I Can’t Come Down

May 19, 2024

I have a friend who is quite knowledgeable and talented who, if he answered every request for help, would not only be over stressed but quite unsuccessful due to over-commitment. As he talked to me about his dilemma, I suggested to him that he was building a wall and to tell the constant flow of those vying for his attention that he is doing a great work and can’t come down from the wall. Of course, the reference I gave him was Nehemiah.

Nehemiah 6:2–3 (ESV) — 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. 3 And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”

Nehemiah was tormented by those who wanted to stop the work of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, so they tried every trick in the book to pull Nehemiah away from the task at hand. It’s easy to relate to this situation because no matter what admirable task you begin today, you are confronted on multiple sides in a multitude of ways to get you to leave the work at hand for something else. How many different directions could you be pulled on a given day? The result, of course, means you complete nothing or at best end up working late just to complete the urgent so you can try the next day to work on the important.

Go back to the counsel I gave my friend, the counsel taken from Nehemiah. You are involved in a great work; in Nehemiah’s case it was the building of a great wall and in your life it would be the top of your priority list according to the values you follow. Just think of what would have become of the wall if Nehemiah would have responded to every call to come down from the wall. Not much would have been achieved as we all have found out the hard way as we’ve come down from the wall many times to answer request upon request for our time. I’m not saying these are illegitimate requests or that we should be so narrowly focused we have no time for anything else, rather we can learn two things from Nehemiah’s response.

  1. The urgency of the priority over the tyranny of the urgent.
  2. The importance of redeeming the time.

Let’s tackle the first one first of being able to decipher between priority and urgent. In order to keep from being overrun by “urgent things” we need to establish priorities. Have you ever noticed how a call to a doctor’s office includes the instruction that if you are calling about an actual emergency to call 911? That is not being mean or uncaring, it’s simply recognizing that if the doctor ran out to respond to every emergency, the doctor would see no patients. If the doctor couldn’t see patients there would likely be more emergencies and on the scenario would go. What the announcement is doing is telling you there are those who are better equipped, who are standing by to help emergencies whereas the doctor is building a wall of helping patients in the office so he/she cannot come down.

What is your priority? We can all recognize the need to prioritize tasks so that we can get the things done we say are important, otherwise we end up at the end of the week, month, or year never having completed those things we say are important. But I want to put on my “pastoral hat” for a moment and look at the priority for which many Christians are easily swayed to come down from the wall. It’s the priority of worship and the Lord’s Day. We cannot deny the clear teaching in the word of God that one day of the week is to be prioritized to worship and serve God and to rest from our labors. It’s sad to see the number of Christians who answer the call of the world who says, “Sunday is Fun Day” and either neglect worship or give God the bare minimum and run out of the service to get to their fun activities. This is what was taking place in Isaiah’s day when God gave Isaiah a word to speak against such neglect of the priority of honoring God on His day and as you will notice the appeal to get back on the wall of priority and how God promises to honor those who honor Him.

Isaiah 58:13–14 (ESV) — 13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; 14 then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

The second way of implementing the “Nehemiah on the wall” principle is the need to redeem the time. Obviously, Nehemiah’s response from the wall that he was doing a great work and could not come down doesn’t look like a time management principle, but if you read the account in the book of Nehemiah you will find that Nehemiah was a great servant leader who not only was the project manager for a massive rebuilding project, but he also was the appointed leader of the people, a spiritual leader behind the God appointed leaders. He also was the captain over the people in preparing them to defend themselves against enemies known and unknown. But above all, Nehemiah was a servant leader who not only led the people but participated in the building of the wall. Considering all that he had to do and the fact that he did all successfully to the glory of God, you can count on the fact that he took great care in redeeming the time he had to accomplish what he needed to do each day. Do you?

Ephesians 5:15–17 (ESV) — 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Psalm 90:12 (ESV) — 12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Redeeming the time begins with establishing priorities and making sure the top of the list gets the ultimate attention. Next, fit the other things in your day by priority through time adjustments and the breaking down of projects into bite size pieces.

Back to Nehemiah. His account of rebuilding the wall is in the Bible for a variety of reasons. One would be to see what God can do with a man who lives by priority. His priority was the rebuilding of the wall, and it was completed.

Nehemiah 12:27 (ESV) — 27 And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres.

Nehemiah 12:43 (ESV) — 43 And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.

What a great blessing! What a magnificent sense of accomplishment that God brought about through some very dedicated people of whom was Nehemiah who refused to come down from the work on the wall because he knew he was involved in a great work. How about you?


Bob Brubaker, Pastor