"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Friday, January 13, 2023


INTRODUCTION: We continue now (from our Introduction and Chapter ONE of this study) with the prayer of Nehemiah, the king’s cupbearer, and servant to the King of kings!

8 "Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; 9 'but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.'

The passage Nehemiah referred to was written by Moses is DEUT 30:3-4 in regards to national Israel and later it was confirmed by the Messiah Himself in MATT 24:31.

As we saw previously in the first article of this series:
“’They [Nehemiah and Daniel almost a century previously] start off almost identically with homage to the ‘LORD GOD of heaven’: both attribute to GOD His great and awesome character and power Who keeps covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and who keep His commandments, quoting from DEUT 7:9.
‘Nehemiah petitions that the LORD will be attentive and His eyes observant to his prayer (Daniel does the same in DAN 9:18-19), which he continued for days and nights on behalf of his countrymen.

‘Both confess the sins of the nation (and they include themselves, and their fathers in this count!). They confess to “acting very corruptly”, and having “sinned and committed iniquity”, and “have not kept His commandments…and statutes and ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses”, and have “done wickedly and rebelled”, “even depart[ing] from Your precepts and judgments”. Daniel continues in his lament:

‘Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land… O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You… we have rebelled against Him. We have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets’”
Vs. 9 “…to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.' The LORD GOD could have chosen anyplace on this planet, as the entire Earth is the LORD’s (and the fullness thereof; PSA 24:1), but He specifically chose this land as His own personal real estate (as it were) – for His Name’s sake. The Holy Name of YHWH-shua or as we see it in the Hebrew name of “Y’shua” and “Jesus” in the English, which means Yahweh is Salvation! That is His name, and He has redeemed His people Israel and He shall reign in “…the place which [He] has chosen for [His] dwelling place”.

This was the place where the LORD GOD would offer up His Own Beloved, Only Begotten Son as a sin offering on The ALTAR of the ALMIGHTY (Part ONE and TWO) for Israel as well as the entire human race.
This is the place that GOD will inaugurate His Millennial Reign – from the city of Peace, Jerusalem as the Prince of Peace! The remembrance of His beloved city will go on into eternity when the New Heavens and the New Earth are established along with the New Jerusalem!

NEHEMIAH 1:10-11
10 "Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. 11 "O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man." For I was the king's cupbearer.

Israel was not only the servants of YHWH, but also His people – His people who are His “special treasure” (DEUT 7:6). The LORD was very specific in speaking from His heart regarding Israel:

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.
Likewise the LORD Jesus called His disciples to follow after Him, but at a certain point, He didn’t merely call them His servants, but His friends as well (JOHN 15:15); but He didn’t even stop there! He elevated them further, after His resurrection, by calling them His brethren (MATT 28:10; JOHN 20:17)!

Yet what a privilege to still be His servants, and His friends, we who are our LORD’s brothers (and sisters!). There are those who are the servants of GOD, and then there are those who have a desire to reverence and worship Him.
There are times when we have a desire to serve the LORD, but we find ourselves lacking the power, the initiative - it's as though we have our feet stuck in the proverbial mud and we can't get moving. Let that desire be turned into prayer, and ask the LORD for that power, and He will graciously provide it!

While Nehemiah asked GOD to be attentive to his prayer, I’d wager that this wasn’t a necessary thing to pray, as the LORD looks “…to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” (2 CHRON 16:9a).

Notice Nehemiah implores GOD to hear the prayer of His servant (himself), but then also intercedes for his brother Jews who “desire to fear Your name” (and lastly he prayed for the king of Persia).
There is no work of GOD that’s done solely by one individual – the LORD Jesus Christ being the exception! The LORD calls leaders, but without others, there would be no one to lead! Pastors need congregations just as much as they need him! And it’s crucial as leaders that we pray for those who would follow them to the work (MATT 9:38). The LORD Jesus Himself spent many a night praying to the Father, and we can be sure that His disciples were a main focus quite often in those times of intercession!

The LORD created the heavens and the earth by “[His] great power” (JER 32:17) and here Nehemiah testifies that He redeemed Israel by “Your great power”. But which was His greater work? Creation or redemption?

