Robert McLaughlin Bible Ministries

Nehemiah Part 11.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Where a good work is there will be opposition –
2TI 3:12 And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

GAL 6:10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
PSA 127:1-2, Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved {even in his} sleep.

NEH 4:6 So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. Nehemiah was a very wealthy and prosperous individual living in a place of prosperity and blessing from God.

Nehemiah had the mind of Christ, just like we do – 1CO 2:16b We have the mind of Christ.

ACT 20:35b You must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

PSA 41:1-3, How blessed is he who considers the helpless; The Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble. The Lord will protect him, and keep him alive, And he shall be called blessed upon the earth; And do not give him over to the desire of his enemies. The Lord will sustain him upon his sickbed; In his illness, Thou dost restore him to health.

PRO 19:17 He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, And He will repay him for his good deed.

Nehemiah cared about the traditions of the past, the needs of the present, and about the hopes for the future. He cared about his heritage and history, the city of Jerusalem, and the glory of God.

1. He cared enough to ask what was going on in Jerusalem, NEH 1:1-3.

Nehemiah was a cupbearer who an individual who had a position of great responsibility and privilege.

For nearly a century, the Jewish remnant had been back in their own land, and Nehemiah could have joined them; but he chose to remain in the palace.

It turned out that God had a work for him to do there that he could not have accomplished anywhere else.

God put Nehemiah in Susa just as He had put Esther there a generation before, and just as He had put Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon. When God wants to accomplish a work, He always prepares His workers and puts them in the right places at the right time.

God is not limited to working with believers only – He can work in the life and the mind of a non-believer, just as easily as He can work in the life of a believer.

No doubt it was just another routine day when Nehemiah met his brother Hanani, who had just returned from a visit to Jerusalem, but it turned out to be a turning point in Nehemiah’s life.

Like large doors, great life-changing events can swing on very small hinges.

Zechariah 4:10 “Do you despise the day of small things?”

It was just another normal day when Moses went out to care for his sheep, but on that day he heard the Lord’s call and became a prophet, Exo 3.
It was an ordinary day when David was called home from shepherding his flock; but on that day, he was anointed king, 1Sa 16.

It was an ordinary day when Peter, Andrew, James, and John were mending their nets after a night of failure; but that was the day Jesus called them to become fishers of men,
Luke 5:1-11.

You never know what God has in store, even in the common and inconsequential places so you need to always keep your heart open to God’s leading and guidance.

Why would Nehemiah inquire about a struggling remnant of people who lived hundreds of miles away?

Certainly it wasn’t his fault that his ancestors had sinned against the Lord and brought judgment to the city of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah.

JER 15:5 “Indeed, who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem, Or who will mourn for you, Or who will turn aside to ask about your welfare?”

Some people prefer not to know what’s going on, because information might bring a challenge or obligation.

A sin of omission is failing to do something good when you know you should.
The parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible is a classic example of this,
Luke 10:30-37.

JAM 4:17 “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin”

Three words summarize the bad news: remnant, ruin, and reproach.

Instead of a land inhabited by a great nation, only a remnant of people lived there; and they were in great affliction and struggling to survive.
Instead of a magnificent city, Jerusalem was in shambles; and where there had once been great glory, there was now nothing but great reproach.

Nehemiah had known all his life that the city of his fathers was in ruins, because the Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem’s walls, gates, and temple in 586 B.C., 2KI 25:1-21.

Fifty years later, a group of 50,000 Jews had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city.

Since the Gentiles had hindered their work, however, the temple was not completed for twenty years, Ezra 1-6, and the gates and walls never were repaired.

Without walls and gates, the city was open to ridicule and attack;
Psa 48; 79; 84; and 87 show how much loyal Jews loved their city.

2. He also cared enough to be compassionate and weep, NEH 1:4.

What makes people laugh or weep is often an indication of character.

PRO 24:17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
PRO 24:18 Lest the Lord see {it} and be displeased, And He turn away His anger from him.

Sometimes weeping is a sign of weakness; but with Nehemiah, it was a sign of strength, as it was with Jeremiah (JER 9:1), Paul (Acts 20:19), and the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 19:41).

JER 9:1 Oh, that my head were waters, And my eyes a fountain of tears, That I might weep day and night For the slain of the daughter of my people!
ACT 20:19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews;
LUK 19:41 And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it,

Nehemiah was like the Lord Jesus in that he willingly shared the burden that was crushing others.

PSA 69:9 and ROM 15:3
“The reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen upon Me.”

The Book of Nehemiah begins with “great affliction,” NEH 1:3,
but before it closes, there is great joy, NEH 8:12,17.

PSA 30:5 “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning”

3. Nehemiah also cared enough to pray, NEH 1:5-10.

It is obvious that Nehemiah was a man of faith who depended wholly on the Lord to help him accomplish the work He had called him to do.

If you are experiencing great affliction; NEH 1:3, and are about to undertake a great work, NEH 4:19, then you need the great power, NEH 1:10, great goodness, NEH 9:25,35, and great mercy, NEH 9:31, of a great God.

Is the God you worship big enough to handle the challenges that you face? The greater part of Nehemiah’s prayer was devoted to confession of sin (NEH 1:6-9).

The God who promised blessing and chastening also promised forgiveness if His people would repent and turn back to Him, Deu 30; 1KI 8:31-53.

NEH 1:6 – Nehemiah used the pronoun “we” and not “they,” identifying himself with the sins of a generation he didn’t even know.

NEH 1:6 let Thine ear now be attentive and Thine eyes open to hear the prayer of Thy servant which I am praying before Thee now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Thy servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against Thee; I and my father’s house have sinned.

He also had confidence in God’s faithfulness, verse 10.

Great leaders are not only believing people who obey the Lord and courageously move ahead, but they also challenge others to go with them.

4. He cared enough to volunteer, NEH 1:11.

While Nehemiah was praying, his burden for Jerusalem became greater and his vision of what needed to be done became clearer.

In fifty-two days, the walls were rebuilt, the gates were restored, and the people were rejoicing!
And it all started with a man who cared.

Abraham cared and rescued Lot from Sodom (Gen 18-19).
Moses cared and delivered the Israelites from Egypt.
David cared and brought the nation and the kingdom back to the Lord.
Esther cared and risked her life to save her nation from genocide.
Paul cared and took the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire.
Jesus cared and died on the cross for a lost world.

God is still looking for people who care, people like Nehemiah, who cared enough to ask for the facts, weep over the needs, pray for God’s help, and then volunteer to get the job done.

To rescue Jerusalem, and he was willing to go.

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