These are the memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa. 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” 4 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.
Have you ever been deeply moved by something?
Not just a general concern, I mean a time when you were moved to tears. When your heart was burdened by God? A time you knew that you’d had an encounter with the Living God and the very trajectory of your life has been altered.
A number of years ago, when I was a Youth and Young Adult Pastor at age 25, I was reading a magazine and flicked to an article about the plight of children in Thailand. As I read that article about the mistreatment and abuse of these vulnerable children, something broke in my heart. I began to cry uncontrollably! Then I felt God speak to me. He said, “One day you will have an impact on the nation of Thailand.”
About 11 years later, Alison and I planted a church in Perth. That church had a growing desire to do Missions work in Thailand. We began to send teams to Thailand, we supported the work of other Missionaries in that nation. That moment in my office, God arrested my attention and imparted a deep desire to serve a specific nation for a specific time. God moved my heart and caused my life to got in a particular direction.
When Nehemiah heard about the plight of the people in Jerusalem, he had a MOMENT with God. It was a Kairos experience with the purposes of God!
What moved Nehemiah to prayer and fasting?
They said to me, “Things are not going well for [the remenant] who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
Here we see three key pieces of information which Nehemiah received.
Size – Israel had been a mighty nation. Now they are but a “remnant” estimated by some scholars to be as low as 50,000 men in number.
Significance – In the text they are called a “province.” Jerusalem was meant to be the capital city of God’s people! Light to the nations, dwelling place for God’s name, an example to the nations. Once they were a chosen nation, now they are merely one of the 127 provinces of Persia (Ezra 5:8, Esther 1:1).
Scorn – The Book of Nehemiah says that they were in great trouble & disgrace.
When Nehemiah heard the news from Jerusalem he wept bitterly. Not only that, but he mourned, fasted and prayed for four months.
But what puzzles me is, this is cannot be new information to him. The city had been in this condition for just under 150 years. Surely Nehemiah would have been aware of this?
It had to be more than information.
What Nehemiah received was not just a recount of readily available information. He experienced an overwhelming awareness that something needed to be done. The LIGHT had been turned on!
“There are times when obvious truths & plain facts, which we have known for long enough and to which we have been blind suddenly ignite and begin to overpower us.”
– James Phillip
Why did Nehemiah experience this flood of emotion and sense of responsibility? He was a man MARKED by God, set apart for His Divine purpose. God CHOSE HIM for this special work.
God always has a man for the hour, and he always has an hour for the man.
Others had the same information about the state of Jerusalem, but Nehemiah was Marked by God to do something about it. There was a moment of convergence, where distinct and separate factors come together for a specific purpose.
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, & who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
Marked Inspired Bold
Church, we have been marked by God & our hour has arrived. Just like Nehemiah, we’re called to rebuild, restore and reinstruct, so that people would know how to interact with the Word of God and the Presence of God. That by God’s Grace we would be a lighthouse to the nations of what it means to walk with God.
Our Shirelive Vision for 2017 is Marked Inspired Bold!
Nehemiah was Marked by God for a purpose. He was Inspired by God through the inward construction that came through prayer. All of which led to a Bold action. Come on the journey with us as we explore what this means for each of us individually and together as a community of believers.