Summary: The principles of wisdom that opened the door for Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem and inspect the walls. When he and we inspect the walls- what do we find?
Inspecting the wall. Nehemiah 2:1-20 WBC 9.1.05am
At the beginning of a new year, a high school principal decided to post his teachers’ new year’s resolutions on the bulletin board. As the teachers gathered around the bulletin board, a great commotion started. One of the teachers was complaining. "Why weren’t my resolutions posted?" She was throwing such a temper tantrum that the principal hurried to his office to see if he had overlooked her resolutions. Sure enough, he had mislaid them on his desk. As he read her resolutions he was astounded. This teacher’s first resolution was not to let little things upset her in the New Year.
Contributed by: Frank Houston on www.sermoncentral.com
And here we are, inspecting the wall in Nehemiah. Maybe it will cast some inspection light into our lives at the start of this New Year.
We’re about 445 BC and some of the Jews have returned in different waves from Babylon. Some form of a temple has been constructed
- now Nehemiah is about to deal with the walls
I wonder how eager you are to achieve things this year?
- probably that’s good! We’ve got things to do!
But I wonder if we could learn something from Nehemiah. Particularly if we’re restless
- you might miss it on first read: but Nehemiah hears of the state Jerusalem is in in 1:1. … and 2:1 is 4 months later
o he waits 4 months for the right opportunity to say something to Artaxerxes
This time of year…. some phases of our lives can feel a bit wasted
- nothing happening. Holidays a long way off. Post-Christmas slump. Just waiting for better prospects, weather
o but ‘waiting’ does not mean ‘wasted’.
o Doesn’t mean ‘nothing’s happening’
Not from God’s perspective.
And it’s okay to have phases of our lives that seem boring… require patience. Require faith that God is working (behind the scenes)
- because He is
But the day comes. Nehemiah’s day… God’s day, even
- and it’s time for him to say what’s on his heart to the King
- and Nehemiah experiences something common to us
PEUR 2:2 (FEAR)
Sorry- this is the only way I could keep the P’s going!
- 2:2 says “I was very much afraid”
Why was this?
- well: you were in danger of losing your life if you were downcast before the King
o he only wanted PMA’s around himself!
o “and if you’re not happy- I’ll kill you!”
- also: he was intent on asking the King to change a ruling that he had made some years earlier (Ezra 4:21)
o rule of the Medes and Persians was that laws could not be repealed or revoked
It’s a death-wish, actually. So- he’s scared. And he’s melancholy
- (bad hair day)
But here’s what we learn from Nehemiah:
- it doesn’t stop him!
- Fear is part of a life, and part of risk and part of having a purpose
But God is bigger than that. (He is to Nehemiah.) And, ‘fear of the Lord’ carries him through.. and 4 months of considered prayer
- Nehemiah knew: only God can pull this one off, and if it matters to Him He’ll do it
I wonder if fear affects you at the start of this year? It may well do. It’s a part of life and none of us know what this year holds
- Spencer Johnson, in his excellent book ‘who moved my cheese’ asks us to ask the question “What would we do if we weren’t afraid?”
- Christians are better equipped to answer that than anyone else-because they know God is with them. “though I walk through the valley of the shadow….!”
o Yet we can be more conservative and cautious than most!
Nehemiah feels the fear, but is not straight jacketed by it because of his faith in God
Nehemiah is an example of prudence and how not to lose your job when it’s January, you’re feeling downhearted and you’re tetchy because you’re fearful
- starts of by buttering up the king ‘may the king live forever!’
- notice he doesn’t mention ‘Jerusalem’ at all. Just ‘the city where my fathers lie buried’
o mentioning ‘Jerusalem’ is a red rag to a bull (today, no less!) but particularly to a king who ordered the city not be rebuilt because of its record of sedition and rebellion
- and he milks the old ‘burial of the ancestors’ bit because the Persians were so into honouring their dead as well.
The prudent personal approach is often better than the political…
- … and it works, here:
o “what is it you want” 2:4. Carte blanche!
I wonder how many of us forget this? There’s an opportunity or a crisis and find ourselves flattened by it because we don’t apply the commendation of Paul to ‘pray continually’ (1 Thess 5:17)