The name Nehemiah means “The Lord Comforts”. He is a common man in a unique position. He is the cupbearer to the Persian King Artaxerxes. A cupbearer sounds terrible “taste this and see if it is poisonous” as a job, it brought many comforts. He traveled with the King and lived a very comfortable life. Nehemiah was born during the captivity and had never seen the original temple.
He is a man of character, persistence, and prayer. He is a planner and a motivator. He is not a man to say “You should build a wall”. He says “Let US build a wall”. Teamwork makes the dream work! The beginning of Nehemiah begins in Susa (sound familiar?? Esther!). The Persian Kings built homes to “holiday” for the winter months. I guess like Florida to us.
Chapter 1: We begin in late Fall 445 BC. He inquires about the progress of the rebuilding of the temple and he does not get an encouraging report.
“Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
He responds in fasting and prayer. Stop for a minute and read this: Nehemiah is referring to the warning given to Moses. Click here for Leviticus 26 recap. (It’s worth the read)
Chapter 2 is 4 months later! Oh the humanity…I want my prayers answered that day!
Nehemiah was sad before the King and requested to go to Jerusalem. This may not seem like a big deal to you but it carried the death penalty! People were only to be Pleased in front of the king. But like we have seen before from other pagan kings…The Lord controls their hearts when He needs to fulfill His purpose. Proverb 21:1 says:
In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water
that he channels toward all who please him.
The king asked him “how long will it take”. The Bible doesn’t record his answer (in my head Nehemiah said “as long as it takes sir”. But we do know that the trip takes 12 years. THEN (man, I love Nehemiah’s moxy!) he says….oh and while I am asking for favors even though I am not even a free man can I get some stuff from you!
- Can I get a letter so that my enemies will let me pass through the land?
- Oh, and can I get a letter to stop at the lumber yard and pick up some wood and put it on your tab?
- Last, can some of your army come and protect me on my travels?
Again…the Lord controls the hearts of kings!
Even though Nehemiah believed the report, he went out at night to inspect it.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.
Chapter 3- “Next to” note that it says this 16 times. They were a team.
Chapter 4-Opposition! (I do not need to make any personal application to this for you…why we stop moving forward at times when doing the Lord’s work) It’s not supposed to be easy-it’s supposed to be worth it!
1 Timothy 6:12 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
- Ridicule- Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”
- Discouragement: 10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”- Oh did you see that! They let the enemy wispered in thier ear and they believed it!
- Greed:(chapter 5:)10 I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let us stop charging interest! 11 Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”