Summary: Nehemiah saw beyond himself to see the needs of the people of God.
Today we are continuing in our series about revival. Last week we started with a couple of definitions. First there was the definition of revival that the word revival is not always an outbreak of evangelism but a reawakening a restoration of what there was before. In our church, in this body of Christ this is a new beginning as we begin our time of ministry together. Today is when we start to look at what our vision together will be.
The second word that we worked to define correctly was worship. When we worship someone or something, it has all of our focus. Worship is reverent love and devotion. If we understand that not just when we come to church but as we live our lives everyday. The things we do everyday are worship, then we would spend our time focused on God rather than our own agenda, preferences and comforts. If we come to church on a Sunday morning, or anytime, and we say that we are here to worship God, if that is truly our intent, that will happen regardless of what happens at church that day. God is so big, He is so mighty and powerful, that just stopping to think about Him should lead us to worship. When we understand that we how big God is then every thing else, all of the problems and challenges of the day simply fades away. The reason this is important is because this level of love and devotion is what Israel was lacking. Their agenda’s became a false God, and God sent them into exile.
So as we begin to look at the scriptures today, where are we? Well the good news is that even when God sends us into exile He makes a plan on how to get us out. Remember we looked at it last week, before Israel went into exile the Lord had already called the name of Cyrus as the one who would begin the process of shepherding them out. They were sent into exile with a vision of freedom. For our church there is a vision, a vision of a place where we don’t expect people to be civil to us, but a place where love is the standard. A place people want to come back to and be a part of because God is here and so is His love, you can see it in the things that we say and the way that we treat each other.
No matter where we are, we have to keep vision in front of us. Vision is the engine that moves us beyond our challenges and into revival. We are going to have challenges in life, in fact one of the major themes of the book of Nehemiah is how the people overcame their challenges and saw God fulfill what He promised. It is the vision of what God has promised to do that gives us the power to get through the challenges that we face today.
Notice also the name of Nehemiah, you understand that often when you study the books of the Old Testament people, events and places are not just historical they also serve as a type, they often represent a concept that God is trying to teach us. Understand how important a vision from God is, it is the hope and comfort to get us through dark times. Realizing the Nehemiah is a book about the fulfillment of God’s vision, look at the meaning of Nehemiah’s name, it means the Lord’s comfort. In Nehemiah the people found not just a leader to follow, but the comfort of God’s vision and leadership.
They had a lot that they needed comforted from. They had been sent into exile, their nation, city, and temple had all been destroyed. But now they were back with a charge to rebuild the city. But this process, because of their fear and their lack of vision was taking longer then it should have. Do you realize that this return had three stages? When the kings of Persia decided to restore these people, they couldn’t get rid of them. They sent one group back, they basically did nothing, they sent a second group back, they moved into the city, a city with broken walls and no defense, they laid the foundation of a temple, but then in fear they abandoned the work. They started with a vision of a rebuilt city, with strong walls and the worship of God at its center, but then they took their eyes off of the vision and put it on the enemies around them and they couldn’t see their vision anymore.
The loss of vision is one of the greatest losses that the people of God can suffer because our God is a God of vision. Listen to what He says. “Declaring the end form the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure, calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.” Isaiah 46:10-11. Yes God moves in powerful and mighty ways, but He also works in subtle ways, in ways that take planning, that we would consider to be far in advance. Think about it, before Cyrus was even born God was laying plans that would shape him into a ruler who would look at the people of a broke nation and want to restore them. The Bible doesn’t tell us that Cyrus had a vision, it doesn’t record a single word that God said to Cyrus, he was just willing to restore a broken people in answer to a request. God had prepared him.