Nehemiah recap (audio file for download)
This is the 12th and final week of our study of Nehemiah. What a great book it is too! So much to learn from Nehemiah and what he and his people went through. What I am going to do today is recap the book as I typically do at the end of a book study. The first week we study a new book I like to do an introduction, and the last week a recap. So now that we have read it all and looked at a lot of the content, I would say that we have a broad understanding of what went on in this time that the book was written. For the most part we probably know the major events that took place. We know that Nehemiah was a Jew, and part of the dispersion that took place after a couple nations took over Jerusalem. We know that he was a cupbearer to the king and he went to Jerusalem with the King’s permission to rebuild the walls of the city. We know that he went there, and envisioned the people to do this great work, that there was a great deal of opposition to the work. We saw him face the opposition with bravery and focus. We saw him complete the wall in 52 days, displaying the power of God in the life of His people. We also saw that there was still work to be done when the wall was finished and that just like the city, we are works in progress and we should be on guard against the propensity that we each have to drift from God’s commands into our own selfishness.
So, with so much going on in this book, how can I recap it? Well, in preparing this message my thought is this, what do I want each of us to remember about this book six months from now…
Well, there are two areas that I want each of us to remember 6 months to a year from now where we look back on our study of this book.
- Nehemiah as and example.
- Nehemiah as a shadow of Christ.
Lets look at those two things briefly.
- Nehemiah as an example for us:
Compassion: As Christians, we see people all around us with hurts and pains, and troubles. We see lives broken by sin, and people with no hope. This world is broken, we don’t need to be told it. But what should our response be to the brokenness around us? Well, when Nehemiah heard that the walls of Jerusalem were in ruins, he didn’t mock them and tell them they had it coming. He would have been right, but that wasn’t his response. He wept for them, he prayed for them, he hurt for them. We should have that same heart when people around us are in situations with broken walls. Even if they don’t see them. Even if they are reveling in their sin, and don’t see the hurt that they are causing to themselves and others. We need to have a heart of compassion for them, to weep for them, as Nehemiah did for Jerusalem.
Prayer: Nehemiah’s compassion for the people of Jerusalem drove him to his knees in prayer for these people he had never met. He spent 4 months in prayer for them. Probably in a mix of asking God to restore them, and asking God if he was meant to be the one to do it. We need to be actively praying for people in our lives who need restoration in their bodies and in their lives. As your pastor I purposely spend a good deal of time in prayer on Sunday mornings. It is not a time filler, it is purposeful, engaging the God of the universe and asking Him to move on our behalf. We need to be praying for all types of people. We need to pray for the sick, but also we need to be praying for the lost in our lives. Praying not just that God would bring them to salvation, but asking Him how he wants us to be a part of that process. We are a church who has no shortage of prayer requests, and many of us have a lot of time on our hands. You know, this is not a knock. Some of you are getting older and your bodies are not as able to do the things that they used to, but you know what you can do if your whole body is paralyzed and you still have your mind? You can pray! That is one of the most effectual things you can do to serve the people around you. My wife’s grandmother was the spiritual matriarch of her family. Se was a little woman who had lived a good life, a widow by the time I met her and living on her own. She couldn’t get around real well, but you know what, that woman prayed! And people knew it. People from all around would come to her house to pray with her. She prayed me through many difficult times in life. We need to be people who pray regularly. Pray for the lost, pray for the sick, pray for our Church, pray for me and my family, please.
Another thing about Nehemiah’s prayers is that they were rooted in scripture. Many times you will be praying for something to happen, or for direction concerning something, and you will find that God has already spoken about that thing in His word! If you find yourself asking God for direction, or purpose, you are likely to find something in His word that addresses that very thing.
Action: Nehemiah’s compassion led him to prayer, and his prayer led him to action. He went to the king in faith, and asked to go to Jerusalem. He went to Jerusalem and envisioned the people for the work they would do. He went to them, and met them where they were. He got in the mix with their brokenness and cared enough to get dirty working with them. He stepped out in faith, trusting that God would use him to fulfill His purpose for Nehemiah’s life. We as Christians are called to act. We are not saved to be put on a shelf like an old little league trophy. We are meant to be used as tools for the Lord. Our faith is meant to be expressed, and the expression of our faith that is most clearly seen is in our actions. We talked about this when we studied the book of James. Our works do nothing to save us, it is faith that saves us, but when faith is in your heart, your actions will confirm it.
Nehemiah as a Shadow of Christ: One of the marks that I want to make at this church. Not that it wasn’t here already, but I want to be intentional about making it deeper is that each one of us is constantly on the lookout for Jesus in all the scriptures. If you wonder where I get the idea that Jesus is in the Old and New Testaments, read the story about the disciples walking to a town called Emmaus. You can find it in Luke 23:13. Jesus Appeared to them and shared with them from the scriptures why the messiah had to suffer and die. He was showing them that he was there all along. And so, we must also read the scriptures with one eye on the story, and one eye on Jesus. So there are a few ways that Nehemiah’s example is meant to be a shadow of Christ in this Old Testament story. I will say that there are many many parallels in this book, but for our time I want to look at the same things that we looked at Nehemiah for. His Compassion, prayer and action.
Christ’s compassion: Throughout the gospels, we see Christ’s compassion for his people put on display. He shows compassion to children, to the woman who had bled for 12 years. He showed compassion to the thief on the cross. He also showed compassion for the crouds when he fed them, and the lepers when he healed them, he had compassion when his friend Lazarus died. And he had compassion for you when he set out to take your sins upon himself on the cross. He had compassion for you in your brokenness and pain, he saw the shame of your sin, and the guilt that you carried, and he had compassion on you.
Christ’s prayer: Christ was fully God, and fully man, yet, he regularly spend time alone with God in Prayer. He prayed earnestly, and he prayed for us. He prayed for the church that it would be unified, and he prayed for the will of the Father to be done…
Christ’s action: Christ’s compassion led him to prayer, and His prayer led Him to take action. There are two primary actions that Christ completed on earth. His perfect obedience, and his substitutionary atoning death and resurrection. These are not just actions for us to follow an example, they are actions that purchased, and guaranteed our salvation, and eternal life. Nehemiah acted so that the walls of Jerusalem might be restored, Jesus acted in such a way that our lives might be restored. If you are a Christian, He rebuilt the walls of your heart. That is a work that no one else could do.
So as we close, I want to do this. If you are in a place where you are aware of a wall that needs to be rebuilt in your life, whether that is trusting Christ to heal brokenness, or trusting Him for the first time to be your Savior and Lord, we re going to listen to a song that is a call for each of us to Come To Jesus. As we sing this song, please meditate quietly on your life and what areas God is calling you to rebuild. If you feel that the Holy Spirit is asking you to come to Jesus for the first time, please come forward for prayer. If you are not comfortable coming forward, pay quietly where you are, there is nothing special about the area at the front of the church, but just the action of coming forward can be a step that helps us in other areas to take action. For those in your seats, please spend some time in prayer asking The Lord to minister to your heart and reveal areas that He wants to rebuild in you.