NEHEMIAH - INTRODUCTION - A KINGDOM STATESMAN Print E-mail

 

NEHEMIAH – INTRODUCTION – Chapter 1

THE GODLY STATESMAN

Tuesday Morning Bible Study

February 9, 2016, the Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom

 

Nehemiah sets before us an example of Godly character and leadership.  At the call of God, he renounced his life of luxury and high position in the palace of Shushan for a life of toil, danger, hardship and opposition from false brethren within, and enemies without in the work of restoration.  He was a man of faith, wisdom, courage and perseverance; a man of prayer and energy.

 

He received a “call” to lead the then State of Israel.  With the “call”, he was empowered by God to fulfill his calling and commission.   

 

The book of Nehemiah begins and ends with prayer.  The story begun in Ezra “From the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem…” (Dan. 9:25a) is completed in Nehemiah.  Ezra, the Priest, had achieved the rebuilding of the Temple and the restoration of temple worship, but the city of Jerusalem was left unprotected against the incursions of hostile peoples.

 

The protection of the city and its population by the rebuilding of the walls and gates became the task of Nehemiah. 

 

The book covers approximately 16 years, beginning about 12 years after the close of Ezra. 

 

The purpose of the books is to show that under Nehemiah, the walls and 12 gates of Jerusalem were repaired and rebuilt; and the people were revived.

 

For the New Testament Church it reveals the principles of restoration as well as the rebuilding of the human personality, families, etc.

 

The message is God’s purpose to restore that which has been lost, and then to reconstruct that which has been broken down.  The conditions for successful work in God are prayer, pain and perseverance.  God’s people must be separated unto God and separated from the world.

 

The essentials of restoration are the teaching of God’s Word; and bringing the people into worship, and prayer.

 

This past weekend, Keith Miller spoke on revival.  We are revived when we hunger and thirst for more of the Lord, His Word and Spirit.  There must be a hunger for more.

 

Sunday morning coming, I am going to speak on revival of a new passion and love for one another and life.   Everyone needs a passion and love for someone or something to celebrate life to the fullest.   

 

We as ministers,  must bring the people into worship.  The music ministry can never be about performance, giftings, competition, and vain glory.  Satan has destroyed many a worship ministry with those demons.  It is in our weakness, not in our strength, that the worship becomes a sweet perfume unto the Lord.

 

Prayer to the Lord to resolve satanic attacks is opposite of gossip and stirring strife.  Intercessory prayer is vital and essential in the development of restoration ministry.  Effective prayer and preparation enabled Nehemiah to become the answer to his own prayer.  Emphasis is placed on prayer in chapter 8 as Ezra and the Levites preach a life-changing message based upon the history of Israel.

 

There are many prayers in the Holy Bible that changed the course of history.  Nehemiah’s prayer in chapter (1) is once such prayer.

 

Significantly the focus is not upon the leader, Nehemiah, but upon the life and ministry within and among the congregation.  Translating his vision into action, Nehemiah faces tense obstacles and overcomes them with unshakeable faith.

 

Like all of the heroes of faith now and then, opposition from within does not hinder Nehemiah as he continues to labor for the approval of God and not men.  Removal of God’s appointed leadership is impossible for man to accomplish. 

 

The underlying truth in the Book of Ezra was the Sovereignty of God in general.  The underlying truth in the book of Nehemiah is the Sovereignty of God in particular, namely, God’s instruments of Divine Sovereignty.

 

A human instrument of Divine Sovereignty must be:

 

1.  Divinely chosen              -   in the palace of Shushan.

2.  Divinely commissioned  - to rebuild the Walls.

3.  Divinely led                     - as God moved upon King Artaxerxes.

4.  Divinely enabled             - to finish the task in spite of hindrances.

 

As with the office of Apostle, a divine choosing would result in being an Apostle of “something”.   

 

As with all the Holy Writ, there are at least eight ways to teach the book of Nehemiah.

 

  1. The Holy Spirit is restoring the Walls of the Human Personality (realm of the soul).  We are the temple and the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
  2. The Lord Jesus Christ left the “palace” (heaven’s throne)  and has come and is coming to build his people, the church. 
  3. The overcomers (a family of sons in the image of Jesus) are returning to Zion, and leading God’s people in the Day of Restoration.
  4. The Pastor who is commissioned by King Jesus to build his spiritual family (the local church) to overcome the hindrances from within and without by observing the servant-leader, Nehemiah.
  5. The father who is commissioned by King Jesus to build his natural family (the home) to overcome hindrances from within and without by observing the life and ministry of Nehemiah.
  6. For the church of the 21st century, we can surely apply this spiritual calling and leadership to building the wall on the southern border of the United States to protect our nation from terrorists, drug and sex trafficking.
  7. The credentials of a statesman “called” by God and empowered to do the work of His Kingdom.
  8. Internationally the over-throw of nations and kings are relevant to the present ward in the Middle East and within our own government as well as the church.  The Lord chose a man out of the midst of international wars for the survival of Israel.  

