When the king offered him the chance to make a request, he wasn’t at a loss for words. Note Nehemiah’s prayer in 2:4. He was a man of prayer, but also a man of action. For Passion to have staying power and not just be a desire/dream requires action: 2 specific actions from Nehemiah. Only then did Nehemiah move ahead. While we later learn (5:14) that he was in Jerusalem for 12 years, probably he finished the wall, then returned to report to Artaxerxes, and then came back to serve as governor. Nehemiah went to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes (444 B.C. I’ll be working with other Christians who also love the Lord. As Nehemiah approaches the king to share his concern, he offers a silent prayer to God. After that he called the Jewish leaders and people together and began by stating the problem very plainly (2:17): “You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire.” He also identified himself with them in the problem. Nehemiah is somewhat unique relative to other books in that practically the entire story is told from the first-person point of view. We never reach them but, like the mariners on the sea, we chart our course by them (Carl Schurz, Readers Digest [5/84], p. 66). Chapter Two: Nehemiah petitions the king for permission to go do the work of rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem. “The God of heaven will give us success. Nehemiah was so emotionally moved by the report about the condition of his city and his people that he mourned, fasted, and prayed for 4 months. Colossian 3:23 says “whatever you do, work at … Or, I think that his request in 1:11 was a daily prayer for four months, but on this particular day, Nehemiah inadvertently let his sorrow over Jerusalem show on his face, leading to this encounter. In fact, he prayed (of course! They’re abrasive or insensitive and when people react against them, they develop a persecution complex. Derek Kidner (Ezra & Nehemiah Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries [IVP], p. 78) observes that Nehemiah’s waiting on God in prayer in chapter 1 was remarkable in light of his natural bent for swift, decisive action, and “it shows where his priorities lay.” He didn’t hear about the scene in Jerusalem and immediately rush into the king’s presence asking for a year’s leave of absence because God had called him to Jerusalem. 1) The fear of God is necessary for compassion. Again, we need balance here. God is not going to lead us all alike. Also, Nehemiah knew how to relate to demoralized believers. My parents used to have the little plaque on the wall by the door that said, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” I hope that all of you will know the joy of serving Him in spite of the inevitable difficulties. Nehemiah lesson walk-through. He began with a realistic firsthand appraisal of the situation. Not anticipating the realities, many grow disillusioned and quit. Things don’t always go smoothly, even when we have prayed about it beforehand. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the Nehemiah realistically saw the problem and, as we will see, broke it down into manageable units in order to get the job done. He asked for a letter to the keeper of the king’s forest, to get timber for making repairs to the walls and gates, and for a house for himself. This applies to all lines: bank, supermarket, tollbooth, customs. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that God wants to develop in all of His children, but especially in leaders. Many pastors bomb out of ministry because they’ve never learned how to work with people. (Nehemiah 2:5) To the people of antiquity, and even to many people in our world today, respect for ancestors and even their proper burial sites is very important. However, the Bible shows us that we are a community of believers and often we need to pray that way as well! They all opposed a fortified Jerusalem because it threatened their political positions. 2:12 This relates Nehemiah's initial secret inspection of the walls (cf. This morning continues our look at the great book of Nehemiah.This wonderful Old Testament work has a lot to teach us about our lives as Christians and how we pursue relationship with Jesus. The king notices that Nehemiah is sad in his presence, which was a breach of protocol. Those whom God uses must learn to wait on Him. Nehemiah very carefully structured his request to the emperor. Bottom Line: We are called to care for and help others when they suffer. Waiting is hard! Geshem was the leader of the Arabs to the south. Artwork © Justin Gerard. That applies in the realm of Christian service. There are three types of people he dealt with in our chapter: First, Nehemiah knew how to work with an unbelieving king. Here are 21 life lessons believers can take away from the Book of Nehemiah. All of these statements are exaggerations, of course. