Summary: This sermon was part of a series I preached on Nehemiah’s one holy passion, the glory of God.
One Holy Passion
February 25, 2001
¡§The Vision Thing¡¨
¡§He was born in the summer of his twenty-seventh year, coming home to a place he¡¦d never been before.¡¨ That was how John Denver described his feeling as he saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time. Karen and I had the joy of living for two years in Colorado, one of the most beautiful places in this country. I understand Denver getting a ¡§Rocky Mountain High!¡¨ Nehemiah, in chapter 2:11-20, after hearing of the plight of his people, after much prayer and weeping, and after seeing the hand of God move mightily in changing the heart of a pagan king, comes home to a place he¡¦d never been before. Let¡¦s read about it! (Prayer and Scripture)
George Bush, that is, the first George Bush, for whatever strengths he possessed, admitted that he struggled with what he called ¡§the vision thing¡¨. When I think of vision as found in a person of God as recorded in God¡¦s Word, one of the first people I think of is this man Nehemiah. I want to explore some truths we find about vision in the latter half of Nehemiah 2 today. Let¡¦s set the stage first.
The journey from Susa to Jerusalem took about 4 months in those days. The traveler would awaken at the crack of dawn ready to begin travel as early as possible so as to escape the most intense of the sun¡¦s rays. In a typical day, Nehemiah would likely travel a distance about as far as separates Mercer from Grove City; wonder what Nehemiah would have given for a Chevy and an interstate highway! The terrain was inhospitable to boot; he didn¡¦t travel through green meadows! And so it is quite understandable that Nehemiah checked into the Jerusalem Hilton and spent three days by the pool as is recorded in verse 11 (more or less!). His would not be an easy task and he knew it; it was likely to be an arduous work, and he needed to replenish his physical resources before plunging in. There is a lesson there for us, by the way; it¡¦s a lesson I personally need to take to heart, as do many of us: we need to take care of our bodies, the ¡§temples of God¡¨, as Paul calls them.
So we come to verse 12 with a rested Nehemiah, eight months after becoming aware of the situation in Jerusalem, ready to begin to fulfill the vision that God had placed in his heart regarding Jerusalem. Let¡¦s notice some valuable truths about vision!
I. Vision Comes from God - :12
Nehemiah says that he doesn¡¦t tell anyone else ¡§what God was putting into my mind.¡¨ This is not some concoction from his own mind; Nehemiah clearly signals to us that it is God who provides the impetus for Nehemiah¡¦s incredible vision. ¡§Lord, I want to know your vision¡¨ is the song we sing. That is exactly what we ought to be praying; it is what Nehemiah had. God was the One who was working in Nehemiah¡¦s heart and mind to show him the work He had for Nehemiah to do.
You know what I want for FCC? I want to find out what God is doing, and then find out how He wants us to cooperate with Him in the doing of it! I want to be tuned into the heart and mind of God; I want to be open to His leading and His wisdom. I want to dream the dream that God gives us, not a vision arrived at by committee consensus or denominational directive or peer pressure or ecumenical expectations. I believe that a vision that comes from God will always be in line with God¡¦s Word; will require faith and commitment to see accomplished; and will bring glory to God¡¦s Name. God, give us that vision!
II. Vision Does its homework - :13-16
Here is the other side of the equation! While a vision comes from God, it takes circumstances and situations into account. I believe that God often uses many instruments to shape the vision that He has for us. How does this work out in Nehemiah¡¦s life?
Nehemiah goes out at night to inspect the city, so as not to arouse suspicion. ¡§Why is this guy here from Persia scoping out the town?¡¨ He wanted to do the job the right way, even including the way that he announced the project to the people. He took the time to initiate himself to the situation. You can imagine people saying, ¡§You¡¦re the new kid in town, Nehemiah; what do you really know about our circumstances?¡¨ And had he tossed out half-baked ideas to every Tom, Dick, and Zecheriah, he could easily have been discredited right from the start.