A cupbearer turned wall builder. That’s Nehemiah for you. He was cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. His life as it was would be radically changed as he spoke with his brother and some other men who had come from Judah. His heart had remained with his people and for Jerusalem.
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.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:3-4, emphasis mine)
The news he heard totally broke him, he sat down and wept. He mourned and then we see a shift taking place, he fasted and prayed.
What devastation has taken place in your life? What news rocked your world and cause you to sit down in despair? Is your family life falling apart? Things in shambles? Oh my friend, may we like Nehemiah sit down before the Lord today and pour out our lamentations to Him.
Let’s look at what he said to the Lord as he fasted and prayed:
“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, 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.” (Nehemiah 1:5-6)
Who did he address? He knew whom he was addressing,
Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, Covenant keeper God to those who love and keep His commandments.
Then he asked for the ear of the Lord as he repented of the sins “we Israelites, including myself, my father’s family”.
Repentance is a key part of turning things around, a key part of rebuilding.
There is a time for everything Ecclesiastes says and my friend there is a time when we will have to let go of what we know, step out from our comfort zone, in order to repair the broken walls. Nehemiah prayed before he approached the King and when the King said “What is it you want?”, he wasn’t babbling or stuttering, he knew exactly how to answer.
Prayer paves the way, pausing to spend time in the Lord’s presence brings favor.
Nehemiah was a slave, but he had a dream, a desire to rebuild the city of the Lord. Paul Cole says, “We become the size of the dreams we are courageous enough to pursue. Or we shrink to the size fear allows us to become. . . which is smaller than we were designed by God to be.
So Nehemiah got the blessing of the King and he was able to go to Jerusalem. Not everyone was happy about this.
“When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.”
Pursuing your dream, attempting to rebuild the broken walls will “raise the ant’s nest”. You will face opposition because the enemy wants you to remain broken down and vulnerable. Nehemiah faced enemies everywhere he turned and so will you.
You may face enemies such as:
Nehemiah’s had Sanballat and Tobias became angry when they saw Nehemiah’s work. They set about to do all they could to prevent the work.
Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages[a] on the plain of Ono.” But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer. (Nehemiah 6:2-4, emphasis mine)
The enemy will want you to change your position, to come down into the mud with him. My friend, do not take the bait, don’t walk into the trap he is laying out for you. Keep focused on the task at hand. Keep doing the work. Like Nehemiah, pray “Strengthen my hands” Lord.
There is a song from Etana that says, “I am not afraid, No I am not afraid (2x) If dem a come let them come cause I’m protected by the Most High One” (I Am Not Afraid) Give the enemy notice, we’re not going down. We’re gonna keep building, the walls will be repaired.