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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Marketing 101: A Wrench in the Works

     Nine-year-old Tommy was, most definitely, a wrench in the works for Young Sojourner’s new marketing idea. One cannot really know if he was just jealous and passing along his information to tease her or, if as his tone of voice might have suggested, taunting her because he knew he could throw fear into her heart with his words. How he must have delighted in her response!
     If you have ever had a “Tommy” in your “works” you will totally understand what was going on in the heart of eight-year-old Sojourner and her younger partners. Rest assured; you are in good company! “Wrenches” have been with us a long time! One of my favorite books in the Bible is the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. It is a wonderful story and I recommend it.  Boy, did they have a couple of mean “wrenches” in their works! The story went like this:
     Nehemiah was the trusted cup bearer for the King and, well, if anyone had chosen to poison the King’s wine, he would know it after Nehemiah had taken that first sip. Next cupbearer, please! What a job! Nehemiah had been there a long time with the King so when it came to the attention of Nehemiah that he needed a leave of absence from the wine cup, the King was willing to listen to him and send him on his way with all that he needed for the mission. Now, we are not talking harvesting the grapes for the wine here. We are talking a job way outside Nehemiah’s box! He was about to be the Big Boss of a construction company! What a ragtag group he would lead in this mammoth effort. They were not construction workers either! In fact, they were goldsmiths, perfume makers, merchants, jewelers, priests, and lots of men (and even women) who were not at all used to working with their hands because they were in administration. How would you like to build a stone wall with these folks as your laborers?
     Why would they care to do such hard physical work anyway?  The entire wall around Jerusalem had been trashed and the mountains of rubble had not been moved. Neither had the burned wood of the doorposts been replaced since the siege. The city was in ruins, basically, and most of the people living elsewhere in the midst of their enemies. Nehemiah’s kinsfolk had survived the Babylonian Captivity, returned to their homes in Jerusalem, only to find things had been totally destroyed.  The people were in great distress. Something had to be done about it! Most of the stone houses were also not inhabitable.
     Nehemiah had just arrived in town when word of his presence in the area reached the two “wrenches”, living in Samaria. Sanballat and Tobiah were so angry that anyone would come to the aid of the Jews!

Nehemiah 2:10: “When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.”

     Nehemiah rested a few days and then set out under cover of darkness to examine the collapsed wall. It was pretty tough going with the heaps of large stones everywhere. In fact, sometimes he could not get his donkey through the openings because there was just too narrow a space. Hezekiah had made that wall seven meters (nearly twenty-three feet) thick so it isn’t hard to see that when so much stone made up the rubble, well, it was like a short mountain range all around Jerusalem.
 Nehemiah came up with a plan to rebuild it with the available Israelite population, regardless of the fact that none of them were actually stone masons or builders. (I love that about God, too, availability trumps ability in His eyes!) So, while they are making their plans, word of these plans has found a way to the”wrenches” and they are not at all happy. They decided to take charge of the situation and, much like Tommy did to little Sojourner, challenged them with the legality of their plan.

Nehemiah 2:19: “But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. ‘What is this you are doing?’ they asked. ‘Are you rebelling against the king?’”

     Nehemiah responded that God would help them and they would succeed in their rebuilding. Nehemiah told Sanballat and Tobiah that they had nothing, at all, to do with what was going on in Jerusalem so, basically, knock it off and let us work.
     And, work they did! The priests arose immediately and began to get the Sheep Gate put back together again, wall and gate/doors. The rest of the motley crew put their shoulders to the work, each in the assigned place. Sometimes it was right near where their own homes laid in a heap of rubble, too, so that was an added incentive to do a good job and encourage them that they would, one day soon, be able to return to their homes. It would be hard work and lots of blisters, but it would be worth the effort.
     Sanballat and Tobiah were not just going to sit still and let them work, however. They would find a way to stop them!

***Marketing 101: A Wrench in the Works Continued… Coming Tomorrow

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