Summary: Exposition of Nehemiah 7:1-53 about the preparations for Revival by Nehemiah
Text: Nehemiah 7:1-73, Title: Foundations for Renewal, Date/Place: NRBC, 10/21/07, PM
A. Opening illustration: Dr. A. T. Pierson says that there has never been a revival in any country or locality that did not begin with united prayer…Jeremiah Lampheer began a small prayer meeting in Manhattan. The next week there were 14, then 23. By February of 1858 every church and every public building were occupied by noon prayer meetings. One reporter could only get to twelve meetings and counted 6100 men. Ten thousand per week were being converted in New York. One million were converted in a year.
B. Background to passage: After the completing of the wall, Nehemiah is not finished with all the work that God has for him in Jerusalem. So he begins to put in place the things that will foster spiritual renewal in Israel.
C. Main thought: We will see in our text four important moves toward spiritual renewal.
A. Raise up and appoint godly leaders (v. 2)
1. One of the things that the Babylonians had done in Judah was take away all the really intelligent and noble young men and women back to Babylon. They had put into place leaders that were mere puppets in the hands of Babylonian rulers, and thus not good and strong leaders. So, they had created a leadership vacuum. And Nehemiah knew that if renewal was going to take place in Jerusalem, God would have to raise up godly leadership and he would have to appoint them. Note the two qualities that Nehemiah mentions about these men—faithfulness and fear of God.
2. Ex 18:21, Dan 6:4, Matt 24:45, 25:21
3. Illustration: “Everything rises or falls on leadership,” According to NAMB Research Sr. Director Ed Stetzer in his new book Comeback Churches, “Leadership was rated as the number one factor in churches that experienced revitalization.” Talk about the church in NC that elected women deacons because there were not enough men to serve,
4. Leadership is key in spiritual renewal. And not just that of the pastor. All the key leaders of a church need to buy into the vision for it to be carried out. And if we are to experience renewal, we must put into place godly leadership. This means that standards for office at the church (or the government, or social organizations, etc.) must be raised back up to biblical standards. The reason that many of our churches are in the shape that they are in is because of poor leadership, with low standards, where leadership in church becomes more of a popularity and power issue than a servant and godliness issue.
B. Protect what God has accomplished (v. 3)
1. The next thing that Nehemiah does is commission these men primarily in regard to protecting the city. He gives them instructions about when to open the gates. You might think after accomplishing such a great feat, and having such spiritual victory, Nehemiah and the Jews would feel bulletproof. They may have, but not Nehemiah. He knew biblical truth that spiritual victories are short-lived, and the minds and hearts of the Jewish people have short memories when it comes to faithfulness to God.
2. 2 Pet 3:17, 1 Cor 10:12, Col 2:8, 2 Pet 2:18-20, 2 Cor 11:3, 13-15, Eph 6:13-14, Pro 4:23, Matt 26:41
3. Illustration: “we must remember that every church and institution is only one generation away from apostasy and atheism,” communicate the story of the drift of the SBC and its seminaries toward liberalism and its costly but necessary turnaround,
4. We tend to take one step forward and two steps back. We must learn to protect what God has done among us. We must be wary of the ease that allows for deception and apostasy. It always seems comfortable to simply go back and continue doing it the other way, but we must learn to live in the now and within the vision that God has given. Guard against small compromises. Be diligent to keep your saber sharp. Keep a watchful eye upon the enemy and upon the state of your own flock. Fiercely defend the essentials of the faith, and refuse to walk the path of ecumenicalism. Guard tradition that is essential and helpful.
C. Repopulate with faithfulness (v. 4)
1. Nehemiah makes a statement here that the walls and gates have been repaired but the people are few. And Nehemiah knew two things, first that an empty city would surely be overrun (even with strong walls), and second that the faith of the One True God will perish from the earth if there are not children being born and raised in a sufficient manner to sustain it. The first command given to Adam/Eve and to Noah and family was to repopulate the earth. The family is the primary vehicle to promote faith in God and eternal life in men.