These are the notes from the message preached on February 12, 2023.
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 24:30-34
Nehemiah chapter three records different families building, some building right near their own home. As we looked at last week, building begins in the home. There are multiple families and groups that are engaged in the building, but in verse five we see one group that is absent from the work.
It is interesting to me that the Tekoites repaired the wall. In different Sunday School classes, we have looked at the prophet Amos, who was also a Tekoite. He was a herdman and a gatherer of sycamore fruit. This was a man who wasn’t afraid to get some dirt under his fingernails. The prophesying of Amos was hundreds of years before this rebuilding project. Perhaps some of his preaching got through to someone? However, their nobles didn’t get the message.
Now, before we look at the idea of nobility, let us consider why they would possibly excuse themselves from the work. Was it pure laziness? Our Scripture reading spoke to the slothful. The field of the slothful was grown over. It was unkept. When harvest time comes, they will have very little to gather.
In the book of Proverbs, the idea of laziness is spoken of much.
Proverbs 6:6-11 Comparing the lazy man with the ant.
The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.
The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.
The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.
He always has an excuse.
Were the nobles too lazy to get at the work of rebuilding?
Was it fear that kept them away from the work? After all, this work did come with risk attached to it. There was opposition to the work that they were doing. However, didn’t the nobles remember what Moses told Joshua?
Didn’t the nobles remember what the Lord told Joshua?
These nobles may have been too fearful to take up the work.
They may have thought the work to be below them. In other words, they were too stuck-up to engage in the work.
Didn’t they have the Proverbs of Solomon, written some 500-600 years previous? Then would they read of pride versus humility.
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.
They may have been too comfortable in their own lives to take up the work, or they could have been too stubborn to relinquish command of any project.
At any rate, these so-called nobles were not very noble. If they truly had understood the books of Moses and the book of Joshua, they would have been willing to stick their necks out for the cause.
After all, remember Joshua 1:8.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
The nobles were unwilling to stick their necks out for the work. They were unwilling to get some dirt under their fingernails. And so they watched as others did the laborious work of rebuilding. The nobles were not very noble.
The word noble can be both an adjective and a noun. The title of noble would indicate someone of a rank above a commoner. A noble may have been of an influential family.
So, someone can be a noble, but someone can also be noble.
Great; elevated; dignified; being above every thing that can dishonor reputation; as a nobel mind; a noble courage; noble deeds of valor.
This is one of the definitions of noble. Here is another:
Ingenuous; candid; of an excellent disposition; ready to receive truth. Acts 17:11.
Why was it that the nobles of Tekoa didn’t put their necks to the work of the Lord? We just don’t know. But we do know that if they had understood the Scriptures, they would have been willing to go to work right beside the common people.
These nobles were not very noble.
Let us shift our focus to ourselves today. What does it mean to be noble? What is the connection between being noble and working hard? What saith the Scriptures?
First of all, let me just say that laziness is a sin.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Do it heartily! That job you are working on may be mundane and thankless, but do it as if you are doing it for the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. It may be doing dishes or laundry. It may be mowing a lawn or cleaning out the basement. It may be punching a timeclock and working for someone else doing mundane work. Do it heartily.
This is especially true of working for the Lord.
And let me also say, regarding fear of man: Let us be like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
And finally, about fear:
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
(2 Timothy 1:7)
But let us consider the thought of nobility. What makes someone noble?
Well, let us consider the description given of the Bereans.
What made the Bereans more noble than those at Thessalonica? They received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
They were not blind followers of Paul, they searched the Scriptures as individuals in order to be fully persuaded in their minds.
One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
They prepared themselves to receive the word. This takes work. It takes time in prayer. It takes asking the Lord to open our heart and mind to receive the Scriptures.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
When we search the Scriptures daily, we are being noble, and this prepares us to bring God glory in all that we do. By the way, there is a link between searching the Scriptures and getting our fingernails dirty.
2 Timothy 2:15
It is interesting that the word “study” is removed from most or all of the modern versions of the Bible. The command to study the Scriptures is given to the church.
And this is work. A “workman” that needeth not be ashamed. We won’t have to worry that our works will be burnt up at the judgment seat of Christ if we would just study and apply the Scriptures to our lives. We won’t have to fear that we will be embarrassed as we stand before our righteous Judge to explain why we didn’t put our necks to the work of the Lord.
This is a very complex world in which we live. We desperately need to be able to see all things through the lenses of the Scriptures. This work now is gold, silver, and precious stones that will pass the trial by fire at the judgment seat of Christ.
True nobility is searching the Scriptures, studying and working and applying the word of God to our lives.
But there is one more thing to consider. Remember what the Bible says in John 1:12?
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
The moment you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, you became a son of God, you became nobility.
1 John 3:1-2
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
(1 John 3:1-2)
If you are saved, you are a noble. Act like it. If you say that you love the Lord with all your heart, your mind, and your soul, you must love His word.
Don’t be fearful to put your neck to the work of the Lord. Study His word. Dwell in His word. And live out the nobility which has been conferred upon us.
Don’t go home and put your Bible on the shelf. Wear it out. Read it. Heed it. Study it. Live it. Love it.
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