So the king said to me, “Why is your face sad though you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.” Then I was very much afraid. 3 I said to the king, “Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?” 4 Then the king said to me, “What would you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 I said to the king, “If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor before you, send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” 6 Then the king said to me, the queen sitting beside him, “How long will your journey be, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me, and I gave him a definite time. 7 And I said to the king, “If it please the king, let letters be given me for the governors of the provinces beyond the River, that they may allow me to pass through until I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress which is by the temple, for the wall of the city and for the house to which I will go.” And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me.
12 And I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my mind to do for Jerusalem and there was no animal with me except the animal on which I was riding.
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard it, they mocked us and despised us and said, “What is this thing you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 So I answered them and said to them, “The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem.”
Examine / Explain
Nehemiah allowed his emotions to come out in his face and body language. So much so the king noticed. When the king asked what was wrong, Nehemiah laid it out and found favor. The king granted his cupbearer resources and authority to rebuild Jerusalem. Once there, he surveyed the damage and devised a plan to execute. There was opposition to the plan and the work. But God favored Nehemiah since the beginning, and the work would go on.
How do I apply this to my life?
Where does my heartache for God? Have I ever had such a burden for something to the point of abandoning protocol and asking my governing authority for resources to accomplish a God-related project? Nehemiah gambled with Artaxerxes. The king could have killed him for such a request. And we know, looking from the outside, that God’s hand was over the whole situation. At the moment, Nehemiah was just heartbroken and wanted to do something. I would imagine he was terrified of the result. It’s not like God gave a master plan before he went to Jerusalem. He was in the moment. He prayed and was released to go with authority to accomplish God’s plan. Once there, Nehemiah found opposition. However, he had God’s favor to rebuild. Do I have the sincerity in my own prayers to actually act on them? Do I really want or believe in the prayer that I am saying? Does my faith allow me the courage and fear of a higher authority to make petitions to kings? Do I want to do the work and put in the time to scope out the reality of the destruction around me? Do I love people enough to put my life on the line to protect theirs? Can I stand my ground in the face of opposition and say, “The God of heaven will give us success”? Do I have that kind of faith? Do I know that what I am doing is within God’s will? I have been hearing a phrase regarding David and Goliath. “God will conquer you, but I will kill you!” Do I have that mindset? When Israel went to the promised land, it was the same way. God had already conquered the inhabitants, but the Israelites had to go in and kill the opposition. I know that physically, I’m not killing the opposition. But what about in my mind? I started the podcast that God put within me. The burden for men to find freedom and know they are not alone. The opposition was the lies of “no one cares,” “you’re not good enough,” and “no one is going to listen to what you have to say.” Did I kill the opposition? Not all of it. Not at the beginning. But the master plan is coming together in God’s favor. And I know I have to keep building and watching out for my brothers.
What is my response?
Father, I know I am not perfect, and I am stumbling and tripping all the way to heaven. But your lovingkindness keeps picking me up again, dusting me, and sending me on my way. But that takes me also putting my faith that you will pick me up repeatedly. You care for me. You are my heavenly Father who wants the best for me. Not the best things this world can offer, but the best for me. You Son Jesus. I am to live a life of obedience and worship. When dealing with people and opposition, I must reflect Jesus’s nature, not mine. He overcame the temptations by Your word. He is seated at Your right hand because He did everything You asked to perfection. And all of it to redeem a world that wants to spit in His face. The beating and death on a cross for a chance that creation will accept the free miracle of salvation being offered. To freely love the creator of everything and to live for His good will and purpose. That is where I want to be. Help me get there. Amen.