Jul 15 — Nehemiah 1-2

Neh 1 — Nehemiah’s Prayer
Neh 2 — Nehemiah Sent to Judah and Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls

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One Reply to “Jul 15 — Nehemiah 1-2”

  1. Nehemiah, one of my favorite stories in the Bible, documents the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem when the exiled remnant return. While Ezra is focused on the temple and sacrifices, Nehemiah hears about the walls (or lack thereof) and is stirred into action. He mourns for Jerusalem from Susa (quite far apart) and prays to God for forgiveness on behalf of all Israelites. “I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you” (Nehemiah 1:6). We have sinned. Nehemiah asks God for his favor and appears extremely sad before the king (doing his job as cupbearer). The king noticed Nehemiah, that alone is somewhat of a miracle, and asks Nehemiah “What is it you want?” (2:4). Nehemiah’s answer comes after praying to God. His response was not trivial and came with a guarantee he would return to the king’s court. It seems to me Nehemiah heard not only about the wall, but also about the trouble the governors of Trans-Euphrates were causing, so he asks for letters to cover his journey as well as his task. He gives God the honor in response, “And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests” (2:8).

    The journey now begins. Nehemiah goes to Jerusalem. He doesn’t tell anyone why he’s there. I suppose because he’s from the king’s court, no one is comfortable asking him any questions, after all, he showed up with a protective guard, so let’s not stir up trouble! For three days he hangs out, probably observing who was doing what, praying and developing plans. He goes out at night to inspect the walls. As reported, they are in great need of repair. After his inspection he says to the Jewish officials, “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…” (2:17). The king’s man has spoken, that would be enough to get their attention, but Nehemiah wants to make sure they understand who has commanded this task, so he told them “about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me” (2:18). That got their attention and they prepared to rebuild the wall. Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem (officials from the area surrounding Jerusalem) mocked and ridiculed them, later they would conspire to undermine the work. Nehemiah lets them know, “you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it” (2:20).

    Nehemiah is patient and careful to watch his steps, always seeking God first. In our daily lives, there is much work to be done for the church in many ways. Some will mock us, some will simply ignore our efforts, but if we seek to do God’s work, though it may be difficult, we will have success. Lord help me to seek you first in all things and be willing to go about doing your work!

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