Text: Nehemiah 1-3
We are introduced to the cupbearer for the Persian king, Artaxerxes: Nehemiah, who is burdened by the report about the Jewish remnant back in Jerusalem. Nehemiah had learned that there was trouble and disgrace because of the broken and burnt walls and gates of the city. In mourning, Nehemiah prayed and fasted, petitioning God to hear his cry, to forgive the sins of the Israelites and to remember his promises to Moses, that if the people return to Him, He will gather them from exile and bring them back to “the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name”. Furthermore, Nehemiah prayed for favor from the king of Persia.
Later, when Nehemiah was serving the king wine, the king happened to notice and inquire about Nehemiah’s state of grief. Though he is afraid, Nehemiah tells the king about Jerusalem’s disgrace. The king responds to Nehemiah’s saddened heart by asking Nehemiah what he wants. After sending up a quick prayer, Nehemiah boldly asks the king to send him to Judah with the resources needed to rebuild the walls and gates of the city. Because God’s grace was on Nehemiah, the king granted his request.
Nehemiah makes the journey to Jerusalem and under the cloak of darkness, he examines the perimeter of the city. Afterwards, he tells the Jews, the priests, the nobles and officials about his mission and they agree to start building. Chapter 3 describes who helped rebuild which gates and sections of the wall.
Let’s zoom out and take a big picture look at this historical account:
Nehemiah experiences a heartfelt burden for a need he becomes aware of. He takes this need to the Lord through prayer and fasting and recalls the promises of God available to him and the people of Israel. He also asks for favourable circumstances. When an opportune moment arises, Nehemiah acts courageously and with boldness to make the need known to someone who could help the situation. He is granted favour and he, himself leads the effort to remedy the situation.
The author of Hebrews invites us to boldly, with confidence, approach God’s throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Nehemiah’s life is a great model of this. Not only does he put faith in God’s mercy and grace to help him, he makes himself personally available to the Lord to be the solution to the problem he is grieved about. In this way, God uses Nehemiah as a vessel to bring restoration to Judah.
Have you ever considered that the issues that grieve, bother or annoy you may carry with them the opportunity to influence positive change? How might you follow Nehemiah’s example in approaching God’s throne of mercy and grace? Are you an available vessel to God that he might use you to bring His presence and His will into the dark places that need His light?
Lord, thank you for the many promises available to me in your Word. Help me to look at difficult circumstances with faith and help me to recognize the opportune moments you provide. Help me to consider how you want to use me to influence and change the negative situations that burden my heart.
Lord, Prepare Me by Timothy Reddick
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.