Summary: Message 5 in our exposition of Nehemiah observing Nehemiah's proactive attitude toward solving a problem.
Chico Alliance Church
"Arise and Build"
The book of Nehemiah is the journal or an ordinary person who became a significant leader because he had a passion to pray for the burdens of others. We have been tracing the tracks recorded by Nehemiah in his journal.
Nehemiah is a book in which we can find many parallels to our own life and church even now. We join the historical scene somewhere around 446 B.C. in the Palace in Susa occupied by Artaxerxes I. Nehemiah, a Hebrew servant had been trained as cupbearer to the king. The king had previously, because of much opposition and false accusation, ordered all restoration of Jerusalem stopped until further word from him. When Nehemiah's brother visited Susa, Nehemiah grilled him as to the welfare of God's special people and God's special place.
When Nehemiah heard that things were in n rough shape he went immediately to intense prayer and fasting. His entry into prayer is dated by him in the month Chislev (Nov/Dec). When God answers Nehemiah's prayer he dates his journal the month Nisan (Mar/Apr). That calculates to be four months of intense intercession for the welfare of people he had probably never met and a place that he had never been. You see it didn't matter. Nehemiah felt compassion on the people because they were on God's heart.
As we observed last week, Nehemiah did more than simply pray during those four months. He prepared his own mind and heart for the time that God would bring an answer to his prayer.
We found in chapter two that when God did answer, Nehemiah was ready. Nehemiah remained faithful to his mundane job under a pagan king until God moved upon the heart of the king to address the issue. No manipulation or pleading or pushing, just a calm confidence in the supernatural direction of God.
Nehemiah was ready not only with a clear statement of his convictions
"May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?" Nehemiah 2:3
But also with the specific details of a plan to rebuild the city.
Notice the appeal
Appeal for permission
Appeal for protection
Appeal for provisions
Because Nehemiah was a faithful servant. Because the good hand of God was upon Him. The king granted Nehemiah all that he asked.
Recognizing problems is three-fourths of their solution. Often we do not even realize we have a problem. Continual exposure to sin brings numbness to sin as sure as continual exposure to a particular odor soon deadens the ability to distinguish that odor. The more longer we remain ignorant as to the critical condition of our walls, the longer it will be before God can bring true revival to the heart. The people of Israel had become used to the rubble.
They knew that it was there, they knew they were miserable, but they had grown weary of doing anything about it.
Hebrews exhorts believers to exhort one another on a continual basis least any become hardened, deadened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Let us follow Nehemiah's next steps toward rebuilding a people for God that followed awareness of burdens, passion to bear those burdens, intense intercession and faithful waiting upon God for permission to move one, protection along the way, and provisions to rebuild.
I. Rebuilding the walls
A. Recognizing Needs
B. Responding to Needs
1. Demonstrating Pity
2. Depending on Prayer
C. Resolving Needs
1. Journey to Jerusalem vs 9
Nehemiah packs his bag and starts the 800 mile mission with the permission, protection, and provisions of the king. Remember the letters (hall pass) to get permission to pass through the territories. Well Nehemiah needed them and used them. Nehemiah arrives safe and sound in Jerusalem the kings protection and endorsement much to the displeasure of two opposing people Sanballat and Tobiah. From these two, plus one other later, we will observe 6 attempts to derail and disrupt the dedication of Nehemiah to pull things together. We will look at these men in greater detail later.
For now it is important to observe that whenever we seek the welfare of others we will run into opposition from those who seek the destruction of those we are called to help. The attacks and schemes of Sanballet whose name means "may sin give him life" are not unlike the kind of things that satan throws our way to derail us from moving meaningfully into the lives of others. Sanballet had a great deal to lose from the erection of the wall of Jerusalem. He presently enjoyed unlimited and unhindered access to the city and was vying for its control. Verse 10 tells us that these two were stirred up because someone had come to seek the welfare of the people. When we begin to rebuild the broken walls in the lives of the people, satan does everything he can to stop it.