Nehemiah 3 : The Repairs Begin...

Then Eliashib the high priest arose with his brothers the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They consecrated [a]the wall to the Tower of the Hundred and the Tower of Hananel. Next to him the men of Jericho built, and next to [b]them Zaccur the son of Imri built.
Now the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars. Next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah the son of Hakkoz made repairs. And next to him Meshullam the son of Berechiah the son of Meshezabel made repairs. And next to [c]him Zadok the son of Baana also made repairs. Moreover, next to [d]him the Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles did not [e]support the work of their masters.
Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars. Next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, [f]also made repairs for the official seat of the governor of the province beyond the River. Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah of the goldsmiths made repairs. And next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, the official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs. 10 Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah made repairs. 11 Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of Furnaces. 12 Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, the official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs, he and his daughters.
13 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars, and a thousand cubits of the wall to the [g]Refuse Gate.
14 Malchijah the son of Rechab, the official of the district of Beth-haccherem repaired the [h]Refuse Gate. He built it and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars.
15 Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, the official of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate. He built it, covered it and hung its doors with its bolts and its bars, and the wall of the Pool of Shelah at the king’s garden as far as the steps that descend from the city of David. 16 After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, official of half the district of Beth-zur, made repairs as far as a point opposite the tombs of David, and as far as the artificial pool and the house of the mighty men. 17 After him the Levites carried out repairs under Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him Hashabiah, the official of half the district of Keilah, carried out repairs for his district. 18 After him their brothers carried out repairs under Bavvai the son of Henadad, official of the other half of the district of Keilah. 19 Next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, the official of Mizpah, repaired [i]another section in front of the ascent of the armory at the Angle. 20 After him Baruch the son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the Angle to the doorway of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21 After him Meremoth the son of Uriah the son of Hakkoz repaired another section, from the doorway of Eliashib’s house even as far as the end of [j]his house. 22 After him the priests, the men of the [k]valley, carried out repairs. 23 After [l]them Benjamin and Hasshub carried out repairs in front of their house. After [m]them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah, carried out repairs beside his house. 24 After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah as far as the Angle and as far as the corner. 25 Palal the son of Uzai made repairs in front of the Angle and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king, which is by the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh made repairs. 26 The temple servants living in Ophel made repairs as far as the front of the Water Gate toward the east and the projecting tower. 27 After [n]them the Tekoites repaired another section in front of the great projecting tower and as far as the wall of Ophel.
28 Above the Horse Gate the priests carried out repairs, each in front of his house. 29 After [o]them Zadok the son of Immer carried out repairs in front of his house. And after him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, carried out repairs. 30 After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah carried out repairs in front of his own [p]quarters. 31 After him Malchijah, [q]one of the goldsmiths, carried out repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, in front of the [r]Inspection Gate and as far as the upper room of the corner. 32 Between the upper room of the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants carried out repairs.

***

Though it is a long chapter, I couldn't leave out any portion of this text as it is very important to see the links between each verse. It is clear that there are three aspects important to this work: unity, dedication and vision.

It may seem too obvious a statement, but note the unity of each of these workers (note the phrase in the text - next to him...). Each began where the other left off; each had their role in a specific place and gave way for the other to complete their work. I imagine much conversation and comradery  in this rebuilding - a blending of joy and effort must have been present here. Imagine yourself working on your section of the wall. Literally picking up stones that have been left in ruins. You place your stone on top of the pre-made mortar and find that the end of that line is complete as your partner in building and re-building literally right next to you with his chosen stone and pre-made mortar. I just can't help but see this as a reflection on our work as Christians today. We cannot possibly do the work of Glorifying the LORD on our own - He is too big a God to have just one person building His fame. We are all called to work in unity together to re-build that which has been broken. Yet please note unity is the essence of this work. All have their part to play. All do it for the Glory of the LORD. All receive their reward (see 1 Cor. 12:12 for a NT example of this).

Dedicated workers came from all over. All for the purpose of re-building. They saw the effort that was required, and gave it their all. It is clear that there were some that did more than others, but that does not mean that their efforts were of less value. We need the dedicated worker in all paths of work. It is interesting to note that there were some who decided to repair what was only in front of where they lived and others who clearly had a greater vision. Both are necessary. Their pride in their work of those who chose to work close at home was due to close proximity to where they live. I see this as an echo of the work we do for the LORD today. The work that we do should be closest to where we live. First start in the home and what surrounds your home dwelling, then work your way out - not the opposite.  Some have clearly been sent to 'go' and others have clearly been sent to 'stay'. Both are necessary for the LORD's Glory.

