November 2015


This was a sermon shared at my church sometime ago.

Introduction

Moses is a man who had ascended many mountain in his days. This study is not just about Moses, it also refer to our faith. We have all been to and seen high mountains in our lives.  Whenever we ascend a mountain we can behold a spectacular view and be in a beautiful surrounding. However if we do not work hard at climbing we will never reach the top of the mountain 

Similarly the mountain can also represent the pinnacle of faith. One must work hard to reach the top. . Let us consider the different mountains which Moses had climbed and what we can learn from it.

1st Mountain : Mount Horeb

“Now Moses was tending the
  flock of Jethro his father-in-law,
  the priest of Midian. And he led
  the flock to the back of the desert,
  and came to Horeb, the mountain
  of God.  And the Angel of the Lord
  appeared to him in a flame of fire
  from the midst of a bush. So he looked,
  and behold, the bush was burning
  with fire, but the bush was not consumed.

   Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and
  see this great sight, why the bush does
  not burn.” So when the Lord saw that he
  turned aside to look, God called to him
  from the midst of the bush and said,
  “Moses, Moses!”

   And he said, “Here I am.”

   Then He said, “Do not draw near this place.
   Take your sandals off your feet, for the place
   where you stand is holy ground.”” – Moses (Ex 3:1-5)

These verses talk about the choosing of Moses . God first called out to Moses from Mount Horeb.  40 years ago Moses thought that it was his time to lead Israel, but God had not chosen Moses at that time. That is why Moses had to flee Egypt and to live 40 years in the wilderness. During that 40 years God trained Moses. When God appeared to Moses in Exodus chapter 3, he was 80 years old.

It was his faith that make him climb that mountain . For he saw a bush burning afar. It was burning for a long time and yet it was not consumed. Moses wanted to find out why the bush was not consumed . He wanted to see it. But God told him not to come close,  for it is a Holy place.

That is when God chose Moses to lead Israel , for he had matured over the 40 years. Moses accepted that calling at Mount Horeb .

Related Article :  The God Who Dwelt In The Bush

What can we learn from this story?

As our faith matures we need to understand why God chose us to be his servants. We need to know that we must do our duty for the Lord. We must understand  what we are called to do, just like Moses.

In order to fulfil the will of God he is willing to forsake all that he had and return to Egypt.  That was because he had reach one of the pinnacles of his faith .

Today we ought to build up our faith and understand what we ought to do. We read of how Paul suffered for the Lord and how he knew God had chosen him for duty. It was that calling that make hm serve God .

This is something we ought to do, let us not look down on ourselves and claim that we are too young or too old to serve. We must serve God with all our strength. If we are youth we serve God with all our strength and our energy, if we are matured let us serve God by guiding the youth and advising them what to do,

For God had chosen us to serve him and let us do our duty diligently.

2nd  Mountain : The Mountain Of Rephidim

The Second mountain was recorded in Ex 17

“Now Amalek came and fought
  with Israel in Rephidim.  And
  Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us
  some men and go out, fight with
  Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on
  the top of the hill with the rod of God
  in my hand.” 1So Joshua did as Moses
  said to him, and fought with Amalek.
  And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up
  to the top of the hill.  And so it was,
  when Moses held up his hand, that
  Israel prevailed; and when he let
  down his hand, Amalek prevailed.”- Moses (Ex 17:8-11)

At that time Israel fought against Amalek and the battle took place in a place called Rephidim. God told Moses to go up to the mountain. As Joshua fought, Moses went up the mountain. At the end Israel was able to overcome Amalek and for then Moses was on to mountain praying for them.

During the time in the wilderness journey. Amalek came up against them from behind and they attacked the slow and stragglers at the back. Therefore God told Moses to stand ground and fight.

Who are the Amalekite in our life? Today they are just like the lust that tempt us to goes against the will of God.

How do we fight it? We need to look from the mountain and see our enemies. Therefore we must go out to the mountain to see the movement of the enemies. For if we do not destroy our enemies they will destroy us.

For example, there are still many things  that we lust for that is not in the will of God. Sometimes we choose to hold on to our weakness, we choose to go against God at times. But the bible tell us if faith is perfected we will be able to see our weakness.

There is something important that Moses carried with him as he ascended the mountain. He carried the Rod Of God onto the mountain. It was as if he had carried the power of God with him. For the Rod symbolises the power of God. Moses uses it to part the waters of the Red sea. Once when Israel was thirsty, he was able to use the rock and struck the rod for water.  So from here we know that the Rod of God is powerful.

