Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Evening Sermon Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/ev/ev20110213.htm
THRU THE BIBLE EXPOSITION
Nehemiah: Excelling In Leadership In Hard Times
Part X: Handling Slander By Speaking The Truth, Praying And Persevering In God's Will
Lesson: When facing potentially damaging, manipulative slander, Nehemiah spoke the truth, he prayed for God's help to function above fear of the slander's damaging effects and he persevered in God's will.
- Slander is a particularly difficult trial to face since seriously negative reports about a party, be they true or false, have a way of being greedily taken to heart by the hearer, Proverbs 18:8.
- Nehemiah faced slander in Nehemiah 6:5-7, slander that had just enough truth mixed in with it to make it believable to the unwary, and how he handled it in Nehemiah 6:8-9 is instructive for us today (as follows):
- Handling Slander By Speaking The Truth, Praying And Persevering In God's Will, Nehemiah 6:5-9.
- We learned in our last lesson that Nehemiah's foes, Sanballat and Geshem, four times sent word to ask Nehemiah to meet with them on the Plain of Ono a long ways from Jerusalem, Nehemiah 6:1-2, 4.
- They pretended to want to make peace with Nehemiah, but insisting on having him meet them so far from the Jerusalem wall construction site indicated they had destructive motives in mind, so Nehemiah wisely answered them benignly, claiming he was busy doing a great work and could not leave it, Neh. 6:2b, 3.
- Apparently becoming aware that Nehemiah was exposing their negative motives by his repeat benign replies to their appeal, Sanballat decided to slander Nehemiah openly, presenting him as evil to sabotage his leadership and thus sabotage the Jerusalem wall construction effort, Nehemiah 6:5-7:
- After Nehemiah's fourth benign response to Sanballat's and Geshem's request that he meet them on the Plain of Ono (Nehemiah 6:2, 4), Sanballat sent a fifth message in the form of an open letter that all could read, slandering Nehemiah as having bad motives in refusing to attend the meeting, Neh. 6:5-7a:
- Sanballat claimed in this open letter that a report from the Gentiles had surfaced that Nehemiah and his fellow Hebrews working on the wall intended to rebel against the Persian king, Neh. 6:5-6a.
- Also, Sanballat claimed the report suggested Nehemiah was trying to acquire a following among the Hebrews helping him on the wall so he could make himself Israel's king in rebellion against the Persian king, Nehemiah 6:6b.
- Furthermore, Sanballat claimed the report also suggested that Nehemiah had appointed prophets to proclaim at Jerusalem that there was a king there, suggesting that Nehemiah was that king, and that Nehemiah stood in danger of having all of these claims reported to the Persian ruler so that he would certainly become angry and want to attack Jerusalem, Nehemiah 6:7a.
- This last charge had enough truth to make it believable to some: prophets Haggai and Zechariah were led of God just before Nehemiah's time to call Israel to rebuild the temple, and both predicted a coming Messiah, Hag. 2:7 and Zech . 9:9. This truth from these prophets mixed with the slander that Nehemiah was making himself that Messiah made the slander potently believable to the naive!
- Armed with this destructive slander, Sanballat tried to pressure Nehemiah to meet him on the Plain of Ono lest news of this report reach Persia's king! If Nehemiah yielded to this pressure out of fear, Sanballat could kill him and/or attack the workers on the wall, ending their effort, Neh. 6:7b with 6:2.
- Nehemiah wisely and courageously countered this slander by (1) speaking the truth, by (2) praying and by (3) persevering in God's will, Nehemiah 6:8-9:
- Nehemiah sent word to Sanballat that the report Sanballat gave was false, that he had authored the slanderous report from his own imagination, Nehemiah 6:8.
- Having clarified this fact, Nehemiah acknowledged the slander made him and his helpers afraid of a reprisal from the Persian king were he to hear and believe the slander as true (Neh. 6:9a), so Nehemiah prayed for God's help to counter that fear that he might continue doing his work, Nehemiah 6:9b.
- Accordingly, Nehemiah persevered with the calling God had given clear evidence in Nehemiah 2:4-8 was his divine assignment, the Biblical work of rebuilding Jerusalem's city wall.
Application: If we face potentially damaging, manipulative slander, we must speak the truth, pray for God to encourage us to function above fear of the slander's ruinous effects and persevere in God's will.