By Toni Ford
It has been quite some time since I have read the Book of Nehemiah, and after reading the first few chapters this past week, I must say that I’ve found numerous similarities between our current events here in America and the events during the time of Nehemiah.
The name “Nehemiah” means “The Lord has comforted.” Nehemiah was not only a loyal servant but also an incredible leader. He was the kind of person who cared about past traditions while also caring for the needs of the present. Nehemiah cared about the heritage of his people, the Jews, his ancestral city, Jerusalem, and the glory of his God.
In the first chapter of Ne-hemiah we immediately see his caring attitude portrayed in several different ways, which I believe that we as believers would be wise to learn from and put into practice in our own lives.
He cared by asking. Nehemiah 1:2 says, “Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.” Nehemiah served as King Artaxerxes’ cupbearer, a position of great responsibility and honor. Serving as a cupbearer meant Nehemiah had direct access to the king and great influence. The simple fact that Nehemiah was a Jew holding such an important position in the palace of the King of Persia speaks well of his character and reputation. Therefore, why would Nehemiah care enough to ask about a struggling remnant of Jews living hundreds of miles away if he was so successful and secure in his own life? There is an old adage that says, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” I have found that many people today prefer not to know what is going on, because information might bring obligation. In reality, what we don’t know could actually hurt us a big deal. Nehemiah was the opposite; he cared enough to ask because he cared about the people. He wanted the facts, no matter how painful it might have been to hear. Are we like Nehemiah, anxious to know the truth even if that truth is painful to hear and burdens us? Are we the kind of people that care enough to ask?
He cared by going to God first. When reading Nehemiah 1: 5-10, we see Nehemiah going to God in prayer. His prayer began by praising God, then confession of sin on behalf of himself and the people, reminding God of His Word to Moses, and he ended by recognizing that his confidence was fully in God’s faithfulness. Nehemiah’s prayer recognized that God is the only true, holy God, worthy to be praised, He alone can forgive us of our sins, His Word is trustworthy and will never change, and our God is faithful to complete what He begins! Philippians 1:6 is a great reminder of this: “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Nehemiah’s God is still the same God to us today! Is the God you worship big enough to handle the challenges you face today? Mine is!
He cared by volunteering. Nehemiah 1:11 says, “Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” How many of us who have seen leaders lead by their words only? Not only did Nehemiah pray before he went with his own plans; he led by his actions and not just by giving orders to the people. When we pray about the issues of life that burdens us, God will give us wisdom on what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, and all are important to the accomplishing of the will of God. God is still looking for people who care, people like Nehemiah who cared to ask, to pray, and then to go and volunteer to get the job done!
Lord, thank you for Nehemiah and for the example that he is still to us today. Open our eyes to see what questions we need to ask and show us where we need to be involved in helping Your will be completed on this earth. Your Kingdom come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!
If you would like me to join you in prayer please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to pray for you!