What does the Rod of God represent in our present context?  It is now the power of the Holy Spirit.

IT can also represent the word of God. It is full of power just as Paul once told Timothy

“All Scripture is given by
  inspiration of God, and is
  profitable for doctrine, for
  reproof, for correction, for 
  instruction in righteousness, 
  that the man of God may be
  complete, thoroughly equipped
  for every good work.” – Paul (2 Tim 3:16-17)

Here it talks about uses of the scriptures. It can be used for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for  instruction in righteousness. It must be use as the foundation for our faith. it can tell us the areas where we can improve.

Therefore, how do we fight the Amalekites in our lives? We need to rely on the  Holy Spirit to fight against it.  for Paul once talk about it in the book of Romans

For if you live according to
  the flesh you will die; but if
  by the Spirit you put to death 
  the deeds of the body, you will live. “- Paul (Rom 8:13)

Here Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit can help us put to death the deeds of the body. That is why we need to rely on the Holy Spirit to put to death our carnal self. This is something we need to learn in our lives

For only by seeing the our enemies we can overcome them. That is why we need to increase our faith to see our weakness. If we see our weakness and want to change ourselves, we need to hold on to the Rod of God. so with the power of God we can overcome our enemies.

Related Article : Thoughts about The Battle At Rephidim

3rd  Mountain : Mount Sinai

“Then the Lord came down
  upon Mount Sinai, on the
  top of the mountain. And
  the Lord called Moses to the
  top of the mountain, and
  Moses went up.” – Moses (Ex 19:20)

Why did God call Moses to go up this mountain? For God wanted speak to Israel. He wanted to give them the 10 commandments so that they can keep and not trespass it. Therefore God said to Moses

“Now therefore, if you will indeed
  obey My voice and keep My covenant,
  then you shall be a special treasure to
  Me above all people; for all the earth is
  Mine.” –Moses (Ex 19:5)

If they keep the covenant and the commandment of God they will be a special treasure of God. Likewise today Christians are spiritual Jews and the special people of God. But we must obey his commandments.

Many a times people who are weak in faith will find it hard to see the will of God. For they did not put in effort to ascend the mountain and to increase their faith. It will help us keep the commandment of God and to become the special people of God.

4th Mountain : The Mountain Of God

“Then Moses went up, also Aaron,
  Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy
  of the elders of Israel, and they saw
  the God of Israel. And there was
  under His feet as it were a paved
  work of sapphire stone, and it was
  like the very heavens in its clarity. 
  But on the nobles of the children of
  Israel He did not lay His hand. So
  they saw God, and they ate and
  drank.” – Moses (Ex 24:8-11)

This is the mountain of God. This incident happened at the foot of Mount Sinai (ex 24:16). In this incident where they saw the God of Israel.  What can we learn from this?

From here we know that they are able to see the Lord because they had spiritual eyes. Today we can also behold the glory of God if we have spiritual eyes, Likewise we can see the glory of God within the church. That is why we see some rejoicing within the house of the Lord. For they can see the glory of God. For the spirit of God fills his church. That is why they must increase faith whenever we come to church.

Many who claim that going to church is a waste of time are usually without faith. but those who have faith will rejoice like others. They will be full of joy not only in church but in their daily lives. They will be able to rejoice even then life is bad. For they are able to behold the glory of God in all situation

5th Mountain : Mount Nebo

“Then Moses went up from the
  plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, 
  to the top of Pisgah, which is
  across from Jericho. And the
  Lord showed him all the land
  of Gilead as far as Dan,  all
  Naphtali and the land of Ephraim
  and Manasseh, all the land of Judah
  as far as the Western Sea,  the South,
  and the plain of the Valley of Jericho,
  the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar.  
  Then the Lord said to him, “This is the
  land of which I swore to give Abraham,
  Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to
  your descendants.’ I have caused you to
  see it with your eyes, but you shall not
  cross over there.” – Author Of Deuteronomy (Deut 34:1-4)

This is the last mountain that Moses have to climb. It is at Mount Nebo where God showed Moses the promise land. God wanted to show him that his faith in him is not in vain, for the promise land is real. What is most important  is that God had prepared a home for him in heaven.

Likewise when we have succeeded to defend our faith, God will bring us to the promise land in heaven. Why is it that some are unable to see it? It is because they have not grow in their faith and they have not ascended the mountain,

It is difficult for the faithless to see the promises of God. We need to increase in faith before we can see the promise of God.

Conclusion

The mountain represent the highest level of faith that one need to attend. Only by ascending the mountain we can see the promises of God, at the same time we could see our weakness and we need to rely on God to overcome them.