No where do we hear that there was a lack of vision. In fact, this chapter is written in such a way that it just seems that all knew what they were supposed to do and did it. I find it interesting that no where do we read that Nehemiah commissioned one person, group or other to their section - each simply knew what they needed to do, and no doubt, Nehemiah was intricately involved in their work, yet also watching from a distance. It is clear that throughout this plan that Nehemiah had, he clearly had a vision and knew what was required for him to complete it the task the LORD gave him to do. 

Nehemiah most definitely needed a unified group of people, dedicated to the task of re-building the wall but if he didn't have a vision, the whole plan would have come to nothing. As the writer of Proverbs puts it, Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained (Prov. 29:18). It is an interesting picture - this unrestrained. Eugene Peterson, in The Message paraphrase translates it, If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed. If the people who worked on this wall did not submit to the vision that was cast, they literally would stumble all over themselves, but they did not - they accepted their part in the greater picture and internalized the vision that was given. 

This, my friends, is a great and lasting picture of who we are in Christ. We all need vision. In this vision, rather than stumbling all over ourselves, we can learn to live and work together for the Glory of the LORD - knowing our part to play in the greater picture of how the LORD has caused all of us to be unified for His purposes and glory.

Nehemiah 2:17-20 : Direction, Communication & Opposition (again)

Then I said to them, “You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.” 18 I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite [f]official, and Geshem the Arab heard it, they mocked us and despised us and said, “What is this thing you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 So I answered them and said to them, “The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem.”

***

It has been clear that Nehemiah has had a plan - directed by God - from the beginning. As we already discussed, he chose to inspect the walls at night so that he would not be distracted or disturbed by by others. He now has done just that and now he gives direction, '...let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem'.

As we continue to read through this book, as I've mentioned a couple of times already, we will see great leadership lessons. This is a lesson that seems too easy, but too often is overlooked. Once we have communicated what needs to be done, we need to get to work. Planning behind a desk rarely gets anything done - yes, we need to direct and plan out our plans - but we need to have the intention of getting up off the chair and doing the planned directive. Nehemiah's direction is clear. We have a wall to rebuild. Let's re-build it! His direction was meant to inspire work.

I appreciate this second lesson as well. Note that Nehemiah desires his followers to know exactly what his motivation is. He has clearly communicated what the LORD had given him to do and they can trust in him because of it. This reminds me of a concept that I have learned very early on in my ministry - be very ready to turn the shoulder. John, when sitting down with his disciples, notices Jesus walking by. He points his finger and says, Behold, the Lamb of God! (Jn. 1:36). The two disciples that he was standing with then began to follow Jesus. That was John's job - to point people to Christ. We read later on in Chapter 3 that John comments, [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease (Jn. 3:30). This is the lesson for us today. And Nehemiah has learned this lesson before the Gospel of John was written. In communicating, we must be ready to turn the shoulder and allow others to acknowledge the LORD in our midst and encourage them to follow Him as we are. His communication was meant to point to God.

And yet, isn't there always the looming reality that there will always be opposition. Yet still, the greatest rebuttal to opposition is faith. Nehemiah calmly says, The God of Heaven will give us success (vs. 20). He has faith that it will succeed because God is a part of it. He has been more than a part of this plan, He's been the reason for their efforts. Nehemiah clearly will not shy away from opposition nor is he asking for it. But when it comes, he is ready because the LORD is on his side. The opposition will come but is meant to convince others of God's presence in their midst.

And so the work continues. Some have said that when we get to this stage of a project or assignment, this is where the real work begins. I disagree. There has been much work leading up to this point in the work of re-building the walls - namely much patience and prayer. But through it all, it is clearly Nehemiah's motivation to direct, communicate and deal with the opposition because he believes in the LORD who called him. May we live in the same way with the tasks that are before us.  

Nehemiah 2:11-16 : Rest, Plans & Secrets

So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 And I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my [c]mind to do for Jerusalem and there was no animal with me except the animal on which I was riding. 13 So I went out at night by the Valley Gate in the direction of the Dragon’s Well and on to the [d]Refuse Gate, inspecting the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were consumed by fire. 14 Then I passed on to the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was no place for [e]my mount to pass. 15 So I went up at night by the ravine and inspected the wall. Then I entered the Valley Gate again and returned. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; nor had I as yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials or the rest who did the work.

