Who Will do the Job?


August 31, 1997 ~ Pickering Standard Church


Nehemiah 1:1-2:4 - The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,  That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.  And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.  And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,  And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:  Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned.  We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.  Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:  But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.  Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.  O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer.  And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.  Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,  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?  Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.


We don’t know a great deal about Nehemiah prior to his activity as the rebuilder of the walls of Jerusalem, only that his father was Hachaliah, that his brother was Hanani, and that he was cup bearer to Artaxerxes in the captivity of Jerusalem.


We know one other thing, however, that should serve as inspiration for us 2,500 years later to serve our God faithfully:  Nehemiah saw a job that needed doing and did something about it.


Too often we lament that there is no one to do a certain thing.  Examples abound:

- “Some one should really fix up these potholes.”

- “No one cares about that house next door.”

- “I wish some one would come and convert my neighbourhood.”


Some of these things we are incapable of doing, but some of these things are laid before us by God for us to do something about.  Mordecai indicates this in his conversation with his niece Esther.


Esther 4:13-14 - Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.  For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?


Nehemiah was in just such a situation.  He knew that the walls of Jerusalem were not yet rebuilt and he was in a position to be able to do something about it.  When he entered the king’s presence with a sad expression on his face because of the problem the king asked him what he wanted Nehemiah knew just how to respond:  He prayed.  He asked his true King for help before he made his request of his human king and this enabled him to take advantage of the great opportunity which was presented to him.


Opportunities such as the one presented to Nehemiah don’t just happen, they are quite often, if not always, given us by God; just as Paul writes in Ephesians:


Ephesians 2:10 - For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.