Robert McLaughlin Bible Ministries

Nehemiah Part 6.

Friday, December 9, 2011

For when the problem of the broken walls of Jerusalem was presented to Nehemiah, his first priority as a great and very successful leader was prayer.

It is significant that when the problem of the broken walls of Jerusalem was presented to Nehemiah, the first priority of this great and later on very successful leader was prayer.

His patient planning and perseverance paid off.

Not only did he save himself from his enemies, but he also provided protection for his foolish Jewish brothers.

They had taken the quick and easy route, building their homes from weak materials.

If we are building with wood, hay, and straw of human viewpoint and worldly strategies, or are we building with the solid truths of God’s word?

It rose from rock-solid leadership traits, that developed in the midst of struggles, and a lot of opposition.

Many difficulties and trials came knocking at Nehemiah’s door, just as they do yours and mine. But those times of resistance could not KEEP him down.

Nor could they stop him from leading his people to rebuild the ancient walls of Jerusalem, walls that would provide protection against the wolves that threatened God’s returning remnant back into the land of Israel.

Psalm 137:4 How can we sing the Lord’s song In a foreign land?

There was a king named Cyrus.
There was another king named Darius.
Darius was the king of the Medes.

Cyrus was the king of the Persians.
They joined hands.
The Persian force was the larger of the two.

That is why it often refers to the kingdom of Persia, though there was a dual reign between the Medes and the Persians.

God’s not limited to working with Christians only – He can work in the life and the mind of a non-believer, just as readily as He can work in the life of a believer.

The city of Jerusalem was without a wall for 90 years or more, until Nehemiah was led by God to go back and build a wall around that great city that once had enjoyed security and protection.

Nehemiah’s name means “Jehovah or the Lord has comforted.”

He’s going to give that up, to step down as it were, into plots and schemes and conspiracies and turmoils and death threats and all of the other things that were a part of the struggle to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

LUK 14:18 “to give up a piece of land;”
LUK 14:19 “or his business called five yoke of oxen,”
LUK 14:20 “or marriage”
LUK 9:58 “his home”
LUK 9:59 “his family”

2CO 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

He cared about the traditions of the past and the needs of the present.
He cared about the hopes for the future.

He cared about his heritage, the city of Jerusalem, and the glory of his God.

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

Nehemiah was a layman, cupbearer to the great “Artaxerxes Longimanus,” who ruled Persia from 464 to 423 B.C.

A man who stood that close to the king in public had to be handsome, cultured, knowledgeable in court procedures, and able to converse with the king and “advise him” if asked, GEN 41:1-13.

That Nehemiah, a Jew, held such an important position in the palace speaks well of his character and ability,DAN 1:1-4.

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 elsewhere.

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.

The Hebrew month of Chislev runs from mid-November to mid-December on our calendar; and the twentieth year of Artaxerxes was the year 444 B.C. Shushan (or Susa) was the capital city of the Persian Empire and the site of the king’s winter palace.

No doubt it was just another routine day when Nehemiah met his brother Hanani,
NEH 7:2, 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.

It was just another 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.

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 obligation.

Three words summarize the bad news: remnant, ruin, and 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 reveal how much loyal Jews loved their city.

Are we like Nehemiah, anxious to know the truth even about the worst situations?

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.

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, 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,

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. He 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.

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.

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

“We have sinned! We have dealt very corruptly!”

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

Unlike Elijah, who thought he was the only faithful Jew left (1KI 19:10), Nehemiah had confidence that God would raise up other people to help him in his work.

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.

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