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The Scriptorium

The Burden of Nehemiah

A calling from God. Nehemiah 1.1-11

Return from Exile: Nehemiah 1-5 (1)

Pray Psalm 51.14, 15, 18.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise…
Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.

Sing Psalm 51.14, 15, 18.
(Aughton: He Leadeth Me)
Deliver us, from guilt, O Lord, You Who have saved us by Your Word.
And let our tongues Your mercy bless, and sing of Your great righteousness!
Refrain vv. 15, 18
Lord, open now our lips to raise to You sweet songs of joyous praise!
Thus let Your favor on us fall, and build and strengthen Zion’s wall!

Read and meditate on Nehemiah 1.1-11.

1. What was troubling Nehemiah?

2. How did he respond?

Nehemiah was about to undertake a mission for which he had no training or preparation, one which was beyond anything he had ever endeavored before, and one which, in purely human terms, seemed unlikely to succeed. But he focused on three things, and these informed his sense of call.

First, he considered the needs of the people of God and the destitution foisted upon them because of their sin (vv.5-7). Second, he implored the faithfulness of God to those who repent, and with that, the reliability of His Word and promises (vv. 8, 9).  Finally, he invoked the greatness of God, Who rules the hearts of every king and owns all the resources of the earth, to give him favor with the king as he prepared to come before him (vv. 10, 11).

Nehemiah could not know the full scope of the challenge, much less where the resources would come from to accomplish it. But the walls of Jerusalem were broken down (vv. 1-4). The city was vulnerable to attack. Even the newly-finished temple was in jeopardy. So Nehemiah planned a step of faith—speak to the king, for he had regular access to him—and trust the Lord to reveal the next steps and provide what would be needed.

As we look at the churches of our land today, is it not clear that we are a captive people? So compromised with the world are we, and in so many ways, that it seems as if the walls that distinguish us as a people holy to the Lord are broken down and in need of repair. We need to recover a measure of the spirit of Nehemiah and offer ourselves to God so that His favor will fall on us and we will be strengthened to rebuild the walls of His City.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
We pray, LORD God of heaven, O great and awesome God,
You Who keep Your covenant and mercy with those
who love You and observe Your commandments,
please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open,
that you may hear the prayers of Your servants,
which we pray before You now, for ourselves and for our churches.

We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the
commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded
Your servant Moses. Remember, we pray, the word that You commanded
him, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations;
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 place for My Name (Neh. 1.5-9).

We also pray, Righteous Father, that You would give us
a measure of revival in our bondage (Ez. 9.8).

We hallow Your Name.
We want Your will to be done in our lives and in our churches
the same way Your will is always done in heaven.
Please daily satisfy our bodily and spiritual hunger.
LORD God, You have forgiven us. Help us to be forgiving of others.
Deliver us moment by moment from the evil one, who seeks to disrupt
Your Church and Your people.
Give us strength through Your Holy Spirit to flee temptation.
Our Sovereign God, You are everything to us.
You are the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory.
Forever (Matt. 6.9-13).

Thank You, for the forgiveness we receive through Jesus,
making us alive through Himself (Col. 2.13).

How blessed we are to be forgiven for His Name’s sake (1 Jn. 2.12).

We love You, adore You, and honor You.
We will endeavor to live our lives to prove this (Jn. 14.15).

In Jesus’ Most Precious Name we humbly offer this prayer.

For reflection
1. What do you learn about prayer from Nehemiah’s prayer?

2. What would be the equivalent of “building the walls” for our churches today?

3. What will you do to build up the walls of your walk with and work for the Lord?

Nehemiah is interpreted in Latin as “My consoler is the Lord” or “the consoler from the Lord.” For when Nehemiah restored Jerusalem’s walls and, after delivering them from the disdain of their enemies, raised up the people of God to the observance of the divine law, it is surely clear that by his word and deed and person he not unsuitably designates the mediator of God and people, the man Christ Jesus…
The Venerable Bede (672-735), On Ezra and Nehemiah 3.15

Pray Psalm 51.16-19.

The walls of churches everywhere are broken down, and the world and its ways are pouring in. Call on the Lord to revive His people, renew His churches, and lead us to recover our mission of making all the nations disciples.

Sing Psalm 51.16-19.
(Aughton: He Leadeth Me)
No sacrifice, no offering would You have us, Your people, bring;
but broken spirits, cleansed of lies, and pure hearts You will not despise.
Refrain vv. 15, 18
Lord, open now our lips to raise to You sweet songs of joyous praise!
Thus let Your favor on us fall, and build and strengthen Zion’s wall.

Now build Your Church, raise high the wall
of those who on Your mercy call.
And take our lives and let them be
sweet sacrifices, Lord, to Thee!

T. M. and Susie Moore

Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available free by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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