Nehemiah Chapter 1
What is a “Vision”? We often hear about CEO’s and leaders casting vision for the future and directing the future of organizations and corporations. However when we as Christians talk about having a vision for the future, it is not a crystal ball looking into the future. It is a belief in your heart that God is going to do something that is consistent with his word and his will. Over the next few weeks we are going to be looking at this book of Nehemiah. The book of Nehemiah is all about a man who received a vision from God and God allowed him to accomplish a great task.
The Israelites after King David and Solomon were prone to forgetting all that God had done for them, and they began to worship idols and perform the wicked acts of the religions of those who lived in the promised-land before them. As a result, after many warnings by his prophets, God punished the Israelites and they were attacked by the superpowers of the day. God used first the Syrians, and then the Babylonians. In 597 B.C. the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and took the people of Judah into captivity. It was now it 445 B.C., and God was looking for someone to go to the ruined city and restore safety and order. Nehemiah was to be that person.
So who was this man? He was an Israelite, who was born in ancient Persia and became the cupbearer to the King. This was not simply a fancy term for a butler. No, he was a high ranking official and someone that the King would turn to for personal advice and policy advice. Only a person of exceptional trustworthiness would be given such a post.
Nehemiah was not forgetful of his own people, for he eagerly asked his brother for news about Jerusalem. The news was distressing: the remnant was suffering shame, the walls were broken down, and the gates were burned. (See Ps. 79:1–4)
Instead of being a city of praise and glory, it was a city of shame and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem had been destroyed. It was an ever present reminder of their sin, defeat and disgrace.
Nehemiah was overcome with sadness and remorse. Even though Nehemiah grieved, he didn’t stay there, he didn’t wallow in his sadness and simply burry his head in the sand hoping someone else would take care of the city of Jerusalem. The fact that he was more than 700 miles away made no difference, he could have easily said that the situation in Jerusalem was not his problem.
Nehemiah’s response to hearing the news is indicative of his awareness that God was calling him to a completely new sphere of service, for which his position and training had uniquely prepared him. This is shown in particular by his sense of identity with his people and the fact that he prayed about the situation for four months fasting and praying, asking the Lord for wisdom and direction. (From Dec. to April – 1:1 and 2:1)
Nehemiah was a man of action, he was not someone to sit idly by and wait for someone else to take care of the problem. However he had the wisdom to realize that this was a calling on his life unlike anything else he had ever received. He did not take it lightly, he asked God for timing and guidance. He knew that the burden in his heart was not enough; he needed the wisdom and power of God to move forward. Nehemiah knew that anything worthwhile begins with a solid foundation and a vision from the Lord.
When we are faced with a huge challenge and life changing decision, who do we turn to? Our friends? Parents? Any sympathetic ear? Why do we do this, when we can go to the Solid foundation of the ALMIGHTY GOD.
Nehemiah was a man of prayer and a man of action. He started with prayer and fasting. It is a sad feature of the modern day church that prayer is relegated to a side room for those who “like that sort of thing”. However prayer is our life blood. A church without prayer is a church that is complacent and ultimately will die.
As I mentioned earlier the book shows Nehemiah to be a man of prayer (1:4–11; 2:4; 4:4; 4:9; 5:19; 6:9, 14; 13:14, 22, 29, 31). The book starts and ends with prayer! But we can learn so much from the format and flow of the prayer of Nehemiah in the first chapter of the book. First he begins by worshiping God, acknowledging him for who He is;” Lord God of Heaven, the great and awesome God.” Then he repents for his personal sins and then for the sins of his people.
As Nehemiah continues in prayer, he reminds God of his promises that were given to Moses, because of his knowledge of the Law of Moses he is able to stand firm on the promises of God. This is such a lesson for us. How can we stand firm on the promises of God when we don’t know them? God doesn’t need reminding, but we need to get into the habit of quoting the promised of God from His word.
Nehemiah’s prayer (1:5–11) was a model of adoration (1:5), confession (1:6–7), and petition (1:8–11). I like to add in the aspect of thanksgiving, reminding us of the blessings of God.
I started this sermon with the question; “what is a vision” what is our vision? Where are we going? We need to come together as God’s people in this place and seek His will. Ultimately it will come down to God’s people on their knees in prayer seeking God’s will for His purposes.