Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Warning to Leaders


Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, "Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night." But I said, "Should such a man as I run away? 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 a bad name in order to taunt me.
Nehemiah 6:10-13
Shemaiah was a false prophet who was hired by the enemies of Nehemiah. His objective was to make Nehemiah afraid so he would hide in the temple. If he had gone into the temple, he would have disobeyed God.

Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He led a fearful, demoralized group of people and had many enemies. After much opposition, they finished the wall and only the doors on the gates remained to be set. The end was in sight.

His enemies tried to lure him away so they could harm him. He refused to meet with them despite their perseverance. Next, they sent out false reports about him. Finally, they hired Shemaiah. Nehemiah must have trusted Shemaiah because he met with him in private.

Here are the lessons I see in this. When God gives us a job to do there will be many obstacles. The job may seem impossible. The people who are to help us may need a lot of motivation and leadership. Fear and discouragement will come.

The enemy will attack us personally. Can he get us alone? Will rumors and attacks on our character work?

Attacks will come through other people we respect and trust. They may try to make us afraid but fear does not come from God. Does their advice line up with the clear commands from God? If not, reject it. If Nehemiah had gone in the temple, the people he was leading would have noticed his disobedience. His fear would have undermined their courage and his sin would have undermined the blessing from God.

Another thing to notice was how close they were to finishing the task. It was all done except for the gates. How many times do we give up when so close to victory? Ponder this quote:

When you feel you cannot continue in your position for another minute, and all that is in human power has been done, that is the moment when the enemy is most exhausted, and when one step forward will give you the fruits of the struggle you have borne.
Sir Winston Churchill
I heard something last night that fits with this: Pray for a strong back rather than a lighter load.

What has God shown you to do?
Watch out for other people.
Watch out for bad advice that opposes God's Word.
Watch out for fear.
Be obedient.
Don’t give up.


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