Disobedience to Gods order: Matthew 28:19 and Acts 1:8
- You extinguish the working of the Holy Spirit and your relationship with God become broken
- When you have extinguished the working of the Holy Spirit, then you are living again under the influence of the powers of darkness and Satan
- Disbelievers, who could have been saved, are lost for eternity and will burn forever in the lake of fire!
|Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at that gate of the temple which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, "Look at us." And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ||of Nazareth, walk." And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the templewith them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.|
|For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body --Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-- and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the parts of the body||which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which we think less honourable we invest with the greater honour, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?|
|And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just. When one of those who sat at table with him heard this, he said to him, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!" But he said to him, "A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, 'Come; for all is now ready.' But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.' And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them;||I pray you, have me excused.' And another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.' So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, 'Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.' And the servant said, 'Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.' And the master said to the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet'".|
|Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the||equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.|