Nehemiah: building a leader who rebuilds Jerusalem

Luke 10 2

Meet Nehemiah. He was instrumental in rebuilding Jerusalem in the fifth century B.C. (following the Babylonian exile). That seems like a monumental task…rebuilding an entire city, and saving its residents. What qualifications did Nehemiah have to do this? Was he a civil engineer, independently wealthy, a great prophet? No. Nehemiah was none of those; he was a cupbearer to king of Persia. He served drinks.

Nehemiah believed that God had a purpose for him, to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and restore its people to God. To prepare for his purpose, Nehemiah mourned, fasted, and prayed. “I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1).

In his prayer Nehemiah admits his failures, weaknesses, and sin: “We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.” (Nehemiah 1:7). Nehemiah was just like you and me. He was a sinner.

As a cupbearer, though, the king trusted Nehemiah because plots to poison the king and overthrow the government were common. That trust gave Nehemiah the opportunity to speak to the king directly and ask favors of him.

Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” (Nehemiah 2:2) The king noticed Nehemiah’s sadness because, as Nehemiah explains, he had never shown sadness before when serving the king. Nehemiah explains about the sad state of affairs in Judah. “Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” (Nehemiah 2:3)

After hearing about the sad state of affairs in Judah, Nehemiah acquired the king’s permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and its fortifications. The king wrote letters and sent them with Nehemiah to ensure his safe passage and to allow Nehemiah to take timber from the king’s forest for the gates and walls of Jerusalem.  (Adapted from Bible History Daily)

Nehemiah had security. He worked for the king. He was comfortable, well liked, and trusted. Nehemiah could have taken the easy way out and left rebuilding the city to someone else. Maybe someone more qualified, or someone local…why him? Because he felt led, and after praying about it he felt empowered. Nehemiah walked by faith, recognized his purpose, and prayed. His prayers were answered with the blessing of provision and providence.

What is God calling you to do? What does the small, still voice of God whisper to you? Maybe you aren’t called to rebuild an actual city, like Nehemiah was, but is God calling you to do something that you may have pushed aside thinking that someone more qualified than you, or more prepared than you, should do? Have you been inclined to take the easy way out, or been left feeling insecure because you think others might be more “spiritual” that you are? Are there relationships that you feel led to restore? Or loved ones that you feel led to reach out about God? Don’t wait thinking that someone else more qualified should do it and recline in your own comfort…Nehemiah was a sinner who served drinks for a living- and he rebuilt Jerusalem.

Do you think Nehemiah was received with open arms by those in the fallen city? Do you think they all rallied behind him and helped? Check back tomorrow to read about Nehemiah’s road trip and reception.

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