To review, Jerusalem and the Temple had been destroyed and the Israelites taken into Bablonian captivity. They felt lost without their Temple, as God’s presence had been there. Finally the Israelites were released from captivity. Over time, three groups were led back to Jerusalem and the Temple rebuilt. Not all Israelites returned, though. Some had been born in captivity and raised in other lands and were comfortable in their lives. Others held onto to their religious heritage, but remained where they were. Nehemiah was in that category.
Although Nehemiah did not immediately return to be with the Israelites, his heart was with them. It grieved him to learn that the city was being rebuilt, but that the city wall was still in ruins, leaving the city and its people very vulnerable to enemies and future attacks. He felt called to return to his city and his people to restore the city wall.
Restoring the wall was a HUGE undertaking! It was certainl not something one man could do on his own! The Book of Nehemiah chronicles his calling, his methods, and his efforts, challenges and successes. It also illustrates how Nehemiah made God his prayer partner, taking everything to God in prayer and trusting in Him to help him see the project through.
In Chapter 4, Nehemiah is faced by his enemies. Sanballot, governor of Samaria (region north of Jerusalem) and Tobiah, and Ammonite, mocked and scorned Nehemiah and the people of Jersulem for the rebuilding of the wall. Enemies will often try to discourage our efforts when we threaten their evil ways or pose a threat to their plans. Nehemiah knew what to do, though. Instead of firing back with his own insults or furthering tensions between the Israelites and Samarians, he went to God in prayer. And this is what he prayed:
Nehemiah 4:4-5 “Hear us, O our God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back on their own heads, and may they themselves become captives ina foreign land! Do no ignore their guilt. Do not blot out their sins, for they have provoked you to anger here in the presence of the builders.”
Wow. What a prayerfully disciplined man he was! He was mocked and insulted in front of those he was leading in the building project. Instead of defending himself to maintain his pride and dignity or firing back at his enemies, he gave the situation to God. He did not pray out of spite asking for bad things to happen to these men. Instead, HE TRUSTED GOD to give them the justice they deserved.
In verse 6, Nehemiah continues by stating that the wall was finally completed to half of its original height because the people of the city had worked very hard. This infuriated the enemies! They announced their plans to fight against the city and bring about confusion. Remember, when the enemy feels threatened, he strike out. Nehemiah knew the best defense was a good offense and went to God in prayer. Then the city people guarded the city day and night.
Prayer is necessary, but prayer alone won’t take care of our problems. We begin with prayer and then must follow up with God-led actions as Nehemiah did. He immediately organized a schedule of guards, moved all the people inside the wall, and the guards carried weapons 24/7. They also started working even harder to complete the rebuilding of the wall.
Jumping ahead to Chapter 6, we learn that on October 2nd, just 52 days after building began, the wall was finally finished! This is an amazing feat. Men and women stacked stones and built heavy gates, all by hand, eventually working day and night – building and keeping guard – until their city wall was complete in less than two months! This was only possible because Nehemiah, as their leader, sought God’s blessing and help in all that they did. And he gave all the glory to God, acknowledging Him every step of the way.
Although I originally intended to walk us through the entire Book of Nehemiah, I will bring our ‘study’ to a close here. I hope you will remember Nehemiah when you face challenges, begin new projects, and feel callings on your heart to proceed in new directions. He prayed, prayed, prayed every step of the way. And if you recall, even though he felt called to help the city of Jersualem, it was months before he began as he waited upon the Lord for the right timing to do so. He didn’t hang back thinking about all the reasons why he shouldn’t take on this project, and his writings don’t indicate that he never felt the job was impossible. He put his total trust in the Lord and followed His guidance. In return, God lifted him, enabled him, provided for him, and even protected him. And because Nehemiah gave glory to God and publicly and witnessed through his words and deeds to those assisting him, God showed himself in awesome ways to the Israelites as he enabled them to work together and complete the wall in such a short time.
There is much more to this story and I hope you will read Nehemiah for yourself, taking note of all the prayers he prayed to God. And when you do, take a moment to think about how you might react in those same situations.
My Bible (Life Application, NLT) gives a summary of situations Nehemiah faced and how he dealt with them through prayer. I’ll share a little about that with you:
1:4-11 Recognized God’s holiness. Asked for a hearing. Confessed his sins. Asked for specific help.
2:4 “Here’s where you can help, God!”
4:4-5 “They’re mocking you, God. You decide what to do with them.”
4:9 “We are in your hands, God. We’ll keep our weapons handy in case you want us to use them.”
6:9 “O, Lord God, please strengthen me.”
13:29 Asked God to deal with the enemies and their evil plans.
5:19; 13:14; 22, 31 Reflecting on his own efforts to serve God: “Remember me, God.”
Let’s all remember Nehemiah and try to be more like him.
Dear Lord, Just as Nehemiah sought to serve and glorify You, I do the same. And I pray that this little study we’ve done on this site will help and inspire others as it has me; that we may each strive to be more like Nehemiah, remembering You always with our prayers and putting our trust in You in all that we do. In Your holy name I pray, Amen.
For previous ‘lessons’ about the story of Nehemiah, please scroll down to my previous posts.
Your thoughts about the study of Nehemiah or other posts on this site are always welcome! Please share them with us! We can always learn from each other. To respond, just click on the word ‘comments’ below the title of the post to which you are responding.
Blessings to all,