Summary: A sermon that uncovers the heart of a true servant of God
Nehemiah 1:1-11 The Heart of a Servant.
3rd February 2008 Basingstoke
Nehemiah lived in the same era as Ezra and Esther around 450BC
From our recent studies you know how Jews spent 70 years in exile
The city of Jerusalem and the temple had been destroyed by Babylonians
Remember how Daniel served Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar –faith tested
Then the Persians took over from the Babylonians under King Cyrus
Just as God had promised – many Jews were allowed to return to Israel
50,000 Israelites returned at first building homes and started work on Temple
You’ve probably heard of Zerubbabel who rebuilt the temple from the rubble (Ezra 3)
Unfortunately many old enemies threatened them and their work was badly delayed.
The city remained vulnerable because the walls were all broken down.
Nehemiah was a Jew son of Hacaliah 1:1 We know very little else, a brother Hanani
Probably born in Exile. Cupbearer to the King v11. Not a dishwasher or butler!
But very close to the King, tasting his wine & eating his food first in case of poison.
He knew the king well, he had his ear. Position of Power & Influence.
But more than that - Nehemiah was a cupbearer with a Heart for God...
Here he is living in Susa the Capital of Mede & Persian Empire-
Story begins in month of Chislev = November in 20th year of Artaxerxes 445 BC
We know he’s a man with a servant heart v11. What else do we learn about him?
1. A MAN WITH A BROKEN HEART
Hanani and others visited Nehemiah with bad news from Jerusalem.
v3 "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jersualem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire."
It’s Bitter news – v4 “When I heard these things I sat down and wept”
not weeping over ruins left by Nebuchanezzar that was 142 years ago!
nor over the shame of God’s judgment on Israel. That’s all history now
But worse! He is weeping over their failure to rebuild now! (Ezra 4:4-24)
"great trouble" v3 Hebrew word trouble = sharp, cutting or piercing.
It brings to mind idea of Cutting words. Criticism, Slander by enemies
Picture is of Discouragement their enemies caused- threats & fear – they stirred up
Great trouble that resulted in them all feeling crushed and defeated.
It’d been so exciting hearing of return & Temple, but Temples aren’t City walls!
But its one thing to Worship, and another defeating and keeping out enemies!
Warning for us as worshippers to stand in the full armour of God Eph 6:10ff
We are far too vulnerable without our defences in place!
Minds + hearts need protection. Helmet of Salvation. Breastplate of Righteousness. Know it - So you won’t be defeated by condemnation and accusation and guilt
Put on Belt of truth, Stand upon the Gospel and use the Shield of Faith
Learn to use the Sword of the Spirit God’s Word. Put it all on with Prayer!
If you don’t have spiritual defences in place you’ll be defeated every time!!
The Attacks in Jerusalem had undone months of work in a few days of fire.
Nehemiah’s heart broke because God’s purposes weren’t fulfilled.
He wept because enemies triumphed over God’s people and defeated them.
Nehemiah reminds me of another man who wept over Jerusalem. – Jesus!
Saw them as God wanted them to be and how far short they fell. It broke his heart!
v2 Nehemiah asked questions, and listened.
It can be so dangerous if you don’t know the need or see the problems you’re up against!
Vitally important to know our weaknesses, to see what our enemy is up to!
It’s dangerous to neglect to ask the questions, or enquire what’s wrong,
It’s risky to carry on blissfully unaware of your own carelessness and neglect
Just as much as it is to ignore the deliberate opposition coming against you!
Q? Do you know what ruins are causing problems in your home and family?
Q? Do you ever think about the ruins in your own commitment and walk with God?
Q? Will you ask yourself questions? Will you face the issues?
Nehemiah saw the problem and it broke his heart and he wept over ruins!
i) How are the walls of your Family Life…Are they in ruins?
Contrast Eli (1Sam3) Spiritual leader whose sons lived in disobedience
’Eli knew’ but ’failed to restrain them’ (v13) He did nothing!!
He was the Father and leader at home – but left it for others to straighten them out!
Church often gets blamed for failing children and youth, but as parents we can’t pass the buck we must accept responsibility for how we have so often failed at home