 

The Kingdom of God continues regardless of who sits on earthly thrones.

 

The national impact of Nehemiah’s ministry is due to his uncompromising stand for God and His Word. 

 

The twelve gates of the book of Nehemiah reveal:

 

  1. A progressive rebuilding of the human personality to reveal Jesus Christ.
  2. A progressive unfolding of the Christ nature from within the believer.
  3. A progressive rebuilding of the Home and family.
  4. Rebuilding the local church (or the ministry).
  5. Rebuilding of the universal church.
  6. Rebuilding of the nation (s).
  7. Rebuilding of the whole creation.
  8. Progressive unfolding of prophecy.
  9. Progressive unfolding of God’s purpose for the Kingdom of God.
  10. A man endued with the power of God will have to engage in spiritual warfare.

 

We are Kingdom people who have been removed from the land of sin and confusion.  In the grace of God, Christians and born again Jews  are being restored to the land to fulfill His eternal purpose.

 

Between Ezra and Nehemiah (458-445 B.C.) – “Megabyzos, the Satrap of Syria, had successfully defied the Persian King, Artaxerxes, and forced him to agree to his own terms of peace, thus giving the first sign of the internal decay of the Empire.  It is possible the dissatisfaction of the satrap may account for the silence in scripture as to the events which followed Ezra’s reform  Deprived of the royal support, he would no longer be able to maintain himself as governor in face of the opposition he was certain to experience from the Samaritans.

 

It would also account for the condition in which we find the Jews when the book of Nehemiah opens.  The walls of the city are still not built.  Ezra has ceased to be governor.  He does continue to serve as the High Priest of the Temple.   The people are in great affliction and reproach.  The Arabs are encamping close to Jerusalem.  Sangallo and his allies are powerful.   Priests and Laity alike have gone back to their strange wives.” (Archibald Sayce 1845-1933)

 

My purpose of injecting this historical information is to emphasize the wars and overthrow of thrones in the known world.  Yet, in the midst, the Lord God chooses a man and sends him on Kingdom mission with Kingdom authority.

 

Nehemiah means “Consolation of Jah.” He stands out quite distinctly from all over Bible characters.  His significance as an individual, and in Jewish history from the middle of the 5th century B.C., can be apprehended and appreciated only by the reading of his book at one sitting.  For the practical Christian idealist, there is no more inspiring book in the Bible.  Elsewhere is found hard work and religious devotion, but here they are combined.  The movements of the book are swift, because the inspirer of them is swift.

 

Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries.  Both were men of God but from different professional backgrounds.  Ezra was a priest.  Nehemiah was a layman, cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia.  Ezra’s prime duty was religious.  Nehemiah’s occupation was civil or domestic.  Nehemiah’s expertise in the King’s court equipped him adequately for the political and physical reconstruction necessary for the remnant to survive. 

 

Nehemiah stresses the importance of dedicated laymen and civil leaders in the work of God.  Also, the emphasis that God is the one who chooses leaders for blessing or for judgment.   He has his heart in his work.  He was a man of prayer.  He sought out first hand information about the needs at hand.  He engaged in self-denying labor.  He was able to inspire others to work. He was not easily sidetracked from his work.  He was undismayed and undisturbed by opposition.  He was ready and willing to give the credit to God.

 

His virtues are many, and his faults are few.  His example is a model for all who would be honorable servants of Jesus Christ.  His was the example of patriotism, true piety, a healthy concept of God as the “God of heaven”; and “the great and terrible God.”

 

Nehemiah’s knew that God was to be feared, obeyed, and worshipped; hence the need to know Him.  Great was Nehemiah’s courage, both physical and moral.  As Keith Miller pointed out, our courage comes from our relationship with the Lord.

 

After twelve years he returned to Shushan to report, as he had promised to do (2:6) and when he heard how the people had sadly backslid in his absence, he returned and vigorously wrought a second reformation.

 

In the ministry, we present the gospel to those who are before us, and then we watch as some receive the Word and move forward with God.  Others backslide and drift;  tested by self-promotion, self-exaltation, selfish-ambition, vain glory and vanity of religion, etc.   We let them go and start all over again with whoever is before us.  We trust God that the good seed we planted will one day bring forth fruit.  We don’t quit because people quit on God.  We have this confidence the Lord will never quit on His children.

 

Nehemiah returned and vigorously wrought a second reformation.  His integrity, deep earnestness of purpose, fearlessness, unselfishness, and generosity are evident throughout.  Without the grace of the Hand of God on these two warriors, Ezra and Nehemiah, it is difficult to see how the Jewish state could have survived.

 

Nehemiah was a:

 

  1. Political leader
  2. Warrior
  3. Statesman
  4. Civil Governor
  5. Carried the anointing to bring material prosperity to the state.
  6. Ruler 
  7. Architect
  8. Prayed and effectual prayer of a righteous man.

 

Ezra was a religious reformer; spiritual teacher and guide; pastor and theologian.  He was the instrument of spiritual advancement.