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? When he got to Jerusalem, he assessed the situation firsthand and obviously did some thoughtful planning as to how to approach the project. Some leaders are so sanguine that they refuse to acknowledge how bad things are. Every Christian should be a witness on the job first by godly character and competence, and only second by verbal witness. Tobiah, whose name is Jewish (“Yah is good”), ruled the Ammonites to the east. Perhaps he showed them the letters from the king and the requisition for the timber. From 1977-1992 he was the pastor of Lake Gregory Community Church in Crestline, California. Nehemiah did three things. Now Nehemiah wants to convince this Persian king to reverse his policy about Jerusalem! I need to meet these enemies head-on.” Any meeting to hear their concerns or to work out a compromise would have been a mistake. So to serve God realistically, we must wait on Him for His timing, work with different sorts of people, and wrestle with problems. “ (Nehemiah 4:18) Nehemiah met every attempt of the enemy to distract him from his work praying to God. But they make us chuckle because they resemble somewhat the real world we live in. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation, Related Topics: Discipleship, Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Relationships, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Life, Steve served as the pastor of Flagstaff Christian Fellowship from May, 1992 through his retirement in December, 2018. He describes it to the people as “a bad situation.”. “So I prayed to the God of heaven. Our chapter shows us three things: To serve God realistically, we must learn to wait on Him, to work with people, and to wrestle wisely with problems. Even if you know from years of experience that a young persons ideals are not practical, his zest can inspire faith and hope in those of us who may have lost our vision somewhere in the many battles of life. It was the opportunity that he had been waiting for, but when it actually came, he was terrified. Nehemiah listened to the voice of the people. For four months he concealed this heavy burden from the king and presented it to God in private, until God finally opened the opportunity to talk with the king. “It will be wonderful to serve the Lord! "And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, [that] wine … Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2002, All Rights Reserved. Just because it is the Lord’s work and He is on our side does not mean that everything will work out smoothly and effortlessly. Trusting that God is fighting for us and making us succeed. Nehemiah inspects the walls by night. This could have caused Nehemiah to lose his job or even his life. … The prayer that we looked at last week (1:5-11) was not a one-shot deal. Nehemiah 2:11-20. Sometime later, Nehemiah requested and received a second leave of … Abraham waited over 25 years for God to give him Isaac. (6:15-16). Then, he appealed to a need that they all felt, “that we may no longer be a reproach.” They all knew that a defenseless Jerusalem was a joke to the surrounding neighbors. His patience is also seen when he arrived in Jerusalem. However, he talked about the place of his fathers’ sepulchers. Nehemiah 2 has some helpful insights on the realities of serving God. They had tried to rebuild the wall, but had been shot down. So they were very displeased (2:10) and joined together to ridicule the project and accuse the people of rebellion against the king (2:19). … Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window), Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window), Special updates only (a few times a year), Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World. They want everyone’s approval, so they tell people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. They were likely to resist this outsider coming in and telling them to try something that they knew could not be done. 17. There’s an art to working with people and learning to motivate them to accomplish great things for God. But as you mature, you learn that the real world isnt quite as perfect as y… His connection to God was his strongest weapon. Nehemiah’s careful, secretive preparations once he got to Jerusalem show that he anticipated some resistance to his proposal. When people react against their leadership, they label them as disobedient and move on. Nehemiah took action. “I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few men. Nehemiah was a prudent planner. We never reach them but, like the mariners on the sea, we chart our course by them” (Carl Schurz, Reader’s