Nehemiah built that wall.
Did that kinda make you laugh? I really hope so.
Ok, sorry. Let’s get on to the story of Nehemiah. Let’s get serious here. No more jokes. I promise.
Our last verse took us up to the point in Israel’s history when Cyrus, king of Persia had overthrown the Babylonian empire and began to allow the exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity. In Ezra 3:11, we memorized the words that spoke of the people’s worship when the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. In present-day vernacular – that was a HUGEBIGDEAL, and the people were so excited that the Bible says they sang and wept so loudly that the “sound was heard afar off.”
In the 70 years that followed, the Jews rebuilt the temple, which was another HUGEBIGDEAL, considering several factors that could have hampered the accomplishment:
- It cost a ton of money
- They all had to pitch in to get the job done
- Their project was unprotected from those who could destroy it
They needed a leader.
That’s where Nehemiah comes in.
I like the King James version of Nehemiah 1:1-4 where Nehemiah speaks these beautiful words:
“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.”
Can’t you just hear in Nehemiah’s words the pain he’s feeling in his heart? The cupbearer to the King of Persia, who lives among royalty, who associates with the wealthy, knows that he could help his people. He’s using his administrative gifts in the palace, but he knows he could help his people rebuild the wall that would protect his homeland.
So he weeps, then he mourns, then he fasts, and then he prays.
Then he goes.
Nehemiah took care of his responsibilities in the palace by respectfully asking for a leave of absence. Not only did the king grant his request, he sent captains of the army and horsemen to accompany Nehemiah on the journey.
After Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem, he takes a little time to quietly assess the situation, and then he does something so very smart.
“I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.” (Nehemiah 2:12)
He looked at the problem, without distraction, and formulated a plan to fix it.
What is it in your life that needs your undistracted attention? Is there a relationship in disrepair? Are there some unprotected areas of your heart that need a wall of protection?
I remember a troubled time in our lives when Mike and I were dealing with some serious forces of evil that chipped away at the boundaries that protected our family. There were lots of opinions and there was plentiful advice. Some suggested we adopt a wait-and-see attitude, while others encouraged us to aggressively confront the enemy head-on. It was hard. Many times, we lay awake in the dark of night, holding hands, laying out the facts, discussing our options and formulating a plan.
After Nehemiah got his facts in order, looked at the problem and put together a plan to fix it, he gathered the workers and began to build.
There was outside opposition, threats to his success – but Nehemiah prayed and persevered.
“Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.” (Nehemiah 5:19)
And then it was complete.
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul in 52 days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. (Nehemiah 6:15-16).
What do I want Kynzie to gain from memorizing this verse?
- I want her to BIG and not underestimate God’s plans and purposes for her life
- I hope she will pattern her own leadership after Nehemiah’s example (look at the problem, stay focused, formulate a plan, follow through
- I pray that her life will be a testimony that with the help of our God, great things will be done
Encouraging intentional adventure with the help of our God,
Memorization tip: Any time we engage our minds, our mouths and our hands together, memorizing becomes easier. For this verse, play a game of Giant UNO together, repeating phrases of the verse with the laying down of each player’s card. Make it exciting by playing “real rules” for a few minutes, then switch to looking across the table at each other and laying down a card without paying attention to the game. You’re just getting your hands into the memorization process so your head will retain the words.
Play a few cards by the rules – and then announce – “Switch!” Now you both look across the table at each other.
You play your a card and say: So the wall was completed
Your grandchild plays a card and says: on the the 25th of Elul
You say: Switch!
Back to UNO rules.
The next time you announce Switch!, start at the beginning of the verse and go a little further with another phrase or two until you’ve effectively memorized the whole verse.
So the wall was completed
On the 25th of Elul
In 52 days
When all our enemies
Heard about this
All the surrounding nations were afraid
And lost their self-confidence
Because they realized
That this work had been done
With the help of our God (say this one louder than the others, with great zest and fervor!)
PS: I love this picture of my granddaughter, Kynzie with her locker at school. She taped a family picture inside the door, and organized her stuff like she wanted it. Our grandchildren love school at this age, and they love to learn. What an opportunity we have to teach them during this time of their lives – and ours!