Sermons

Summary: Nehemiah took it upon himself to save his nation

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INTRODUCTION

„X Nehemiah was a layman, cupbearer to the great ¡§Artaxerxes,¡¨ who ruled Persia from 464 to 423 B.C. Nehemiah¡¦s name means ¡§The Lord has comforted.¡¨

„X A cupbearer was much more than our modern ¡§butler¡¨ (see Gen. 40). It was a position of great responsibility and privilege. At each meal, he tested the king¡¦s wine to make sure it wasn¡¦t poisoned. A man who stood that close to the king in public had to be handsome, cultured, knowledgeable in court procedures, and able to converse with the king and advise him if asked (see 41:1-13). Because he had access to the king, the cupbearer was a man of great influence, which he could use for good or for evil.

„X The nation of Israel was not very strong after the return from captivity, the moral was low. The opposing nations wanted to keep Jerusalem in bad shape.

„X In 538 B.C., Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jews to return home.

„X 536 B.C., about 50,000 returned from captivity to Jerusalem.

„X 535 B.C., the Temple reconstruction began.

„X 515 B.C., the Temple was completed.

„X 458, Ezra returned

„X 445, Nehemiah returned to rebuild the walls of the city.

The city of Los Angeles burned in the late spring of 1992. The pallor of smoke from the fires started in the riots that followed the Rodney King verdict was visible over the whole metropolitan area, and television carried the sight all around the world.

The riots confirmed the unfortunate wisdom of an architectural trend that had been growing for a decade: erecting homes, stores, and public buildings that look like fortresses. Concrete and steel do not burn like wood; windows that aren¡¦t there can¡¦t be smashed. As society becomes increasingly lawless, structures with the characteristics of a wall surrounding an ancient city are becoming the first line of defense against crime and mayhem.

„X In Nehemiah¡¦s time it was important to the safety of a city¡¦s inhabitants that there be a strong, high wall surrounding their homes and businesses. Only in this way could threatening hordes be kept at bay. So there was joy among the returning citizens of Jerusalem as the gaps in the wall were filled in. The task was completed because ¡§the people had a mind to work,¡¨ and as they worked, they lifted up their cause to God in prayer. It was an example of the proverb, ¡§Pray as if everything depends on God, and work as if everything depends on you.¡¨

„X Nehemiah gave up a lot to do what was best for his county. It takes sacrifice to build a great nation.

Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. Their conviction resulted in untold sufferings for themselves and their families. Of the 56 men, five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army. Another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships of the war.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships sunk by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in poverty. At the battle of Yorktown, the British General Cornwallis had taken over Thomas Nelson’s home for his headquarters. Nelson quietly ordered General George Washington to open fire on the Nelson home. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt.


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