Here’s a good little bulletin article that actually has a sermon outline for Nehemiah mixed in. I got it from the Montrose Church of Christ which is in a neighboring county. I thought some of you might find it useful.
THE WAY PEOPLE TALK
Most of us are aware that people are going to talk. Men are going to have their say about things. That doesn’t mean that what they say will always be right, but they are going to talk.
What is said by people is an indication of what is in the heart, for it is out of the “abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” So it behooves us to be sure that we say what we ought to say in spite of what people in general may say.
You will see the importance of this in the book of Nehemiah. In the fourth chapter, you will find that which “Judah said,” that which the “adversaries said,” and what Nehemiah “said.” So here are at least three cases of people talking. But a great deal is learned from this as we see the “way people talk.”
Remember that Nehemiah has returned from captivity and had undertaken the task of repairing the walls of the city of Jerusalem for such was “broken down” (Neh. 1:3). The job of restoration was underway as one group after another was given an assignment. As you read chapter three, you will see that one group would be working in one place, and the “next unto them” would be another. This is found time and again in this chapter. Look at verses 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12 of chapter three, and you will note this. In the midst of all this activity, one will find people talking. What sort of voices will you hear?
I. THERE IS THE VOICE OF DOUBT
Listen to those of Judah as they say, “The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall” (Neh. 4:10).
This is equal to saying “we can’t.” That means they would reach a point where they will just stop and not try. They would not put forth the effort that it would take for them to move through the rubbish. They would see it as insurmountable.
How often have we heard these voices that would say, “it cannot be done,” but all we had to do was look around, and somebody was doing what some said could not be done. Yes, people will talk about those things that cannot be done, but they can be done.
II. THERE IS THE VOICE OF DEFIANCE
Notice, “And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease (Neh. 4:11).
Here are people who are avowed enemies of the project being undertaken. They are not about to stand aside and allow this work to go unhindered. They will oppose it with all their might. This is nothing new, for the Devil has always opposed that which God would have done. His methods may vary, but he will oppose good works one way or the other.
III. THERE IS THE VOICE OF DETERMINATION
After the voices of those of Judah and the adversaries had been heard, there was need that Nehemiah speak. Somebody ought to say something that would boost the work. Somebody ought to be able to see something good. This is where the leadership of Nehemiah comes to the fore. It is said, “And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your house’s (Neh. 4:14).
Nehemiah was not about to stand back and allow this good work to be destroyed. He is not about to allow those within and without to stop such an effort.
It would indeed have been a sad day for the cause if he had not risen to offer encouragement. Suppose he had taken to bashing the work they were doing. You would never find good men involved in any such talk as this.
Be it to the credit of Nehemiah, that in spite of what others would say, the work would go on and succeed. So will it ever be.
— Periodicals and Bulletins, Winfred Clarke