I’m a part of a really fantastic young adult group at my church. This Fall we studied the Book of Nehemiah. It’s really such a great story. As we read it we see that, ultimately, it is a metaphor of life in general.
Many of us can relate to this story – We have a project/job/cause God puts on our heart. We step out and do it. We run in to a lot of opposition in the process. We learn we can’t do it alone – we have to work together. Things don’t go as planned. We trust God along the way.
So here are 13 Lessons we learned from the Life of Nehemiah…
- Fear of the unknown didn’t hold Nehemiah back from doing what was on his heart to do.
Now I had been sad in his presence. 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. Neh 2:2
Even though Nehemiah was afraid to approach the King about his desire to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall, he did it anyway. But before he asked the King, the Scripture says he “Prayed to the God of heaven” (2:4.) We don’t have to be afraid because we know God is with us.
- Nehemiah knew the good and faithful character of God.
“I beseech You, O Lord God of Heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant.” Neh 1:5-6
Nehemiah always came back to the good and loving nature of God. It’s what kept him anchored.
- People mattered more than things.
As the cupbearer to the King, Nehemiah had everything – prestiege, comfort, money. He gave all this up for people that he didn’t know. He gave up everything, and risked his life to restore the dignity of a city he had never been to.
- Nehemiah took sin and repentance very seriously.
In chapter 1, Nehemiah acknowledges the sin of his people. He goes in to great detail as to what that sin was and, on behalf of the people he’s leading, repents. Nehemiah knew that if God were to bless this task, their sin must be acknowledged, and offered to God so he may forgive. When we confess our sins, and repent, we are again made whole by the mercy of God.
- He constantly went to God in prayer, first. And always honestly.
We see Nehemiah do this throughout the whole book. Prayer was vital in his life. So must it be for us. He prays to God in…
Ch 1, 2:4, 4:4-5, 5:19, 6:9, 6:14, 9:5-38, 13:14,22,29,30
- He was patient. He waited on God’s timing. He waited for the right moment to approach King Artaxerxes.
It says in chapter 2 that he waited 3 months to approach the King with his request to go to Jerusalem. He waited for God to open the door. He waited for God’s timing.
- Worship was made a priority by beginning with repairing the Gate by the Temple.
In chapter 3, it says that Eliashib the High Priest arose and built the Sheep Gate. This gate was the closest to the temple. They started here first because they knew the most important thing they could do was worship God in community there at the temple. Worshiping together was made #1 priority.
- Nothing can be accomplished without unity. Humility is required for unity.
In chapter 3, the text lists all those who were working on the wall. The text makes a point of describing how they all were working next to each other – from the High Priest, to goldsmiths, regular priests, to governors, to daughters. They all swallowed their pride and worked together.
- When opposition comes, don’t conspire to get them back. Let God handle it. God fights for us.
In chapter 4, Nehemiah comes under some opposition. They are mocked and threatened. He doesn’t take matters into his own hands, he takes it to God.
At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us. Neh 4:20
- When we are afraid, remember who our God is. Go to him for Grace.
In chapter 6, Nehemiah’s enemies send him a messenger, trying to scare him into hiding and sinning (it was a sin to use the temple for anything but worship.) He didn’t fall for it. Don’t be scared into doing something you know is wrong.
But now, O God, strengthen my hand. Neh 6:10
- Don’t fall for the lies of the enemy. Know and remember how God loves you.
In chapter 6, the enemies of Nehemiah lie to him, saying they have heard that Nehemiah is plotting to rule. This was in an effort to discourage them and cause them to abandon their work. Nehemiah didn’t fall for the lies of the enemy. Neither should we. As Nehemiah did, we must trust that God truly is Great and Awesome and that He fights on our behalf (Neh 4:20.)
- Joy comes when we remember we have been given salvation.
The people there found themselves in a depressing, desperate situation. They were being ridiculed, under threat of attack, and living in disgrace. Yet, they are encouraged to take joy. They were able to realize this joy because the day of Atonement was coming soon. They knew they had forgiveness. Joy comes when we realized we’ve been forgiven, saved, and are loved by God. No matter what or where we find ourselves, it never changes the fact that we are redeemed and forgiven.
Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Neh 8:10
- Joy comes when we are in community with others. When we are serving others.
In chapter 8, the Festival of the Booths takes place. This is a holiday where everyone camps out in tents and re-tells the story of their Exodus from slavery in Egypt. We were meant to live out our faith together, in community. It’s in community where we find our true identity.