From Repair to Renewal 2


Nehemiah 6

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hallmarks of an enemy scheme 

Wolf huff and puff 

YESTERDAY we had a good illustration of the difference between presenting issues and root causes. We tend to grapple with the presenting stuff and gloss over what lies beneath. If we can see what lies beneath that causes the presenting issues, they melt away

This story of the plot hatched by Nehemiah’s three political enemies has some similarities – and a similar helpful lesson for us.

This is an actual account of tribal people with headdresses and robes and a lot of rhetoric – who evidently were not speaking the truth. Why? Because they wanted to trap Nehemiah by any means they could, and get the control advantage back again. By this stage, they couldn’t get to him within the city, except by deception. So they try to lure him outside. Then they try to trap him with a traitor inside.

For us, it is not done with people wearing headdresses and robes, but the rhetoric is similar and so is the mendacious odour. It may be delivered through people who represent a different ‘tribe’ and tribal interests. It may come any way that gets those thoughts into our minds.

At that point we have a simple three-point test to apply.

• What is the deception? 

• What is the lie that makes it a deception?

• What is the truth that needs to be asserted to break the deception?

Both sub-stories teach us this principle. Nehemiah receives repeated ‘invitations’ to travel elsewhere to reason with the enemy. It is not a genuine invitation, but a trap. There is a threat involved which is entirely slanderous. And the real deception is that there is any obligation on Nehemiah to take even the slightest notice of this ploy. He sees the scheme for what it is, refuses firmly but politely (6:2-4), asserts the truth (6:8) – and so shows that the force of the deception is broken.

Another twist on the enemy’s attempts to trap us is seen in the Shemaiah incident (6:10-14). Shemaiah makes the lying suggestion “they are coming to kill you” dressed up as protection. This is also a good example of the way the enemy (often through people) sets up a double blow – the deception (provoked by fear in this case), followed by an incitement to sin, which then allows accusation and condemnation. Nehemiah discerns that this is the scheme and records: “He was hired… that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could reproach me.”

These little Middle Eastern drama scenes are in the Bible for a reason. They are almost like a script which the enemy follows. There’s the fear, the lie, the deception, and to complete the scheme, the sin booby-trap providing grounds for an onslaught of guilt and failure. The enemy is repetitive, not creative, and uses the same tactics again and again. Ask God to show you what is going on, the Holy Spirit will help you and give you an insight – and the deception is blown. The enemy may  huff and puff but he is not now going to blow your house down!


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