Summary: As did Nehemiah, so should we! WE can learn a lot from this great patriot!
We are going to look at the story of a great nation who was in the throws of despair that was about to be put on the path of restoration.
Nehemiah was a layman, cupbearer to the great “Artaxerxes,” who ruled Persia from 464 to 423 B.C. Nehemiah’s name means “The Lord has comforted.”
A cupbearer was much more than our modern “butler” (see Gen. 40). It was a position of great responsibility and privilege. At each meal, he tested the king’s wine to make sure it wasn’t poisoned.
A man who stood that close to the king in public had to be handsome, cultured, knowledgeable in court procedures, and able to converse with the king and give advice if asked (see 41:1-13). Because he had access to the king, the cupbearer was a man of great influence, which he could use for good or for evil.
The nation of Israel was not very strong after the return from captivity, the morale was low. The opposing nations wanted to keep Jerusalem in bad shape.
In 538 B.C., Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jews to return home.
536 B.C., about 50,000 returned from captivity to Jerusalem.
535 B.C., the Temple reconstruction began.
515 B.C., the Temple was completed.
458, Ezra returned
445, Nehemiah returned to rebuild the walls of the city.
In Nehemiah’s strong, tall city walls were all that kept the city from being overrun by the enemy.
Nehemiah gave up a lot to do what was best for his county. It takes sacrifice to restore a great nation. It took the same sacrifice to build our great nation!
Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. Their conviction resulted in untold sufferings for themselves and their families.
Of the 56 men, five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
Today our nation is at a crossroads.
I fear over the last 40 plus years we have been going down a path that is robbing America of some of her greatness. Something has to change.
Will you be one of those great people who make a difference, or will you be one of those pessimists who complain, but do nothing to make things better? Even with all the problems our society has, it is still the greatest nation on earth in which to live. Let’s work to keep it that way!
Restoring a great nation takes:
I. PEOPLE WHO CARE. C-1
• Sometime comfort can be the worst enemy of caring. Nehemiah was in a position of comfort. It would have been easy for him to forget what was once his great homeland. Nehemiah though was not that type of person, he cared, and he cared enough to ASK.
• SLIDE #3
1. Nehemiah cared enough to ask. 1:1-3 (READ)
• SLIDE #4
• Nehemiah 1:1-3 ( ESV ) The words of Nehemiah the son of Hac-aliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the capital, that Ha-nay-na, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”
• Brother came back from a visit. Sometimes we just turn a blind eye to what is going on around us. We need to care enough to ask how things are going before we can do anything about it.
• The report caused Nehemiah to go to the next step.
• SLIDE #5
2. Nehemiah cared enough to weep. 1:4 (READ)
• Nehemiah 1:4 ( ESV ) As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
How many times have you been heartbroken over what is going on around you? Difference makers are the ones who are driven by the passion to make things better.
3. Nehemiah cared enough to pray. 1:5-10
Nehemiah 1:7-9 ( ESV ) We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your dispersed be under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’