As astoundingly awesome as the universe is, He merely spoke it into existence. It didn’t really cost Him anything. But to redeem humanity – that cost Him the greatest price conceivable! His Son!! By that greatest of price He has redeemed all of His saints!

“…let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy…” We ought not to shrink from asking the LORD to prosper us. We understand that in this day when Word-Faith dogma has spread throughout the church – and we oppose those dogmas vehemently – it’s appropriate and necessary to ask the LORD to prosper us as we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness: He then will provide us with all necessary things in order to accomplish His will; MATT 6:33.

While none of us are worthy to loose the shoes from off the nail scarred feet of our dear LORD (MATT 3:11), He greatly honors us by allowing us to be yoked up and plow together with Him. He tills with us as we receive the privilege of learning of Him! Indeed, His mercies allow for such things!
MATTHEW 11:29-30
29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Nehemiah’s heart wasn’t for his own luxury or comfort (he had plenty of both while living in the palace of the king!); he purposed in his heart to see Jerusalem re-established with a passion that couldn’t be refused and a joy that would overflow once the work was done (PSA 137:5-6). So now let’s proceed to Chapter TWO:

1 And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before. 2 Therefore the king said to me, "Why is your face sad since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart." So I became dreadfully afraid, 3 and said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?" 4 Then the king said to me, "What do you request?" So I prayed to the God of heaven.

It should be noted that in Ch. 1 the events occurred in the month of Chislev; here in Ch. 2 it’s the month of Nisan: a span of four months. This meant that Nehemiah took about a third of a year praying, fasting, seeking GOD on the welfare of Jerusalem before her condition and the man’s intent on his beloved city was ever brought up to the king of Persia.

All too often, we see a need, an urgent need even, and pounce on it, no questions asked, virtually nothing but a hasty prayer uttered, and like a bullet, we charge into he situation seeking to remedy the problem.

Nehemiah didn’t do that – even though the this matter concerned the entire nation of Israel, he was careful to seek GOD, to spend considerable time in prayer both “day and night” (NEH 1:6), waiting upon the LORD.

No doubt, he prayed that the LORD would raise someone up to restore and rebuild the city of Jerusalem. Four edicts had been made concerning Israel: three of which were in regards to the rebuilding of the Temple itself. Only one was specific to the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem and its wall, and as we know, this was commissioned to Nehemiah by GOD through the edict of the Persian king.

Nehemiah was so consumed by his passionate prayers for Jerusalem, that he evidently forgot to put on his “happy face” before the king. We see it as a rather strange thing that any sad expressions before the royal ruler of Persia was punishable by death! We see in the book of Esther, to even come to the king unbidden could mean the death penalty.

Kings in those days were considered to be gods, and even in the Roman Empire such was the case. As late in history as the 19th century, the Japanese emperor was considered a god.
The people were expected to have absolute allegiance and faith in their ‘god’ and so to be peacefully happy and confidently joyful in their presence was demanded. Any sad faces would mean that people had potentially unsolvable problems – an insult to any ‘gods’. For people to come unbidden (as was the case with Esther), this aroused suspicion of a coup de ’tat or an assassination attempt.

The king caught an expression of sadness on Nehemiah’s face, who was probably caught off guard when he was called out on it. He became “dreadfully afraid”. The man at that point decided to “go for broke” and lay everything out on the table, with the same thought in mind as Esther had when she decided to approach the king unbidden: “If I perish, I perish” (EST 4:6).

“…May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire? Then the king said to me, "What do you request?" So I prayed to the God of heaven.”

The outcome Nehemiah has hoped and prayed for was realized when the king said, “What do you want?” rather than “off with his head!”.
After four months of prayer, Nehemiah is now before the king who asks what he would have his majesty do for him. This in itself was an answer to prayer:

“…I pray and grant him mercy in the sight of this man [the king]." For I was the king's cupbearer” (NEH 1:11b). Now he fires up what I like to call “a rocket prayer”- a prayer on the spot, brief, to the point, with the expectation of an immediate answer.

