When the servant Nehemiah heard that the wall of Jerusalem was broken and that its gates had all been burned he wept, mourned, fasted and prayed. “Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night … I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family.” Nehemiah prayed for the forgiveness of his nation’s sins, and for the generational sins of his ancestors, all the way back to Adam. (Neh 1:5-11) Nehemiah’s model prayer teaches us how to pray effectively.
The book of Nehemiah has many lessons about relationships, and leadership. His friendship between the king of Persia is evidenced in how Artaxerxes recognized that Nehemiah’s face was downcast. “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill?” With hesitation Nehemiah replied “I was very much afraid” Afraid perhaps of the king’s power to expel him from his honored palace position, or banish him.
INSIGHT: A person who displays great courage does NOT mean there was NO fear. But in spite of their fears; Noah, Abraham, Nehemiah, and Joshua trusted God and boldly spoke the truth.
When the king asked what do you need, Nehemiah asked for time off and a letter to secure safety. The king asked when he would return and Nehemiah gave him a deadline! Nehemiah had a plan and he trusted in God to “rebuild the temple” in record time. The temple wall was rebuilt in 52 days!
Nehemiah prayed that God remember His promises to Moses. “even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.”
INSIGHT: God will gather you and me back to Himself, He will restore us, as a dwelling for His Name, Jesus. No matter how far off we have drifted, when we repent, our relationship with our Holy God is restored and He dwells within us as the Holy Spirit! Through the prayer of Nehemiah, God was moved to show mercy and restore His people.
After experiencing the blessing of being freed from slavery and living in their own homes, the people assembled as one man (the body of Christ) told Ezra that they wanted to know the God who provided so richly for them. (Neh 8) The people gathered together fasting, wearing sackcloth as they confessed their sins and the generational sins of their fathers. For a fourth of the day they read the Book of Law and spent another fourth of the day in confession and worship. “Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are Lord.” (Neh 9:5)
As a courageous reformer, Nehemiah was full of compassion. His heart for the things of God compelled his choice to leave a life of luxury (like Moses) for a life of hard work and danger. As believers, our names are listed in the Book of Life, just as the book of Nehemiah honors each name and the gifts of all residents. As we abide in Him, the resident of our soul, the Holy Spirit equips us with specific gifts.
As the leader, Nehemiah recognized the talents of all the workers and specifically what they contributed. He greeted them by name, and he mentioned where they were from to honor them.
INSIGHT: We cause unity when we build our relationships by honoring the gifts of others. Our Father coaches us to see what He sees in others. Therefore, let us seek to listen with our hearts that we may speak appropriate words of encouragement to one another. Seek and ye shall find, AMEN! All who accept Jesus as Lord lead others by our example, at home, in the mission field or in the workplace. All workers need to be encouraged so that they do not grow weary in doing good works. As believers, our focus is changed from ourselves to others. As we become more like Jesus, we acknowledge all the cloud of witnesses before us, and those who inspire us today.
The book of Nehemiah is a great leadership book. By the rebuilding of the Temple and the Gates, God reopened the door of fellowship with Himself. After 70 years of suffering from living in their losing way, the people of God were ready to return to the Lord, and with His help, rebuild and wait until He, the true Servant Jesus, returns!
Throughout the entire Holy Bible, the Spirit of God prophesied beginning in Genesis 49:10 – Isaiah 11:12 – Isaiah 40:9 – Jeremiah 23:5-6 – Micah 5:2 that the Redeemer would be associated with Judah. Looking back, we get to witness the restoration of God’s people. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher and He will give us understanding of God’s complete Word in “the fullness of the time” and Christ will come again. “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations…” Revelation 2:26
As we trek quickly through the entire Holy Bible from Genesis to Nehemiah, look for how Jesus is portrayed in each book. Genesis, Jesus is our Creator with God the Father. Exodus, Jesus Christ is portrayed as our Passover Lamb. Leviticus, Jesus is our Sacrifice for sin. Numbers, Jesus is our Lifted up One. Deuteronomy, Jesus is our true Prophet. Joshua, Jesus is the Captain of our salvation. Judges, Jesus is our Deliverer-Judge. Ruth, Jesus is our Kinsman-Redeemer. 1st & 2nd Samuel, Jesus is our King. In the books of Kings and Chronicles, Jesus is our King. In both the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Jesus is our Restorer.
As God was preparing the people of the world for the coming Christ, the accounts of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ezekiel and Daniel report that restoration of God’s chosen people occurred under Persian kings. Think about the following characters in the Bible so far. Adam, was never born, never had a birthday, he was perfect physically, and he gave every animal a name. Enoch, a Godly man who lived in one of the most wicked generations. He was the only man in 3,000 years who did not die. Enoch walked into heaven. Noah, was radiant with righteousness. Without fear or worry about what others thought of him, he built a huge vessel in the middle of a desert. During a time of great moral decay, Noah saved his family of seven by his faith in God. He built a huge ship miles from water. Noah did not launch the ark, but the sea came to him. Noah had sons who are the fathers of the nations of the world. Abraham, left a beautiful home to live in a tent for 100 years. Abe was called ‘a friend of God’ and he was the father of a great nation. Angels visited with him and he fathered a son when he was 100 years old. Joshua, believed God when nobody else did. He was a freed slave from Egypt and he grew up in the wilderness walking in shoes that never wore out. Joshua became a great general who used trumpets instead of bombs and priests instead of trained soldiers to conquer and destroy Jericho. Moses, was an adopted Jewish child who was raised in a Egyptian palace. Moses somehow identified with the poor rather than with the rulers he grew up with. He escaped the death threats from Pharaoh. After living in the desert for 40 years, Noah was chosen by God to lead 3 million people out of Egypt. He led slaves through a sea that parted. The slaves were enabled to take treasures with them and they were fed heavenly food that dropped from the sky. He spoke with God and he died an unknown death, and was buried by no man.
NOTE: The events in the next book of Esther occurred 30 years before Nehemiah. The Bible patriarchs are Abraham, his son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob. (Jacob was also named Israel, the ancestor of the Israelites).
Copyright © 2019 by Barbara Alley Hoyle.
All rights reserved. one 4/17/19