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Summary: The declaration and mission of Nehemiah is more than just rebuilding a wall, it's a calling for men and women to return to living fully for the God in heaven. Doesn't the church today have the exact same mission? Why are we not living it?

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Nehemiah’s Mission

Nehemiah 2:1-20

Introduction

- Nehemiah is a great study of leadership, but also of obedience to God

- Last time we saw our man Nehemiah receiving very disturbing news

-- This news was about Jerusalem and its apparent fall into ruin; people disgraced

-- His heart is burdened, and he cries out to God to hear his prayer; grant him favor

- We were reminded that prayer is ALWAYS the right response to a challenge

-- Nehemiah’s prayer and reaching out to God are a model that we can all use

-- Today, we will see how his prayer is answered, and how God begins to use him

- A little longer than usual … please hang in there / Read Nehemiah 2:1-20

- Pray

∆ Point 1 – A Conversation with a King

- Our story now advances four months to the month of Nisan

-- IMP: From the initial prayer in Kislev, he’s been praying for 4 months

- Let’s chat … most of us get annoyed when God doesn’t answer in 5 mins

-- It is a sign of maturity to continue to seek after the Lord and desire His will

-- Nehemiah does exactly that by his prayer and his burden makes this obvious

-- APP: Crying out to God in Chapter 1 we see what strategic prayer looks like

- So now, he is presented with an opportunity …

-- Wine is brought to the king, probably at a banquet, and Nehemiah is cupbearer

-- He says in v1 that he has never been sad before the king before today

- Note: This would be considered a capital offense in this time

-- You do not approach the king with bad news; esp. with your own problems

-- Consider, going to work & having a bad day & your boss fires you

-- This would be MORE severe than that – it could mean imprisonment/life

- In these times, the king would also customarily grant favors to others

-- So Nehemiah makes the choice to show his heart’s emotion to the king

- And so the king asked, “Why do you look sad … or … what’s going on?”

-- Again: Servants were allowed to not bring their personal issues to work

-- You are serving the king, and in his presence you are to remember that

- When King Artaxerxes opens the door for Nehemiah, he walks right in

- Notice Nehemiah’s first words: “May the king live forever!” (He praises him.)

-- This would’ve softened him up, for the choice of words that he uses next (v3)

-- “Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

-- It’s a rhetorical question, but it definitely opens the door to conversation

- IMP: Nehemiah KNOWS that this is the king who approved the destruction

-- His response shows concern, but hasn’t mentioned which city he’s burdened for

-- This calculated response gives opportunity for a pivotal question from the king

- V4: “What is it you want?”

- Now, look at Nehemiah’s next action: “Then I prayed to the God of heaven”

-- We’ve been discussing on Sunday night’s the different type of prayers

-- This is a PERFECT example of spontaneous prayer in God’s word

- TRANS: After praying to God for four months, he is given a chance to ask

∆ Point 2 – Nehemiah’s Request

- Nehemiah starts out with a customary praise for the one he’s before (v5)

-- His petition is clear: Send me to the land of Judah so I can help them

-- APP: When you ask for things … you need to ask specifically

-- He’s been praying specifically, so at the right moment ask specifically

- EX: If you’ve been praying for someone’s salvation and the opp. is there …

-- You need to be brave and ask directly: “If you died today …”

- King Artaxerxes then asks about the trip: “How long do you need?” (v6)

-- Nehemiah more than likely set a shorter time than he thought he would need

-- Note: He’d be gone nearly 12 years (Neh 13); doubtful he said that here

- Then he really just goes for broke on his asks (v7-8):

- Letters for safe passage

• Re: This would be journey through very political regions in the area

• If stopped, he would need to prove he is supposed to be there

- Letters for the materials he will need (cannot build without supplies)

-- He would need lumber for three projects he will undergo:

• Beams for the gates

• Support and framing for the wall

• And to build a temporary residence (prob. his ancestral home)

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