Summary: Nehemiah’s Prayer of favor, and to God to help him rebuild the walls.
“Rebuilding For His Presence”
"O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands,
6let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you.
7We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
8"Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, `If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations,
9but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
10"They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand.
11O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man."
Nehemiah 1:5-11 NIV
“Lord, let your Word pierce the hearts of all who listen, let it cut to the very center of our souls, let your Word compel us to the point of surrender. To the point of surrendering ourselves into your hand. Let your hand guide us, and let your power protect us and let your wisdom teach us this day, My God, My redeemer, My friend.”
From the beginning of the book of Nehemiah, you see where Nehemiah is bent on rebuilding the walls of Israel, and if we look closely, we can also see a good example of rebuilding our own spiritual lives.
Throughout their history, the Jews had drawn strength from two sources besides the Law.
¸ One was the temple, where they worshiped God.
It was a magnificently beautiful building in which they met God.
¸ The other was their leadership--first Moses, then Joshua, then the judges, and finally David and his offspring, the kings.
The Disappointing Reality was this:
Though they had the temple, and though they had great leadership in their past, these things had not saved them from disgrace.
The temple? For all its splendor it had become a meaningless symbol to most Jews.
They had even put idols in it.
God had finally allowed the Babylonians to burn the temple down.
After the exile the Jews had made rebuilding the temple their first priority (see Ezra 1-6).
But it was no longer an automatic insurance policy.
They could never again see the building as a substitute for real devotion to God.
Their leaders? Not one king, over hundreds of years, had come close to matching God’s ideal. They had missed God’s will for His people, and had continued in their plans for greatness.
Most kings had been scoundrels--descendants of David in name only.
After the exile, Israel had no king of its own.
The Israelites were under the thumb of a Persian, who was determined to keep all power himself.
The Power of the Word
Then, finally, they turned to another source of power: the Word of God. The great gathering of Nehemiah Chapter 8 stands in contrast to temples and kings.
The splendor of jewels and crowns is replaced by a single man atop a wooden platform, reading from a simple scroll.
Yet the words he reads, carefully explained to all, show their power in the way they affect those who hear them.
The people are moved to praise God, to weep over their sins, to change their behavior, and to make renewed promises to God.
From this time on, the Jews were known as the people of the book..
They lived under foreign domination, so their political leadership became secondary.
Their temple, while important, was never again a guarantee of God’s presence.
Increasingly they studied God’s law and tried to obey it. Israelites found their unique strength neither in government nor in worship rituals, but in reverence for God’s written Word.
Now, back to the walls
Now, the walls were in ruin, and Nehemiah received word that the outlook was not good, so he prayed the prayer that I opened up with at the beginning, then went in to the king for he was the cupbearer, and the king saw that he was sad. Generally, the king could put you to death if you were to bring in a sad countenance to the throne room. But, Nehemiah had prayed for favor. He received favor, and went on to rebuild the walls. But He faced many stumbling blocks: