Summary: An unlikely hero teaches us that, as ordinary as we are, our wall can and must be built!
Pt. 2 – Control Freaks
Last week we began our discussion based on the account of Nehemiah. You will remember that Nehemiah has probably lived in captivity all of his life. He has risen to the position of cup bearer for the king (this teaches us a free lesson that in spite of how deplorable our conditions or environment may be as Children of God we can still thrive, serve and flourish . . . conditions/environment are no valid excuses for lack of service). A group of men show up from his home town (Jerusalem) and they report that things are bad. The people are living in poverty and the protecting wall that is supposed to keep them safe from their enemies is in absolute ruins. Nehemiah is shaken by the news. So we began our discussion by talking about some building blocks we need in our lives. We need to build our compassion! What will move you beyond tears? What will cause you to get up, shake off apathy, move outside your comfort zone and begin to take action? Then we talked about the building block of God's Word. God keeps His Word . . . both curses and promises. How we live determines which we tap into. So we should be great repenters. Then we talked about those that are used by God are those that have building blocks of availability and prayerability. Nehemiah was a man of prayer. So let's continue by going into Nehemiah 2 and see what we can learn about building a wall of God's favor around our lives!
1-2 It was the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king. At the hour for serving wine I brought it in and gave it to the king. I had never been hangdog in his presence before, so he asked me, "Why the long face? You're not sick are you? Or are you depressed?" 2-3 That made me all the more agitated. I said, "Long live the king! And why shouldn't I be depressed when the city, the city where all my family is buried, is in ruins and the city gates have been reduced to cinders?"
4-5 The king then asked me, "So what do you want?" Praying under my breath to the God-of-Heaven, I said, "If it please the king, and if the king thinks well of me, send me to Judah, to the city where my family is buried, so that I can rebuild it."
6 The king, with the queen sitting alongside him, said, "How long will your work take and when would you expect to return?" I gave him a time, and the king gave his approval to send me.
7-8 Then I said, "If it please the king, provide me with letters to the governors across the Euphrates that authorize my travel through to Judah; and also an order to Asaph, keeper of the king's forest, to supply me with timber for the beams of The Temple fortress, the wall of the city, and the house where I'll be living."
8-9 The generous hand of my God was with me in this and the king gave them to me. When I met the governors across The River (the Euphrates) I showed them the king's letters. The king even sent along a cavalry escort.
10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very upset, angry that anyone would come to look after the interests of the People of Israel.
11-12 And so I arrived in Jerusalem. After I had been there three days, I got up in the middle of the night, I and a few men who were with me. I hadn't told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. The only animal with us was the one I was riding.
13-16 Under cover of night I went past the Valley Gate toward the Dragon's Fountain to the Dung Gate looking over the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken through and whose gates had been burned up. I then crossed to the Fountain Gate and headed for the King's Pool but there wasn't enough room for the donkey I was riding to get through. So I went up the valley in the dark continuing my inspection of the wall. I came back in through the Valley Gate. The local officials had no idea where I'd gone or what I was doing—I hadn't breathed a word to the Jews, priests, nobles, local officials, or anyone else who would be working on the job.
17-18 Then I gave them my report: "Face it: we're in a bad way here. Jerusalem is a wreck; its gates are burned up. Come—let's build the wall of Jerusalem and not live with this disgrace any longer." I told them how God was supporting me and how the king was backing me up. They said, "We're with you. Let's get started." They rolled up their sleeves, ready for the good work.