Peninsula Community Church
The Impossible Made Possible
March 26, 2017
Nehemiah 6:15-16 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.
When I was a younger, one of my favorite shows on TV was “Mission Impossible.” The basis of the show was that an elite covert operations unit carries out highly sensitive missions subject to official denial in the event of failure, death or capture. Remember the famous line. This tape will self destruct in 5 seconds.
Another memory I have is the song “to Dream the Impossible Dream.” For Joe Darion, the author of the song, being a one-hit wonder might be enough if your single stroke of genius turns out to be one of the most enduring, often recorded songs in the history of popular music. The song made its debut in the 1965 Broadway musical Man of La Mancha. The song has been sung by the Temptations, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and many more. Listen to the words. To dream the impossible dream. To fight the unbeatable foe. To bear with unbearable sorrow. And to run where the brave dare not go. To right the unwritable wrong and to love pure and chaste from afar. To try when your arms are too weary to reach the unreachable star. This is my quest to follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far. To fight for the right without question or pause. To be willing to march, march into hell for that heavenly cause. And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest that my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I’m laid to my rest. And the world will be better for this that one man, scorned and covered with scars, still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable, the unreachable, the unreachable star. And I’ll always dream the impossible dream. Yes, and I’ll reach the unreachable star.
When we first encountered Nehemiah and experienced his call to return to Jerusalem, those around him would have believed that rebuilding the wall would have been almost impossible. The city was in ruins, the people were discouraged, and the rulers were abusing and using those in Jerusalem through unfair trade practices. Rather than being encouraged toward a future hope and destiny, they were being held back and pushed down. The task seemed to be too big and beyond human capacity to accomplish or at least accomplish much that would make a difference. But Nehemiah was of a different mind set and a different heart. Rather than being discouraged or doubtful, he stepped up to the plate to lead the task of rebuilding the wall. How could he do this you might ask? He did so because he had a confidence and trust in God’s ability and power to do the impossible.
When we look at the passage before us we find a remarkable story. First of all, we see that the wall only took approximately fifty-two days to rebuild. What seemed impossible was made possible. How amazing is that? The walls that were in shambles and torn apart were rebuilt in less than two months. What is even more amazing is that this was accomplished without power tools or advanced equipment to assist them. They did this all by hand and with the animals that were at their disposal.
Even with the jeering, ridicule, false accusation, and the mocking hurled at them, they were able to do the impossible because they kept their eyes on God and trusted in His undeniable and unwavering ability to accomplish what He said He would. Together, they overcame the worst of difficulties to do the impossible and rebuild the wall.
It is also amazing when you look at the span of wall that we are talking about. It has been estimated that the wall in Nehemiah’s day would have been approximately 2.5 miles long. To put that in perspective our house is almost exactly one mile from the Maryland state line. So the wall would be more than two times that distance. The wall was also forty feet tall and in many places was more than twelve feet wide. Some have tried to minimize the miracle of this by suggesting that they did not have to rebuild the entire wall but just part of it. Even if that were so, it was still amazing that in fifty-two days they cleared the rubble, dealt with the stoppage of work when they were discouraged, and were able to rebuild the wall.
Do you think God had anything to do with that? I am sure He did. In fact, even the enemies of Judah recognized that God had intervened. One of the lessons we learn from this miracle of God is that although the miracle is for us, it is not just for us. It serves to glorify God and to make His name know upon the earth. I suggest to you that Paul understood this when he proclaimed Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-7). When we are comforted and when God does the impossible it is not just for us but is to be shared so that the world knows God’s power. You might easily replace the word miracle for the word comfort.
I am also reminded of Jesus’ words at the tomb of Lazarus. When those around Him became excited about the fact that He did not seem to be responding fast enough, He made the following statements. “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (Luke 11:4). What seemed like a delay was actual in God’s design so that He could get the glory. Much of what God does is so that His name is glorified and we just happen to receive the benefits of His actions.
The second statement in the passage is Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him (Luke 11:14-16). When God does the impossible it is so that our faith in Him is strengthened. By way of the miracles of God we are encouraged and challenged to move forward.
