Summary: Things get done when we pray, take action, and persevere until a goal is accomplished.
Title: How Do You Rebuild After a Disaster?
Text: Nehemiah 1-6
Thesis: Things get done when we pray, take action, and persevere until a goal is accomplished.
Series: The Bible in 90 Days Whole Church Challenge
In our reading this week we have leapt through the “Period of the Kings” during which God ruled his people through kings anointed to lead his people. In the week past we read of Saul, David and Solomon. We read of Israel’s being divided into two kingdoms: The Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom. We read through the reigns of 20 kings of Israel and 19 kings and 1 queen of Judah. The rule of the kings was a succession of reigns in which, none in the case of Israel and nearly all of the kings of Judah, failed to do “what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” Consequently the people of God, true to the cyclical nature of their relationship with God, were sent into exile.
Now years had passed and the people of God were gradually being allowed to leave their place of exile and return to their homeland. But upon their arrival they found all that what had been was now lying in ruins.
The book of Nehemiah begins by stating: “These are the memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah.” Nehemiah tells of how he was permitted to return to his homeland to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. The story is about how God used Nehemiah to re-build after a devastating disaster.
This past week we learned that Sarah Palin has finished her memoir, “Going Rogue: An American Life,” just four months after signing her book deal with HarperCollins Publishing. “Going Rogue” was initially to have been released in the spring of 2010 but will now be released on November 17.
In a different AP article written by Hillel Italie, two days after HarperCollins announced the upcoming release, Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com report that her pre-release book orders make “Gong Rogue” their #1 Best-Seller.
Jonathan Burnham, publisher of HarperCollins states in regard to her memoir: “It’s her words, her life, and it’s all there in full and fascinating detail.” (Hillel Italie, AP National Writer, Palin finishes memoir, ‘Going Rogue,’ out Nov. 17, news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_books_palin/print)
Our story today is also a memoir. The book of Nehemiah begins, “These are the memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah.” You could say, “It’s his own words, his life, and it’s all there in full and fascinating detail.”
Nehemiah tells his story… it is the story of a man who is deeply saddened by the devastation of his homeland. Jerusalem, which had once represented the presence of God, had become a disgrace to the people.
Nehemiah desperately wanted to return to his homeland and oversee the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple.
The story begins with the exchange of despair for a dream.
I. Exchange despair for a dream
I said to the King, “Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its fates have been destroyed by fire?” The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king… let me return so I can rebuild it.” Nehemiah 2:1-5
The circumstances are simply but vividly described in a conversation between Nehemiah and his brother. Nehemiah had asked his brother how things were going in the old homeland. And his brother said, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been burned.” Nehemiah 1:3
Nehemiah’s initial response was deep and heartfelt grief that prompted him to cry out to God for help. In 1:11 he tells us that he prayed, “Please grant me success now as I go to ask the king for a great favor. Put it in his heart to be kind to me.” We do not see Nehemiah running off on an emotional wild-goose-chase. His was no knee-jerk reaction. He did not speak without thinking. He did not act without having given thought to what he was to do.
He prayed first. Prayer is the best way to align our desires and dreams with the will of God.
A Littleton, Colorado mother tells of how her eight-year-old son Jonathan, who plays on a hockey team, came home announcing that his coach was having a contest. The winner would receive two tickets for a Colorado Avalanche National Hockey League game. She said their son competed hard, but the tickets went to another boy. She said that on their way home there were tears of disappointment.