God calls and empowers individuals to do specific tasks.
For two centuries after the captivity, Judah was a Persian province, ruled at intervals by Jewish governors appointed by Persian Kings. This lesson is about Nehemiah, and how he came to be the governor of the Jews in Judah. Nehemiah was a devout Jew born in Persia. Out of an intense desire to know and do God‘s will for his life, Nehemiah became the last great Jewish governor of the Jews in Persian Judah. This lesson reminds us that it is possible to know and do God’s will for our lives if that is our sincere desire, as it was for Nehemiah.
It is important to mention that 13 years had gone by since Ezra the priest returned to Jerusalem for rebuilding. That wasn’t simply 14 years of peace, but continuous opposition from outsiders. Not only should the focus be on “Knowing and Doing God’s Will”, but also knowing that God’s will doesn’t always come easy. This lesson goes to prove that consistency and dedication always overpowers opposition when God is the instructor.
Nehemiah 2:18 Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.
NEHEMIAH’S INTERCESSION AND RESOLVE
A. Seeking God’s Direction and Favor
Neh 1:1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,
Neh 1:2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
Neh 1:3 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.
Neh 1:4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
…….Because Nehemiah was so deeply burdened for His people and God’s work in Judah, his heart was broken to hear the bad news.
Our passion should always be toward people who are afflicted. With this said, our prayer life should be woven with requests for those who need God’s deliverance.
Neh 1:5 And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:
…….Our prayer should always begin with uttering God’s glory and giving praise. When we live a life of worship, we stay connected, through the Spirit that is, to the throne of God.
Neh 1:6 Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.
…….Since Nehemiah already established a prayerful relationship with Judah, it was easy to pick right back up where he left to make requests on their behalf.
Just like Nehemiah, we should always be honest in our prayer life about our sins.
Jesus encouraged the disciples to pray this way while rebuking the one who looked down on others for their sins.
B. Claiming God’s Promise
Neh 1:7 We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.
Neh 1:8 Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:
Neh 1:9 But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.
…….Any time we find ourselves out of God’s Will, we must humbly repent, admit the setbacks and ask for forgiveness. It is God’s desire to keep us in His will, but He won’t let us make a mockery of His work.
In prayer, Nehemiah reminds God of His promises. Though He doesn’t need reminding, it is our duty to remember to petition this way.
Neh 1:10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.
Neh 1:11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.
Not only was Nehemiah a servant of God, but also a cupbearer for the King of Persia. This was a very personal and attached job in this time.
A. Recognizing Providential Opportunity
Neh 2:1 And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.
…….It was part of occupation to be joyful for any person who served in the house of the King. After 3 months of prayer and fasting (from Kislev to Nisan), his opportunity came.
Neh 2:2 Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,
Neh 2:3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?
Neh 2:4 Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.
…….Though in fear for his life, Nehemiah knew that his opportunity was at hand, so he offered a quick and silent prayer to God.
B. Seizing God-Given Opportunity
Neh 2:5 And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.
Neh 2:6 And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.
Neh 2:7 Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah;
…….Because he had faith in God for an entire work, he didn’t hold back on anything he would need for the journey. God never expects us to halfway ask for anything that emboldens His will.
Neh 2:8 And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.
…….The key to this entire lesson is in this last sentence. Nehemiah knew that his prayers concerning Judah and the wall were answered. When our prayers are in line with the will of God, He will perform.
GOD’S PEOPLE UNITE
A. Preparing to Do God’s Will
Neh 2:9 Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.
Neh 2:10 When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.
Neh 2:11 So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.
Neh 2:12 And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon.
…….There are many times that while preparing to perform the Will of the Lord we must keep it silenced. In doing this we avoid all negative and disappointing reactions by others.
Neh 2:13 And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.
Neh 2:14 Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king’s pool: but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass.
Neh 2:15 Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned.
Neh 2:16 And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.
B. Involving Others in Good Work
Neh 2:17 Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.
Neh 2:18 Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.
…….Because Nehemiah had prayed earnestly and confirmed to the will of God, He was able to preplan the work and lay everything out in order to explain the task at hand.
After he had prepared himself, and the time was right, Nehemiah involved others in his plan. First, he encouraged his fellow Jews to rebuild the wall, assuring them of God’s favor, and that they also had the favor of the king of Persia. Hearing these words of strong leadership from their governor, the people of Jerusalem responded with enthusiasm to Nehemiah’s appeal.