Men of the Bible – Nehemiah

This is an article I wrote for the Men of the Bible section of the newsletter.

Name: Nehemiah
Meaning: Jehovah has comforted
His Character: Nehemiah was a leader who had the courage to see out his vision. He was a planner who was able to organize and motivate the people to accomplish what seemed impossible. Nehemiah also understood the importance of prayer.
His Sorrow: Nehemiah was deeply troubled by the state of Jerusalem. Although he never had previously been there, Nehemiah longed for where he knew was home.
His Triumph: Nehemiah accomplished what seemed impossible. He accomplished what he felt was his call, which was to rebuild the wall surrounding Jerusalem.
Key Scriptures: Book of Nehemiah

Nehemiah was a Jew living in exile in Babylon. The Jewish people had been defeated by the Assyrians and taken as slaves to the foreign land. The Assyrians were conquered by the Persians. Nehemiah was the cup bearer, adviser, and escort to Artaxerxes, who was the king of Persia. In his position, Nehemiah was the food taster for Artaxerxes and had the trust of the king and with that came influence.

As a Jew exiled in Babylon, Nehemiah was concerned about the present and future of Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s story picks up 70 years after Zerubbabel rebuilt God’s Temple and 13 years after Ezra had returned to Jerusalem to deal with the spiritual needs of the people. Nehemiah learned of the poor conditions of Jerusalem from his brother, Hanani. Hanani told of walls that had been torn down and gates that had been destroyed by fire. Nehemiah mourned this information and fasted and prayed.

Nehemiah saw a problem, and he sought God’s help in being part of the solution. Nehemiah’s prayer, found in verses 4 – 11 of chapter one, was a sincere plea asking for God’s guidance. His prayer thanked God for who He was, confessed his shortcomings, reminded God of His promises to His people, and asked for God’s favor and power to make a difference.

Nehemiah was able to use his position with King Artaxerxes to gain clearance and the material he would need for his assignment. Rebuilding the wall seemed like an impossible task, but like Nehemiah, we serve a God who can do the impossible. And remember Nehemiah started his task with prayer.

Nehemiah started with prayer, and he prayed throughout his assignment. He understood the power of prayer. Nehemiah was a leader who rebuilt the wall quickly and efficiently despite opposition and resistance. Nehemiah faced the opposition and resistance calmly with faith. Even the enemies of Israel recognized God’s favor over His people.

Nehemiah’s accomplishment also caused a spiritual awakening in the people of God who had been living in sin. The success was another reminder of God’s favor over them and His never-failing mercy toward Israel. After the wall was rebuilt, Nehemiah focused on social and economic issues. Nehemiah worked with Ezra to lead the people in worship and Bible study. Nehemiah also helped form a needed sense of community.

Nehemiah is an example of how God works through us. He places us in strategic positions. Through these positions, we develop relationships with people whose resources and/or influence help us to accomplish what seems impossible. God uses our gifts, talents, personalities, experiences, and backgrounds to serve His purpose, with each seemingly random twist preparing us to fulfill His purpose.

Nehemiah is also an example of the importance and power of prayer and walking with God. Interestingly enough I had shared with Sister Crystal how I needed to focus on my prayer life. Reading and writing about Nehemiah has inspired me and is another example of God’s perfect timing in all things.

We must begin all things with prayer. In your prayers, talk to God and also share your concerns, fears, questions, dreams, and feelings with Him. He knows already. Our prayer lives will lead to us walking closer with God as we live out our lives and fulfill our purposes, even those that are seemingly impossible, through Him.