For me the book of Nehemiah, brings encouragement and hope as I read God's ways of bringing back His people to His dwelling place on earth. Many a times we move away from God due to various lusts, wants, sins and disobediences,like the Israelites did, yet this book brings hope to me that there is way even for the lost to return, when they sincerely want a change from their past.
Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the king Artaxerxes. From Ezra 6:14 we know Artaxerxes was one of the kings under whom the rebuilding of the temple was done. The name Nehemiah means "comforted by YHWH". Isn't that a beautiful meaning. I love meaningful names. My name means "Mercy".
Lessons from Nehemiah 1
- Intercession: "I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. ". Nehemiah's heart was moved for the people of Israel, the remnant. He himself was working at a very high position, the king's cupbearer, most trusted of the king. He not only presented food to the king, he was responsible for the safety of the king, so he would have to taste the food before it was given to the king. The king would trust a cupbearer's advice on what was safe for him to eat. Why did such a highly positioned man, worry about someone else? Yet he did, his heart was moved by the disgrace and suffering of the remnant Israelites and he firstly, interceded for them.
- Action:"v11...Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man." I was cupbearer to the king. " Nehemiah not only interceded for the remnant Israelites, but also had a plan for them and for this he asked God's favour as he approached the king with the plan.
- God guides Nehemiah, as we will see in Nehemiah 2 onwards.
Conclusion:Without passion to change someone's situation we cannot make a difference in anyone's life. If we truly want a change, God shows us in this book, that a sensitive heart, to the needs of others is an important ingredient for an intercessor. Above all, Nehemiah went beyond that, he knew he was in a position to help and he prayed that God would give him favour as he would place his plan before the king of Persia.
God has positioned us in strategic manners, like he did Nehemiah & Esther to change the lives of the remnant Israelites under other rulers, Jesus our Lord to change the lives of people through critical preaching and breaking the strongholds of religious mentality, and Paul as the topmost Jewish figure to turn his world upside down with his preaching through conviction. In the same manner, I learnt that each one of us has a task we must fulfil, its our calling. What moves our heart is what we need to intercede and work and pray for, that God would direct our steps as He shows us His plan for what we need to do from our position.