Three Things Essential to A Fullness of The Christian Life
Nehemiah 6:3; Nehemiah 2:12
These fragments - I am doing a great work," "what my God put into my heart to do" - give us the entrance into the great matter which is historically set forth in the Book of Nehemiah.
There are three things which are essential to an adequate life with God, to a fullness of the Christian life.
Firstly, the realization that God is concerned with the accomplishment of something worthy of Himself. We shall not get very far toward a full Christian life, or a life with God, until it breaks upon us and takes hold of us that God is really concerned with the accomplishment of something worthy of Himself.
The second thing is that people shall become aware of what that great something in the heart of God is, what it is that God is so concerned with, and then that they shall be moved to cooperate with Him in it. That is an essential to a life of fullness with God, that we His people shall come to see what it is that He is really set upon, what it is that will really be worthy of Himself, and, more than that, that we shall become so deeply moved about this matter as to cooperate with Him in it.
And then, in the third place, that we recognize that this object in the heart of God and this cooperation with Him by His people must face that and be ready to accept it.
These three things comprise the elements and features of a full life with God, and not one of them can be lacking. The very conflict and cost will themselves be the evidences of the value of the thing into which the people of God have been brought, and the thing which is so dear to God's heart. Where there is no conflict and no cost, there may be reason to feel that the outcome is not worth while. I think that the view of the Apostles, at any rate, was that the conflict was the complement of the calling so great and so high.
So that here in this book of Nehemiah we have those three things brought before us in a very full and a very powerful way. They are: a great Cost, a great Work, and a great Conflict.
The Book of Nehemiah, as you will know, and indeed Nehemiah himself, is a great historic illustration of a much greater spiritual reality. What we have here on the earth in literal history is but a reflection of what is gong on in this dispensation in the spiritual realm, and what in this dispensation is so much greater than anything that ever was in days gone past on this earth.
Now we have these three features here. They are: the wall or its rebuilding - that is the object, that is the purpose, that is the thing in view. Then we have the work of rebuilding, and the workers; and then we have, going hand-in-hand with the purpose and the work, the warfare. The Wall, the Work, the Warfare; or, in other words, the Calling, the Conduct and the Conflict. These comprise what we can now call, in present day or present time language, the recovery and completing of the Lord's testimony, for that is really what is before us at this time. And so we may set over this whole matter, this little fragment: "a great work" - "I am doing a great work"; and it is with this great work that we shall be occupied, as the Lord leads us.
God's Reaction In A Day of Spiritual Declension
Nehemiah is the last great character of the Old Testament and his book the last historic book of the Old Testament. Those who do not study the chronological arrangement of the Old Testament books may not be altogether alive to these facts. Because the Book of Nehemiah comes in our Bibles so much before the end of the Old Testament, it is taken by many to relate chronologically to a very much earlier period; but it really ought to be alongside of the prophecies of Malachi. When we come to Nehemiah we are contemporary with the Prophet Malachi.
Haggai and Zechariah utter their prophecies and passed on. Zerubbabel the governor, and Joshua the high priest, had accomplished their ministry. Ezra had fulfilled his part of the work, as the prophets mentioned had inspired the people to finish the rebuilding of the Temple. And then there set in a course of spiritual decline. Great things had taken place under Haggai, Zerubbabel, Joshua, Zechariah: but that glory faded; that promise seemed to be short-lived. We come to Malachi - and you know the content of Malachi's prophecies. Indeed, a 'radiant morn had passed away'; indeed things had become overclouded; deep shadows of spiritual declension filled the sky over Jerusalem; and all those sad, yes, terrible things mentioned by Malachi are found, after all, among the people of God: so that only within the remnant that had returned from the captivity was there found a remnant of the remnant - "They that feared the Lord" (Mal. 3:16) - and it was into those conditions, in the midst of such a state, that Nehemiah came to fulfill his ministry.
This man came to Jerusalem and set about the undertaking which is indicated at the beginning of the book which bears his name - the rebuilding of the wall. I think that that carries with it a wonderful, yes, inspiring significance: that in a day, such as that day in which Malachi prophesied and uttered his terrible words from the Lord, the Lord has not abandoned - the Lord acts again; and this rebuilding of the wall is God's action in a day of spiritual declension. It almost shouts to us that God, after all, and in the worst times, is still committed to the recovery and completion of His testimony. It is most impressive that the Book of Nehemiah - the last historic book of the Old Testament, with Nehemiah the last great man of the Old testament - is marked, in a day of terrible spiritual decline, by God acting again in relation to His testimony. Sometimes we are tempted to feel that the time has gone and conditions are too bad, and we can hope for nothing very much in view of the situation; but this book and this man administer a very sound rebuke to any such pessimism.
(continued with - "Travail In Prayer")