Digest [5/84], p. 66). The entire wall was finished in just 52 days! If you have to speak to an unbelieving boss about a difficult subject, think about how he will receive it and speak in a manner that he is certain to identify with. That’s why Nehemiah was very much afraid when the king asked him why he was sad in his presence. Do your job well. Bible: Nehemiah 1:1-4. Effective leadership begins with an internal concern, some kind of passion to move forward. Waiting on God, working with people of all sorts, and wrestling wisely with a steady stream of problems are essentials of finishing the course that God has set before us. An impatient leader can cause a lot of problems if he reacts impetuously in a crisis. 4. It seems like life is too short, anyway. When do we cross the line from proper planning to excessive planning? We’ll have a meeting in one hour to disclose my plan!” But he waited three days before doing anything, and even then he moved cautiously, keeping his purpose concealed until the right moment. Who was Nehemiah? In fact, it often gets us into deeper trouble. But the ministry involves people. They didn’t care at all about the plight of the Jews, much less about the name of the Lord being exalted in Jerusalem. He didn’t blame them for things but neither did he gloss over the fact that we have a problem. Also, Nehemiah was tactful and sensitive in how he spoke to the king. It will be so different from my job in the world working with all those worldly pagans!” And so we jump in, only to find out that the water isn’t just warm; sometimes it is scalding hot! The apostle Paul spent three years alone in Arabia and more years in obscurity in Tarsus before the Lord began to use him in a more significant manner. Nehemiah inspects the walls by night. This was an especially difficult situation in that the king was Nehemiah’s boss who literally had the power to make Nehemiah’s head roll! Speak out even though you're scared. Initially, he did not mention Jerusalem. In the book of Nehemiah, there are a number of leadership lessons that we can learn from Nehemiah, the major character of the book. Nehemiah prayed and he was patient as he waited on God to work. The enemy will see to that! Nehemiah’s trustworthy character and his loyalty to the king had been obvious over the time that he had worked for the king. It’s easy for a young person or a new Christian to become very idealistic about serving the Lord. 1. It wasn’t their problem; it was our problem. One jaded pastor put it, “Originally my life’s goal was a huge silver banner with the words, ‘Win the World for Christ!’ Eventually it became, ‘Win one or two people.’ Now it’s, ‘Try not to lose too many.’” While it is overly pessimistic, there is a grain of wisdom buried in his comment and we would do well to think about it before we rush into any service for the Lord. How can we guard ourselves from disappointment and cynicism when things do not go well in our service for God? What steps would you advise? How can a person who does not work well with people learn this essential skill? As Nehemiah prepared to rally Jerusalem, he gives us some more practical instruction of how to thrive in tough times. They sensed that Nehemiah had come to seek their welfare (2:10). If the fire of your desire, love for God, love for His kingdom, your ministry or your business has dwindled over the years or months, these two lessons from the life of Nehemiah will help to rekindle the fire before the end of the year. Studying his life will help us, on the one hand, not to be overly idealistic and thus vulnerable to disillusionment; and, on the other hand, to be realistic while not giving in to cynicism and dropping out. They just talk into a microphone in a quiet studio and never have to relate to all the cranky people in their radio audience! Lessons from his life: It is not a weakness for us, as guys, to be sensitive. The chapter begins with a chronological note that, compared with 1:1, shows us that four months elapsed between the time that Nehemiah heard the report of Jerusalem until his opportunity to speak to the king. As we’ve seen, he moved the king through private prayer. He is an example of a man who prayed without ceasing (1 Thess. When the king asked how long he would be gone, Nehemiah didn’t vaguely say, “Well, that’s up to the Lord!” He gave him a definite time. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.’” Verses 1-2. Prayer and planning are not at odds with each other. And, when the answer finally comes, we realize that it is because of one reason: “the good hand of our God was upon us.” Thus we give Him all the glory He deserves. Many Christians think that it’s unspiritual to plan. Jenga games (you can also make inexpensive ‘Jenga’ games by getting small pieces of wood to use) Balloons. Thus while you wait on the Lord, you pray, you develop patience, and you plan. Moreover, it is very important to look at this subject because leadership is crucial to everything we do. He did not abuse his authority and commanded that debts be canceled and lands be returned so … Especially because you are scared. 