Summary: An unlikely hero teaches us that, as ordinary as we are, our wall can and must be built!
Pt. 1 – Building Blocks
1-2The memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. It was the month of Kislev in the twentieth year. At the time I was in the palace complex at Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, had just arrived from Judah with some fellow Jews. I asked them about the conditions among the Jews there who had survived the exile, and about Jerusalem.
3 They told me, "The exile survivors who are left there in the province are in bad shape. Conditions are appalling. The wall of Jerusalem is still rubble; the city gates are still cinders."
4 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. I mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God-of-Heaven.
5-6 I said, "GOD, God-of-Heaven, the great and awesome God, loyal to his covenant and faithful to those who love him and obey his commands: Look at me, listen to me. Pay attention to this prayer of your servant that I'm praying day and night in intercession for your servants, the People of Israel, confessing the sins of the People of Israel. And I'm including myself, I and my ancestors, among those who have sinned against you.
7-9 "We've treated you like dirt: We haven't done what you told us, haven't followed your commands, and haven't respected the decisions you gave to Moses your servant. All the same, remember the warning you posted to your servant Moses: 'If you betray me, I'll scatter you to the four winds, but if you come back to me and do what I tell you, I'll gather up all these scattered peoples from wherever they ended up and put them back in the place I chose to mark with my Name.'
10-11 "Well, there they are—your servants, your people whom you so powerfully and impressively redeemed. O Master, listen to me, listen to your servant's prayer—and yes, to all your servants who delight in honoring you—and make me successful today so that I get what I want from the king."
I was cupbearer to the king.
I don’t normally spend a great deal of time giving you historical background before jumping into a text. However, as we start this New Year with the concept that God is calling each of us to step up and accomplish great things this year I do fill the need to give you a little historical perspective of the account we will be examining over the coming weeks.
We are going to be reading the account of Nehemiah. To understand the account you must understand that in the year of 445 BC Nehemiah was a captive. The Jews have fallen into captivity to Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar. Nehemiah was probably born into captivity and lives under the rule of King Artaxerxes. It was under this king that Nehemiah rises to the position of cup bearer which we will talk about in more detail. The Israelites are slaves and captives. Some of the Jews have returned back to their homeland. Although they are home they are living in poverty and the capital city of Jerusalem is in ruins. The wall that is essential for protection, signifies the covering of God, and elevates their status in the eyes of their neighbors and enemies is nothing more than rubble. It is against this backdrop that we begin to learn!
III. Building Blocks
A. What will move you . . . beyond tears?
Here is the situation . . . Nehemiah is 1000 miles away from Jerusalem and although a captive living comfortable in a cush palace, making a great paycheck (how else could he afford to later feed 150 people a day without no allocation from the regional governor?), minding his own business. He has his New Year’s resolutions in hand. Working the 9 to 5 trying to make his own way. Bothering nobody. Hoping to fly under the radar this year. Then he gets word of the condition of his home town (1000 miles away) and the Bible says because he felt so bad he wrote a check to appease his conscious. The Bible says he moped for a few minutes and then moved on to the ball games, dating games, work games. The Bible says he simply turned the channel so he could forget! No!! The Bible says he sat down and wept. He mourned for days. He fasted. The news rocked Him to the core of his emotions and his spirit! But it went further than that! He then got up and did something about it!
What moves you beyond tears? What will grab your heart and squeeze you to feel again this year? What will move you to think beyond you this year? But more importantly what will move you to take action? We can manipulate to cry and to feel, but it doesn’t cause any real change until we get up and do something about it!