Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, Come, let us meet together in one of the villages in the pain of Ono. But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, I am doing a great work and cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave to come down to you? They sent to me four times this way, and I answered them as before. Nehemiah 6:2-4 (AMPC)
Nehemiah was called by God to go to Jerusalem and lead the people to rebuild the broken down walls of the city. It was an important, God-directed, God-sized task. As such, it incurred the wrath and opposition of the enemy as he tried every possible way to derail the project, discourage the builders and defeat the Lord’s plans. On one occasion, the enemies of God tried to lure Nehemiah away from the rebuilding of the wall by asking for a conference to discuss their differences. They wanted him to take a break from the building and meet them at the plains of Ono. Nehemiah could see through their deception and said, “Oh, no,” to Ono. He told them he was doing a great work and could not come down to meet them. I love that. Nehemiah valued the work that God had called him to perform. He called it a “great work”. He saw that what he was doing – an unglamorous, dusty, backbreaking job – was in reality a great work for God. Any God-directed work is a great work and Nehemiah refused to be distracted from it.
“I am doing a great work and cannot come down.” This is a great verse for us all to embrace. It is one which I have underlined, circled, asterisked and underlined again! It focuses our attention aright, exercising wisdom and discernment. We are all carrying out the Great Commission and must press ahead. We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted.
Let your eyes look right on (with fixed purpose), and let your gaze be straight before you. Consider well the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established and ordered aright. Turn not aside to the right hand or to the left; remove your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:25-27 (AMPC)
Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust. Proverbs 4:25-27 (MSG)
Our focus is Jesus.
…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)
Notice when the distraction came to Nehemiah. The workers were just days away from seeing the vision completed.
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… Nehemiah 6:1 (NIV)
Nehemiah was at a very dangerous time. When the novelty of the vision has worn off, the people are weary and you’re almost done, it’s easy to get distracted. Four times they sent Nehemiah the same message and four times he sent the same answer. Every day of our lives, opportunities have a way of coming up that have the potential to distract us from the main things that God has called us to do. We need to be alert and recognise them as distractions. Peter told us:
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NIV)
Do we have the courage and determination to say, “Oh, no”?