When the walls of Jerusalem were erected, and only the gates remained to be hung, Israel’s enemies again tried to stop the progress. Seeing that brute force would not work (Neh. 4:7-23), Sanballat and Geshem tried a more “diplomatic” approach where perhaps they could get Nehemiah to compromise with them. They asked him to stop the work and meet them in one of the villages in the plain of Ono (Neh. 6:2-3). Nehemiah was not falling for this, and refused, even though the men hounded him for a meeting (v. 4-5).
When Nehemiah refused, Sanballat sent an open letter (Neh. 6:5) accusing him and the Jews of rebellion against Xerxes. Understand, an “open letter” was a form of insult against Nehemiah. Yet, when insulted, Nehemiah spoke the truth that Sanballat made up these charges. He then prayed for God’s strength (v. 8-9). He faced yet another test when Shemiah tried to get him to hide in the Temple under the ruse that Nehemiah needed to do this to save his life (v. 10-11). Thankfully, Nehemiah refused to listen and stood his ground with his people, again turning to God in this time (v. 14).
Satan does the same to us. First, he tempts us to give in to our lusts and sin against God (Jas. 1:14-15). If temptations that lead to rebellion do not lure us, then he uses other tactics, like compromise, to lead us away from the Lord. We see this in Matthew 4 and Luke 4 when Satan tempted Christ. When other tactics failed, he tried to get Jesus to compromise. If Jesus bowed and worshipped Satan, He would have the “kingdoms of the world”! He could avoid the cross altogether (Matt. 4:8-10; Lk. 4:5-8)! Why not compromise, Jesus? Isn’t this a way to “have your cake and eat it too”?
Compromise with the truth has been Satan’s tactic for years. He wants men to feel good about their partial obedience and then justify the behavior we want to do. For example, we might not yield to the temptation to be homosexual (Rom. 1:26-27), but Satan wants us to say we love others and will accept this behavior in others (ignoring Rom. 1:32). Similarly, we might not drink alcohol (I Pet. 4:3), but Satan says we ought not to condemn others who drink and exercise their “rights” in the USA. If someone takes a stand for truth and says that there is only one way to Heaven, through the teachings of Christ (Jn. 14:6), Satan’s minions will hound us and call us “narrow-minded,” and a “Pharisee.”
Yes, when Satan fails at getting us to turn from the Lord, he will try to get us to compromise. Friend, what will we do about this? What have we done? I hope we haven’t fallen into the trap of compromising with sin, but if so, know that there is still time to repent while we live (II Pet. 3:9; Heb. 3:7-8). If you need to be baptized for the remission of sins, then do it (Acts 2:38; I Pet. 3:21). Don’t compromise with false doctrine on this issue or any other! Take advantage of the time we have and do what God says without compromise or apology -- just like Nehemiah!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
After Haman’s plans for killing the Jews, including Esther, were revealed (Est. 7:6), things moved very quickly. Mordecai’s enemy ended up hanging from the gallows he had made for him (v. 10). Not only this, but the ring Haman once wore was given to Mordecai (Est. 8:2). The position once held by Haman, Mordecai now held. The entire population of Jews, once oppressed, were allowed weapons and to have a fair fight against the Persians (Est. 8:11-12, 9:2-3). Yes, God in His providence caused a complete reversal in the plans of Haman “the enemy of the Jews.”
This is not the only time we read about this happening. When Jesus spoke about the eternal destiny of the rich man and Lazarus, we find another time when things were reversed (Lk. 16:19-31). Specifically, Abraham reminds the rich man, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented” (v. 25). Upon analyzing the context, we see many “reversals” that took place between the rich man and Lazarus. Just like Haman and Mordecai, many things changed between them. I marvel at this because perhaps those five brothers he left behind thought of their brother as a godly man and one bound for eternal bliss. God knew what was going on “behind the scenes,” and this man got what he deserved. In reality, the rich man and Lazarus experienced a true reversal from what they had experienced on earth.
The most significant reversal of all was the reversal Christ performed when He made salvation possible through His death, burial, and resurrection (Matt. 26:28; Col. 1:14, 20; Heb. 9:28; I Jn. 2:2; Rom. 6:2-6, 16-18; I Pet. 3:21). Satan thought that he had won. He had succeeded in tempting the first people to sin (Gen. 3:1-6). They sinned, and we have had to live with the consequences on this earth ever since (Gen. 3:16-24). Satan then tempted Cain (Gen. 4:1-11), Abraham (Gen. 12, 20), Moses (Num. 20), David (II Sam. 11-12), and every other man and woman on earth (Rom. 3:23)! He succeeded in getting humanity to sin and to jeopardize their souls before God.
Satan seemed to be winning until Christ came to earth! At that time, we see a reversal taking place. Christ was tempted like others, but did not yield (Matt. 4:1-11; Lk. 4:1-13; Heb. 4:15). He “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (I Pet. 2:22). Furthermore, when He died, He did not die in sin but died to be a sacrifice for others’ sins (I Pet. 3:18). Where Adam brought death, we see that Christ brings life (I Cor. 15:22). Yes, a complete reversal is possible in Christ!
