Summary: In this sermon, we see how Nehemiah helped the exiles begin rebuilding the walls, and we learn how to begin rebuilding out lives.
A. The story is told of a company who felt like it was time for a shake-up, so they hired a new CEO.
1. This new boss was determined to rid the company of all slackers.
2. On a tour of the facilities, the new CEO noticed a guy leaning on a wall.
3. The room was full of workers and he thought to himself, “This is my chance to show everyone that I mean business!”
4. So the CEO walked up to the guy leaning against the wall and asked, “And how much money do you make a week?”
5. Undaunted, the young fellow replied, “I make $200.00 a week. Why?”
6. The CEO then handed the guy $200 in cash and sternly said, “Here's a week’s pay, now GET OUT and don't come back! You’re Fired!”
7. Feeling pretty good about his first firing, the CEO looked around the room and asked, “Does anyone want to tell me what that slacker I just fired did here?”
8. One of the workers timidly replied: “He's the pizza delivery guy.”
B. An effective leader needs to be much more careful with their actions than that new CEO was.
1. That is especially true when the leader is the new guy in town.
2. In our story for today from the book of Nehemiah, we are going to look to see how Nehemiah conducted himself as the new leader in town.
C. Let’s review for just a minute:
1. As you know, for many years the Jews disobeyed God and so God handed them over to a pagan nation and they were taken into exile.
2. After 70 years of captivity, King Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jews to return and rebuild Jerusalem, their homeland.
3. But now about 100 years later, the walls of Jerusalem are still in ruins and that broke Nehemiah’s heart.
4. If you have been here the last two weeks, then you know that Nehemiah is cupbearer to King Artaxerxes and that he took to prayer and fasting to prepare himself to speak to the king about this matter.
D. Had I had wanted to, I could have covered all of chapter 2 in one sermon, but I felt like the chapter was so rich with application, that it needed two sermons so we could focus on applying the lessons to our lives.
1. Chapter 2 falls nicely into 4 sections and each section can be represented by words beginning with a P: permission, prospecting, promotion, and promise (we, preachers, love alliteration).
2. Last week we looked at section 1 and that’s where Nehemiah got permission from the king to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls.
3. Today, Lord willing, we will cover the other 3 sections.
4. With our time remaining, I want us to work through the text and make applications as we go.
5. Then at the end, I want us to step back and draw a few lessons about rebuilding, because sometimes everything in our lives ends up in ruins – our marriages, our homes, or our church – when that happens, we must rebuild.
I. The Story
1. Today our story begins in chapter 2, verse 9: 9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king's letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me. 10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.
a. Just like with the journeys of Zerubbabel and Ezra before him, nothing is reported about Nehemiah’s journey, only that he arrived.
b. Now try to imagine the entourage that was with Nehemiah – he was accompanied by army officers and cavalry.
1. There was more than protection to be gained from the military escort – it meant arrival in style, impressively reinforcing his credentials to the neighboring governors, and it also signaled a change in royal policy.
2. King Artaxerxes had earlier ordered the work on Jerusalem’s walls to be stopped, but Nehemiah carried with him evidence that that policy was officially being reversed.
3. You will recall that when Ezra received permission to return to the land, he wanted to ask the king for protection, but he had been so eloquent in telling the king how God would take care of him, that he was ashamed to ask for an escort.
4. Nehemiah had not made similar boasts, and he was a government official and felt he had the right to ask for military protection.
c. In verse 10, we are introduced to Sanballat and Tobiah – these two men will cast a long shadow over this story.
1. Both of these men were people of influence and power, and later they will be joined by Geshem.