Nehemiah was a man of action. He did not sit around and complain about something that needed to be done, he stood up and did it. The walls around Jerusalem were rumble. In that time, the walls of a city was its protection and defined its character. It was important to fix them, and soon. Nehemiah understood this and felt deeply about the project, so he left a responsible position in the Persian government to go to Jerusalem and lead the rebuild. Why? Because he knew God could use his talents to complete the task—so he went.
However, before Nehemiah did anything—he prayed:
“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4
Action is important, but if you are going to act wisely and succeed in your mission you need God’s help. Stopping to pray is not a waste of time, in fact, it is the most important time of all. Begin a project in prayer and then be ready for action.
Just like with building the temple, there was opposition and fear from others about rebuilding the wall, but Nehemiah was one step ahead. He said:
“Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” Nehemiah 4:4
Nehemiah trusted the Lord and he had a plan to post lookouts around the city, just in case trouble stirred. It is important to believe and sometimes also to watch your back.
After the wall was finished, it was time to worship. Ezra read the law, and they celebrated in a way they hadn’t seen in many, many years.
“Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
As the Israelites separated themselves from foreigners and confess their sins, the Levites stood up to say:
“Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed by your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessings and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” Nehemiah 9:5-6
Then the people agree to seven resolutions to their life right with God (Nehemiah 10: 28-39)
1. Not to marry foreigners (unbelievers)
2. Keep the Sabbath as a holy day
3. Assume responsibility of providing offerings
4. Cast lots to regularly bring wood to the alter for sacrifice
5. Offer the first fruits of crops
6. Dedicate firstborn sons and cattle
7. Tithe to the Temple
“We will not neglect the house of our God.” Nehemiah 10:39
I love this verse:
“Because they had not met Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call a curse down on them (Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.)” Nehemiah 13:2
God can turn curses into blessings. Hallelujah! And this statement is simply a side-note because God is almighty and can do anything. That is a beautiful take away from this book. Only God can turn curses into blessings.