Summary: We see something that needs to be done. We can either walk away, point it out to someone else, or do something about it.
Do something about it!
When I was in High School, I had a love for classical music and for Broadway musicals. 1812 Overture was one of my favorites, as well as Handel’s “Messiah” especially the Halleluiah Chorus. If you notice each piece has three parts, which are often played in contrast with one another. The story of Nehemiah is like a well-orchestrated concert. Nehemiah would be the soloist and God would be the director.
Nehemiah, like a great symphony, would have many parts. Although the entire message of Nehemiah is about Leadership, several “minor” parts make up the piece. They are as we already discussed, planning and prayer, and then there is opposition and government, an in spite of these minor parts, the major part, the basic theme still comes through loud and clear, leadership.
In Nehemiah the first movement occurs from 1:1 to 2:10, Nehemiah is playing the part of cupbearer. Planning and prayer are pieces played here. The second piece or movement starts with verse 11 of chapter 2. Nehemiah goes from cupbearer to builder. Yet one would expect that as soon as Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem, he would start pulling out the blueprints, hire the workers, hang a plum line and start working on the wall right away. Instead, Nehemiah arrives at Jerusalem and waits three days. Now we are not told what happened in those three days. I would suspect Nehemiah continued doing what he did in the previous verses. I believe he spent those three days in prayer, after all Nehemiah is a man of prayer. Look at verses 11-16.
NE 2:11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 12 I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on. 13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.
There is no big announcement, not fanfare, no CNN press releases or press conferences, just observation. We as a nation are aching in our political veins. Since the Clinton administration we have wondered what is really happening in the solitude of the Oval office, but not just there, in our governors mansions, in the offices of the Senate and Congress, in any political office we are beginning to wonder what really goes on there. We, the pre-baby boomer generation, have been raised to trust our national leaders. However, today that sense of unquestioned trust has faded. Even in the clergy, this mistrust has been imbedded.
Sometimes we equate spirituality with busyness. Yet, in Nehemiah we see patience and time. It is some 5 months before Nehemiah approaches the King, it is now three days and not one brick has been laid or one timber put in place. We see in Nehemiah the character of a leader. It was once said, who we are when we are alone is who we really are. Character is what you are when no one is looking. Nehemiah does not make any announcement of his plans he told no one of what God was putting into his mind. It is in the quietness of night that Nehemiah examines the damages and assesses the work.
When I was in Bible College, I was told the secret of a successful ministry. Here it is; “Do your homework, be what you ought to be when nobody is looking, do the job and do it to the best of your ability for the sheer joy of glorifying God, pray, and study his word diligently. In other words, spend your time conforming to the image of Jesus. Oh what a study that would make.
Nehemiah talks about inspecting the damage (13-15). The word means to look into something very carefully. He has to develop a plan, he has to know what needs to be done and come up with a plan. There are many “church growth” books on the market today. Each has a plan but these plans will not work in every area. When Rick Warren wrote “Purpose Driven Church” he tells of what worked in Saddleback, when Bob Russell wrote “When God Builds a Church” we see what worked in Louisville. It is not that those plans would not work anywhere else, but that those plans may not work everywhere. Here in Paw Paw we have to come up with a plan that will work here. However, before we can come up with a plan we have to access the area to see what will work.