***

As I've said from the beginning, we will see many good leadership lessons from Nehemiah, and these few verses are packed full! Nehemiah shows us in these short but deliberate actions on his part that as leaders, we need to be very intentional in our plans.

It seems like a strange yet simple statement but note - once he came to Jerusalem, it was three days before he inspected the walls (vs. 11). Three days! Many would think, 'Get to it yesterday man!' but not Nehemiah. He understands the value of waiting. He understands the value of resting. We should too. It is not written exactly what Nehemiah was doing, but with a chapter behind us, I believe we can hazard a guess that he was most likely sleeping, talking to his companions and praying. Each of these are very important for any leader - commune with our own souls, community with others and community with God. They all wrap up into a nice little lesson for us of rest. When we have a task in front of us, do we take the time to do these things?

Secondly, we see him setting out some plans. Remember this is the first time that he has actually seen the walls so he didn't want to be interrupted. But we read he chose to examine the walls at night so as to not arose concern of the enemy. Smart, very smart. An attribute of a true leader. Wiersbe writes,  'Nehemiah saw more at night than the residents saw in the daylight, for he saw the potential as well as the problems. That’s what makes a leader!' When having a plan in front of us, we need to clearly see the potential as well as the problems. We cannot rush through this process - another reason why Nehemiah chose to inspect the walls at night - he didn't want to be rushed through - he needed time to clearly inspect all that needed to be done. This is a mark of a great leader. Great leaders have great plans. Those plans become great only when we set out to do them. Many a plan never becomes great unless we set out to do them. Yet notice too that in his plans and assessing what needed to be done, he involved others. Another mark of a great leader. You cannot do everything on your own. You need to involve others in the process. Many a plan is a great plan, but if it rests on one person's shoulders, the plan will certainly crumble especially after we're long gone. But if many hands are a part of the carrying out the plan, it will succeed (as we will see in the following chapters regarding the actual building of the wall).

Yet we see a third aspect of of Nehemiah's plan that perhaps makes us a little uncomfortable. Nehemiah had secrets. He inspected the walls at night. He did it without others knowing. He clearly had things 'up his sleeve'. Yet note this verse: And I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my mind to do for Jerusalem and there was no animal with me except the animal on which I was riding (vs. 12). It cannot be made any more clearer than this: Please note that Nehemiah didn't tell anyone what his GOD was putting into his mind to do for Jerusalem. God must be a part of our plans 100% of the time. If God is not a part of our plans, than He is apart from our plans...no plan that does not have God at the centre succeeds. Nehemiah was secretive, not for dishonesty sake or for the purpose of deception. Please note that his secret-plan had everything to do with God and His plan for Nehemiah and Jerusalem. We see this from the beginning of this book - Nehemiah doesn't involve God in the process, he is following after God in His process. Oh so often we work the other way around! We pull on God to work the way we want Him to. This truly is not the way our Creator of Heaven and Earth would have us live. It is imperative for us to submit to the LORD in our lives, our plans, our work - all needs to be in His timing, not ours. Yet I do need to make an additional point about secrets. Note that the secret was made public later (see the following devotional) - Nehemiah had every intention to tell others what he was up to. Those who keep secrets become suspicious. Those who keep secrets to reveal the perfect plan of God in our midst later are good leaders. Let's make sure we distinguish between these two!

And so, we come away, again, with more lessons on leadership - we need to rest, plan and keep to ourselves (at least temporarily) what the LORD would have us do for His Glory. May we take these lessons to heart.

Nehemiah 2:9, 10 : There's always opposition...

Then I came to the governors of the provinces beyond the River and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. 10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite [b]official heard about it, it was very displeasing to them that someone had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel.

*** 

Please excuse my short Scripture text, but I do want to glean all that I can from this book and felt very much that I needed to slow down especially when it came to these two verses. There is always opposition...but the question is, what do we do with the opposition?

Here's what we know:
- Nehemiah is grieving over his own people and its wall (symbol of protection)
- He has risked much already in asking for favour from the King as his cupbearer
- He has been given officers of the army and horsemen (vs. 9) so his presence could not have been unnoticed when traveling from Susa to Jerusalem
- And he has just been given his first opposition

I do not mean to slow down to the point of being overly simplistic, but we're all going to have opposition, especially when we are passionate about what we want to do. I will go as far to say that when something is as monumental a task and involves the LORD's fame, we will always have opposition. This is just how the world works. Yet, in all its decay and corruption, we do have a choice though.

