July 24, 2022
Nehemiah's Secret Weapon
Imagine being moved by someone else’s situation so much that you would do ANYTHING to fix it! This is the story of Nehemiah, who is best known for rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. Because of that accomplishment, the book of Nehemiah is seen as one of the best books to study on leadership.
The situation was bleak. After being overrun by the Babylonian army, the Jews were kicked out of Jerusalem. Most were either taken captive by the Babylonians or completely scattered around the known world. The walls of Jerusalem were broken down, and the gates burned. No one had lived there for seventy years. Now they were allowed to come back, but it was a mess. No protection, no pride; it was like living in the slums. And they were poor. They had nothing.
Nehemiah showed up to rebuild the city walls that were 2.5 miles around, nearly 40’ tall, and over 8’ wide. With God’s favor, Israel regained its national pride, security, and restored worship and reading God’s Word. Despite constant attacks from enemy nations, they rebuilt the entire wall in just 52 days. Here’s some of how it happened…
First, God gave Nehemiah favor with King Artaxerxes to GIVE him all of the supplies he would need for the job. WHAT?!? Nehemiah was only a servant for the king. In fact, his whole job was to make sure the king’s drinks were the way he liked them, three creams & one sugar, and to keep him from getting poisoned. He was a nobody…but God gave him favor.
Free supplies are amazing, but the real leadership was how he got the people to believe in a vision and work together. These were a defeated people with no desire to work. God gave him an amazing plan of having every family work on the part of the wall that would be closest to their home. If they wanted protection for their family, they had to build it. And they did!
One of my favorite stories in Nehemiah was after serious threats from enemy armies. Their response is incredible, “…The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon.” (Nehemiah 4:17 - NLT) No enemy was going to stop them. They even worked while holding a weapon, ready to fight! God gave them favor over their enemies several times.
Throughout the progression of his story, you’ll see: Nehemiah had favor with the King, defeated enemies without a real army, dealt with internal problems, built a wall, and restored worship! In the end, he also held people accountable to God’s ways…even to the extreme of “kicking them and pulling out their hair!” (You have to read the book to see this part…it’s in there!)
But HOW? How did this nobody get so much favor? One word, PRAYER. Seriously. The entire secret of Nehemiah can be summed up in Nehemiah 1:4 (NLT), which takes place right after he learned of the dire state Jerusalem was in, “When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.”
If you study this book, you will find that BEFORE Nehemiah ever did anything, he prayed. Prayer was his FIRST resort, and he is one of the most powerful leaders in the entire Bible.
I think Nehemiah understood that prayer was not simply talking TO God. To him, it was a time of connecting with God’s heart, learning from Him what direction to take, and acknowledging that God could accomplish things that he could never achieve on his own.
What about you? Do you desire to accomplish great things? Do you want to be a good and strong man, leader, husband, brother, dad? How is your prayer life? Do you tend to pray only when everything else fails? Perhaps it’s time to take a page from Nehemiah…and pray FIRST before you take action. Also, try talking less and listening more as you pray.
Here’s the challenge: What would it look like to start your day with prayer? How could you be more intentional about praying before you take action?
Today’s Scripture: When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:4, NLT)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.