We have studied the 5 mountains which Moses had ascended. Let us learn from them and continue to climb up the mountain of our faith.

Advertisements

Recently, the Chinese version of this song keep coming to my mind. I remember that the original tune was Japanese. So I went to look for the background of the song. The original singer of the song is a lady known as Rimi Natsukawa. She was from Okinawa and she is best known for her 2001 single. 涙そうそう. The song title is taken from an Okinawan phase meaning "large tears are falling" 

The tune sound like a folk song and part of the song is played using Shamisen. The song was originally written by a Band called Begin for a singer known as Ryoko Moriyama. But it was Rimi Natsukawa’s version that is more popular.

The song reminded Moriyama of her older brother who died. The lyrics is talking about a person who was flipping through an old photo album looking at the picture of someone who died. She  was thankful to them for they have encouraged her often. It expresses a hope that they will meet again some day. The thought of it reminds me of the many funerals I have attended.

Interestingly, as a Christian we often comfort the bereaved family during the memorial service telling them that one day we would meet the departed again when we are gathered before the Lord. In fact Christian funerals are meant to remind the bereave that their departed had ended their work on earth and now there is a crown of life waiting for them. While we remember the sad for we are unable to see our departed for some time. But we know that this separation is temporary.  For we know we will meet them once again during resurrection.

Paul reminds us  so that we would not be overcome by grieve

“But I do not want you
  to be ignorant, brethren,
  concerning those who have
  fallen asleep, lest you sorrow
  as others who have no hope.
 
For if we believe that Jesus
  died and rose again, even so
  God will bring with Him those 
  who sleep in Jesus
 
  For the Lord Himself will descend
  from heaven with a shout, with
  the voice of an archangel, and
  with the trumpet of God. And
  the dead in Christ will rise first.

  Then we who are alive and remain
  shall be caught up together with
  them in the clouds to meet the
  Lord in the air. And thus we shall
  always be with the Lord.
  Therefore comfort one another
  with these words.” – Paul (1 Thess 4:13-15,16-18)

Therefore even though it is sad to see a loved one departing from us. But Christians will always have the hope of meeting them again at the feet of Jesus.

As I do not have expertise in Japanese language I just edited some part of the English translation slightly. .Kanji lyrics & Roumaji lyrics and English translation from
http://www.jpopasia.com/lyrics/9249/rimi-natsukawa/nada-sou-sou.html

 

Title: 涙そうそう Nada sou sou
Artist: 夏川りみ Rimi Natsukawa

Title : Tearful
Artist: Rimi Natsukawa
Stanza 1  

古いアルバムめくり
Furui ARUBAMU mekuri
ありがとうってつぶやいた
Arigatou tte tsubuyaita

As I Flip through an old photo album

I whispered "Thank you" softly in my heart

いつもいつも胸の中
Itsumo itsumo mune no naka
励ましてくれる人よ
Hagemashite kureru hito yo

To the one who is in my heart

Who is always there for me

晴れ渡る日も雨の日も
Hare wataru hi mo ame no hi mo
浮かぶあの笑顔
Ukabu ano egao

On clear days , on rainy days

I  think of your smile

想い出遠くあせても
Omoide tooku asete mo
おもかげ探して
Omokage sagashite
よみがえる日は涙(なだ)そうそう
Yomigaeru hi wa nada sousou

Though my memories fade into the distance

I’ll look for the traces you left behind

And remember you with my endless stream of tears

   
Stanza 2  

一番星に祈る
Ichiban hoshi ni inoru

それが私のくせになり
Sore ga watashi nokuse ni nari

I pray to the first star in the night.

It’s become a habit of mine

夕暮れに見上げる空
Yuugure ni miageru sora
心いっぱいあなた探す
Kokoro ippai anata sagasu

Looking up at the evening sky

And searching for you with all my heart

悲しみにも喜びにも
Kanashimi ni mo yorokobi ni mo
思うあの笑顔
Omou ano egao

It sadness , in happiness

I think of your smile

あなたの場所から私が
Anata no basho kara watashi ga
見えたらきっといつか
Mietara kitto itsuka
会えると信じ生きてゆく
Aeru to shinji ikite yuku

If you can see me from where you are

Then I’ll live on

Believing that we’ll meet again someday

   
Stanza 3  

晴れ渡る日も雨の日も
Hare wataru hi mo ame no hi mo
浮かぶあの笑顔
Ukabua no egao

On clear days , on rainy days

I think of your smile

想い出遠くあせても
Omoide tooku asete mo

Though my memories fade into the distance

さみしくて恋しくて
Samishikute koishikute
君への想い涙そうそう
Kimi e no omoi nada sousou

Its lonely without you
I am yearning for you

As I think of of you with my endless stream of tears

会いたくて会いたくて
Aitakute aitakute
君への想い涙そうそう
Kimi e no omoi nada sousou

I miss you, if only we could meet –

As I think of of you with my endless stream of tears

I found the M

I found an original clip featuring Ryoko Moriyama

Introduction

So far we have covered 4 factors behinds the success of Nehemiah.

