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Tfitteritational Sunòa? School T e s s o ns b? "X1ft. Sammis. Lesson X.—Dec. 3. Work and Warfare.
Neh. 2: I. RESPONSE TO NEHEMIAH'S PRAYER. (1) The king's favor. (2) The king's fur- lough. (3) The king's firman. Artaxerxes was friendly to his wishes; gave him a long leave of absence; and issued a command- ment to his governors to lend such assist- ance as Nehemiah might need, for the re- construction of the defenses of Jerusalem. When a man goes God's way everything comes his way. (Rom. 8:28.) II. NEHEMIAH GOES TO JUDEA. 1. His guard. A military force was de- tailed to attend him. Ezra would not ask one; for special reasons (8:22). Faith and fanaticism are often confounded. Ordinarily we should, committing our cause to God in prayer, use such means as prudence and ex- perience. suggest, and opportunity affords. To reject the common means of supply, protection, healing, etc., is presumption like that of leaping from the pinnacle of the temple (Mat. 4:7), because it is promised "He shall give His angels charge over thee" (Psa. 91:11). That is fanaticism not faith. We should descend by the staircase and trust the promise. It is the greater faith that keeps the eye on God through means rather than through miracles. 2. His progress. The Persian empire was of vast extent, divided by the Euphrates. "Beyond the river," as he went N., the king's commissioner, delivered his majesty's mandates. The envious governors were "grieved exceedingly when they learned his business. Satan always stirs up his servants to opposition, and it grieves them if there "come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel" (2:10). We need a Nehemiah. Los Angeles is looking for "Gypsey Smith." We may expect "San- ballat the Horonite, and Toblah the Ser- vant, the Ammonite," to be "grieved ex- ceedingly" tha't a man should "come to seek the welfare of the children of Israel" and we should begin already to nullify their opposition by resorting to Nehemiah's con- stant refuge,—prayer (1:3; 2:4; 4:4; 4:9; 6:9, 14). 3. His Arrival. God brought him safely through to his journey's end. For three days' he kept his counsel, being as cautious as he was courageous. • Two very high qualities, essential to greatness and success. "Abe Martin" has just said, "The feller that rushes in soon crawls out." N. did neither. I suppose (1) that "the wise man's eyes were in his . head" (Ecc. 2:14), observing the situation; the men he. had to deal with, the .obstacles to be overcome; (2) that he was meditating ways and means,, above, all (3) that he spent much of t h at time in prayer to "the Father of lights" asking "wisdom" ,(Jas. 1:5, 17). 4. His inspection of the ruins. With a few comrades he made in secret a ~ Circuit of the city by night. He found the walls in utter ruin; so that his horse could find no footing among the heaps of stones
and rubbish. Being now thoroughly fa- miliar with the conditions, he was ready to call the principals together and propose his plans. III. NEHEMIAH'S CONFERENCE. 1. What Nehemiah said, (a) "Ye see the distress we are In," etc. Some 80 years be- fore the exiles had returned and built the temple, dedicating it wfth great enthusi- asm (Ezra 3:10-13). They- soon lapsed again into indifference, and when Ezra arrived 20 years later he found a sad condition of things spiritually and materially. Nehe- miah 57 years later finds a worse state than ever. Such is the record of the flesh from the beginning, and will be till Jesus comes. Such it has been with Israel from the Exodus, through the Wilderness, the times of the Judges, and the Kingdom. They were not the better for the captivity. So it is, too, with the Church; backslid- ing and revival alternating to the end. And so it is with the nominal Christian. Priests, and nobles were plenty at Jerusa- lem, yet "there was no man" (Isa. 59:16), till the Lord put it into the heart of Nehe- miah. "God give us men." Teacher, hold up these men, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, to your boys; and ask God to hold you up, and your church up. For we are "in distress." The walls are broken; there is much "rub- bish"; and much "reproach." The defenses of the church, and the soul, are the Bible, sound doctrine, faith, prayer, and consistent character and living. The Bible is robbed of its authority, doctrine is neglected, worse, it is perverted; faith, how weak; prayer, how little (real) ; consistency, not many souls ' are consistent^ and no churches. "San- ballat the Horonite, Toblah the Servant, Geshem the Arabian," laugh at us, the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, have us at a disadvantage. Nehemiah told them "of the good hand of his God." And "also the king's words." First he encouraged them in God, then in earthly circumstances favor- able to their enterprise. 2. What they said, "Let us rise up and build." See what a change one man can make in his fellows. Full of information, full of prayer, of faith and hope, and zeal, he poured it into the hearts of others; he filled them, and was the fuller for it. Be a leader, if it is in a good 'cause. God's cause. "So thev strengthened their hands for the good work." "Laughed at" and "despised us." "He laughs best who laughs last," and who labors with God shall laugh with Him (Psa. 37:13). Thev that despise us shall be despised, as these enemies of the Jews are now and always will be. So it has ever been with them who despised good men and their good words and work. 2. What they said. "What is this thing that ye do? Will ye rebel against the King?" A very dangerous suggestion. Could they IV. NEHEMIAH'S FOES. 1. What they did.
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