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Last Sunday morning we looked at what likely led to Nehemiah’s trip to Jerusalem to lead the rebuilding effort on the walls of Jerusalem.
It was the complacency of the Jews that had returned.
They had been back in the land for 93 years, had rebuilt the Temple of God, built and established their own homes, yet the city was in many ways in shambles and their lives, families and homes were under constant threat by their surrounding enemies because the walls had yet to be rebuilt.
To use a common phrase from today’s vernacular, their philosophy seemed to be; “It is what it is”.
But just because “It is what it is” doesn’t mean it should remain that way.
Unfortunately they had become accustomed to the deplorable conditions they were living in and in some ways hardly noticed.
All this in spite of the fact that God had proven Himself worthy of their trust over and over again.
Somehow they had forgotten that God literally named Cyrus, King of Persia, over 150 years before he was even born, and not just named him, stated that he would be a king and allow the Nation of Judah to return to their home land.
They had forgotten how God had sustained them when they returned 93 years earlier, had protected them in that return as well as the return under Ezra around 80 years later, had provided them with everything they needed to rebuild the Temple of God, provided them with the utensils for the Temple....the list goes on and on of the many things God had accomplished for them over the years.
It was clear that the “Good Hand of their God was upon them”, yet they failed to carry through on the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.
We learned last week that:
Complacency Leads To Broken Walls & Burned Down Gates, and the truth is these broken walls and burned down gates are not limited to physical walls and gates.
Complacency also leads to broken marriages, to the destruction of families, to damaged relationships, crumbling churches and, if we are not careful, the demise of this Nation.
The Walls of Jerusalem should have been built decades earlier, long before Artaxerxes was on the scene, long before Nehemiah’s return.
But the Nation of Judah seemed content to live lives of complacency satisfied with the status quo.
Lastly, last week we were reminded of the fact that Nehemiah, like the individuals mentioned in Hebrews 11 were not superhuman’s.
They were ordinary sinners just like us.
Most had major flaws, but all had reached a point in time where they fully surrendered to the God of the Universe and yielded themselves to Him, and as a result of that surrender they all went on to be used of God to accomplish incredible things as God worked through them.
Since God was the one doing the work and these individuals were nothing more than tools in His Mighty Hands, we don’t have to wait for Nehemiah’s to come onto the scene before we attempt to do great things for God.
We closed out our time last week by being challenged to get on our knees before God in full surrender, asking God to direct us to accomplish huge things for His kingdom.
I trust we all took that challenge seriously and have spent some time this week continuing in that prayer and writing down the specific things as God directs us to record.
If you haven’t already, turn in your copies of God’s Word to the Book of Nehemiah 2:11-20.
It is on page 504 in the Pew Bibles.
As you are turning, let me just set the stage for where we are in the Book of Nehemiah.
At the beginning of Nehemiah, Nehemiah’s brother had returned from the City of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah anxiously asked his brother for an update on the condition of the city.
Most likely his expectation was to receive a good report.
Unfortunately he received the opposite, the walls had been torn down, the gates burned with fire and those living there were “in great trouble and shame”.
Immediately, a broken Nehemiah sat on the ground and “wept and mourned for days”.
Nehemiah was a man of God who’s heart was broken for his nation and his people.
He began to pray and seek the face of God for what to do next and before long God made it clear that Nehemiah was to do more than just pray, he was to be a part of the solution.
At this point Nehemiah may have been a bit confused as to what he might do.
He was 800 miles from Jerusalem, a white collar worker who probably didn’t know a single person in Jerusalem.
On top of that, as the cup bearer to the king, one of the kings most trusted advisors and closest friends, it was highly unlikely, if not impossible by human standards, for him to expect that the king would ever allow him to take an extended leave to go to Jerusalem.
Within a few days God gave Nehemiah a peace in his heart that he would be returning and that his job now was to wait on the Lord while continuing in his service to the king.
God would move the heart of the king and Nehemiah would clearly see God move the kings heart.
4 months later, 4 months of faithful service, 4 months of continual prayer, God moved the heart of the king in a miraculous way and soon Nehemiah was on his way back to Jerusalem, with the kings blessing, with letters from the king, with access to the kings forest for supply and a small army to accompany him on his journey.
With these things in mind, let’s read the passage.
Please stand for the reading of God’s Word.
One of the first things I notice in verse 11 is “So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days.”
What an interesting statement,“So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days.”
You have to wonder, what exactly did he do those 3 days.
In my impulsiveness I think I would have hit the ground running.