1st Factor : He realised his commission and he prayed to God to help him  (Part 1)
2nd Factor : He was able to seize the opportunity and he was well prepared.  (Part 1)
3rd Factor : Nehemiah visited the ground to gain a personal understanding (Part 2)
4th Factor : Nehemiah encourage the Jews To Work For The Lord (Part 2)
5th Factor : Nehemiah knew how to make everyone work together (Part 3)

Let us study the 6th factor behind his success.  As the 6th Factor is quite long, we would study them in 2 post

6th Factor : Nehemiah Knew How To Rely On God To Resolve His Problems

When Nehemiah came to Jerusalem, he faced both internal and external threats to his work. The book of Nehemiah Chapter 4 tells us of how his enemies attacked him. In general, his enemies took a 2 pronged approach to attack him, and today we will study the first of this approach. The chapter begin with the introduction to that first approach

“But it so happened, when
  Sanballat heard that we were
  rebuilding the wall, that he was
  furious and very indignant, and
  mocked the Jews.” – Nehemiah (Neh 4:1)

Both Sanballat and Tobiah mocked the Jews and their words are meant to attack the Jews. There are 3 objectives that they wanted to achieve by mocking the Jews. Let us look closer into their words

1st Attack : To Make The Jews Lose Confidence In Themselves

“What are these feeble Jews doing?
  Will they fortify themselves?”- Sanballat (Neh 4:2)

These words are meant to make the Jews lose confidence in themselves. For the wall of Jerusalem was destroyed and the city was burnt with fire. This words are meant to make them faint hearted as well as to lose their will to continue the work. For they did not have the faith and courage to rebuild these walls initially. They found courage and strength after the return of Nehemiah. When they heard his encouragement it gave them strength to rebuild the wall. But the enemies wanted to attack their confidence by their mockery.

In another words, their comments will sound like this, “ Do you think you can protect yourself? If you are fortifying to protect yourself, your work will be in vain. For if you could indeed defend yourself, why was the walls destroyed in the first place? There will not be a need to rebuild this city.” 

Their mockery is meant to make the Jews doubt their strength to complete the work. For History had proven that they were unable to defend themselves as well as the city. That will mean that there is no need to waste time rebuilding this wall.

If the Jews were to accept their mockery, they will admit to their own helplessness. If they accept those comments,  they will never have the will to finish the wall and to continue working.

Likewise today as we are trying to rebuild the kingdom of God we will face mocking from others challenging us. “You claim you want to rebuild the apostolic church and you claim that this church will spread throughout the world. But what have you accomplished so far? Your success is miserable compared to others”

Indeed if we consider the weakness within the church and if we were to Google for comments against against Christianity, we will find a lot of mocking and jeering from many individuals. Indeed the church is full of weakness but we do not not rely on the strength of man to finish this work. We are relying on the Spirit of God. Even though we see our weakness but we know we have a God who is behind us. We believe that he will help us finish the work.

For the work is not started by us, it is the will of God and it is the Holy Spirit that moves man to work. God had promise his people just as he once spoke through Prophet Zechariah

During that time, the Jews were facing great difficulties in rebuilding  the temple. The Angel of the Lord pleaded with the Lord to have mercy on Jerusalem.  He pleaded saying

O Lord of hosts, how long
  will You not have mercy on Jerusalem
  and on the cities of Judah, against which
  You were angry these seventy years?” – Angel Of The Lord (Zech 1:12)

God answered with good and comforting words. in verse 13. The Angel instructed Zechariah to make 3 proclamation.

“I am zealous for Jerusalem
  And for Zion with great zeal.”-YHWH (Zech 1:14)

This is important as the zeal of God is different from the zeal of man. While mans zeal is limited and could be put out by mocking, jeering and a wet blanket. The zeal of God is continually burning and can never be quench. In that zeal the Lord proclaim

”I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy;
  My house shall be built in it,
  And a surveyor’s line shall be
  stretched out over Jerusalem”
  My cities shall again spread out through prosperity;
  The Lord will again comfort Zion,
  And will again choose Jerusalem.” – YHWH (Zech 1:16,18)

This tells us that the work of rebuilding Jerusalem is the work of God and he will see to it that it will be completed.  Our faith needs to be built on these promises of God. We cannot deny the weakness seen within the church, but we need to see the promises of God.

