Robert McLaughlin Bible Ministries

Nehemiah. Part 15.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Judaism’s “Three Patriarchs”
Moses, King David, King Solomon, as well as Elijah and Elisha, important prophets who rebuked the kings of Israel.

Then there could be Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, the Twelve Minor Prophets.

Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel the Major Prophets.

NEH 2:1 And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, that wine was before him, and I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence.

Then I was very much afraid – because Nehemiah would have had every right to be because Persian rulers (like King Artaxerxes), did not like their servants to look fearful or depressive in their presence.

Nehemiah has been pouring out his heart to God for four months.
He has been fasting, weeping, and praying about the condition of Jerusalem and has been asking God to use him to rebuild the city.

In fact, no one, including the king, has been able to observe the agony and concern Nehemiah had been feeling.

1. Loyalty.
When the king asked why Nehemiah’s face looked sad, and he replied with the expected court greeting, “May the king live forever!” it was not hypocrisy or even mere formality.

NEH 2:2 the king said to Nehemiah, “Why is your face sad though you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.”

To be loyal does not mean that we are to appear loyal when we are actually opposed to what is happening, or that we are loyally to support wrong actions.

If you cannot be loyal, you should seek employment elsewhere.

2. Tact.
We speak about tact often, yet more often we fail to exercise it.

We think it is more needful to “speak our minds,” “express our frustrations,” or “let it all hang out. First, when the king asked why he was sad, Nehemiah answered with a captivating question.

But although our reply might have made us feel better, we would have experienced the failure such an arrogant attitude deserves. Instead of this, Nehemiah asked, “Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” (NEH 1:3)

This question, instead of making the King Artaxerxes defensive, actually won him to Nehemiah’s side.

PRO 14:35 The king’s favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, But his anger is toward him who acts shamefully.
PRO 16:13-14, Righteous lips are the delight of kings, And he who speaks right is loved. The wrath of a king is {as} messengers of death, But a wise man will appease it.
PRO 20:28 Loyalty and truth preserve the king, And he upholds his throne by righteousness.
PRO 22:11 He who loves purity of heart {And} whose speech is gracious, the king is his friend.

As Dale Carnegie expressed it, “If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive.”

To be loyal does not mean that we are to appear loyal when we are actually opposed to what is happening, but that we are faithful to those whom we loyally support especially because we love the individual.
PRO 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
To have someone that you trust turn on you for personal gain.

This is very difficult at times because sometimes the unkindness of our friends is a greater trial to us then the hatred of our enemies.

PRO 19:22 What is desirable in a man is his kindness, And {it is} better to be a poor man than a liar.

3. Honesty.

To the reader he admits,
“I was very much afraid” (v. 2).
To the king he replies that he is sad because the city of his fathers is in ruins (vs 3).
When he was first told about the city’s condition, Nehemiah “sat down and wept… mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven” (NEH 1:4).

Second, when the king asked what Nehemiah wanted, Nehemiah told him.
He did not pretend that he wanted to take a vacation to Jerusalem or merely look the city over.

A good leader is willing to have those who work under him develop their own programs but does not want to be surprised by the plans of those working under him.

Subordinates want their own plans to succeed but the boss is responsible for the subordinate’s plan of the entire operation.

He needs to know what is going on and to be able to approve, disapprove, or redirect those plans according to the larger picture.

If you want to succeed with your leader or boss, don’t surprise him. Be creative, but be sure he is with you as you plow along.

4. Prayer.
Nehemiah’s prayer gives insight into Nehemiah’s habits of personal devotion.

He is ready to speak. But before he speaks, he utters a quick additional prayer to “the God of heaven” (v. 4).

5. Planning.
Another important secret of Nehemiah’s success in his encounter with King Artaxerxes is Nehemiah’s careful planning.

(1) Nehemiah had a direct fixed goal, (he wanted to rebuild Jerusalem and its wall).
(2) He had worked out how he would achieve it.

First, Nehemiah had a goal. Goal Setting.
A good principle to remember about goal setting is this:
“People who aim at nothing are sure to hit it.”

First, he gathered information and as his requests to King Artaxerxes unfolds, we are impressed by his knowledge of the area to which he is going, even to knowing the name of Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest.
Second, he had worked out what he would need to get the walls built and Nehemiah was specific: He knew how long it would take (twelve years, cf. NEH 5:14; 13:6).

He said, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? If he had asked for letters of passage and had therefore been able to get to his destination but had neglected to secure the requisitions, he would have arrived without being able to obtain the necessary materials.

6. Dependence on God.

Not only did he grant them, but also he seems to have exceeded what Nehemiah asked for since he also sent army officers and cavalry along with him.

EPH 3:20-21, Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

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