Summary: We see here the stages in a real work of God in revival
Nehemiah 7v1-8v18 Revival
After a long, hard struggle for the abolition of slavery, William Wilberforce finally won the victory in 1807. On the evening of the 22nd February 1807, news was brought to him of the victory. Wilberforce turned to his old friend Henry Thornton and said “Well Henry, what shall we abolish next”.
The joy must have been much the same for Nehemiah, the Governor of Jerusalem, when he finally rebuilt the walls. He had come to Jerusalem with this one aim. He was single-minded in his pursuit of the goal before him.
In chapters 1-6, Nehemiah is very much in the forefront. But from chapter 7v1, it is God who takes centre stage. A chain of events take place which sweep the Nation in genuine God-given revival.
Let’s take a look at the various stages in this great work of God. There is :-
1. A Passion For The Glory Of God
At the end of Ch.6, the walls are rebuilt, and Nehemiah could sit back and bask in what he has done. But no - he cannot rest, because he has a passion for the glory of God.
In 7v4 he looks out across the City, a large City and yet the inhabitants are very few. How many Pastor’s feel like that on a Sunday - great buildings built for the glory of God, and yet the “inhabitants” are few.
He knows that God is not interested in dead stones but in living stones - people who are on fire for God. Most of the returning exiles had settled in the suburbs where it is easier to make a good living. And so Nehemiah cries out to God with his need.
God answers, in v5 “Then My God put it into my heart....” to do what ? To call the register.
Can Nehemiah be serious ? Why does he do this ?
He wants the people, few in number, to remember who they are. They are the people of God.
As the register is called, and they remember who they are, their hearts are kindled again with a passion for God’s glory.
Don’t you find this so often in the N.T. - these reminders of who we are, and what it means to be God’s people. For example in 1 Peter 2v9-10. You are the people of God, called to declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light - who once were
not a people, but now are the people of God. This leads to :
2. A Hunger For The Word Of God
Reminded that they are the people of God, it is no surprise that they now hunger to hear the word of God. They want to know how they can serve their great God. Only the Scriptures can tell us.
It is no wonder that the devil will do all he can to keep you from the Bible. And how much he will try to stop you reading it.
In 8v1-2, they hunger for God’s word. So they gather together in front of the Water Gate on the first day of the seventh month. This was the Feast of Trumpets ( Leviticus 23v24 ) and served as a wake-up call to the Nation. God was about to do something.
In 8v1 we read that the people gathered ‘as one man’ to hear the word of God. What a sign of God-given unity not some artificial kind of uniformity but the work of the Spirit.
They didn’t come to be entertained - to soften their emotions and then to hit them with an appeal - but a hunger for the word of God.
From daybreak till noon ( 8v3 ) for 6 hours they listen to the teaching of Scripture. When the Spirit of God is at work in revival, time becomes immaterial.
The word is read by Ezra and then explained by the scribes ( v7-8 ). Their hunger is for the word.
3. A Sense of The Fear Of God
What do we mean by ‘the fear of God’ ? Certainly not the same as ‘being afraid’ of God. Rather, this is loving, reverential - the fear of offending One that you love, and by whom you are loved - fearing his frown, when you so delight in His smile.
Their fear of God is seen in their attitude to His word - v4 they build a high platform so that all can hear His word. But it is also symbolic - they have a desire to ‘come under’ the word according to v5.
How often have you been to hear a preacher, and wondered ‘what is he like’ ? Or we heard a sermon and thought ‘that is a good message for so-and-so ‘ ?