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Pearls of the Kingdom 4/24/24

I have been looking at the life of Nehemiah. You may check out his story in the Old Testament book named after him. 

A few thoughts in regards to Nehemiah. 

* We learn from the first verse that he was the son of Hakaliah. We have no clear definition in regards to his family history, upbringing or which tribe he belonged too. We do not learn Nehemiah’s age.

* He was included with those who were taken captive after the fall of Jerusalem and living in Susa. 

* The time of year was during the month of Chisleu / Chislev (November – December). Approximate distance of 800 miles between Jerusalem and Susa.

* Nehemiah’s inquires of his brother from Judah, Hanani, “what is the condition of Jerusalem?” It is not clear, had his brother traveled there and upon his return Nehemiah enquires, how are things going back home? Nehemiah fulfills, Jer 15:5 “Who will have pity on you, Jerusalem? Who will mourn for you? Who will stop to ask how you are?”

* Learning of the conditions of Jerusalem, Nehemiah’s heart was moved. Neh 1:4 “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.”

* Nehemiah’s prayer: His prayer falls into five portions: 1. The opening address (Nehemiah 1:5)    2. The humble approach (Nehemiah 1:6 )   3. The confession of sins (Nehemiah 1:6 b, 7)    4. The appeal to the Divine Promise (Nehemiah 1:8-10)   5. the closing supplication for (a) the people, and (b) Nehemiah, “your servant” seeking favor before the royal court (Nehemiah 1:11).

* We learn from the last verse (1:11) that Nehemiah was cupbearer to the king. This position was typically given to a younger individual. This officer, (cupbearer) in the ancient Oriental courts, was always a person of rank and importance. This position held a “confidential nature” related to his duties with frequent royal presence and access. The cupbearer possessed great influence.

* Time delay, 4 months passed from chapter 1 (Chisleu/ Chislev: Nov- Dec) and chapter 2 (Nisan: Mach- April). Nehemiah had time to pray and ponder the condition of Jerusalem. 

* We can believe that the king and Nehemiah had a good, close relationship. We can see this revealed in the kings response to Nehemiah when he was in his presence (2:2). The king was quick to notice that Nehemiah was sad,” this can be nothing but sadness of heart.” The king did not let it go without asking what has caused this sadness. Nehemiah shares his sadness with the king. “I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” The king said to me, “What is it you want?”

* Nehemiah prays again, (can we say Nehemiah was a man of prayer). He presents his request to the king. “Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” 

* I must believe that during his time of prayer God was downloading His plan for Jerusalem. Neh 2:11-12 “I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days. I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.”

* Continue to read Nehemiah’s story. Through prayer, faith in his Great God, Nehemiah rebuilds the wall and much more!

Can we stop for today and look at Nehemiah’s request and qualifications.

* Nehemiah seeks permission to go back home.  He doesn’t ask for skilled tradesman to come with him. Engineers that can help direct the rebuilding. He only asked for letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide him safe-conduct until he arrives in Judah. Letter to Asaph, the keeper of the royal park, so he will give him timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for his residence.

* We have no clear picture that Nehemiah was “schooled” beyond learning to be the cupbearer to the king. Perhaps being close to the king, he witnessed the king conducting business with other officials. Maybe he learned a few leadership skills while watching the king?

* Nehemiah had a tender heart, quick to pray. Here in his prayer time he had an encounter with God that put a desire into his heart to return to Jerusalem. He had great faith in a great God he served, he recognized Gods gracious hand was upon him. 

Conclude with this thought:

 * Nehemiah’s lack of skills, qualifications, just a cupbearer, did not disqualify him. I sense his lack of qualifications was actually his strength, as he did not rely on his own strength, his own ability but through prayer and by faith, he trusted in his “Great God.”

I’m thinking how I might apply this to my own life, not disqualify myself so easily, so quickly. Two things here: Maybe I’m the only one who struggles here?

1. To be honest, I disqualify myself to easily, to quickly. It easy to say, “ that’s not my gift”, “I’m not qualified for this”, “there must be someone better qualified”, “I’ve tried before and failed”. 

2. Prayer becomes my last option when it should have been my first priority.

I must remember, pray first! Prayer should be my first priority, not my last option. Remember it is not about my ability, but my availability. Not looking too my qualifications or lack of qualifications, but looking to you God, by faith trusting you, for you are a “Great God.” 

I came across a phrase as I have been looking at Nehemiah’s story. It goes something like this: 

“God loves to take zeroes and make them heroes” (anonymous)

God loves to take ordinary people, like you and me, so that He can do the extraordinary through them, So that, He receives all the credit, all the glory. I believe if we look through out the scriptures this truth will be revealed over and over again. God will use the least likely, unqualified person to accomplish His plans and purposes.

God use me to be a hero!

Pastor Jeff

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