Introduction: Psalm 46:4-7 for call to worship
What are the conditions in Jerusalem?
Nehemiah 1:3 The city has been in ruins since Nebuchadnezzar captured it in 586
3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”
Rebuilding has been force-ably stopped by Rehum while Ezra was there
The remnant that lives there is under the control of a pagan people and the city of God is unprotected
Why was that so troubling to Nehemiah?
The place where he lives is strong and secure while the place that represents the dwelling place of God, the blessing and covenant faithfulness of God and the protection of God is in disgrace
Something is terribly wrong with the picture - Jerusalem symbolizes in ways the covenant relationship God has with his people
Jesus had much the same reaction as he approached Jerusalem Luke 19:41-44
41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
There is something else that I think is greatly troubling Nehemiah (come back to this
How did he respond?
He weeps, prays and fasts Neh.1.4 Nehemiah spends considerable time in lament for has been lost
4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
He recognizes the need to confess, both for his ancestors and himself Neh. 1.6b
6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.
He has a plan already brewing in his mind and he asks for success Look at verse Neh 1.11
11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Now I was cupbearer to the king.