Nehemiah clearly was passionate about this cause and would do his very best to make sure that the walls were re-built. But he may not have been ready to face all that would transpire by way of opposition. But I do find it interesting the ramifications of this first opposition. I believe it made him stronger. I believe all opposition in our lives makes us stronger. But the ticket is that we need to believe and be ready to receive this teaching. If we allow ourselves to be pulled down by opposition, we will not see the purpose in it. I believe with all my heart that the events of our lives all happen because they have been caused by the LORD's hand (Rom. 8:28). The question that is asked though, is do we trust the LORD in these circumstances?

When facing a monumental task, which all seem to be when it is something the LORD puts on our hearts to do, how are we going to respond with opposition? Can we see these circumstances as learning-experiences and events that the LORD has caused for His glory or are we going to get discouraged because it reminds us that it is too difficult?
 
There's always opposition...but we need to remember Who is on our side.

Nehemiah 1:11-2:1-8 : The Risk-Taker

Now I was the cupbearer to the king. And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, that wine was before him, and I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. So the king said to me, “Why is your face sad though you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.” Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What would you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. I said to the king, “If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor before you, send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” Then the king said to me, the queen sitting beside him, “How long will your journey be, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me, and I gave him a definite time. And I said to the king, “If it please the king, let letters be given me for the governors of the provinces beyond the River, that they may allow me to pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress which is by the [a]temple, for the wall of the city and for the house to which I will go.” And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me.

***
And so we come to the first step of Nehemiah's journey to Jerusalem. Though it is an important first step, like all stories, there is always 'pre-steps' for the journey.

We read in the first verse of chapter 2 that the beginnings came about in the month of Nisan. This was four months after Hanani, Nehemiah's brother, came to Susa to tell him about the walls! What is the first lesson we learn about Nehemiah? He was patient, very patient. We would do well to learn this lesson as well. When we have something that we believe the LORD has called us to do, we need to realize that His timeline is often not ours. We would do very well to be guided by Him instead of pulling on Him, requesting Him to follow us. Following Him is ALWAYS better.

Second, note that there has been a relationship that has been fostered with the King and Nehemiah. It is clear that the King cares for Nehemiah. Yet, we cannot forget the  responsibility that Nehemiah has. As out of place the final verse of chapter one looks, it is very important for us to know the role Nehemiah plays. Kings were often the focus of many threats and attacks and to have someone that they could trust was very, very important. Nehemiah literally was putting his life in the King's hands as he would be the one to sample whatever the King had by way of sustenance. And so, when we read this question of the King - Why is your face sad though you are not sick?(vs. 2) - it speaks both of the importance of the King's knowledge of his cupbearer and his care for him. It would most definitely not be appropriate for the cupbearer to be sick - and if he was, he would have been taken out of the King's presence. So this confirms that Nehemiah's health was always carefully monitored but we find here that his emotional health was watched as well, which brings me to my next point.

Being willing to bring before our leaders our cares and concerns are often looked down upon, even in our culture. We would often say that they wouldn't care what us 'little people' think. Yet we do not see this in Nehemiah. We see a man who cared enough to remain in his job, but also waited on the LORD's timing. While doing his job, it was noticed by the King that he was sad. We find Nehemiah's story always at some point of risk but we always find him willing to take the risk for the LORD was with him. And so, in his own grief-stricken and fearful state, he speaks out his rehearsed statement to the King: Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire? (vs. 3). And his story leaps forward.

After four months of waiting, Nehemiah is granted an ear from the King. He shares his heart, fearful that the King may banish him from his job and responsibility as cupbearer, or worse, but risks all of this for the LORD's glory. And he is granted his request. Nehemiah then prays before he outlines all that he knows needs to happen for this project to succeed.

What are we willing to risk? First, are we willing to risk the long wait that might be waiting for us for our plans to move forward? Are we willing to risk the silence of God? Are we willing to approach people that may very well deny our case but speak out our hearts anyway? What is clear is that Nehemiah is a man who takes risks. He believes in trusting the LORD in his own story that wasn't even written yet.  

What are we willing to risk today for the LORD's glory?


Nehemiah 1 : He Cared Enough to Go

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.
Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the [a]capitol, that Hanani, one of my brothers, and [b]some men from Judah came; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped and had survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.”
When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. I said, “I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’ 10 They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. 11 O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to [c]revere Your name, and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man.”

*** 

I can't help but see the life of Nehemiah through the lens of Jesus' call to 'Go!' (see Matt. 28:19, 20). It is clear to me that the LORD is calling all of us to care enough to go. But how many of us are willing?

