Summary: Rely on God to build his church and our eternal home.
Nehemiah 2:11 – 3:5
Before we get into this passage today, I’ve got an important announcement to make. It’s appropriate that I make it as we look at this passage about Nehemiah’s plan to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.
I haven’t spoken to anyone else about this yet – but neither did Nehemiah, so I’m in good company. To some people it might come as a bit of a shock.
This church building has been here for a while. The meeting room is too small, the roof is too low for some people to see the screen. There’s very few smaller meeting rooms. Somebody said to me the other day that those gents’ toilets are a disgrace to us.
Given that, I want to announce this morning that we’re going to undertake a major building program. We’ll be adding another story here, transforming the hall, putting in state of the art audio-visual facilities, building new toilets with disabled access, putting in a new and larger kitchen. It’s going to look professional, inviting and be extremely functional.
It’s been estimated to cost just over a million dollars. Now we don’t have that money in our budget as you can expect. But reading Nehemiah has showed me that when you’re building for God and when he’s blessing you, and when the people of God are working together it will happen.
There’s already been some opposition. Our neighbours and council may have problems with the plans but they don’t have any claim to this house of God and the LORD will give us success. We should expect people like that to mock us and ridicule us and try to stop us but God will give us strength.
It would say it’s been an inspired choice by James Rogers to go through Nehemiah because reading this book has made it clear to me that we can build for God just like Nehemiah did – and God will grant us success.
I’m not being serious, in case you haven’t worked that out yet. I assume most people picked it up. Although our buildings do have some flaws, and although the toilets are in need of some love, I do actually quite like part of what we’ve got here. But far more importantly, that’s not the right way to apply the teachings of Nehemiah to Christians in 2008 AD.
You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that way, though. Nehemiah does take on a great building program and is blessed by God in this hard task.
I did a quick web search yesterday and found the a church in Chicago. They are currently running a building and fundraising project they’ve called the Nehemiah Plan. On their website it says that the plan is “Praise Temple’s fundraising effort to obtain the necessary funds for the purchase, building and/or development of its new location.” It then goes on to explain the reason it’s called the Nehemiah plan, and ends by inviting donations and by saying this:
“The spiritual implications of the book of Nehemiah are important for us. First, we turn to our King and pray for God to give us "success today." Second, we believe that He has the resources available to accomplish this great work. These resources are found in the people of our congregation and others who have a heart for our Ministry of Restoration. We believe that the Lord will speak to the hearts of our people and will direct them to share their resources to accomplish this work. Continue to pray and seek God that we will experience "success today!"
That’s the way the minister of the church has applied Nehemiah to his current church. Is he right?
Well, let’s look at Nehemiah 2 and 3, and see what some of the principles and practices of this Biblical building program are.
Last week we heard of how Nehemiah, after much prayer, was allowed to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. Artaxerxes the king even orders that he be supplied and sent soldiers with him.
At vs. 11, Nehemiah has finally arrived in Jerusalem. It would have been a long journey, so he rests and recuperates and prays for three days.
Then he goes out at night, alone on his horse, and surveys the damage. The Valley Gate, the Jackal Well, the Dung Gate, the Fountain Gate, the King’s Pool. And what he sees is devastation. Destruction by fire, piles of rubble. He comes back and only then speaks to the officials and priests in Jerusalem.
He tells them what he has seen and what God has laid on his heart. He tells them that the state of Jerusalem is a disgrace to them. And finally he tells them of how God’s gracious hand is upon this task – as has already been seen in the miraculous actions of the king. Their response is simple: Let’s get started!