Rebuilding the Broken Walls
During the course of the next few weeks, we will be looking at the book of Nehemiah at Coffee@8. There are so many themes and lesson we can take out of this book, but to go into all of the content can take a while – so instead I’d rather just share a few thoughts on the passage and pose a few questions to reflect on.
Background to the Book of Nehemiah
Few people are familiar with the Biblical figure Nehemiah, and yet he was instrumental in the rebuilding and reestablishment of Jerusalem in the fifth century B.C. following the Babylonian exile…
Nehemiah was a high official in the Persian court of King Artaxerxes I at the capital city of Susa, which lay 150 miles east of the Tigris River in what is now modern Iran. Nehemiah served as the king’s cupbearer (Nehemiah 1:11), which evidently put him in a position to speak to the king. 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. He is even given letters from the king to ensure safe passage and to obtain timber from the king’s forest for the gates and walls of Jerusalem. (Site from www.biblicalarchaelogy.org)
So here we find Nehemiah receiving the report that the walls of Jerusalem is broken down and that the gates have been destroyed by fire. For any city (in biblical times) not to have walls, meant disaster as cities were susceptible to attack from neighboring rulers or enemies. Cities were known to be places of safety for travelers on the road, and so when Nehemiah hears this – it distresses him deeply as the people who returned from exile were not safe!
Nehemiah 1: Nehemiah’s Prayer
1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah:
In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.
3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:
“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then 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.’
10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
I was cupbearer to the king.
- Vision is always birthed out of a place where you experience a burden or an area of discontent – Nehemiah allowed himself to mourn and pour out his heart before God. He knew something had to be done and that he was the guy willing to do it.
- We have a choice to make in how we respond to difficult situations and circumstances – Nehemiah went to God with his situation…knowing that ONLY God could make a way for him to do what he felt he had to do. So many times we are compelled to do something (whatever the situation is), but the the way we often go about it is not necessarily wise — Nehemiah chose to go to take his burden to God.
- Be Patient, God hears our prayers- We read that Nehemiah received the news in the month of Kislev (which in our calendar equates to Nov/Dec). In the 2nd chapter of Nehemiah, we see some time passes between when he pours his heart out to God and when God opens the line of communication between him and the King. We read in Chapter 2 that in the month of Nisan (which in our calendar is Mar/Apr) Nehemiah takes the wine to the king which opens up the discussion for Nehemiah’s journey to Jerusalem – that’s a wait of 4 months!
- What are you currently burdened about? In what areas do you need to rebuild “walls” in your life?
- What are you trusting God for?
- What practical steps can you take to help those in need around you?
Know that God loves and cares for you!
Philippians 4:6 says: ” Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done”
We look forward to continuing the conversation with you at Coffee@8. Please connect with us should you require prayer or more information.
Ockie & Gordon