Are you ready for a new beginning? Are you ready for “light, and gladness, and joy, and honor” (Est. 8:16)? Spiritually, you can have these things by following the Lord and doing what He says. Become a Christian (Acts 11:26; Mk. 16:16). Live faithfully for the Lord (I Cor. 15:58), and you can look forward to Heaven (another reversal from life on earth) when this life is over (Matt. 25:34)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Haman signed and put the royal ring on an edict that demanded the death of the Jewish people (Est. 3). The riders given the message were made to hurry and proclaim it far and wide. What were the people to do (Est. 3:15)? When we read the book of Esther, we know what happened. We remember what Esther did and how she finally revealed her heritage to her husband in the hope that he might stop the slaughter (Est. 7:3-6).
Though Haman was executed for his crime (Est. 7:10), this did not stop the edict from being enforced. Something had to be done! Sadly, nothing could reverse the first law (Est. 8:8), but they could write another to counteract the first. This is what Mordecai did (8:8-14)! What impresses me is that when the second law was written, the king’s royal horses, the swiftest he had, were used by the riders once more. They had a message to spread as quickly as possible, and they used every effort to get this message out (8:17).
Not everyone acts like this. Many people try to hide their errors to keep from being found out. They believe it is in their best interest to hide, lie, and cover up the errors in any way they can and hope no one notices. The problem with this plan is summed up well in Numbers 32:23, “Be sure your sin will find you out.”
Jesus taught His followers that if they have a fault with someone, they need to find that person and get it resolved (Matt. 5:23-24, 18:15). I am impressed with the fact that Jesus’ words show urgency. Matthew 5 shows us that He thought it more important to be reconciled in this case than to offer a gift at the altar. Why? How can we claim to love the God we haven’t seen if we hold hatred for our brother that we have seen (I Jn. 4:20)?
When it comes to sin against a brother or just a personal sin known only to God, let us determine to correct this as quickly as possible. Be like Ahasuerus, who sent out his fastest horses. Let us act as promptly as we can. We never know what a day may bring (Prov. 27:1)! Therefore, we never know when we may never have a chance to correct our wrongdoing! Our life may be taken, the one we wronged may lose his life. Something else might happen that changes our ability to make corrections. It may be the passing of time that does it! Consider the fact that if Ahasuerus and Mordecai waited too long to send out the edict that counteracted the first one, it would be a worthless piece of paper! It was only valid so long as it got through the kingdom before the twelfth month and thirteenth day (Est. 3:13).
If you had something to send out as Ahasuerus did, would you move quickly? What about when you are dealing with matters that could very well send your soul to Hell? Do you think this demands urgency? Do you believe this demands working quickly to get things resolved with God and your fellow man? How fast are you working to correct errors in your life? Don’t put this off because tomorrow may be too late!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Spotlight On A Bible Verse: Ephesians 4:4-6
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” When writing to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul reminded the Christians to “keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). In this letter, he did not merely tell them to be united, but by inspiration (I Cor. 14:37), he showed them (and us) the true “platform for unity” in the Lord’s church. If we are to be united, we need to respect the seven “one’s” (body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, and God) that needs to be among God’s people. These simple words are packed with meaning and truth that deserve more attention than we can devote in this short article. Just understand that when we remember the basis or foundation of religious unity, we will be able to withstand anything that Satan will throw at us! Satan tries to “divide and conquer” in order to get us away from Christ and devour us (I Pet. 5:8). Yet, in Christ, we have unity (Gal. 3:28) and victory (I Cor. 15:57)! Let us be active and fulfill Ephesians 4:3 by living Ephesians 4:4-6!
– Jarrod Jacobs
Christ Reigns Over Man Today
Our Lord Jesus Christ rules over us today. This is a fact that is lost on much of the world. After His resurrection and ascension, Christ sat down at the right hand of God to rule and reign over us. Daniel saw this day in his vision recorded in Daniel 7:13-14. The fulfillment of Daniel’s vision is seen in Acts 1:9-11 when Christ “came to” God and sat down at His right hand. Paul said that Christ is reigning now, and “must reign til he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (I Cor. 15:25-26). Since death has not been destroyed, we know Christ is reigning today.
In the book of Ephesians, Paul discusses Christ’s resurrection and ascension and says, “Which he (God) wrought in Christ, when he (God) raised him (Christ) from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that fills all in all” (Eph. 1:20-23). Friends, Christ reigns over us today. We may not want to think about it, some may even deny it, but when all is said and done, Christ reigns today! God told His Son, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom” (Heb. 1:8). Based on the truth that Christ reigns over us today, what does this mean to us?
1) It means man has no authority over himself. Jesus pronounced that He had all authority. “Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). If Christ has all authority in Heaven and earth, then how much does that leave for anyone else? Friend, let us be submissive to our King!
2) It means that man has no legislative power. Some take upon themselves the job of lawmaker. You see this in those who hear Christ’s words and declare, “I know the Bible says that but....” Sometimes people will hear the word of God read plainly and state, “That is your opinion.” If you or I are guilty of this, then we are trying to be the lawmaker! Friends, that job has already been taken! Christ is the lawmaker today (Jas. 4:12). His law is found in the New Testament, and will not change. It is high time we accepted it and obeyed rather than fighting against it!
3) It means that we will be punished if we do not do as the King says. Paul wrote the Thessalonians and told them that on the last day, Christ would come, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and that do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (II Thess. 1:8-9). Let us not be found in rebellion against the King. Rather, let us become citizens of His Kingdom through faith in Him (Jn. 8:24), repenting of sins (Lk. 13:3), confessing our faith in Christ (Matt. 10:32), and being baptized for the remission of sins (Mk. 16:16). What is keeping you from doing what is right? Don’t defy your King, Jesus Christ!