In this, we recognize that when God does the impossible it is often outside our time table. It is beyond what we think should happen most of the time. I am amazed in the book of Mark at how many times the term “immediately” is used. There are times when God moves in ways that seems so slow and then there are times where He moves so quickly that we are amazed when it happens. Too often, when we have to wait for the immediacy of God it can feel like His has forgotten us. But know this, God is at work in you and in your circumstances no matter the speed of His answers.
In reading this passage, it is noteworthy that the people who were against the building of the walls and those who were the enemies of Judah were afraid and their self esteem was impacted. After all, they had been in the city and had power, rulership, and authority which was now being tested and in fact they were losing their power. Here is a fact. Not everyone will receive the impossibilities of God in the same way. Even in the best of circumstances fear can be the result.
The Bible is replete with the stories of the impossible situations that God intervened in and the impossible became possible. In each case, God did what He did so that He could get all of the glory and the honor. Imagine the surprise of Sarah, Elizabeth, and Mary who were all promised miraculous births. Sarah and Elizabeth were too old and Mary in essence was too young, but God did the impossible in them. He opened the barren womb and brought life to that which was dead. I do not think these miracles were a mistake in the Bible because they teach us that God can bring life out of that which is dead. God can bring hope when things seem hopeless.
Both of these ladies desired nothing more than to have children. Sarah was given a promise and without a son that promise could not be fulfilled. While she thought God had forgotten her, He did not. Elizabeth was left with the scar of barrenness which was a thing of disgrace in her day. The hope of every Jewish woman was to give birth because their son might be the Messiah. In both cases, in the natural things seemed hopeless but God intervened and brought forth life out of that which was dead. In Genesis 18:4, God asked a question that He already knew the answer to but He needs our reply. “Is there anything too hard for God?” The answer He deserves and the answer He wants is there is nothing too hard for Him.
When the angel Gabriel approached Mary, Elizabeth was already pregnant. This was a testimony to what God could do. It also provided the backdrop of Mary’s miracle. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:36-37). The angel was saying “If God can touch a barren womb that has already passed its prime I can do a miracle in you.” Chuck Swindoll said “Elizabeth’s barrenness and advanced age was a double symbol of hopelessness which became the means by which God would announce to the world that nothing is impossible for Him.”
Remember the old song we used sing. “God will make a way where there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see and He will make a way for me.” This morning I believe that God wants you to know that there is nothing impossible with God. Whether it is a wall that needs to be built (Jerusalem) or one that needs to be torn down (Jericho) God can do it. Whether there is a need to quicken a womb that is deadened by age and barrenness (Elizabeth and Sarah) or it is one that is young with hope and life (Mary), God can do the impossible. Whether it is to bring forth life or to raise the dead (Lazarus), God can do the impossible. It is not a question of whether He will, but whether we will position ourselves for a miracle.
Nehemiah trusted God in the midst of incredible odds. Sarah laughed but she trusted God. Mary realized that God was about to do something bigger than herself and proclaimed “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” May we like Mary proclaim I am your servant and let the miracle be according to your word.
Here is the bottom line. Trust God. Surrender to His will. Be patient. Do not lose hope. If He made a promise He will fulfill His purpose in us. I found this statement by Robert G Ingersoll, in his book “The Ghosts and Other Lectures.” “Take from the church the miraculous, the supernatural, the incomprehensible, the unreasonable, the impossible, the unknowable, the absurd, and nothing but a vacuum remains.” What is noteworthy about Ingersoll was that he was known as the Great Agnostic. He was agnostic in his belief which meant that he simple did not know or want to know, therefore did not believe but what a profound and powerfully truthful statement by a nonbeliever.
Remove the miraculous and all you have is a void that will be filled by something but if we reach out to God for the miraculous He will come and He will touch our lives. Edwin Cole once commented that “Expectancy is the atmosphere for miracles.” So do we expect God to do the impossible? Do we expect God to show up? He does the impossible to touch the expectant heart. Today what impossible task do you need God to handle? He is ready. Call to Him. Trust Him. He will work and He will do what only He can do. The impossible can be made possible by God. To God be the glory.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom