Bible Survey on Nehemiah – Lesson 2

Rom_15:4  For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

We see right away in the first chapter of Nehemiah that Nehemiah let his heart be moved for his fellow Jews in Jerusalem.  He let their plight affect him personally.  Nehemiah then does the best thing he could do.  He goes to God in prayer.  Nehemiah prayed for about 4 months.  We see a great example of praying until you get an answer and one of his prayers that he prayed during those 4 months is recorded for us.

That prayer was recorded for our learning.  In that prayer we see Nehemiah start with some hollowed by thy name, then confession of sin, makes references to biblical truth, and what God did in the past, he makes references to God’s promises, and then Nehemiah finishes with a general request to help His people and then a specific request for God to work in the heart of the king.

Nehemiah knew how to pray and that prayer is recorded for us to learn from.

After praying for about 4 months you see Nehemiah being bold and not afraid to ask for some large things.

We see an example of a man who understood the importance of prayer, a man who depended upon God, and who gave all the credit to God when the prayer was answered.  God recording that prayer, and then recording the persentence in that prayer, and then by God answering that prayer, it shows that God was pleased with that type of prayer.

If you want to learn to pray better, the prayer in Neh. Chapter 1 was recorded for you to learn from.  After praying like that for 4 months God gives the opportunity and Nehemiah is bold and asks big and God moves in the heart of the king.

Neh 2:7  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; 

Neh 2:8  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. 

Nehemiah understood that the Jews were in a bad situation in Jerusalem because they had enemies.  Enemies that were actively working against them.  And that they were bold in their hate.  He knew since he was a Jew that the regional leaders would not just take his word for it.  This is why Nehemiah asked the King for letters of authority.  He wanted to have the authority of the ruler of the empire in a form that he could show the regional governors.

Neh 2:9  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. 

Here we see Nehemiah got more than he asked for.  This is often the case with God.  He has given me far more than I deserve in this life.  I have received blessing far above what I asked for.

Here Nehemiah asked for letters, and he also received captains of the army and horsemen to go with him.  Nehemiah gave God the credit for giving him mercy before the king.  The king sent the army with but it was God that moved in the heart of the king.

Neh 2:10  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. 

When Sanballat and Tobiah heard of it they were grieved.

Exceedingly grieved that someone wanted to help the Jews.  Is that not just sad.  I mean what kind of low life wants to see people suffer.

These two hated Jews and they worked to make their situation worse.  And they wanted it to stay that way.  So much so that even the thought that someone might lessen the plight of the Jews in any way, it grieved them.

They are grieved and have no idea what Nehemiah wants to do yet.  It is not that building the wall is grieving them.  No one has any idea about that yet.  It did not take major help being given to grieve them.  They are grieved at even the smallest thing being done.   All they know now is a man came to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.  Even that grieved them.

It’s awful.  But that kind of thing did not die out with them.  It is alive and well today.  There are people today that feel this way about pro-life people, or pro Trump people.  They want you to suffer.  And they get a thrill when they see hurt come your way.

And now there is the same thing going on with race.  Just in the last couple of weeks there were innocent people murdered.  Why?  They were of a different race.  In the confession he said he just wanted to go kill some white people.

There really are Sanballat’s and Tobiah’s today.  Their type has always been around.

No law or authority is going to stop them.  Sanballat and Tobiah knew about the letters Nehemiah had and they knew about the army escort.  But the law was not enough to make them rethink their hate.

And there is something to notice about what drives their choices and actions.

Neh 2:10  When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly

Both of these men will come up later in the story and they will do some bad things.

At the first mention of them we are given the detail that they are driven by emotion.  With no details yet as to what is going on they are already highly moved by emotion.  They are not driven by reason, or laws, or common sense, or morality.  The driving force behind them is high emotion.

That people like them are driven this way explains a lot about what we see in our world today.  Me and Tina have had this conversation many times.  I will see something in the news that people like Sanballat are doing.  And Tina will think on it and say.  But that makes no sense.  If they do that then, and she lists a bunch of the results.  Why would they do that?  It is because they do not have the common sense that you do.

They are not driven by thinking, or common sense, or by what would be good for others.  For them it is emotion.  You see it with them wanting gas to be 8 dollars a gallon.  You see it with them wanting to switch all cars to electric even though the electric grid cannot handle it.

You see it today in many topics.  There are a lot of Sanballat’s and Tobiah’s in our world today.

Neh 2:11  So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. 

Neh 2:12  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. 

O this is important.  What reason does Nehemiah give for what he is doing?

neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem.

Nehemiah says that God put it in his heart to do this work.

