Nehemiah 6:15-19 - Finishing the Project...Sort Of

Steve Viars September 21, 1996 Nehemiah 6:15-19

- This morning we're going to be completing our study of Nehemiah chapter 6.
- In so doing, we are wrapping up a major section of the book.
- There's still some very important material yet to be studied, but it will be a lot different than what we've been looking at up to this point.

- As you know, these last three chapters have been about overcoming opposition and adversity.
- God has helped Nehemiah stand up against those who were trying to thwart this project, and we are coming to the verses that tell us that the wall is completed.
- However, even in these verses, Nehemiah is going to tell us about some unfinished business with the adversaries, and if you look ahead at how many chapters are still left in the book, there is obviously a great amount of unfinished business with the people...
- so we're titling these verses - "Finishing the Project...Sort Of"

- READ Nehemiah 6:15-19

- This morning we're looking for three principles to help us handle the completion of a project properly.

- before we look at the verses, let's talk about the matter of completing projects.

INPUT - It has been said that it is easier to start something than it is to finish it.  Why is that statement true?


INPUT - How might a person in our class find themselves in a "having completed a project" situation?


- one truth we learn from these verses is:


I. God Can Help Us Not Just Start Things, But Finish Them


- James Montgomery Boice calls verse 15:
A. "A superb understatement".

- "So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days."

- This statement ought to give us great hope and encouragement as we see how God and enabled Nehemiah and his people to finish this task in such a short period of time.

- God is not just in the business of giving us things to do---He's also in the business of helping us and enabling us so that we can finish the tasks well.


- I'd like to encourage you to think of all the things you're trying to do for the Lord...
- your "projects in process" list...

- your children
- your relationship with your spouse
- evangelistic contacts you're seeking to cultivate
- ministry projects you're working on
- an area of spiritual growth you're giving special attention to

- then be encouraged by what we're reading in this verse...God can help us, not just start things, but to finish them.


- to see how amazing this statement in verse 15 is, let's review:
B. The actual time line of these events

1. Receives report about condition of Jerusalem from brother - Kislev (winter) 444 BC

2. Receives permission to go from Artaxerxes - Nisan (April) - 443 BC

3. Arrives in Jerusalem - August 1, 443 BC

- would have required time to get supplies, make trip

4. Wall completed - Sept. 21, 443 BC


- so when you put this all together, it was less than nine months from when Nehemiah heard this news to when the wall was completed!
- it was less than 2 months from the time he arrived in Jerusalem to when the wall was completed.

- This verse is a great testimony to the power of God, and to what can be accomplished when God's people set their minds to work.

C. The importance of finishing.

- It has been said, "There are a lot more people that start well, then that end well."

- I want to ask you this morning, Are you committed to doing both?

- A great verse from the NT that illustrates this point is II Tim. 4:6-8.
- Please turn there.

2Timothy 4:6-8 -  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;  in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
- We're saying that we ought to be greatly encouraged as we see God help someone finish.
- Are you committed not only to starting well, but finishing well.

1) Raising you children

- Often parents start off with a "bang." 
- Putting a great amount of emphasis on this area.
- But then as pressure to do other things grows, or challenges with children become stiffer...some parents don't finish the task.

- It's harder (and often takes more time) to sit down and answer a young person's questions from the Scripture.
- It's harder to stay in there and keep loving a child who may be rebelling.
- And even if you "finish the job" from your perspective, there's no guarantee that the child is respond to your teaching and be God's kind of person.
- But are you committed to doing all you can from your perspective and finish the job?

- Or are you going to take your cues from the world that wants us to believe children at age 9 or 10 are smarted than most grown-ups anyway, and they are nature enough for total freedom on all areas and don't really need mom and dad anymore.


2) Improving your marriage.

- Chinese -- Americans begin their marriages very "hot," end up very cold.

- Does that have to be true?

- Are you committed to not just starting well, but ending well.

- We're seeing in these verses this morning that God can help someone finish a project like a wall around a city, surely he can help us continue to build our marriages.

- cf. Pastor Gellatt --- marriage to Joyce is finished.

- INPUT - What kinds of things would you want to be able to say in your heart at the death of your spouse (if God has you precede them in death)?

 

3) Projects in ministry

- Its easy to be all excited about a ministry when you first start it.
- But what happens after several months, or several years?

- Are you committed not just to starting well, but to finishing well?

- These verses show us that God can help us do both.


- Another truth that flows out of these verses is:
II. God Deserves Praise/Honor When A Task/Project Is Completed

A. How Nehemiah Did It

- The way Nehemiah "words" verse 16 is very important.
- INPUT - What was it he said the enemy recognized?

- INPUT - How else could he have said this?
(They recognized the great job I did).

- James Montgomery Boice said - "If ever there was a time when Nehemiah could have been tempted to sit back and take credit for his success, it would have been when the wall was completed.  But he did not.  What he did do shows his greatness.  Toward the end of chapter 6, we learn that Nehemiah gave glory to God."

- INPUT - What does this statement show us about Nehemiah's heart?


- Boice goes on to make a very interesting comparison I'd like us to think about for a moment:

"Since Nehemiah had come from the winter capital of Babylon, I cannot help but think of the contrasting words of that earlier Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, who had conquered Jerusalem."

B. How Nebuchadnezzar did it

- please turn over to Daniel 4

- READ verses 28-33

- (If time -- on white board, compare Nebuchadnezzar to Nehemiah)


- Boice said - "Why is it that so many people will acknowledge God and even pray to Him regularly and fervently on their way up the long ladder of success, but once they reach that pinnacle they forget their religion and regard success as their own exclusive achievement?  It is inexplicable, unless the reason is that they conveniently `forget' God so they can indulge themselves without any higher responsibility.  Nehemiah did not do this.  He remembered God and so retained his usefulness to God beyond the accomplishment of his initial objective.  That is why the book does not end with chapter 6; the second half is filled with equally remarkable achievements.


- INPUT - Questions we should be asking ourselves at this point?

- a third point we need to note from these verses is:
III. God Often Prepares New Challenges When Other Projects Are Completed

- You wish that chapter 6 ended at verse 16.
- but the rest of the chapter tells us that Tobiah and his cohorts are still keeping up their letter writing campaign.

- What is especially disturbing about this is that letters are going back and forth from Tobiah to some of the leaders in Judah.
- Verse 18 says that there was even some sort of oath that had been taken, and that the "alliance" even involved inter-marriage.

- So even though the wall is up, God allowed this situation to persist (cf. Rom. 8:28)


- One important lesson we always need to remember from this book is that, yes, Nehemiah finished the wall in am amazingly short period of time...but on the other hand, God had other things for him to accomplish.

- (if time -- on white board, go through different stages of life and show how the Lord often has unique challenges at each stage ---- point is -- we're never done)

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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