…give you your victory. When situations like debt, relationship wedges, pain, illness, disease and discomfort strangle the joy from your heart, God will bring back your reasons for rejoicing. When the holes of your walls for protection are burned to rubble, God will build you up and build up your walls.
What has me this fired up?
Have you ever read the book of Nehemiah? I did this morning by accident. I was searching for the words joy, joyful and joyous. I got to this verse and was stunned that any group of people felt this way.
“For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for [this] day [is] holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:9b-10
This verse had me asking all kinds of questions. Why did they weep when they heard the law, which back then were scrolls of the Word of God? What was going on that made the Jewish people weep at all? So I went back to the beginning of the book and read.
(Look in the bottom left hand corner just above the title “Third Wall”. This is what Nehemiah rebuilt. So everything highlighted in blue.)
Nehemiah was a guy working for the king as a cupbearer over in Shushan. He was just one little guy, minding his own business being a blessing in his workplace. Then he heard from a friend what was going on back at home in Jerusalem. When he heard it, he wept and was depressed. Their walls and gates were in piles of rubble and burned. They had no protection and their families were threatened everyday with danger. What could he do? He was in another country. So he did what we would do, he prayed and he yearned to go back and help them. The king asked him what had him so sad.
“And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, [lieth] waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?” Nehemiah 2:3
What a statement! And what a brave thing to say to a king who you don’t have anything but servitude for. The king didn’t owe him anything yet look what he did next.
“Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request?” vs. 4a
Nehemiah was treading on dangerous ground by even speaking, but for his homeland and his people he did it anyway.
“So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.” vs. 4b and 5
Build it?!! How many of us see a problem at home and take that kind of stand for the solution? When our children get picked on, or when the devil picks on us, how many of us are willing to do what it takes to fix the problem? What is the problem in our society? The same as Nehemiah’s time. Let’s read on and find out.
“And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.” vs. 6
The king also sent letters along with Nehemiah and helped him. He didn’t just fire him, he helped him. Was this a God-destined friendship? The king didn’t laugh at Nehemiah and say, “You? Little cupbearer of mine, you think you can build a whole city?” No, he just asked how long he thought it would take and how he could help.
“Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard [of it], it grieved (upset) them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel. So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I [any] man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither [was there any] beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon.” Nehemiah 2:8-11
He sees the desolation in town. He takes it in without telling a single person what was on his heart. How many of us are willing to stay quiet about our work for God? Do we blab? This is such a powerful indicator of Nehemiah’s character. He could have charged into town and blown a trumpet. He could have announced to all, “Here I am. I’m here to save the city.” What kind of response would he have received? Rotten tomatoes perhaps? God wanted him to see what he was up against first, and then talk to the rulers and nobles of the city. When he did, he also told them that the King of Shushan believed they could do it and God would help them do it. They, for the first time in years, felt hope stir deep in their hearts. Then they prepared to do what was right. But there were also some who laughed at them.
“But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard [it], they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What [is] this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?” Nehemiah 2:19
Tomorrow we’re going to continue this story and talk about what Nehemiah’s response was, but for now, what would you response be? You’ve traveled all this way and found your family, friends and home in despair. What would you do?
See you tomorrow!