We need to see the abidance of the Holy Spirit and we need to be assured that his work will eventually be completed.

Today we read of this same message therefore let us not be discouraged by the mockery of others. Let us not give up for we have heard the promises of God and the abidance of the Holy Spirit. It will become our hope and comfort.

2nd Attack : To Make The Jews Lose Faith In God
“Will they offer sacrifices? Will they
  complete it in a day? Will they revive
  the stones from the heaps of rubbish
  —stones that are burned?”- Sanballat (Neh 4:2)

These words are made to make the Jews lose faith in God. Indirectly they meant

“Do you think by relying on God you can rebuild the wall in 1 day? Do you think you can fix the stones that are already burnt? If God had helped you, your walls would be still standing this very day. Even if you were to sacrifice to God he will not help you, he will not defend this wall. It is meaningless to sacrifice to him and rely on him. For History have proven that the Lord did not help you. Look at this wall? Isn’t it a testimony of God ignoring you?”

If the Jews were to listen to this and look at the fallen wall. They will begin to feel hurt and indignant in their heart. They will question why God allowed this to happen and they may even murmur against God saying “If God is with us, why are the enemies mocking us like this?”

The same thing happened during the period of the judges. Then the Israelites were oppressed by the Midianites and God sent An Angel to meet Gideon  at the threshing floor. The Angel greeted him and he said  ““The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”

But how did Gideon respond to that greeting?
“O my lord, if the Lord is with us,
  why then has all this happened
  to us? And where are all His
   miracles which our fathers told
  us about, saying, ‘Did not the
  Lord bring us up from Egypt?’
  But now the Lord has forsaken
  us and delivered us into the hands
  of the Midianites.”- Gideon (Judg 6:13)

Gideon did not thank God for allowing him to see an Angel. But he  questioned God’s power. He claimed that God had forsaken them and have delivered them to the Midianites. Indeed that was the time when the faith of Gideon as well as the faith of Israel are at  their low. That is why Gideon was unmoved even when God appeared before him.

Indeed the words of the enemies can make one lose faith in God. This is true especially when they see many misfortune and failure before them. They will ask “Why wont God work with us? Why wont God help us?”

This type of attack is worthy of our note and we need to understand how to handle such attack.

3rd Attack : To Make The Jews Lose Faith In Their Effort

“Whatever they build, if even a fox
  goes up on it, he will break down
  their stone wall.”- Tobiah (Neh 4:3)

These are the words of Tobiah and it is meant to make them lose faith and confidence in the work they do. Indirectly he is saying “Why are you putting in so much effort to rebuild it? You are wasting your time, your work will not withstand the test of time even a fox can topple this wall.”

The enemies wanted the Jews to think that their work is futile and they have laboured in vain. If one is unable to see the value of the work he is doing, he will not want to do it. He will not continue to pay the price and sacrifice to complete the work.

We all remembered how Elijah fled and pleaded with God for death. He had met a setback which makes him give up all hope in life.  He had just perform 2 miracles. His prayer allowed rain to fall on the land of Israel. He had lead Israel to slaughter the false prophet of Baal and Asherah. These are all work of great value and it had its great effect in reviving the faith of Israel.

But he had this misconception about the value and the effect of his work. He was thinking to himself. “Even though I did all these but what is the use? Jezebel wanted to kill me, and not a single man stood up for me.No one spoke against Jezebel or wanted to stop her from killing me”

As the result he fled on his own, and he felt that his work is pointless. So what if he had prayed for rain and so what if he had killed the false prophets. This is why he felt that he is useless.

“It is enough! Now, Lord,
  take my life, for I am no
  better than my fathers!”- Elijah (1 King 19:4)

When one is unable to recognise the fruit and the value of his work, he will not put in effort to work anymore. He will instead ask God to take away his life. The enemies of the Jews are aware of their weakness. that is why they used their words to strike down the confidence of the Jews.

they choose to attack and strike their confidence in all areas. be it in themselves, in God or the work they do.

Today as we read this story let us not neglect the effect of such mocking and jeering. For we know of many good and zealous Christian losing their zeal when they encounter such mocking and jeering. They ended up discourage and they gave up on their work,

Understanding Nehemiah’s Response

How did Nehemiah respond to these mocking and jeering from Sanballat and Tobiah?

