As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting
and praying before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:4
Sunday we will dive into the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah had an important (and pretty cushy) job as the cupbearer to the king (Persian King Artaxerxes). Basically, it was the cupbearer’s duty to serve the wine at the king’s table and the most important characteristic of a cupbearer was trustworthiness. Sometimes, the cupbearer would be required to swallow some of the wine before serving it to the king to ensure there was no poison in the king’s cup.
When Nehemiah heard about conditions of the walls and gates around Jerusalem (they had been torn down and not rebuilt), he does not stick his head in the sand or make excuses for not being able to help with this problem. Rather, he immediately goes before the Lord in prayer and fasting to see how the Lord would have him help get the walls rebuilt. We can learn so much about leadership (especially godly leadership) in the book of Nehemiah.
The first thing we will notice is that Nehemiah was a man of prayer. The first thing he does is go to God in prayer. Before he makes a request of King Artaxerxes, he prays for God to make the kings heart receptive to his desires. We see Nehemiah go to God throughout the book. I think we will learn about the importance of prayer in regards to any area of leadership we may attempt. Nehemiah does more than pray. After he prays, Nehemiah leaves his position of comfort in the king’s palace to go to Jerusalem and help organize the Israelites in order for them to rebuild the walls.
We know that leadership usually involves some opposition and we will read about a lot of opposition that Nehemiah experiences as he tries to lead the people to rebuild the walls. With much dependence upon the Lord, Nehemiah lays out a plan, divides up the work, and leads the people in rebuilding. Nehemiah genuinely cares about his people and quickly realizes that they need more than just to have the walls of the city rebuilt. The people needed revival in their lives and they needed to live for the Lord and not for their own selfish pursuits.
In Nehemiah 8, Ezra the scribe brings out the Book of the Law of Moses and begins to read from God’s Word. Nehemiah boldly leads the people to respond to the Word of God by confessing their sins and making changes in their lives to align with God’s instructions. Nehemiah helped the people take specific actions to follow God’s law. It is often easy to make promises with our mouths but more difficult to continue to keep our promises. The Israelites were quick to go back to their sinful behaviors and Nehemiah was courageous enough to deal with their disobedience.
I am very excited about going through Nehemiah. I think we are going to learn much about prayer, determination, dealing with conflict, being bold and courageous, following the Lord and living for His glory. I hope you will make plans to join us as we journey through Nehemiah and ask the Lord to use this book and Nehemiah’s leadership to encourage us to live for the Lord and to delight in helping others accomplish their God given purpose(s) in life. This Sunday we will see the priority of prayer!