We are to “pray without ceasing” (1 THESS 5:17) and “in everything by prayer and supplication” (PHIL 4:6) and “continuing instant in prayer” (ROM 12:12). This covers every occasion with regards to prayer: the continuing long in prayer, and never quit as well as those instances where such “rocket prayers” are needed.

Nehemiah relates the matter as it was reported to him by his brethren who said: "The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire." (NEH 1:3), and he repeats this sad story to his king: “the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire".

So, perceiving the hand of GOD moving in this situation and with the king’s permission to make a request, Nehemiah proceeds with the following:

5 And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that 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 also sitting beside him), "How long will your journey be? And when will you return?" So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. 7 Furthermore I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, 8 "and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy." And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me

Alan Redpath from his book VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN SERVICE comments:
“Nehemiah did not only want to know that he was sent, but he also wanted to be kept safe. Have I the right to ask to be kept safe in the Master’s work? Certainly not in a physical sense – we are called upon to hazard our lives for the gospel if need be. The sentence of death as it was in Paul, will often be in the true servant of GOD. But we are entitled to be kept safe in the spiritual sense. Nehemiah, you observe, had men who went with him on the journey to protect him. Nobody should ever go to the field for GOD or to any service for GOD alone. He must have those who will pray, who are with him in spirit at his side constantly, for the man who goes in answer to GOD’s call will face many shattering disillusionments … perils… temptations… loneliness… homesickness… but such a one is entitled to spiritual protection and expect such from [people] who know how to pray [and to enter into at the throne of grace and share them], and to write.”

Nehemiah wanted to be sure not only that he was sent, that he would go in safety but “he [also] wanted to be sure of supplies as well… but rebuilding for GOD demands much more than material supplies; it demands spiritual resources.”

“To be sent, and in safety and with supplies before I will venture out into the service of the Master, whatever it may be, I must know that I am going into it because GOD has sent me; I must know that I am safe in it because I have people praying for me. I must know that I am being supplied now in the work I am doing here by His grace, for if I do not know how to draw upon spiritual resources now, I shall never learn how to do it in circumstances that are utterly different.” (selected portions from pgs. 34-37).
Nehemiah brought up his “father’s tombs” in Jerusalem – silent witnesses all, who were alive when Jerusalem was still intact with at least some measure of spiritual integrity; in those days, there was the slow, secret rot that ate away by corruption among the rulers and nobility (ISA 58; JER 22), among the priests, among those who called themselves prophets (JER 23; EZEK 34).

These silent witnesses heard the Word of the LORD, that if His people who are called by His Name shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek GOD’s face, and turn from their wicked ways – then GOD will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land (2 CHRON 7:14).

Notice who Nehemiah recommended for this work of rebuilding: himself! Would this man ever have thought before, that he would be the one to restore the Holy City? Surely in days gone by, he would have assumed that this noble and awesome task would be accomplished by some other.

Yet as he fasted, and prayed, and cried out to GOD, this man’s heart was filled with anguish and fervent desire to see days of peace and prosperity restored to his people. That GOD’s glory would not be thwarted or impeded by Israel’s rebellion.

GOD did a work in transforming this man, and once done, he like Isaiah (who himself was purged from sin as the hot coal from off the holy altar touched his lips) responded to the call, “Who will go for us?”
While the words are not written in this book, I’m persuaded Nehemiah’s answer was the same as Isaiah’s: “Here am I, send me” (ISA 6:8)!

The king’s response was immediate, with no requirement on his part to mull the request over in his mind, and to consult his counselors. He merely asked how long he would be gone and when he would return.

Nehemiah wasn’t finished with his requests however. He also asked for official letters to be written, so that he would present them to “the governors of the region” and they would acknowledge this official business and allow him passage.
He further requested (he was on a roll!) invoices to be written up that would provide timber sufficient for the task of rebuilding the gates of the citadel, for the city wall, and for his own lodging place. Witness the well thought out agenda by this man, undoubtedly his mind being set aright and provisions made by the “good hand of [his] GOD”.
Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.

