Read Nehemiah 1 -- 3
When Nehemiah's brother Hanani arrived in Persia from Jerusalem, hetold Nehemiah of the pitiful conditions that existed there. When I (Nehemiah) heard these words . . . I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of Heaven . . . we have sinned . . . and have not kept the commandments (Nehemiah 1:4,6-7). Nehemiah knew the Scriptures and the will of God for his people and, over a period of about three or four months, he continued to pray, reminding the Lord of His promise: The Word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, If you transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: But if you turn to Me, and keep My commandments, and do them . . . yet I will gather them . . . to the place that I have chosen to set My Name (1:8-9).
When King Artaxerxes asked why he was so sad, Nehemiah told him that it was because the city . . . of my fathers' sepulchres lay in ruins (2:1-3). Because it was considered a serious offense against the king to be sad in his presence and could be punished by death, Nehemiah was very much afraid (2:2; compare Esther 4:2). The king responded by appointing Nehemiah governor over Judah, commissioned him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and even provided some of the supplies and materials (Nehemiah2:6-8). The king's favorable response and remarkable blessing upon this effort can be attributed to the fact that Nehemiah prayed to the God of Heaven (2:4).
Three basic characteristics made Nehemiah's efforts a success. First, his desire to do the will of God (1:1,11). This led him to leave the luxury and security of living in the king's palace in Persia and to endure the hardships in Jerusalem in order to restore honor to the City of God.
Second, he not only fasted and prayed, but he confessed: We . . . have not kept the commandments (1:4-11). He recognized that obedience to the Word of God is essential to answered prayer.
Third, he was determined to persuade his people to join him in rebuilding the wall, regardless of opposition. Sanballat and his crowd expressed their hostility to Nehemiah: They laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that you do? (2:19). In addition, Judah's nobles refused to cooperate in the work of their Lord (3:5). Their ridicule then turned to slander when they asked: Will you rebel against the king? (2:19). Sanballat implied that Nehemiah would declare independence from Persia once the walls were completed. False accusations have always been a favorite tool of Satan to discourage dedicated workers of the Lord.
Nehemiah refused to become discouraged and give up. He said: The God of Heaven, He will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build (2:20).
Our accomplishing the will of God is dependent upon remembering who is Sovereign over the affairs of our lives. The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me (Hebrews 13:6).
Christ Revealed: Through Nehemiah's prayer for his people (Nehemiah 1:4-11). Christ also prayed for His own (John 17).
Word Studies: 1:5 terrible means awesome; 2:2 countenance means face; 2:7 convey me means allow me to pass; 2:20 no portion means no part or property; 3:19 turning means corner; 3:23 over against means in front of; 3:25 lieth out means extends from.
Government Officials: Rep. David Bonior (MI), Rep. Allen Boyd, Jr. (FL), and Rep. Eric Cantor (VA) · BPM Staff: Pam Pendergrast · Pray for Bible Pathway Prayer Partners · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast sponsored by Mary Beth Signorino · Country: Lesotho (2 million) within the east-central part of the Republic of South Africa · Major languages: Sesotho and English · Limited religious freedom · 43% Roman Catholic; 30% Protestant; 6% ancestor worship, divination, and spirit-possession cults · Prayer Suggestion: Call unto the Lord and He will give you strength to overcome (Jeremiah 33:3).
Optional Reading: II Corinthians 8
Memory Verse for the Week: II Timothy 2:15