And he says at this point he has told no one what he was planning.  So he could not have got this idea from anyone else.  He was not brain storming with someone and they worked this all up themselves. Instead of that, this was God working directly in the heart of Nehemiah to do this work. We are told in the New Testament that this is one of the ways that God works.

Php 2:13  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 

It says God works both to will.  So God works to put the desire in your heart.   When He does that you then have a free will to get on board with it or not.  And if you do, then God works in you also to do of His good pleasure.

He works to give you the desire to do, and the grace to do, and He will open the doors so you can do.  And He will provide the resources to do.

God worked that way in Nehemiah’s day and He worked that way 500 years ago, he still works that way today, and will tomorrow also.

If God puts a work in your heart, the best thing to do is be open to it, and get on board with it.

That is what we see Nehemiah doing.  He accepted the work that God put on his heart.  That God wanted it done was already confirmed by what the king did for him.  So now Nehemiah is on site and he does a smart thing.

Before he calls a meeting he goes out personally and inspects the damage.  And as we will see it is really bad.

Neh 2:13  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. 

Neh 2:14  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. 

It is so bad you cannot even ride an animal thru it.

Neh 2:15  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. 

Neh 2:16  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. 

The entire place is a wreck.  If it was possible to be burned, the enemy had done that.  If it could be torn up or knocked down, they did that.  The goal of the enemy was to destroy Jerusalem so bad that it could not be rebuilt.

Nehemiah goes and sees the damage and it really is that bad.  It was so bad that it looked fairly hopeless.  Why do I think that.  Because the Jews have been living there for a long time and they did not get any of it fixed.  They had not even cleared the streets of debris.

Sometimes you face things in life that are just overwhelming when you look at it.  It is just too much.  You don’t see any way to fix it.  In situations like that it is easy to just leave it be.  Just stay where you are and not really work on it.  I mean if you don’t see that it will do any good, then why bother.

It is too much.  It is too overwhelming.  The people living there looked at the problem and just, well… looked at it.  It is too much.

Nehemiah looked at it thru faith.

He had faith that God put this on his heart.  He had faith that God wanted it done and he had faith that God was with him and that God would provide the way. Looking at things that way changes everything.  It really does.  Nehemiah understood that his God is bigger that the problem

And Nehemiah understands something else that is critical.  Yes God is working and moving and providing, but I must also be working and moving.   It takes both. God is working in circumstances and in providing and is working in people’s hearts, but nothing will happen if someone does not get up and start moving forward.  The streets will not clear themselves.

God is not going to send Angels to build the walls.  Nehemiah has a solid grasp on how things work.  So now it is time to talk to the people.

Neh 2:17  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. 

Two things here.  Nehemiah says see the distress that we are in.  We.  He includes himself.  This is my problem also.  Just as it is yours.  And he says let us build up the wall.  He did not say this is not my job.  He did say I am over you and you are going to build the wall.

He puts himself in the same position as they are and is going to be working with them and right alongside them.  This is the proper way to lead. The second thing is at the end of the verse.  That we be no more a reproach.  He gives the reason.  The work that he is asking them to do with him is for their best.

He is not trying to build and empire.  He is not trying to build a legacy or something to leave behind.  This is not about vanity, or pride.  This is about these people are in trouble.  They are in distress.  After stating the purpose for the work and making it clear that he does not consider himself above them but that he considers himself with them, now Nehemiah gives them some great encouragement.

Neh 2:18  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. 

God is with me.  And as evidence look at what the king of the empire has done.

And notice after hearing that it is not Nehemiah that said let us rise up and build.  But it is the people that said it.

So they strengthened their hands for this good work.  They chose to believe Nehemiah that this work is for their best, and they chose to believe that God is with them and they chose to believe that even though it looks really bad that this really can be done.

So they all decide to step out on faith.  When we see that, to us it is a beautiful thing and we say amen.

But not everyone sees it that way.  The Sanballat’s of the world do not.

Neh 2:19  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? 

Remember they don’t use common sense and evidence does not mean much to them.  They laugh, mock, and it says despised.  It is vicious and highly emotional.  And then they say that building the wall is rebelling against the king.

That is a flat out lie.  This is being done by order of the king.  Nehemiah has the letters.  They have been shown to the governors.  It is a matter of public record.  But no amount of evidence will change the mind of the Sanballat’s of the world.

And the attacks start coming.  How does Nehemiah handle it?

Neh 2:20  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. 

Nehemiah handles it with faith.  He says the God of heaven, he will prosper us;

And he does not let the attacks deter him from doing what he knows God wants done.

See more lessons on Nehemiah