Summary: Exposition of Neh 1 about hte burden that Nehemiah had for the Kingdom of God
Text: Nehemiah 1:1-11, Title: A Rebuilder’s Burden, Date/Place: NRBC, 8/26/07, AM
A. Opening illustration: Al Green’s perspective on rebuilding Bay St. Louis,
B. Background to passage: Recount briefly the historical setting of the captivity, and the returns of Ezra and Nehemiah under the reign of the Medo-Persian King Artaxerxes I. The year is 445 BC, the 20th year of his reign. Politically they were looking for some stability in the empire. Nehemiah, who name means “God comforts,” was a captive Jew who was born in Babylon, and had probably never seen Judah. However, he gets word from his brother that things are bad there, and he is broken and determined to rebuild.
C. Main thought: In the text we will see four truths about carrying a rebuilder’s burden.
A. His Intensity (v. 2-4)
1. When some men came back from a trip to Jerusalem, Nehemiah’s first concern was for his people and the holy city. And when he heard the news that even Ezra’s rebuilding efforts were undone and the city’s gates and walls lay in ruins, he broke down. The Hebrew word meant to weep and wail with great burden and intensity accompanied by spasms and convulsions. It also says that he mourned as if someone very close to him had died. He was grief-stricken. His well-being was affected by his burden and attachment to the things of God and God’s people.
2. Ezra 10:1, Ps 69:9-10, Zeph 3:18,
3. Illustration: Watchman Nee “Our spirit is released according to the degree of our brokenness. The one who has accepted the most discipline is the one who can best serve. The more one is broken, the more sensitive he is.” "Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God." –Andrew Murray, Cymbala concluded: “If the spirit of brokenness and calling on God ever slacks off at Brooklyn Tabernacle, we’ll know we’re in trouble—even if we have 10,000 in attendance.” In April 19, 1742, David Brainerd, missionary to American Indians, wrote in his diary: “I set apart this day for fasting and prayer to prepare me for the ministry. In the forenoon, I felt a power of intercession for immortal souls. In the afternoon, God enabled me so to agonize in prayer that I was quite wet with sweat, though in the shade and the cool wind. My soul was drawn out very much for the world: I gasped for multitudes of souls. I think I had more enlargement for sinners than for the children of God, though I felt as if I could spend my life in cries for both.”
4. We are rarely broken over anything in our lives that doesn’t have something to do with us. Usually when we are broken, it is over some personal loss or tragedy. We have a hard time feeling much for other people stuck in tragedy, let alone ideas and principles and institutions. But if you want to see rebuilding going on in your life, or in this church, we must develop a burden. A concern that is connected to our hearts. Rarely do we ever shed a tear, but it is usually not about our church or about lost people or about missionaries or about those that are going astray. Ask God to make you this broken. Brokenness comes before renewal, revival, and rebuilding. Sometimes before you can be broken, you must get an honest evaluation. That begins as much in our own lives as in our church.
B. His Inclusivity (v. 6-7)
1. Nehemiah shares with us the main prayer that he prayed that day and the days that followed. After “hallowing” the name of God, he begins with confession of sin. And he confesses the sins of Israel of bygone years. But he used the word “we.” And he wasn’t even born yet. But great leaders identify with the sins of the people. Nehemiah said that their sins were his sins. He understood corporate responsibility. And He understood the seriousness of not following God’s instructions. He says that they have acted corruptly (uses the word twice back to back in the verse.) He is willing to slay pride, humble himself, and call out to God for forgiveness.
2. Ps 106:6, Isa 6:5, Ezra 9:6-7,
3. Illustration: Marion asked for clarity the other night as we discussed the failure of NRBC to keep up with people that are members…“We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” – Lincoln, 1863,