PSALM 37:4-5
4 Delight yourself also in the LORD and He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass
In any godly endeavor in this ungodly world, when the LORD opens “a door” of opportunity to serve in His kingdom, there will be “many adversaries” (1 COR 16:9) of the demonic sort, and of the human sort (often directed by the demonic). It’s wisdom to seek out GOD’s hedge of protection (JOB 1:10), whether by the Holy Spirit (ISA 59:19) or of some of the LORD’s angelic hosts (PS 91:11).

As Alan Redpath took note: When one declares that they will arise to the task in accomplishing GOD’s will, Satan will declare that he will arise to oppose it! As the expression goes, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed”! In the battlefield of this world, let us always expect our enemy at any point!

9 Then I went to the governors in the region beyond the River and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. 10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel

Those letters were letters of authority whereby Nehemiah could venture into the farthest reaches of the Persian empire and on into those forlorn and bleak, terrible territories of Jerusalem’s devastation with no one to challenge him or turn him away, because he had the word of the king.

Likewise, we have the Word of our King, the letters (the Bible) of authority of sovereign truth whereby, when under the commandments of our GOD to go forth and accomplish His will – though there are “many adversaries” – we are to stand upon the ground of truth (EPH 6:13), resolute in our Spirit-inspired determination to see the work of GOD accomplished!

Sanballat was a Persian satrap (local ruler, akin to a governor) from Horonaim (also called Choronaim (“the place of two hollows”); ISA 15:5; JER 48:3-5,34) located south of Moab, east of the Dead Sea. Tobiah was another governor, an Ammonite, whose name stems from Semitic roots and means, “goodness of Jehovah”.

These two represents the two different sorts of opposition that faces GOD’s saints; both overt and covert. The plainly pagan man will oppose us in blatant ways, while there will be others who profess righteousness in the name of religion and subtly oppose those whose righteousness is of GOD, eventually defaming and denouncing the saints as charlatans.

Sanballat and Tobiah heard of the news – a man has come from the king “to seek the well-being of the children of Israel”. They were “exceedingly grieved”, that is, an inward brokenness leading to intentional, insolent violence, being greatly displeased. So will Satan and all of his human and angelic agents be displeased in greatest measure when GOD advances His kingdom in order to manifest His glory. The well-being of the children of Israel would ensure their prosperity and longevity: in preparation for the time when the Messiah would come to inaugurate the kingdom of Israel.

NEHEMIAH 2:11-15
11 So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode. 13 And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire. 14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King's Pool, but there was no room for the animal under me to pass. 15 So I went up in the night by the valley and viewed the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned

I can’t imagine what this man of GOD must have felt upon his arrival and seeing the beloved city – probably for the first time. Did he get a lump in his throat? Did his eyes well up and his vision get blurry as he witnessed the rubble and desolation. Scripture doesn’t say. Yet I strongly suspect it’s true: that this man, who had been praying with tears and rent heart for Jerusalem for so long, grew in his passionate desire (that mirrored GOD’s own) to see the Holy City restored and revived!

He came to Jerusalem and after three days, he arose in the night – when there were few people about and the air was still, to observe the situation undistracted. At this point, he hadn’t shared his intentions with his fellow Jews. He traveled from the Valley Gate, to the Serpent Well and then on to the Refuse Gate and inspected the broken walls and the burned gates. From there he went to the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool and because of all the rubble, he could go no further. After viewing a bit more of the wall, he returned back through the Valley Gate and to the place of his lodgings.

He took mental notes of all the damage and ruin, and calculated all that would be needed in materials, labor force, time requirements – as a member of the Royal Palace he no doubt was a keen organizer, a shrewd negotiator, and a good judge of character.

Knowing the overwhelming task ahead, he then prepared to let the Jews know of his intentions. Yet their GOD was with them, and in laboring to reestablish the City of Peace, their task would be a relatively “light burden” for the LORD would carry the brunt of the load (MATT 11:30)! They tried (unsuccessfully) to rebuild the Temple, but without the protective walls, they were vulnerable and subject to harassments from the foreigners of the commonwealth of Israel.

We’ll end Part TWO here and continue in Chapter Two, Part THREE next time, the LORD willing!

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