Summary: This series is about inspiring and communicating God’s vision to us as individuals and to the church overall. Because if we ever lose site of our vision then we will become an ineffective church and then often it becomes about the building and traditions.
Study in the life of Nehemiah
The Necessity of Preparation
December 17, 1903, at 10:35 A.M., Orville Wright secured his place in history by executing the first powered and sustained flight from level ground. For twelve gravity defying seconds he flew 120 feet along the dunes of the outer banks of North Carolina.
In the field of Aviation, this historic event represents a beginning. But for Orville and Wilbur Wright, it was the end of a long and tedious journey. A journey initiated by a dream common to every little boy. The desire to fly. But what most Children abandon to the domain of fantasy, Orville and Wilbur Wright seized upon as potential reality. They believed they could fly. More than that, they believed they should fly. Wilbur described the birth of their vision this way:
“Our personal interest in aviation dates from our childhood days. Late in the autumn of 1878, our father came into the house one evening with some object partly concealed in his hands, and before we could see what it was he tossed it into the air.
Instead of falling to the floor, as we expected, it flew across the room till it struck the ceiling, where it fluttered awhile, and finally sank to the floor. It was a little toy, known to scientists as a ‘helicoptere,” but which we, with sublime disregard for science, at once dubbed a bat.
It was a light from of cork and bamboo, covered with paper, which formed two screws, driven in the opposite direction by rubber bands under torsion. A toy so delicate lasted only a short time in the hands of small boys, but its memory was abiding.”
That experience sparked a desire to fly. The only thing they lacked was the means. So they began moving the obstacles that stood between them and their dream. They began building their own helicopters . By doing this they stumbled upon the principles of physics that would pave the way for the first successful flight. Orville and Wilbur began to engineer their vision.
Life is a journey and every journey has a destination. Everybody ends up somewhere in life. A few people end up somewhere on purpose.
Today we begin a study of a man from the Old Testament named Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a visionary guy who led his people to great things. Nehemiah is one of my favorite Old Testament books and characters - he was not a prophet, priest or king, but he made a lasting impression on the lives of the people near to his heart and he used his gifts and opportunities to make a difference that is still impacting us today.
The title of our study of Nehemiah is Visioneering. This was the title of an Andy Stanley book which I think describes Nehemiah’s leadership well. It is a play on the word engineer. An engineer is a designer or builder. Meaning to lay out, construct, or manage, to contrive or plan. Visioneering is designing, constructing and laying out the vision for the people. That is exactly what Nehemiah did. He truly was man of vision and he communicated that vision in such a way that many followed.
That is what we want to do as well. This series is about inspiring and communicating God’s vision to us as individuals and to the church overall. Because if we ever lose site of our vision then we will become an ineffective church and then often it becomes about the building and traditions.
Let me set the stage for our study.
Around 587BC the Babylonians invaded Judah and destroyed the city of Jerusalem, along with Solomon’s temple. This was the third of three campaigns into that region. About 70 years after the first Babylonian invasion, Cyrus, King of Persia, gave the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Under the leadership of a man named Zerubbabel, these exiled Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple. Things were looking up for while. It seemed as if Israel was on the verge of becoming a blessed nation once again. But the people refused to turn away from the very sins that God had judged their ancestors for. The temple was not being maintained. Sacrifices had ceased. The Jews continued to adopt the religious practices and culture of the surrounding nations. By the time our story begins, the political, social, and spiritual conditions in Jerusalem were deplorable.
Meanwhile, back in Persia, a Jewish man named Nehemiah heard about the condition of his homeland.
“1The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.” Nehemiah 1:1 – 2