Nehemiah // a Jewish man; the king’s “cupbearer” (wine taster and guard); held place of honor with Persian King
King of Persia // verbally blessed Nehemiah and encouraged him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild walls
Sanballet, Tobiah, and Geshem // kings doubtful of Nehemiah
LOCATION // Jerusalem. The Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and King Nebuchadnezzar knocked down the city’s walls and burned its gates. When the Israelites returned to Jerusalem from Babylon, after 70 years of slavery, they attempted to reconstruct the city but their efforts were thwarted by laziness and a lack of faith. They were distracted, discouraged, and lacked leadership, organization, and unity. More than 150 years after the city had been destroyed, Nehemiah obeyed God’s calling to return to Jerusalem even though he held a position of prominence for the King of Persia. The king noticed Nehemiah’s sadness for his homeland then blessed him and sent him to Jerusalem – a divine appointment directed by God himself.
Verse 17: Without walls, Jerusalem is weak and unable to defend itself against enemies. Its physical and spiritual condition was a disgrace.
Verse 18: Nehemiah encouraged the Israelites to listen, to act as one, because he had been DOUBLY blessed: by the encouraging words of the Persian king and God’s gracious hand. They (the Israelites) said, “Let’s start building!” and they committed themselves to the common good. Here, what is good for one was good for all. The people collectively agreed to rebuild the city walls and they were unified with one voice and one purpose.
Verse 19: When Christ-followers are doing God’s work, Satan creeps in to discourage and distract us. Three kings from surrounding areas ridicule and mock the Israelites for attempting the reconstruction project again, a reminder that opposition comes quickly when God’s people are working for His glory.
Verse 20: Nehemiah responds to the kings trying to discourage him and the Israelites – but he does so with humility and gives God credit for their success. They (Nehemiah and Israelites) take the role of servant and submit to God’s purpose instead of their own selfish desires.
Being a Christian is not easy! Nehemiah’s faith was planted firmly in God’s promise to fulfill His kingdom. God blessed Nehemiah with specific talents and Nehemiah was obedient to use his gifts for God’s glory. Later on, we read that Nehemiah led the reconstruction project and the walls were rebuilt in 52 days. The massive project, with Nehemiah’s leadership and divine blessing, was divided into smaller tasks and assigned to talented individuals. The Israelites worked together and focused on one goal – to rebuild the city’s walls – and they succeeded.
When we let God take control and surround ourselves with genuine supporters, blessings come and our obedience is rewarded.
The walls around Jerusalem symbolize the condition of our faith community. Is your support group in ruins or chaotic? Look around you. Are people building you up or tearing you down? Are they helping you or mocking you?
God created us to be in relationship with Him and other believers. We need spiritual mentors and accountability partners to love and respect us, as well as support and guide us in the right direction. Living a faithful life doesn’t mean an easy life – the three doubtful kings prove there is always opposition and Satan works hard to wreck our plans – but living an obedient life guarantees eternal blessings!
When Nehemiah prayed to God asking for restoration of Jerusalem, he didn’t sit on the sidelines and hope for a miracle. He offered himself and said use me.
The Greek word “koinonia” means fellowship – an essential element of the Christian faith because it represents the intimacy between God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and all believers. When we are in fellowship with God, we are called to be in fellowship with others ( 1 John 1:3 ).
A healthy and thriving faith community requires participation and sharing one purpose. The word community includes the word UNITY for a reason! When the Israelites had a single mission, their efforts were unified and they worked together to accomplish one goal. They kept each other spiritually fit to ward off Satan’s distractions, discouragement, and deceitful tactics.
Biblically-grounded, spiritually mature people are crucial to our faith development and help us stay focused. We thrive in community that has purpose and is filled with love, mutual respect, and accountability.
God, I come to you with a heart full of thanksgiving. I am grateful for my faith-filled family, friends, church, and small group because they exemplify rest, healing, discipleship, discipline, honor, and integrity. Forgive me when I forget the magnitude of their presence or take them for granted. I submit my life to your will, not my preference or convenience. Use me for your kingdom work, all honor and glory is yours.