useful business is a "great work"; and that having business, we should attend to busi- ness. Satin, like Sanballat and Geshem, has some "mischief st.il for idle hands." Boys are apt to neglect their business and loiter on their way, and very like to get into trouble if they do; and there is noth- ing better to keep them out of mischief than to stick to their job. Four times they tried the proposal on Nehemiah without suc- cess. 2. Sanballat's open letter. Sanballat sent "an open letter," a letter the contents of which was public property. He made no direct charges himself, but' meanly hid be- hind "It Is reported," aye, and "Gashmu, saith It," corroborates it. "Gashmu" is a great mischief maker; they call him "They say," or "It is said," or "I hear," or "Mrs. Grundy," in our day. We should invariably rebuke Sanballat when he quotes Gashmu to us. The letter made serious, deadly, charges against Nehemiah and the Jews. That (1) they designed to rebel again Artax- erxes (2:1); (2) They fortified the city to that end; (3) Nehemiah- meant to take the kingdom; (4) that he employed prophets as his agents to promote his purpose , among the populace (Luke 23:2). The governor eharged the lie on Sanballat himself, where it belonged. Evil men, to hinder a good work, do not hesitate to slander good men (v. 9). - But Nehemiah made his prayer to God, "O God, strengthen my hands," and the work went on. Such busybodies do a great deal of "mischief"; our main defense is to do none ourselves. A good reputation is the best armor for Giashmu's poisoned arrows. 3. Shemaiah's plot. Shemaiah was a Judas, a traitor, as mean as Nehemiah was a patriot and true. Shemaiah sold himself to very dirty work. To clear a path for the enemy he tried to get Nehemiah out of the way by decoying him into the temple, under the fear that there was a plot to assassinate him. Faithfulness was again the governor's shield. "Should such as 1 flee!" he cried. A man in my position, the guardian of my people, and the servant of the king—should 1 flee like a coward, and forsake my duty?" It turned out that Shemaiah was in the pay of Tobiah and Sanballat. 4. Nehemiah was rewarded by the complete success of his undertaking (6:15), and the shameful discomfiture of his enemies (6:16). 5. A typical history. This record is typical of the perils sur- rounding the church and the soul. It is written that we should not be "ignorant of his (the Devil's) devices" (2 Cor. 2:11)., who "walketh about like a roaring lion seek- ing whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). By all means "put on the armor of God" (Eph. 6:10-18. Note every item, especially verse 18).
torting thousands with one hand, and dol- ing out contributions with the other. Those ancient extortioners were made ashamed by publicity and the governor's rebuke (v. 8), these modern exploiters of the public set about devising new trickeries and eva- sions of the law. These men pay their fines and pursue their iniquities; those disgorged their ill-got gains and "quit their meanness" Wi 13). III. A PATRIOTIC GOVERNOR. 1. Nehemiah gave twelve years of service to his country without pay. He and his assistants were entitled to the "bread" (provisions) '"of the governor" (v. 14). Others had exacted this "bread," besides drawing salaries, about $6000 yearly. They put their followers into fat offices (v. 15). But Nehemiah, "in the fear of God," did none of it- On the contrary, he supported himself, his helpers, one hundred and fifty of the citizens, and the representatives of other countries, who .should have been chargeable to the state. So General Wash- ington equipped a thousand men and of- fered them with his own service to the Continental Congress for nothing. Few ever sought, or seek, public' office but for the' pay, perquisites, graft, and places for their friends and families. Malachi (1:10) says, about Nehemiah's time, that none would "shut the doors" (of the temple) or "kindle a fire" on the altar without pay, May God by this lesson teach us the meanness of self-serving, and the nobility of unself-ser- vice. All honor to the Nehemiahs and Wash- ingtons. 2. The prayer of the governor. "Think upon me, my God, for good" (v. 19). This was no self-righteous prayer. Nehemiah, and all who minister to their fel- low men have through promise a right to look to God for their pay, and He is a sure and good paymaster; He "is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have shewed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints and do min- ister" (Heb. 6:10). Such "shall In nowise lose their reward" (Mat. 10:42). IV. TRICKS TO TRAP THE GOVERNOR. 1. The proposal of Sanballat and Gesh- em. The Jews' enemies were chagrined to see ' their fortifications so near ^ complete. The walls were up. It only remained to set the doors in the gateways. The en- emies "thought to do mischief" (6:2) to Nehemiah (Neh. 6:1).. They proposed a conference "on the plain of Ono." Nehemiah sent them a plain "Oh, no," in response." "I am doing a great work, I cannot come down: why should the work cease, while I leave it, and come down to you?" (v. 3). They probably meant to take the governor, or, in his absence, attack the city. We should early learn: to "get busy"; that every I. IT WAS A POPULAR MOVEMENT. 1. "The People gathered." We read of revival under the authority of a king, as of Josiah (2 Kgs. 25:1, 2), and at the initia- tive of a priest, as of Jehoiada (2 Kgs. 11: 17), and by the zeal of a prophet, as of .Elijah (1 Kgs. 18); but this is the first time it has begun with the people. The most hopeful revivals originate among the people. 2. They "gathered themselves." It was spontaneous. They came to seek a leader rather than he to seek thm. 3. They gathered unanimously. They gathered "as one man." It was wonderful that a whole people should rise and beg to be taught
Lesson XII.—Dec. 17. Ezra's Bible Conference. Neh. VIII.
the Word of God. What a moral revolution would be produced in even a town or vil- lage if such a hunger for the Bread of life should seize the community. What joy it would give to godly ministers and teachers to have- their church, or class, ask to be taught the Bible. But most of the people are hungering, or at any rate, starving, for it, and few of their pastors .are giving it to them. Either they do not know the flavor and power of it themselves, or they think the people- would not relish it. But if the pew would demand the Word of God thè pulpit would preach and teach it'. Until the people realize and insist on this their
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