Summary: Nehemiah knows what to request because he did his homework. During his time of waiting he used it to prepare for God’s purpose in his life.
(Third message in our stody of Nehemiah)
Nehemiah – a cupbearer for King Artaxerxes is upset over the destruction of his homeland in Jerusalem. We left Nehemiah last week doing something that is very brave and edgy.
He went before the king with a sad face. Which is something that you don’t do. If you do, you are making the king feel uneasy thinking that you are conspiring against him or about to do something behind his back to bring disgrace to his throne.
So Nehemiah has taken a big chance. But he has made it to the point where the king asked him,
“What is it you want?”
Wow, an open door!
*Notice: What seems impossible to you is always possible with God.
Everything going against Nehemiah but he did not allow
His age – His position – His fear – His lack of money …stand in his way!
When you are doing what God wants you to do, He not only makes an opening He provides the means to accomplish His work.
· The world needed a Savior – a child was born
· Noah needed an escape – a boat was built
· Joseph needed a way out of the pit – a tribe of Midianites was sent.
He thought at the time that it was degrading to be a slave but God was putting him into position.
Now we see Nehemiah with an open door. What does he do?
We talked a little about it last week – He prays.
Don’t try to attempt anything for God without first taking it to Him in prayer.
-Depression leaves when you pray
-Sickness gets better when you pray
-Frowns turn upside down when you pray
-Relationships become restored when you pray
-A king who you fear begins to ask you – What do you want? When you pray!
Read Nehemiah 2:4-10
His request is that he goes back to Judah, where his father’s are buried so that he can rebuild it.
No mention of Jerusalem. No mention of the walls.
Nehemiah petitioned the king in general terms and kept the focus on his personal desire to restore the city of his ancestors.
So the king’s next question is how long will you be gone?
This is where it pays to be prepared. Don’t waste your time of waiting by just sitting around. Get to planning, get to figuring, gets things in line so you are ready for when your time comes.
Not only was Nehemiah getting hope of getting to go but also the king wanted him to come back to work. He is going to follow his heart and not have to worry about being replaced on the job.
(Ex. Asking for a week of absence to go on a mission trip)
Verse 7 – Nehemiah takes it one step further.
He asked for letters to be sent with him to provide for him a safe journey.
Nehemiah was aware of the political situation in the regions through which he would travel.
Though the governors and other lower officials were in service to the king, the same bureaucrats often exercised a great deal of personal power in their regions and were known to act independently at times.
Nehemiah has to know this to ask for it.
He knew his surroundings.
He put together a plan and was able to secure the protection that he needed.
He also knew he was serving a God who would provide
Not only did Nehemiah ask the king for letter of protection as he traveled but he also asked for something else.
Verse 8 – a letter for wood or timber.
Nehemiah needed supplies and he received letters from the king to allow Asaph (keeper of the forest) to give him the timber needed to rebuild Jerusalem.
According to verse 8, he needed timber for three projects.
1. Beams for the gates – this was actually a fortress built slightly north of the temple by the returned exiles in order to guard the approach to the temple mount.
2. The wall for the city – the first mention of the “wall” – he slid that into the conversation and kept going with his request
3. His house – the place where he would be staying during the rebuilding
Before we get the king’s answer: Turn to Ezra 4
REHUM – the commanding officer / SHIMSHAI – the secretary
They sent a letter to the king pointing out that the Jews had returned to Jerusalem and were rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. This could be referring to those who accompanied Ezra during the 7th year of King Artaxerxes.
This letter contained inflammatory language intended to bias the king. Their claims were exaggerated, since no grand reconstruction projected existed during the time they are sending this letter to the king. These two men started putting thoughts into the king’s head claiming that if this city is rebuilt that he would lose power and respect.