Summary: A Godly leader must have a heart for the work of God. When God’s work is suffering reproach, it directly reflects upon God’s reputation.
When God’s People Are Afflicted
Preached Wednesday, November 27, 2002
When God’s people suffer affliction and reproach by the hand of Satan, it is God Himself whose reputation is smudged. The elect of God are called to victory over dark forces. They have been predestined by the foreknowledge of Almighty God to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is a tragic thing when Christians endure the scourge that results from compromise, carnality, and sin.
Tonight we will launch our study of the book of Nehemiah, a narrative about a man that had the character of a great leader. We will learn some things about Nehemiah that will equip us as Christians to develop the character that we need to be used to lead others as God would have us.
Our passage opens with Nehemiah serving as a cupbearer in the palace of a foreign king. The people of Jerusalem had been taken captive and most were living in a foreign land. The book opens as Nehemiah inquires about the state of the holy city of Jerusalem and the remnant of Jews that were allowed to remain in the Promised Land. Tonight we will get a good picture of the heart of a true godly leader when he sees that God’s people suffer reproach.
I. A godly leader cares about God’s glory
Nehemiah 1:1-3 - The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, 2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.
A. Care enough to ask
B. Care enough to recognize the problem
1. When God’s people suffer:
a. Affliction = to be broken or crushed
b. Reproach = disgrace/discredit
è These are the people through whom God had chosen to demonstrate His great power. Now they were broken and disgraced
2. When God’s work (the city of God) suffers
II. A godly leader is greatly affected when God’s people suffer reproach
Nehemiah 1:4 - And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
A. Sat down, weakened by devastation
B. Wept = shed tears
C. Mourned = deep-felt grief behind the tears
D. Fasted – he was moved enough to break normal routine
è All this was done for days
III. A godly leader knows how to pray
A. Acknowledges God’s greatness
Nehemiah 1:5 - And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:
1. Magnify His name
2. Terrible = awesome
B. Pleads for God’s attention
Nehemiah 1:6 - Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.
C. Confesses sin
Nehemiah 1:7 - We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.
D. Recites God’s promises back to Him
Nehemiah 1:8-9 - 8 Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: 9 But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.
E. Directly applies those promises to the current situation
Nehemiah 1:10-11 - 10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand. 11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.