We are told that the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem’s walls, gates, and temple in 586 BC and we are picking up the narrative almost 150 years later. Wiersbe writes, 'The Hebrew month of Chislev runs from mid- November to mid-December on our calendar, and the twentieth year of Artaxerxes (see vs. 1) was the year 444 BC'. He goes on to write, 'Fifty years later, a group of 50,000 Jews had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city. Since the Gentiles had hindered their work, however, the temple was not completed for twenty years (Ezra 1—6), and the gates and walls never were repaired'.

We need to acknowledge that we really don't have so much of a kindred spirit when it comes to our own city or nation being special or important...or at least not to the level of the Israelites. As much as we might disagree with the focus of a place to experience the LORD's presence or pride in a land, as we read very clearly that Jesus came to reside within us, not in buildings or structures made with human hands, we still need to acknowledge that the commitment-level we see here is for the LORD's glory. I am absolutely convinced that if this was not in the LORD's interest, it would not have been done. Put another way, if this was Nehemiah's plan, it would simply have stopped before it began. But his heart is for the LORD and we clearly see this in his prayer.

I find his prayer to be incredibly significant. Note that throughout his entire prayer, he is beseeching the LORD's wisdom and blessing - for His glory. We could very easily use Nehemiah's prayer as a model for our daily prayer-lives today. Note he first acknowledges the LORD's greatness, second he cries out to the LORD honestly with his concerns, third he confesses their need (corporately) for the LORD's forgiveness  and finally reminds the LORD of His covenant with them. Make no mistake, Nehemiah is a man of God who knows his LORD well. He knows very well the promise that the LORD made for a unique people to be set apart for His glory and those people are in great distress and reproach (vs. 3). And so he seeks the LORD's help in rebuilding that which is literally lying in ruins. He cared enough for God's people to go, repair and restore.

Wiersbe writes, 'Abraham cared and rescued Lot from Sodom. Moses cared and delivered the Israelites from Egypt. David cared and brought the nation and the kingdom back to the Lord. Esther cared and risked her life to save her nation from genocide. Paul cared and took the gospel throughout the Roman Empire. Jesus cared and died on the cross for a lost world'. What remains is asking ourselves, do we care?

Do you and I care enough to pray a prayer like Nehemiah prayed and go? We see 'walls in ruins' all around us - people in desperate need of hearing that they were created with a purpose by a God who loves them. But so very often we simply don't care to go at all - much more apt to turn aside and do our jobs - literally. Note that Nehemiah sacrifices the prominent job that he has in order to rebuild that which was destroyed. Maybe we need to look seriously at this sacrifice and see those around us that are in ruins and ask if it be the LORD's will that we 'Go!' 

Maybe it's more than just maybe.

Introduction to Nehemiah : Lessons in Heart-Leadership

When attending a leadership conference, we should not be surprised that Nehemiah comes up in conversation. There are many aspects of leadership that we can glean by turning the pages of this historical book entitled Nehemiah.
Gustave Doré, Nehemiah Views the Ruins of Jerusalem's Walls, 1866


Wiersbe writes, 'Nehemiah was the kind of person who cared. He cared about the traditions of the past and the needs of the present. He cared about the hopes for the future. He cared about his heritage, his ancestral city, and the glory of his God'.

It is interesting to note that the name Nehemiah actually means 'The LORD has comforted'. What better person to not only assist in rebuilding a wall that has been destroyed but to comfort and secure a people in the truth that the LORD truly is a comforter to all who believe in Him!

We pick up the second act, as it were, in beginning the book of Nehemiah as our devotion. Historians tell us that it was not until much later that Ezra and Nehemiah were separated into their own books in the Bible we have today; it is believed that Ezra and Nehemiah were originally written as one book. The very early manuscript of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) has Ezra and Nehemiah as one book.


At the heart of this book is a man who's heart is for his people. One very key observation the reader needs to make as we begin this journey is that there is often a mention of Nehemiah's prayer life - it is not something that is added on for good measure but is integrated into the everyday life of this servant of the LORD's. This is key, I believe, to our understanding of any task that the LORD has before us. We most definitely need to keep our eyes fixed on Him in all that we do.We need not to invite Him into what we are doing but submit to what He would have us do.

Nehemiah is a book full of history, heart and hope within a clearly very difficult time in history for the people of Israel. Nehemiah is a man who loved the LORD and His people and who was willing to sacrifice for the sake of both.

Come along for the journey to discover the heart of a man who cared enough to go but more so was willing to reveal the Heart of God in his efforts.