Summary: A biographical sermon on Nehemiah, introducing the Book of Nehemiah

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Nehemiah Sermon 1

Book Sermon Neh. 1-13

The Man Who Worked With God

“I told them how God had been with me-They replied, Lets’ start rebuilding? (2:18)

God Needs Workers

An elephant was running down the road and a frog jumped on his back to hitch a ride. They ran across and old bridge and planks started flying, dust filled the air, and just as the duo made it to the other side, the bridge collapsed. Later the frog, telling his fellow frogs said, “Man you should have seen what that elephant and I did to that bridge.”

This was not entirely incorrect. God could have snapped his finger and a wall the size of the Wall of China, with Holiday Inns every 100 miles, could have popped up in Judah. But God chooses to use ordinary people like you and me to accomplish worthwhile things.

God needs you and me

When God has a need in his world, He lays His hand on some particular person to meet that need. Sometimes, if we won’t do what he asks, he will raise up someone else to do it. Years before, when He called Esther to go to the King and save her people from whole slaughter, He told her someone would do it if she didn’t (Esth. 4:14)).

But sometimes there is no one else to raise up to do our job. God cannot be a good husband or dad or Pastor or citizen for you and me. The simple and sad truth is that unless we do them some things will not get done. It has been said, “Without us God will not and without God we cannot.”

A sad example is world hunger. There is enough food on the planet to feed everyone, but 12,000 people every day die from disease related to malnutrition because we do not get the food out. Nehemiah shows us how to work with God with something He wants done.

A. The Problems Confronted (1:2-3)

God’s great need in 446BC was to restore and revive the community of Hebrews living in Judah. They land was in ruins; their wall of Jerusalem was a pile of rubbish; the people were looked down on by neighbors; the Jews were marrying gentiles; and the people were discouraged and bringing God only their leftovers. They accused God of being unfair; the priests hated their work and the people were refusing to tithe. (Mal. 1-3)

B. The Person Chosen

To meet the need he raised up a Bible scholar and teacher named Ezra; a prophet to the discouraged, and half committed, named Malachi; and a layman named Nehemiah. His task was to lead in rebuilding the wall and to serve as Governor for 12 years.

1. A Prepared Man

Nehemiah had risen to the highest of positions in Persia, that of cupbearer to the King. Protecting the king from enemies and being part of the royal court took intelligence, physical presence, integrity and courage. All these were enlisted by the Lord.

Everything good and bad that has happened to you and me has made us who and what we are, and have fitted us for some particular service. The only question is whether or not we place it all in God’s hands.

2. An Overlooked Man

Nehemiah, a layman, might just be the most ignored or overlooked hero in the Old Testament. Like Moses, he gave up wealth, position, and many comforts to identify with the people of God, as well as go up against the most powerful ruler on Earth. (Heb. 11; Ex. 2) Almost single handedly he gathered the materials, made the plans, enlisted the workers, and supervised the construction of Jerusalem’s walls. And he did it in the face of extreme opposition that included plots to take his life.

Are you and I willing to work for God with little or no recognition from others? Do we do right because it is right or because we want the applause of the crowd.

3. A Solitary Man

Facing countless needs we cannot throw up our hands and say, “What can I do, I am only one person.” With this many a person brushes aside their responsibility to help.

Give me a man of God, one man /

True to the vision that he sees /

And I will build your broken shrines /

And bring the nations to their knees.

4. A Concerned Man (1:4)

Nehemiah was broken hearted by the news from Judah and wept and fasted (1:4). He did not ask about real estate ventures or health spas or tourism in Judah; he wanted to know about their spiritual needs. We get involved in what we are concerned about.

Sam Hadley, the converted drunk, once went into several bars witnessing, and later leaned against a post and sighed, “Lord, the sin of this city is breaking my heart.”

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