So we built the wall, and the entire
  wall was joined together up to
  half its height, for the people had
  a mind to work.” – Nehemiah  (Neh 4:6)

Nehemiah did not allow their mockery to anger him nor does he contend with them and fight them. For doing so will make the situation worst and hinder the work that he is trying to complete. He choose not to be discouraged or to stop his work because of their jeering. Instead he took all their words and presented them before the Lord.

“Hear, O our God, for we are
  despised; turn their reproach
  on their own heads,”-Nehemiah (Neh 4:4) 

He told God of their mockery and jeering. This is something we do as human beings at times too. For we would often share our troubles with our friends and receive strength and encouragement from them. Indeed friends ought to stand by each other and support each other in times of need. But many a times our friends were unable to help, for they too have their problem to face, their pain to bear.

Therefore we need to remember to bring our problems before God but as we do so we must not stop working. For many after entrusting the matter to God just adopted a wait and see attitude to see if God will do anything to help them.

So when they do not see any response from God, they become disappointed, but Nehemiah is different  He did not just pray and wait to see if God will help him, he does not sit passively waiting for God to take action. After his prayer he continue to lead and mobilised the co-workers to focus on the work of building the wall. As the result the work continued and the wall was half its height.  For everyone focus on their work and not allow the jeering to affect them.

If they were to stop work and wait for God to act, then the work will be paused and they will have given the enemies what they want. Even though they may think “I am not stopping work, I am just waiting for the Lord.” But if they stop working they would have fallen into the trap of their enemies.

Their enemies can continue to say “Continue to wait, lets see if your God would punish us”

But Nehemiah did not fall for their trap , he just prayed and entrust the matter to God. Even though he is not sure how God will help them or when he will do it.  But since he had already prayed to God regarding it, they only need to continue working.

This is something we ought to learn as we face jeering and mocking as we serve God. We do not need to accept their bullying or suppress our emotion when being attacked. But if we allow their words to affect us and to depress us we would have fallen into the enemies trap and that is what they want.

So why must we allow ourselves to be trapped by them? Why must we allow their words to press heavily upon us?”

Was Nehemiah A Vengeful man In His Prayer?

We understand that there is no need to take revenge on our enemies but we need to tell them to God. We need to entrust the problem to God and to continue working. As we work, we wait on the Lord for deliverance. But yet Nehemiah’s prayer will have appeared hostile to us who are reading it.

“turn their reproach
  on their own heads,
  and give  them as
  plunder to a land of
  captivity! “- Nehemiah (Neh 4:4)

Do we think that it was a vengeful remark? Aren’t the children of God not to take revenge on their own? Why did Nehemiah use such vengeful words in his prayer?

Let us understand that Nehemiah is not the aggressor but a defender. For even as Sanballat and Tobiah continue in their mocking he did not challenge them or take revenge against them physically. He was praying to God to judge them with his righteous judgement.

This is similar to us receiving a parcel that we do not like to receive. Therefore we return the parcel back to the sender, for we refuse to keep what they have given to us. It was the enemies who started to slander and jeer the Jews as they worked. Nehemiah is merely returning what they have said back to them.

“Do not cover their iniquity,
  and do   not let their sin be
  blotted out from before You; for
  they have provoked  You to
  anger before the builders.” -Nehemiah (Neh 4:5)

Some would view this prayer as judgemental and it is a clear indication of Nehemiah’s unforgiving nature. Is that how a child of God ought to behave? Where is his forgiveness?

Let us understand the content of his prayer fully. He is not praying from the perspective of man but he is speaking on the side of God. For these people did not just insult and humiliate the Jews. they have attacked God. that is what Nehemiah meant by  “for   they have provoked  You to  anger before the builders”

These men were destroying the work of God and the Holy City. Nehemiah is merely judging them base on the fact that they have went against the will of God.  This prayer reminds us that we need to be watchful whenever we pray. We need to understand the boundaries that we ought to keep. Let us not speak out of anger but pray in accordance to Gods righteousness.

If we are just thinking from the perspective of man than we ought to let go and forgive. For it is a mere conflict between human. But if we were to look at the matter from Gods perspective, they are disrupting his work and going against his will. It is even worst as they are trying to destroy the temple of God. The children of God must never allow them to attack the Holy City and the temple of God

Indeed if these man are just making personal attack on us, we can forgive and let it go, we ought to forgive and not condemn them. For there will come a time we ill make a mistake and we desire the forgiveness of others. That is why we need to seize every opportunity to forgive others, so that we will be forgiven too.