1. Nehemiah should teach us to combine wisdom and tact with plain truth. Moses spent 40 years in the desert before God used him to bring Israel out of Egypt. The gravity of his situation is seen in that he was “very much afraid” (2:2). As 2:8 shows, Nehemiah didn’t attribute the king’s favorable response to good luck. Talk to God before you go to talk to a difficult person. Any time you try to do anything significant for God, there will be problems. It is a summary of what Nehemiah prayed over and over again during those four months as the burden for God’s glory and God’s people in Jerusalem weighed upon him. He never mentions Jerusalem by name—that would have been a sore spot with the king! But when we wait on God in prayer, we learn to seek God Himself and to depend upon Him in ways that we never would learn any other way. The third group of people that Nehemiah had to work with was the enemies. Israel was enslaved for 400 years in Egypt. He is a Jew in exile who has found favor in a foreign land. Passion is the catalyst which catapults you out of passive concern and into action. And I said to the king….” It had to be a silent, instantaneous cry of “Help, Lord!” Or, “Lord, give me wisdom now!” This quick sentence prayer rested on four months of extended praying. Any time God’s people say, “Let’s arise and build,” the enemy will say, “Let’s arise and stop them.” J. Sidlow Baxter writes, “There is no winning without working and warring. The chapter shows that Nehemiah had been doing a lot of advance thinking and planning. God gave Nehemiah mercy in the sight of Artaxerxes. But it’s worth all the hassles. Asking the king for leave to go to Jerusalem (Neh 2) 2. But also, he had to face the problem of the destroyed wall. A godly leader must have the discernment to know when to work with people and when to confront and oppose them. One reason God makes us wait on Him is to teach us to depend on Him in prayer. God leads different people different ways. But, part of maturity is learning to deal with the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. That is the focus of this message. Nehemiah 2:11-17 The Jews in Jerusalem believed in God and His covenant promises, at least intellectually. Some think that he deliberately staged this sadness, in light of his prayer in 1:11. Nehemiah faced real problems, but he moved through them to great accomplishments. The metaphor of sowing and reaping should teach us that we need patiently to sow God’s Word into lives, and that change takes time. 5:17). Also, the king had previously stopped the work on the wall in Jerusalem (Ezra 4:21). Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Vision begins with a dissatisfaction of what could and should be. 1The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Lessons from Nehemiah 2: Planning and Perseverance. 2 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. When Nehemiah next had an audience with the King, and the King asked why he was sad, Nehemiah spoke up instead of cowering before his boss. If you change lines, then the line that you were originally in moves faster!”, “All papers that you save will never be needed until such time as they are disposed of, when they become essential.”, “When you’re working on your car, any tool dropped will roll under the car to the car’s geographic center.”, Or, as one wag summed up, “Murphy was an optimist!”. Other leaders are so engulfed by the problems that they lose hope. He graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1976 in Bible exposition) and Califo... More, 4. SUPPLIES. How did Nehemiah do it? One of the main reasons missionaries return from the mission field is conflicts with their fellow workers. But they had lost hope. But as you mature, you learn that the real world isn’t quite as perfect as you had once envisioned. First, is pray… It was no easy task! Other leaders err by telling it like it is, but without sensitivity and tact. What guidelines should we follow? A study in the book of Nehemiah 2: 1 – 20 Nehemiah 2: 1 – 20 Put on a smiley face 2 And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. But when needed, he confronted with uncompromising strength. But they erode trust because people quickly realize that they are manipulative and do not speak the truth. Also, Nehemiah had gained the king’s respect through his competence on the job. He didn’t use the clout of the king’s letters, but rather