Summary: Our churches have become complacent like the people of Nehemiahs day and we need Revival. The Lord uses Nehemiah to show us some walls that need to be rebuilt for revival to take place. The outline I borrowed but the sermon is mine. Feel free to us it!
“REBUILDING THE WALLS OF REVIVAL”
NEHEMIAH 1:1-4; 8:1-6; 9:1-3
The setting is about 500 years before the time of Christ. God’s people had lived in Israel for centuries before. God had told them: “Obey Me and you’ll live in the land for a long time. Disobey Me and you’ll be carried off into captivity.” That’s what happened. The Babylonians came and conquered God’s people and took the leading citizens 1,000 miles away. But the discipline was ending. Several years before Nehemiah’s day, some of God’s people were given permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild a broken down temple and a broken down city. But the attempts to rebuild the protective wall around the city (destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC) had been frustrated by some of ‘the enemies of Judah’ (Ezra 4:1, 7-16). As a result very few people lived in the capital city (Nehemiah 11:1). Jerusalem was a city of ruins.
At the time Nehemiah tells his story we are in the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes. Which means by now Persia had replaced Babylon as the region’s great power, and the Persians ruled with a very different means of control. The commitment of the Persians was to resettle captured people in their native lands. What this meant is that these conquered people could act with a degree of freedom as long as they supported the state and paid their taxes. As we start the book of Nehemiah, God is about to instigate another movement back to the Promised Land. We are about to see a nation go from being complacent to returning to back to God. In other words, we are about to see Revival take place among God’s people again. The book falls into several divisions. The first six chapters cover the rebuilding of the wall, while chapters 7 through 10 deal with the renewing of Jerusalem’s worship with the final chapters addressing the repopulation and revival of God’s people.
Read Nehemiah 1:1-4. We know from Nehemiah 1:11 that Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king. His job was to taste the king’s wine before the king drank it to make sure it was not poisoned. As cupbearer, Nehemiah had a great job. He had intimate access to royalty, political standing, and a place to live in the palace. It was a cushy job that provided everything he needed. And yet, when one of his brothers returned from a road trip to Jerusalem, verse 2 says that Nehemiah “questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.” The word, “question” means “to inquire or demand” an answer. Nehemiah was greatly concerned about what was happening in Jerusalem. He could have protected himself if he chose to, but he didn’t. He sought them out and wanted to hear the first-hand report.
This is an important starting point. It’s so easy for us to stay uninvolved and unaware. Some of us don’t want to even think about stuff that’s going on in our own lives, much less take the time to investigate what is happening in the life of the church as well as the lives of others. Even though Nehemiah had never been to Jerusalem, he had heard stories about it, and knew that his ancestors had been led away in chains when Babylon destroyed it. As he thought on Jerusalem, he listened to the report in verse 3 that the survivors were in great trouble and disgrace, that the wall of Jerusalem was in shambles and that its gates had been burned with fire. As he tried to imagine the shame in the city of David, he could barely stand it. The phrase, “great trouble” meant that the people had “broken down and were falling to pieces.”