But this is a different situation in Nehemiah’s case, for he saw them attacking the work of God. He is judging them base on the perspective of God. He is not saying those words because these men had humiliated and attacked him. But because they have went against God in their action.

That is why God is pleased with his prayer and is willing to work with him. This is something we must see whenever we read the story of Nehemiah.

Conclusion So Far

Today we only learnt half of the 6th factor behind Nehemiah success. We shared earlier that his enemies attacked him from 2 angles. Today we look deeply on one of the aspect of the attack which is their jeering and mockery to the Jews.

We have covered the 3 direction of their mockery, how they wanted the Jews to lose confidence in themselves, their work and in God.

We studied how Nehemiah responded to their attack. He did not attack and take revenge physically, instead he brought their words before God and he wanted God to judge them for the words they speak. After he entrust the matter to God, he did not stop working. He continue to lead the children of Israel to complete the work and the wall was completed to half its height.

We have also studied deeper into the prayer of Nehemiah to see if his action is done out of a vengeful spirit.  We understand that he is praying to God not because they have insulted and humiliated him, but rather he saw their attack as obstructing the will of God and going against God.

He is merely returning  their attack back to them by asking God to judge them for their sins. And their sin is not about them attacking and mocking Nehemiah personally, but it is about them going against the will of God and insulting God.

Let us remember this lesson especially today as we try to serve God and rebuild the church of God. For we will likewise face constant jeering and mockery within and outside of church. We need to realise the value of our work and be willing to continue to work with God to complete it.

We need to trust that it is God’s will to rebuild his church and he will finish the work . We need to continue to serve him and not allow the mockery and jeering of others to affect us.

In our previous blog post, we have began our study of the sixth miracle of Jesus in the book of John. We have looked at the brave testimony from the blind man and we have also compared his testimony with the ones that are from his parents.

We have also learnt about the hard heartedness of the Pharisees and their unbelief even though they are aware of the miracles.  From there we discussed the importance of believing in Jesus and worshiping him. Let us now continue our study with 2 questions that may arise from this miracle.

Qns 1: Why did Jesus chose to heal him using such method?

It may be tempting to say that saliva, clay plus the water from the pool of Siloam is the secret to healing the blind. But we all know that it is not true. That is why we question “Why did Jesus make use of such methods to heal this man.

Throughout the bible, we have seen Jesus healing many blind men and the method he uses are different.

Case 1: Matt 9:28-30

Over here Jesus simply ask them “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” and he just touched their eyes and these man could see. There is no clay and saliva used in it.

Case 2: Mk 10:51-52

This is even simpler Jesus did not touch the man and he only said “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” and the man is healed instantaneously.

Case 3: Mk 8:22-25

This case is a bit special, the man wanted Jesus to touch him. That is probably due to the fact that he had heard how Jesus perform healing. So he begged Jesus to touch him. But this time Jesus chose a different method, he spat on his eyes, and put his hands on him. The man could see partially only.  Later on he touched his eyes again and his sight is restored. I believe that it happened not because Jesus was too tried or he was not powerful enough. But rather Jesus chose to do it deliberately.

Jesus used many different ways to heal the blind. Therefore the healing  lies not in the method used. The real question is about whether these man choose to believe in the words of Jesus. In another words “Are they willing to follow the instruction of Jesus?”

If they believe in Jesus and are willing to follow his instruction, they will be healed. But those who choose not to believe will not receive the grace of healing. If these men were doubtful, they will question “Why must i go through so much trouble to be healed? For Jesus had spoke and many received their sights” .  Some others will ask,  “Why must i go to the pool to wash my eyes?”. 

To the doubtful, they will take it that Jesus was trying to make life difficult for them.

But we see that this man having complete faith and followed all the instructions from Jesus. That is how he received this amazing grace of healing. 

The Question Of Obedience

If we continue in this train of thought. We will reach a conclusion that Jesus had different will for different people. Similarly, he wanted to test to see if they had faith and if they are obedient. Therefore regardless of which method that was chosen, we need to ask ourselves “Are we willing to believe in the words of Jesus?”

If we truly believe, we will be willing to follow his instructions, even though we may not understand why he had to put saliva on our eyes and why we need to go to the pool of Siloam to clean our eyes. We will gladly do it for we know that it is beneficial to us. A person with that attitude will accept his instruction when no one else can. For he will view it as a test from Jesus to see if he have faith and if he is willing obey him.