 

Neh. 1:1-3: “The words of Nehemiah the son of Hach-a-liah.  It came to pass in the 9th month, in the 20th year, as I was in Shushan the palace, that Hannani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men Judah.  I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped which were left of the captivity concerning Jerusalem.  They said to me, the remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and the gates are burned with fire.”

 

Nehemiah, the cupbearer to the king, heard the sad news of the situation at Jerusalem.  The rest of this chapter details his great sorrow and his effectual, fervent, prayer.

 

This Artaxerxes was the son Xersus 1 and thus the stepson of Queen Esther.  She had become Queen about 478 B.C. and had given the Jewish people great prestige at the Persian court.  Esther most probably was still alive, and in influential personage in the palace. 

 

Nehemiah 2:6 “The King said to me, (the queen also sitting by him).  Whether this verse refers to the wife of Artaxerxes or the Queen Mother, I cannot confirm.

 

Nehemiah was the member of a prominent Jewish family, for one of his brothers, Hanani, was the spokesman of the official delegation to Susa.  Then later became a governor over Jerusalem.

 

Neh. 7:2: “I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace charge over Jerusalem; for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many.”

 

The fact that both his and his father’s name, (Hachiliah), contain the name “Yah” may well indicate that his family was loyal to the orthodox Jewish faith.  Nehemiah was a man who could be trusted, for in this period only such a man could have been give the post of cupbearer, for the father of Artaxerses had been murdered and he himself had gained the throne by a palace revolution.

 

The sorrow and burden of Nehemiah upon hearing of the condition of Jerusalem and the affliction of the people was a manifestation of the sorrow and the compassion of the heart of God.  It would be the Holy Spirit who imparted to him his burden of prayer.

 

In the same light of truth, we can assume that the Lord God is in sorrow at the sins of our nation as well as the nations of the world.  However, like Israel, we have more accountability than the heathen nations.  We have experienced the blessings of God even above the blessings of Israel.

 

On a personal level, so many today are forgiven and know Jesus as Savior, but they are not whole.  The Temple of our earthly body is restored, but the walls and the fortified gates are destroyed.  Anyone can come in at anytime (no moral boundaries).  The church world is filled with people who are not able to shut or keep out of their mind depression and temptation.  There must be a secure line of defense against the adversary (Satan) and against our own flesh.  The inner Temple is alive, but there remains brokenness in the out-workings of  lives as the result of the past.  There are still areas of hurt in the soul level of the personality.  But God wants man to become whole. 

 

We have this comfort that Jesus will restore His church and overcomers will arise who will renew their minds and again hunger for the Word of God. 

 

His prayer opens with confession and the acknowledgment of the sin of the people, with whom Nehemiah identified.  He then proceeded to plead the promises of God, and ended with a personal and definite petition that God would give him favor in the eyes of the King.

 

Neh. 4-5: “It came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.  I said, I beseech You, O Lord God of Heaven, the great and terrible God that keeps covenant and mercy for them that love Him and observe His commandments.”

 

Every pastor in the church and every father in the home must know how to pray in (with) the Holy Ghost.  Our Spirit is that part of us inside that unashamedly, totally loves God.  The temple is rebuilt, but look at all the rubble.

 

Neh. 6-11: “Let your ear now be attentive, and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of your servant, which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against You; both I and my father’s house have sinned.  We have dealt very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which You commanded Your servant Moses.  Remember, I beseech You the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, If you transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations; but if you turn to Me, and keep My commandments, and do them; though there were of you those cast out to the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from there, and will bring them to the place that I have chosen to set My name there.  Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.  O Lord, I beseech You, let now Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of your servants, who desire to fear Your name; and prosper, I pray You.  Your servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.  For I was the king’s cupbearer.”

 

God will begin to mold Nehemiah into the answer to his own prayer.  When the Lord prepares a minister for a ministry, that one will carry that burden in prayer until the minister becomes the instrument of the prayer.  Nehemiah carried his burden for four months before the opportunity came to present his petition before the King.  This is the principle of perseverance in prayer and the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man.

 

God chooses an inside man to do an outside job.  Nehemiah the cupbearer will become Nehemiah the construction boss.  The “are nots” are the same company as the “are leds” of Rom. 8:14.  Moses was somebody.  The somebody became a nobody.  Then nobody became a God unto Pharaoh! (Ex. 7:1).

 

The word “butler” in our English Bible is the same word as “cupbearer”.  The cupbearer was an important man, an officer of high rank, responsible for serving drinks to his King.  The office was one of honor and profit among the Persians.  The butler would fill the King’s cup with wine, and then pour some into the palm of his own hand and taste it to ascertain if there was any poison in it, before offering the cup to the King.  Nehemiah was an intimate, not an inferior to the King.

 

Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries Church

www.eastgateministries.com

Scripture from K.J.V. – I entered into the labors of Principles of Present Truth by: Kelly Varner.  Comments
 
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