Nehemiah starts his story by giving you some background. Who he is, when this takes place, and who he works for. He was serving King Artaxerxes in his 20th year of reign when one of his brothers arrive with some friends to let him know the condition of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah was brokenhearted to hear that the people were living in such disgrace and that the city of Jerusalem would be so destroyed and lying in ruins. His brothers had traveled a very long way to deliver the news. They had no way of knowing that Nehemiah could help but I am sure his brother knew that Nehemiah was a man who was resourceful and he worked for the king. His brother must have hoped that Nehemiah would be able to work some favors with his position.
Nehemiah's response is noteable. He first mourned. He was visibly shaken by the news and I am sure he started thinking about how to make things better. His first stop was in prayer to the Lord. I just loved the prayer. It starts at verse 5 and continues to the end of the chapter. He has a model for us.
1. Nehemiah recognizes the greatness of God and his relationship with his people.
2. He acknowledges that the covenant with the people looks to their love and obedience.
3. It is on the basis of the established covenant that he lays out his request before God.
4. Nehemiah confesses not only his own sin, but the sins of the entire nation of Israel
5. He refers to promises given to Moses and asks God to bring them back together from the places they were scattered.
6. He reminds God that the nation of Israel is his people who have been redeemed by him.
7. He asks for success with the king and God's favor to be upon him.
As I look at this chapter I am inspired to not look to human salvation as perhaps Nehemiah's brother hoped for but to go to God and acknowledge his might and our full dependence on him for our success. I think that I for one often don't confess my sin as I should. We humans often discount our own behavior and presume upon God's grace when we should be asking for forgiveness.
Nehemiah was a man of prayer and great faith in God. God needs more men and women like him who will first go to him in prayer before trying to solve the problem on our own. I need to end this so that I can go talk with my Lord. Do you want to too?