Summary: When you have heard about the work and seen the work it is time to get about the task of working the work. It requires personal involvement and prayer.
Broken Walls and Burned Gates
Prairie Baptist Church – 11/22/09
Text: Nehemiah 2
Key verse: Nehemiah 2:17-18 - 17Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.” 18And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work.
Premise: When you have heard about the work and seen the work it is time to get about the task of working the work. It requires personal involvement and prayer.
Relief pitching ace Donny Moore couldn’t seem to resolve his anguish over losing an American League championship series game many years ago. In a moment of total torment, he shot his wife and then shot himself. Compare that with Dave Dravecky, who loses not only a game but a career, a livelihood, his pitching arm, and his shoulder. He is energetically rebuilding his life and looking forward to whatever tomorrow might bring. He now runs Outreach of Hope non-profit organization to help people that are suffering.
There are many ways to look at tough situations:
We can be defeated before we start
We can see potential and hope
Let’s look at Nehemiah and the work he had in front of him and what he did about it.
2:1 – in the month Nisan – 4 months had passed (Chisleu = December (winter); Nisan = April (Spring); Nehemiah is in the presence of the king to serve him wine and is noticeably sad.
2:2 – The king notices that Nehemiah is sad and it is not because of sickness. Nehemiah is afraid because it is not good to be sad in the presence of the king. One is to have a good countenance because it could be construed as that you have evil designs on the king or you are dissatisfied with him.
2:3 – Nehemiah bears his burden to the king. It is noticeable that he did not mention Jerusalem by name but called it “the place of my father’s sepulchers.” “It was an effective way to mention the city, for the mention of the sepulchers would find sympathy with Artaxerxes, for the Persians, like the Jews, had a great respect for the tomb, and regarded it violation with horror.” (John G. Butler, Nehemiah, The Wall Builder, p. 44 quoting Rawlinson).
2:4 – The king questions Nehemiah and Nehemiah prays
2:5 – Nehemiah makes a request to the king to go and rebuild the city
2:6 – The king, with the queen present, questions Nehemiah on how long he would be gone and when he would be back. The king grants permission and a timetable is set.
2:7 – Nehemiah asks the king for letters for the governors that govern between Shushan and Jerusalem so that he could pass safely and securely
2:8 – He also asked for a letter to Asaph (keeper of the kings forest) to supply timber for the gates and walls and his own living accommodations. And the good hand of his God was upon him.
2:9 – Nehemiah sets out on his journey, encountering the governors for which he had letters of passage. He also had protection of the troops to protect him on his journey.
2:10 – We are introduced to Sanballet the Horonite (governor of Samaria according to an ancient Jewish papyrus) and Tobiah (servant of the government of Persia), later (v. 20) is Geshem the Arabian. They were enemies of the Jews and looked at Nehemiah and his entourage with disdain.
Read text – 2:11-20
Sometimes we deal with broken things – broken lives, broken hearts
Sometimes we deal with burned things – burned out servants, burned out ministries
Instead of looking at the problem and shaking our heads in disbelief, God calls us to be rebuilders.
There are four factors necessary to any work to get ready for any task God calls us too.
1. Viewing the Crisis – 11-16
A. In 1776 Thomas Paine stirred the land with these words: "These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands now deserves the love and thanks of man and women. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheep, we esteem too lightly; "tis dearness only that gives everything its value. 1776 Thomas Paine. Citation from http://www.trinitycathedral.org/Sermons/11111ser.htm How Nehemiah viewed the crisis gives us insight into how we ought to do the same.