At this point in time it had been around 6 months since he received the bad report from his brother.
We learned earlier in chapter 2 that he had already penciled out a plan and now that he is in Jerusalem, why wait any longer.
Had I been in his sandals I’d have already been hunting down some brick layers, some carpenters and other workers to get this show on the road.
Not Nehemiah, he waits for 3 days before doing a thing.
What is he waiting for, I mean seriously, let’s go already.
But Nehemiah waits.
The question is, why is he waiting, or perhaps the better question is, What is he waiting for?
I believe the answer lies in what we have already seen established in the life of Nehemiah as well as many other servants of God throughout the pages of Scripture and the history of the church.
So, what is that?
Next Slides
The Servant of God is Quick to Pray and Slow to Act.
Vs. 11 & 12
Nehemiah 1:4; 2:4 & 2:11&12.
As I mentioned a moment ago, Nehemiah had already patterned for us that his first course of action was to seek the face of God.
Look at 1:4 where we read “and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”
and a chapter later in verse 4 “So I prayed to the God of heaven.”
Nehemiah was quick to pray, he took his marching orders from the God of the universe and he didn’t move until God gave him specific marching orders.
Now perhaps you are looking at this passage and thinking, wait, where do we see Nehemiah praying?
That is a good question because it isn’t clearly laid out before us, but I think it is hinted at in the middle of verse 12 where we read “And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem.”
This phrase and what we have already seen patterned in the life of Nehemiah so far leads me to believe that these first 3 days Nehemiah spent the majority of his time on his knees seeking the face of God and it was during those 3 days that God began to put some specific things on the heart of Nehemiah to do in Jerusalem.
And while he waited and sought the face of God, God began to direct Nehemiah with some specific directions on what to do next.
Which brings us to the next important point:Next Slide
After Praying, the Servant of God Counts the Cost Before Moving Into Action.
We see God’s direction to Nehemiah laid out first in verse 12 where we read “Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me” He goes on to record in 13-16 Next Slide
Nehemiah 2:13-16
Double check slide of Jerusalem map to make sure it fits on the PowerPoint.
I don’t know about you, but I find it somewhat curious that he would inspect the wall by night.
I mean you would think this would make the job a lot more difficult, but again, he is receiving his direction from God not me.
There are likely a couple things at play here as to why Nehemiah did this inspection at night.
I don’t think he wanted to raise any suspicions, at least not yet.
Those would come soon enough, but for now he sought the cover of darkness.
But I think there is another reason he was doing this at night.
Nehemiah sought the silent solitude of the night.
By performing this inspection in the quiet stillness of the night, Nehemiah was most likely praying as he went about the inspection.
Nehemiah was already practicing what the Apostle Paul would write about 500 years later in his letter the the Thessalonians: Next Slide
1 Thessalonians 5:17
So, Nehemiah begins by “inspecting the walls that had been broken down and the gates that had been destroyed by fire”.
In both verse 13 and again in verse 15 Nehemiah points out that he “inspected” the walls and gates.
He choses a very specific word for “inspected”.
The Hebrew word for inspect means "to look into something very carefully."
It's a medical word for probing a wound to see the extent of the damage.
In this instance Nehemiah was probing a very deep wound that didn’t just affect him, it also affected the people he loved, but most importantly, it affected the name of his God.
Nehemiah’s goal from the very start was that the name of God would be lifted high.
This is another valuable lesson we need to learn from the life of Nehemiah.
Next Slide
We need to live our lives in such a way that the name of God is lifted high.
So far we have watched as Nehemiah has prayed, we have watched him very carefully count the cost, and now he is ready to take the next step: Next Slides
After the Servant of God has Prayed and Counted the Cost, He Shares the Opportunity to be God’s Instrument with Others.
Vs. 16 & 17
After making his way to Jerusalem, and having spent his first 3 days praying, seeking the Face of God for what he should do next, and having received God’s marching orders for how too proceed, Nehemiah now shares what God had placed on his heart.
By the way, please be sure you don’t miss the order in which Nehemiah proceeded.
For those of you who sincerely sought God’s leading and direction at the end of last week’s message, you would do well to follow Nehemiah’s lead here.
You have already spent some time in prayer, hopefully it wasn’t limited to last Sunday morning!
Perhaps some of you may have already sensed God leading you in a specific direction.
Following the lead of Nehemiah, which as we have seen includes continued time in prayer, the next thing you do is count the cost and put to together a plan of action.
That is where we are in the story of Nehemiah.
Often times this is where we get off track.
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