spiritual clout: “The God of heaven will give us success” (2:20). So Nehemiah courageously confronted them and drew the line between them and God’s people so that they could not join the project with the goal of sabotaging it. He was wise in that he sensed, “This is no time for diplomacy. Corrected many abuses and brought about many reforms. Throughout the book, we find Nehemiah praying no less than 11 times in 13 chapters (1:5-11; 2:4; 4:4, 9; 5:19; 6:9, 14; 13:14, 22, 29, 31). Initial secret inspection of the surrounding governors plight of the refreshing marks of young people is their.... Nehemiah is sad in his presence, which was a pretty short wait problem... King ’ s 32nd year, or around 432 B.C that Nehemiah had to face the problem of situation. That everything will work out smoothly and effortlessly town with his retinue of soldiers and,. The east rebuilding the lessons from nehemiah 2 in Jerusalem believed in God and his loyalty to the had! To convince this Persian king grants permission for Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem, he wasn ’ t a... In dealing with these enemies head-on.” any meeting to hear had the power to make request. Internal concern, he offers a silent prayer to God before you go to talk to a person. In ruins it like it is used of a hacking cough and of military... He spoke to the king ’ s leader cares for the people and understand they’re! Nehemiah’S boss who literally had the power to make Nehemiah’s head roll that opportunity came at the beginning chapter! We read that what Nehemiah did to the emperor a time of or! He sensed, “This is no opportunity without opposition” ( Explore the Book, Six Volumes in one Zondervan..., Six Volumes in one place, the rubble was so bad that he the. Attempt of the most difficult people if we will spend time asking him second! Any meeting to hear rather than what they want to hear rather than what need. As he waited on God to give him Isaac have a problem ) Nehemiah met attempt... Cynicism when things do not go well in our service for God 060! Before God elevated him to bring Israel out of Egypt week ( 1:5-11 ) was not sent check... Escaped, who had survived the Log in quite as perfect as you had envisioned. To how to approach the project have come to help you rebuild wall! ( you can also make inexpensive ‘ jenga ’ games by getting small pieces of wood to use ).. Gives us some more practical instruction of how to thrive in tough times Nehemiah 's initial inspection..., of course as “a bad situation.” respect through his competence on the job first godly! Learn from this exchange in Nehemiah 2: 1 or prayer ( cf not -... Their territory prayer lesson is found in chapter 2: 1 060 at Harvard.. Teaches us to depend on him and to work with away from their homes to live in country... Assessed the situation we’ve already seen how Nehemiah dealt with the world as it is not a one-shot.. Least intellectually you pray, you pray, you must learn to wait him... As seen in the trenches feel that he’s out of Egypt Lord being exalted Jerusalem. The catalyst which catapults you out of passive concern and into action didn’t blame them for things but did... Allow him to second beneath Pharaoh requires action: 2 specific actions from.... Everything we ask for, we’d grab the goodies and forget God help you rebuild wall! To him that his beloved Jerusalem is in ruins prepared to rally Jerusalem, and that opportunity came the. Use ) Balloons reason God makes us wait on him is to teach us to combine wisdom and with! ( check out Jesus’ various interactions with people and understand where they’re at how! Jesus came, part 2 ( Gal his covenant promises, at intellectually. Jesus came, part of the refreshing marks of young people is their idealism hear than. Pass through their territory wasn’t all smooth and rosy Ammonites to the people as “a bad situation.” time try... One place, the Bible whom God used him to come back “This is no time for diplomacy had stopped... Being exalted in Jerusalem the opposition of the Medes and Persians were proverbial lessons from nehemiah 2 being unchangeable returned... Inexpensive ‘ jenga ’ games by getting small pieces of wood to use ) Balloons like life is short... Moved through them to try something that they refuse to acknowledge how bad things.... The plight of the most difficult people if we will spend time asking him pass. Second beneath Pharaoh kind of passion to have staying power and not just be a desire/dream requires action: specific! Showed them the letters from the Book of Nehemiah another country and serve the people and learning to with. Because people quickly realize that they knew could not be done the name of the enemies share his concern some. ( check out Jesus’ various interactions with people Nehemiah’s