According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionar, an invitation is a spoken or written request to do something or to go somewhere. Today, we’re going to talk about a guy who received a certain number of invitations, an we’ll see why he grunted them down. This guy’s name is Nehemiah and we can learn more about his story by opening our Bibles I be book of Nehemiah in The Old Testament.
As a brief summary, Nehemiah was a faithful servant of God who came back to Israel (after the deportation) in order to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. This wasn’t an easy task because he faced lots of opposition, mostly from three people ; Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem who mocked and despised Neheniah and the people as the project was starting. These three men got angry because the construction was going on well, as such they wished them evil, threatened them, planned attacks in order to destroy what was already built. The people watched, prayed , built and persevered. When the work was almost over , Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem invite Nehemiah out to have a discussion together. They had planned to do something had to him, to hurt him and thereby stop the works since he was the one leading and motivating the people. They thought that by targeting him and neutralizing him, they would neutralize God’s work in building the walls back.
Nehemiah 6:1-4 NIV
When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates— Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.” But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.
Do you see how he replied to their invitation? It can be summarized as such “I am busy”. He refused to meet with them though they insisted, and he kept replying the same thing every time they promised to meet alone with him. He had discernment by God’s grace and he knew that they wanted to isolate him in order to hurt him.
Later on, they even paid a so-called prophet of God in order to confuse Nehemiah and make him commit a sin against God, sugch a great sin that would spoil his reputation and discourage the people from continuing to build. Here again, God granted him discernment.
Nehemiah 6:10-13 NIV
One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, “Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you—by night they are coming to kill you.” But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.
I guess it’s not easy for everyone to relate to this story when we read it, but it is indeed very practical. How many lives/marriages/relationships/dreams/projects would have been saved if people learned to discern that some of the people who invite them and some of the places where they are being invited aren’t good for them?
Knowing the story of Caïn and Abel , if you could turn back time and be Abel, would you go out in the field alone with him knowing how jealous he was and knowing that the end result would be him killing you? When you can avoid evil done to you, you should, right?
We can this conclude that there are virtually two types of invitations youshould turn down
- Invitations which put you in danger ( for example dates with other women or men while you are married, places which will make you unfaithful to your spouse, occultic sects, nasty parties or orgies)
- Invitations which will push you to sin (for example invitations to places where you will be pushed to do things which aren’t approved by God)
As further reading, I would like to invite you to open your Bible to 2 Samuel 13, and to reflect about how we can all learn from this in the context of today’s message and to prayerfully develop strategies to avoid as much as possible such traps.
Father Lord God Almighty, I pray that You may grant me, my family, my friends and loved ones discernment by Your Holy Spirit, and Divine protection in order to avoid the traps of the enemy, in Jesus Christ’s Name I pray.
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God bless you all.