Summary: The purpose of this sermon is to teach the church the importance of DOING SOMETHING with our faith and not just be hearers only and then to lead the church in praying like Nehemiah did.
August 10, 2003
A. [Humor: Is That a Welcome?, Citation: Gary Shank, Olathe, Kans. "Lite Fare," Christian Reader.]
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B. Today we are moving to the OT book of Nehemiah and in the first chapter I want us to see some things about compassion.
Nehemiah 1:1-2 (NIV), The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.
A. Return from Exile
1. The Jews had been living in exile from Jerusalem in Babylon.
2. We studied the book of Daniel in October and November of last year.
3. There we saw how King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came and besieged Jerusalem in 605 B.C.
4. The temple and the walls of Jerusalem were destroyed.
5. Many (including Daniel, Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego) were deported to Babylon.
6. Jeremiah had predicted that the exile would last 70 years, which we read about both in the books of Daniel and Jeremiah.
7. Then King Cyrus issued a decree allowing Jews to return to Jerusalem if they chose.
8. In 538 Zerubbabel leads a group of people back to Jerusalem.
9. Zerubbabel leads the group in starting to rebuild the temple, but the people got discouraged and the work stopped.
10. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah called on the people to complete the task and though the temple is far less splendid than Solomon’s original temple, the work is completed in 515 B.C. (23 years)
11. Then about 458, Ezra leads another group out of Babylon back to Jerusalem.
12. Ezra is given monies and materials to upgrade the temple.
13. And now we come to the first chapter of Nehemiah and the 20th year of King Artaxerxes I, which was about 444 B.C.
B. Remnant that Survived
1. Nehemiah’s brother, Hanani came to visit Nehemiah having previously been to Jerusalem.
2. Nehemiah was a cupbearer for King Artaxerxes I.
a. A cupbearer is a wine taster.
b. Now although we might think that this might be a great job, we need to understand there was a reason for the job.
c. The reason for the job was that people tried to poison kings by putting poison in their wine, so therefore they employed wine tasters.
d. Cup bearing was a serious job, because the King’s life was a serious matter.
e. There was therefore to be no displays of emotion in the presence of the King.
f. To violate this was punishable by death.
3. Nehemiah asked his brother, Hanani about the remnant that survived the exile and about the city itself.
4. Nehemiah was concerned about the shape of the city and the condition of the temple.
5. He also wanted to know about the Jewish people who were living there, even though foreigners were ruling them.
6. In verse 3, we see what the situation is like there in Jerusalem when Hanani answers…
Nehemiah 1:3 (NIV), They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire."
A. Restoration needed
1. Hanani told Nehemiah that those who had survived the exile and were currently living there were in great trouble and disgrace.
a. Hanani gave a bad report of how the people were doing.
b. “Trouble and disgrace.”
2. And Hanani didn’t have any better news about the city itself.
a. He said Nebuchanezzar had torn down the wall of the city.
b. And the gates had been burned with fire.
c. After 160 years, the city and the people were in BAD shape!
d. The city was in dire need of restoration.
B. Response needed
1. But not only was there restoration needed, there was a response needed.
2. What I mean is that there is often something that needs to be done, but nothing gets done.
3. Sometimes folks come to the conclusion that something needs to be done, but drawing the conclusion is all that actually gets done.
4. Not only did there need to be this appraisal of the situation, there needed to be some action.
5. Not only did there need to be the conclusion drawn that something needs to be done, but there actually needed to be something done.
6. Too often churches come to the conclusion that something needs to be done, but nothing happens.
7. Too often churches decide that something needs to be done, but nothing gets done.