Read Nehemiah 1 -- 3
In Today's Reading:
Nehemiah's prayer for Jerusalem; Nehemiah permitted to go to Jersusalem; Nehemiah inspects Jerusalem's walls; the builder of the walls.
Verses for Today:
The Word that Thou commandest Thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter ye abroad among the nations: But if ye turn unto Me, and keep My Commandments, and do them . . . yet will I gather them . . . unto the place that I have chosen to set My Name (1:8-9).
The Israelites had been back in Judea about 100 years when Nehemiah's brother Hanani arrived in Persia from Jerusalem. He told Nehemiah of the pitiful conditions that existed there. The walls and gates of Jerusalem were still in ruins, leaving them unprotected and devastated by surrounding enemies. 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 (Nehemiah 1:4). 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 to the Israelites through Moses.
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 (compare Esther 4:2). Remarkably, the king responded by appointing Nehemiah governor over Judah, commissioned him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and even provided some of the needed supplies and materials (Nehemiah 2:6-8). The king's favorable response and 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. This was about 14 years after Ezra arrived in Jerusalem.
Second, he not only fasted and prayed, but he confessed: We . . . have not kept the Commandments (1:7). He recognized that obedience to the Word of God is essential to having prayer answered.
Third, he persisted in persuading 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 and slander are favorite tools of Satan to discourage dedicated workers of the Lord.
Nehemiah refused to become discouraged or to give up. He said: The God of Heaven, He will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build (Nehemiah 2:20).
Through Nehemiah's prayer for his people (Nehemiah 1:4-11). Christ also prayed for His own which shall believe on Me (John 17:20).
1:5 terrible = awesome; 2:2 countenance = face; 2:7 convey me = allow me to pass; 2:20 no portion = no part or property; 3:19 turning = corner; 3:23 over against = in front of; 3:25 lieth out = extends from.
Government Officials: Rep. David Bonior (MI), Rep. Allen Boyd, Jr. (FL), and Rep. Eric Cantor (VA) · Pray for your Church · Country: Haiti (7 million) in the West Indies · Major languages: French and Creole · Religious freedom · 75% Roman Catholic; 17% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Examine yourself. Has prosperity dulled your willingness to sacrifice? (Haggai 1:4).
Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 8
Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Timothy 2:15