One of my favorite stories and books in the Bible is Nehemiah. God puts this burden on the heart and mind of Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Let’s get to it.
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One of the things that I love about Nehemiah is that I feel more like Nehemiah than most characters in the Bible. Although his position is actually more respected/trusted than my job position might be perceived. Being cupbearer to the king brings a WHOLE lot of trust and respect. He is basically a guard against that king being poisoned by drink.
Nehemiah is in exile. He hears of the conditions in Jerusalem and is deeply moved by it. He fasts, prays, seeks God’s wisdom… he does not act rashly and jump into the problem solving mode. He plans. He is methodical, but prepared when the king asks him what the matter is.
Artaxerxes asks what the matter is, because he can sense the weight that Nehemiah is carrying. There’s that respect that has been earned again. Nehemiah tells them (king and queen) the matter. The king’s reply, what do you want to do. Nehemiah now is able to lay out the plan (because he had planned it out first) and is given blessing to go and do.
Nehemiah goes and inspects the situation for himself. He prays over the project that will begin. Even in the face of opposition, he shows that the leadership skills are present to get workers for the project.
He has the opportunity to tell his enemy to get back, God’s work is about to commence.
Even a chapter like chapter 3 is interesting. While most people get bogged down with the unpronounceable names of the people, I get excited about it. 40 sections of the wall are mentioned. None more important than the next. Each one the workers are working “next to” – side by side. That’s awesome. I’m sure that some were more skilled than others. Some were faster than others. Some were stronger than others. But each of them worked with passion and purpose.
Everyone goes to work. It is a team effort. Most are working the area right in front of their homes. These folks weren’t master carpenters. They probably had not even seen the walls that had been torn down. But they had a vision that was cast and leadership that stood beside them and got down in the trenches too.
The work is threatened when Sanballat and others plan to attack and decimate the work. Nehemiah hears of the plan and stations guards. He develops an audible that will be called in case of attack. If you hear the trumpet come and defend you brothers. The workers work night and day. Shovel and Axe in one hand, sword and spear in the other.
The workers begin to cry out that while they are doing the work, they can not provide for the daily needs of their family. Nehemiah urges those who will benefit from the work… but might not actually be partaking in the work (nobles and priests) to forgive debts and supply the needs of the workers. They did so.
I’m doing a great work. I can not come down. A whole post needs to be written on this. Nehemiah’s presence is requested by those who oppose him. He simply replies that he’s too busy to leave the work of God to meet with these who are opposed to God. Awesome.
Unpack this one further… Sanballat sent an OPEN LETTER to Nehemiah’s attention. This was meant to be read and seen by anyone else who wanted to read it. Sanballat is doing everything he can to discredit and undermine and throw Nehemiah FAR under the bus. Nehemiah’s response is calm and to the point.
The wall is completed in 52 days! Amazing.
The assembly that was gathered to work is listed. 42,360.
The law is read by the prophet, Ezra. Feasts are observed. Holiness is the focus.The ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law
Nehemiah 9 – 11
Confession for past sins takes place. The people remember God’s guidance with them through the years and begs forgiveness. Covenants are made and the people vow to be holy going forward.
The people dedicate the wall (and themselves) to God. They continue to worship.
Nehemiah returns after going back to Artaxerxes for a period of time. He returns to Jerusalem and has to straighten a few people out and remind some of their vows and promise to serve God only and to be set apart for Him.
He constantly asks God to remember the work that he (Nehemiah) had done. This has always been something that I’ve pondered. I guess Nehemiah isn’t bragging. He doesn’t want glory. He wants God’s Glory, which is why he wants the work to be remembered.