I pray that you all enjoyed the holiday weekend, and are happy and healthy in the Lord.
This morning we will be looking at the second chapter of Nehemiah. After a time of fasting and prayer the time has come to put into action what the Lord has laid on his heart.
Nehemiah 2:1 And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. From the time given here, we can gather that Nehemiah has had Jerusalem in this thoughts and has prayed about it now for 4 months. This would put the month somewhere around our month of April. He has kept his duties as the royal cupbearer with the king, but on this day the king notices a change about Nehemiah.
2 Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, It is said that to show emotions of sorrow around a king in the near east was actually considered a great offense. Nehemiah's heart was just too heavy to conceal it any longer.
3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? 4 Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. We are given the impression here that the words just came tumbling out of Nehemiah. The city where his ancestors were buried was in total disrepair, and no one seemed to care. The king does not immediately understand what Nehemiah was asking for, but this time Nehemiah prays for God to give him the right words to answer the king.
5 And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it. Sounds like quite an undertaking for just one man, but he was determined!
6 And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. After the king's questions were answered, he agrees to send Nehemiah to Jerusalem. We are not told how long Nehemiah had thought he would be gone, but I would have been interested in his answer. It is interesting to remember here that this same king had tried to stop Ezra from his mission, and had even made a proclamation that the rebuilding of the city itself would cease until he gave his decree for it to resume. Ezra 4:21 Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me. 22 Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings? Another interesting side note: Artaxerxes is the son of king Xerxes, and therefore the stepson of Esther who we will read about in the next book of the Old Testament.
7 Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; 8 And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me. 9 Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. Nehemiah then asks the king for letter to be written to give him certain permissions he would need for his journey, and the work to be done. One letter would go to the Persian officials west of the Euphrates giving him passport permission. The other would go to Asaph, manager of the king's forest, instructing him to give Nehemiah the timber necessary for the construction job. The "good hand of my God" was upon this project, so all that he asked was granted to Nehemiah.
10 When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel. Sanballat was the governor of Samaria. He would cause a great deal of grief to the people of Israel. Tobiah was a treacherous man as well, neither wanted to see the Hebrew people prosper again.
Nehemiah Encourages the People to Rebuild the Walls
11 So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. 12 And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon. 13 And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire. Nehemiah had to this point not shared what the Lord had laid on his heart to do. Here we see the familiar "three day" transition period again. Finally, he can stand it no longer and sets out in the night to see just how bad the city was. The "gate of the valley" was probably the south wall of the city that faced the Kidron Valley. No one seems to know for sure what the "dragon well" was located. The "dung gate" was located about 500 yards from the valley gate. It was formerly used in the horrible pagan sacrifices. It was now ritually polluted by the people with human and animal feces to desecrate the pagan gods. Now it was nothing more than a garbage heap. The city had laid in ruin since the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar.
14 Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king's pool: but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass. 15 Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned. 16 And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work. At times on his exploration of the ruins, there was not enough space in the rubble for the donkey he was riding to pass through. The amount of work needed to be done must have seemed overwhelming. The next morning he assembled the leaders and shares with them the burden on his heart.
17 Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. 18 Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. There are 2 compelling reasons for rebuilding the city walls. The walls were necessary for protection. The walls of Jerusalem had before held off the enemies attack for months on end. Perhaps more importantly at this time it was necessary for separation of the people. The intermarriage of the pagan people with the people of God had to stop.
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? 20 Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem. What more can we say when we are faced with opposition than these words of Nehemiah? "The God of heaven, He will prosper us!" I heard Adrian Rogers say once that the Christian has only 2 positions in relation to the Devil. We are either in collusion with him,or we are in collision with him! We either agree with him or every time we turn around we are running head-on into him. Nehemiah is about to learn this lesson the hard way. He will be opposed on every side, but God is with him.
An alphabetical list of the names given to our Savior in the Scriptures: #12 Begotten of the Father.
John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. What does it mean to be "begotten"? It means to be born from; to the be child of someone. Jesus is the only Begotten, or Child physically born to our Heavenly Father. We become sons and daughters of the Father when we accept Him as our God, but Jesus was the only one to issue forth from the Father. He came into this world to give Himself as a perfect Sacrifice for our sins. He was not born into the same sinful condition as you and I were. He was the direct offspring of God Himself. He is the only One to be on this earth "full of grace and truth"!
Take my word for nothing; go to the Source and read it for yourself. And as always to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be all the Glory forever.
FAITH: Forsaking All, I Trust Him.