On the other hand,  It is easy to use logic to deny the Lord. Such logic often make us question God by asking “Why is it that you just spoke to him and yet you give me so much trouble”

Sometimes Christians fell for the same doubt, especially when we see others around us having an easier life of faith. That will lead us to think “We are all believers of Christ, but why did God make life easy for him and difficult for me? Why do I need to go through so much tribulation and why is my way so hard? Did Jesus love him more than me?“  Thoughts like this lead us to doubt God and murmur. That will prevent us from accepting, enduring and to remain prayerful in our life of faith. 

But if we recognise the fact that God had different ways for us to tread, and that our encounters in life will be different. We will know that God wills for us to believe and be obedient to him.  If we adjust our perspective,  we can tread better in this journey of faith 

Qns 2: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

The disciples asked an interesting question. A question that sometimes we would ask as well.

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or
  his parents, that he was born
  blind?”- Disciples (Jn 9:2)

Since ancient times, man had often struggled with question why are there suffering in this world. Every philosopher and every religion strive to give us answer, but be it eastern or western philosophy, people tend to think that suffering is a result of sin.

Many believe that bad events are retribution for our sins and we ought to suffer through it. The Jews had an similar concept. This is why the disciples felt that it was either the man or his parents who had sin.

The Answer Of Jesus

But Jesus corrected their concept that all illness is a result of sin. Therefore he answered

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,
  but that the works of God should be
  revealed in him.” – Jesus (Jn 9:3)

There are some skeptics who misused this verse to claim that God allowed the man to be born blind so that God can manifest his power through him.

But how could man worship a God that is so cruel? A God who disable us for the sake of his glory. That would mean God created man as a tool to glorify himself. If it is true, than our God is unfair and unjust.  

So what does Jesus actually meant?

This man had encountered a great misfortune, but he could rely on God and God can perform a miracle for him. Even though it is not a guaranty that God will heal him. But God will be able to help him in ways that we would not expect.

Therefore instead of asking “Who sinned and brought this misfortune?” we should ask “How can we rely on God to overcome difficulty”?

If we readjust our attitude, it will allow the words of Jesus can bring comfort to those who are suffering. For when one encounters a misfortune, it is a reminder for the to return to God. It is an opportunity for them to learn to rely on God and to receive his grace.

This would result to the power of God being manifested and it can bring benefits to our lives. 

The Blind Choir

There is a blind choir that went around to sing, they spend their days testifying about Christ the saviour. They bore witness about how Jesus had manifested his power among these blind men and how he saved them so that they can join the choir and travel around preaching the gospel of Jesus.

Once there is a reporter who asked “You claimed that Jesus had saved you, but you are still blind and he had not healed your sight.”

But the choir replied “He did not open our eyes, but he opened our heart. He allowed us to see that he is truly the saviour and he can forgive our sins. As the result we will not face judgement in the future. We see how he had given us eternal hope and we can enter heaven in the future”

“We are all blind but you can also see our attitude in life, the peace that we have, compared to those who can see but are without the hope of eternal life, compared to those who only had emptiness and the despair of facing death, we are more fortunate and blessed”

Conclusion

Today when we encounter suffering, let us not cry and ask God why it happened. Let us dry our tears and ask “How can I rely on you to overcome this suffering? How can I preserve my faith so that others can see and give glory to God?”

Let us ask God to help us so that our faith will not fall and allow his name to be shamed. this is what we ought to learn whenever we encounter suffering. We need to believe that Jesus will help us not to be overcome by our suffering but be victorious over them. He will do it so that we can stand up and worship him even in the midst of suffering.

“For I know that this will turn out for
  my deliverance through your prayer
  and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus
  Christ, according to my earnest
  expectation and hope that in nothing
  I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness,
  as always, so now also Christ will be
  magnified in my body, whether by
  life or by death. “- Paul (Php 1:19-20)

Paul was preaching the gospel and he was thrown into prison by those who opposed him. He may be released or he may be executed. But even as he is facing life and death, he believed that if God is willing, God will save him and he will be free. But if not he may be dead. But he said “Be in by life or by death, God will be magnified in my body”

Some version said “I will use my body to glorify God in life or in death”

Paul went on to say if he was released, he can continue to preach and it is good for the church if he were to die and he return back to the Lord it is far better. He understood that believing in Jesus is good beyond compare for he can forgive our sins so that we will not face the judgement in the future.

For Jesus had given us eternal life and we can enter the kingdom of God. So we can give thanks in life and we can do the same in death. So we can magnified Christ both in life or in death.

May God help us so that we can know him and believe in him so that we can remain as his faithful disciples.