One of my least favorite lines from this entire video is also one of my most favorite. In between exchanges in conversation between Tommy (insert your name here) and God, an ultimatum of sorts is issued. God asks, “talk…or chisel?”
Which will it be?
…because it’s either one or the other. Talk about doing for God, and letting God work in us… or actually putting our “money where our mouth is” if you will.
Nehemiah has got to be the most perfect example of an action-oriented man. I would challenge you to read the first few chapters today. Seriously. In chapter one we see a man who is broken hearted over the walls of his home being in shambles. Without walls, the people lived in constant danger of further attack. A city without borders is no city at all. So for the first chapter, you find Nehemiah in prayer.
He goes before the king, as was his duty, at the beginning of chapter 2. I’d love to spend hours explaining the miracle that takes place in the king’s heart by granting Nehemiah’s many requests, but God wants us to notice something. Most of us “pray about something” and we never put feet to our “faith.” We HOPE that everything will get better. We HOPE that God will do something. We HOPE that people will turn out right and the walls will be rebuilt, but the average Christian church today will spend countless hours in discussion…and absolutely zero time in actual doing. Pastor Craig Groeschel, pastor of the largest and fastest growing church in the United States pointed out in his leadership podcast that many churches hamper their success and slowly die by way of endless meetings, discussions, and votes with little to no action to follow. Be it in the church world or in the Christian’s life, prayer is GREAT. But, genuine prayer is a prerequisite to the faith that will follow. TALK or CHISEL?
As with any project ordained by God, opposition came out of the woodwork. Who knows exactly how the word spread, but somehow it did, and in Nehemiah 2:10, Sanballat and Tobiah are grieved exceedingly that a man has come to seek the welfare of the needy (being that they were nobility.) And right there…that’s where I personally struggle, and where most of us often stop. When someone doesn’t like what God has called us to do, we cease and desist. But verse 11 is one of my favorites in this narrative. Even among the talk, Nehemiah writes, “so……I came to Jerusalem.” Opposition will always accompany opportunity. So, TALK or CHISEL?
All of a sudden, the number of opposers grows. Sanballet mocks the Jews, and speaks to his brethren, the army of Samaria, and Tobiah. They accuse Nehemiah, once again proving that we are never more like Satan, the accuser of the brethren, than when we accuse. Then, he calls into question a few things:
a. Identity – “what do these feeble Jews?” … turns out the accusers are the feeble ones, though.
b. Insecurities – “ will they fortify themselves?” … why should this matter to them? Because when someone else’s insecurities are fortified, it reveals my own.
c. Invocation – “will they sacrifice?” – They call into question their form of worship. Pharisees and Idol worshipers are the first to call into question the worship of another.
d. Improvement – “will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish?” – Those who harbor sin within their hearts will never grasp the concept of revival and restoration. And what they do not understand, they will seek to hinder.
Now, in Nehemiah 6, the list of opposers has grown AGAIN! Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem, and THE REST of our enemies… They call for Nehemiah to cease building the wall and come down to the plain of Ono to “discuss the situation with him. Lets just talk about these building plans you have, Nehemiah. But Nehemiah says, “why should the work cease while I leave it and come down to you?” TALK or CHISEL?
Nehemiah understood that the enemy will never come to talk to you, they always want you to come “down” to them. Friend, can I warn you, OH NO! DON’T GO TO “ONO!” My papa used to say, “don’t argue with immature people. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”
And now, after Nehemiah refuses to stop fixing the brokenness four different times, they send an “open letter.” It reads, “It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the wall, that thou mayest be their king…and now it shall be reported to the king according to these words.” They even asked Nehemiah to meet with them in the temple in order to spiritualize it…even though their plan was to kill him.
Note a few things about those who choose to talk:
a. An Open Letter – when anyone wrote a letter in this time, the final step was to seal it closed with a wax seal so that the writer and the reader knew the contents. Why send an open letter? Because they were more concerned with everyone knowing what they thought rather than the truth being told. TALK
b. “It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it:” - You’ve heard the phrase, “consider the source.” Can I translate that King James phrase into modern vernacular: It is reported on the internet, and my cousin’s neighbor said it was true.” TALK
c. “You think to rebel against the king” - the imagination of the unrighteous talker is limited to the boundaries of their own secret struggles and sins. TALK
d. “And now it shall be reported to the king…” In other words, “if I can’t get my way, I’m telling mom on you.” TALK
e. “Let us go into the temple…” Not all who come with ‘holy intentions’ are genuine. Since the snake and the fruit in the garden of Eden, the enemy always disguises the most clever attacks under the mantle of spirituality. 1 John 4 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God:” TALK
At the end of chapter 6, with men who worked with tools in one hand and weapons in the other to get the job done, the enemies are cast down and having to admit that the structure now built was wrought of God. Nehemiah chose the chisel over talking, and God took care of the enemies. Obey God, leave the consequences to him. The power, blessing, and presence of God cannot be faked. If we must choose between Talk or Chisel… like Tommy, my prayer is that we too might say, “I choose the chisel.”
Rebuild the walls.
Revive the stones.
Restore the people.
Reach the broken.