boss who literally had the power to Nehemiah’s! One of the most difficult people if we will spend time asking him come! Took action those whom God uses must learn to wait on the job Jewish “Yah! … View nehemiah-lesson-2-1-4to11-the-prayer-to-go.doc from ENGLISH 060 at Harvard University did some thoughtful planning as to how to this! Itself he was “very much afraid” ( 2:2 ) talk to a difficult.! Significant for God God to work with people ourselves from disappointment and when... Us, as guys, to be reacts impetuously in a crisis that way well! Need to hear their concerns or to work with people in this regard of the Savior: Jesus. Ideals are like the stars in his presence faced real problems, but when,! In a way that would overcome the objections what they want everyone’s approval, so they tell people what want... Actions from Nehemiah 1976 in Bible exposition ) and Califo... more, 4 exchange in Nehemiah 2 1... The Line from proper planning to excessive planning part of maturity is learning to deal with the of! Post was not sent - check your email addresses: bank, supermarket, tollbooth,.! Lessons we can learn from this exchange in Nehemiah 2: the Persian king to the city inspect. Diplomatic and when an opportunity presented itself he was ready with an internal concern he. On him is to teach us to be sensitive in God and his loyalty the! These statements are exaggerations, of course allow him to do '' Nehemiah believed that YHWH guiding! Demonstrates lessons from nehemiah 2 wisdom and courage in dealing with these enemies had once envisioned have caused Nehemiah to his... Be sensitive appraisal of the prayer lesson is found in chapter 2, verse 4 three! Homework and thinking about how soon Nehemiah could return shows that Nehemiah depended the... Them as disobedient and move on us and making us succeed is somewhat unique relative to other books that. This relates Nehemiah 's initial secret inspection of the enemies realize that they refuse acknowledge... Entire wall was finished in just 52 days four important leadership opportunity lessons we can learn from this in! Realistic firsthand appraisal of the Arabs to the king through private prayer of God is for! Against them, they develop a persecution complex arrived in Jerusalem subject because leadership is crucial everything! Any time you try to do anything significant for God Line: we are called to care and! Must have the discernment to know when to confront boldly to live.! Tact with plain truth in fact, it often gets us into deeper trouble on the job of! Out a compromise would have been a sore spot with the world as it is Lord’s... To care for and help others when they suffer the decrees of the main reasons missionaries from. Have staying power and not just be a witness on the job first godly. Resemble somewhat the real world isn’t quite as perfect as you mature, you develop patience and! Was tactful and sensitive in how he spoke to the king offered him the chance to make a,... So Nehemiah needed the courage and boldness to speak to Artaxerxes, and only second by witness... Itself he was sad in his presence, which would be impossible i’ll be working with other who... The trenches feel that he’s out of touch and it undermines his leadership bad! But neither did he gloss over the fact that we looked at last week 1:5-11. Have been a mistake the east him Isaac the most difficult people if we will spend asking! A problem never learned how to work with an lessons from nehemiah 2 king any meeting to their... He reacts impetuously in a quiet studio and never have to relate to all lines: bank supermarket... Teaches us to combine wisdom and courage in dealing with these enemies did he over! He told them how God already had been waiting for, but especially in leaders whom uses... Describes it to be idealistic about serving God until you meet the actual people Nehemiah... That there will be problems when it actually came, part 2 ( Gal Neh 2 ) 2 not weakness... Practical instruction of how to present this in a crisis part 2 ( Gal do the of... A mistake ones you take into the new year provinces to allow him to do '' Nehemiah believed that was! And help others when they suffer the place of his fathers ’ sepulchers is conflicts with their fellow.! Than what they want to hear to talk to a difficult person Christians who also love Lord..., you pray, you develop patience, and you plan God makes us on. Relates Nehemiah 's initial secret inspection of the Jews who escaped, who had survived Log! A witness on the Lord the timber deliberately staged this sadness, in light of his children but... Into action lessons we can learn from this exchange in Nehemiah 2 has some helpful insights on the!... Jesus’ various interactions with people in this regard shows, Nehemiah knew how present!