Summary: Nehemiah’s problem, prayer and action

OT Background

1. Genesis

• Creation & Fall (Adam & Eve)- 4000BC

• Flood (Noah)- 3000BC

• Promise (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph)- 2000BC

2. Exodus-Deuteronomy

• Captivity and Flight (Moses)- 1500BC

• The Lord’s king (David)- 1000BC>>

3. 2 Kings

• Elisha and more kings and prophets

• Israel carried off captive to Assyria- 722BC

• Judah carried off captive to Babylon- 586BC

4. Ezra (Haggai, Zechariah)

• Persians take over; Cyrus; Exiles return to Jerusalem- 538BC

• They rebuild the temple by 516BC despite opposition from foreigners dwelling in Israel

• In 458, Ezra returns, reinstates the law and the men put away their foreign wives

5. Nehemiah, last historical book of OT (Malachi being last prophetic)

• 445BC, King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah- contemporary of Plato, but far greater man in Matthew Henry’s book! Actually he was a modest man who waits till end of chapter 1 to tell us his credentials as king’s cupbearer.

Nehemiah intro

• Man of great problems- servant to a pagan king, seeking to rebuild the walls of a ruined, beleaguered city, assailed on all sides by malicious hostile forces- ever feel like that?

• Man of great prayer- look at two prayers today, but also

o 4:4,5; 13:29- Expresses his anger about his enemies, but leaves it up to God to deal with them

o 4:9- Trusts God whilst taking precautions

o 6:9- “Now strengthen my hands”

o 5:19; 13:14,22,31- Asks God to remember his desire to please Him

• Man of great action- often the answer to his own prayers, was always prepared to get on with the job at hand and not become distracted- how easily do we let ourselves become distracted? “Let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1)- turn off the TV and pick up the Bible; quit the gossip in the staff canteen and go and encourage someone looking down; delete my computer games and open my prayer diary!

1. Nehemiah’s problem

• How did it arise? He paid an interest in his brothers and sisters (2)

o 1 Corinthians 12:26- “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it”; no Christian should ever say, “That’s not my problem!”

o 1 John 3:16- “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers”- gratitude for His love inspires OUR love!

o Start a prayer diary and ask people what they need prayer for; subscribe to a Christian journal and use their prayer calendar; seek out ways to meet needs around us

• What was it? God’s people in God’s place were persecuted (3)

o Hasn’t changed- 2 Timothy 3:12- “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”; if you are where God wants you to be, the Devil won’t like it and will try to move you somewhere else or make it very difficult for you to carry on; but he won’t succeed- why?

o “Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16); we are told that “no weapon formed against [us] shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17)

• How did it affect him? Personally affected in his emotions for days (4)

o My sister- “abyss of emptiness”; someone else’s problems were more her problems than her own were!

o “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) for the death of his friend and the grief of those left behind; even more, Jesus echoed Nehemiah by weeping over the city of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41); Nehemiah was weeping the very tears of God. Will you let others in to your heart enough to cause you tears and even pain?

• What did he do about it? He didn’t brood or stay crying… He persistently prayed (4)

o “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16)

o “Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly” (Luke 18:7,8).

o Morning prayer- persistently prayed our numbers will increase and they have almost tripled! Children of Christian parents…four years!!


2. Nehemiah’s prayer

• Appreciation of God’s supreme authority (5,10)

o Heavenly, great, awesome, strong, mighty- “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,

nor his ear too dull to hear” (Isaiah 59:1); if we refuse to pray or if we pray with doubt, we are saying God is not strong; God’s greatest power is His power to forgive sins in Christ

o ‘Willy’ at Westminster Chapel- God can’t save a wretch like me

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