Nehemiah 1:1–11

 |  January 14, 2019

Facing Circumstances with Prayer

Context of the Passage:

Nehemiah was a Lay Person!

As the book of Nehemiah begins, we meet an unusual man.  He’s a man with a good job – good salary his was an important job – he worked for the state, but not his home state – another state and another leader – actually, his job was something like a bodyguard for the king; only his responsibilities were mainly in area of food – he was the food taster – if food = bad, no allow his boss to eat (maybe enemies try to poison his boss)

One day, his brother came with news from back home; things weren’t so good; in fact they were bad!  As soon as he heard the news, he knew he needed to do something; but his job didn’t allow him the chance

All of a sudden the joys of his good job and high standing in the community and unique access to the palace didn’t mean so much because of one interruption that changed his perspective. . . and changed his life!

The man’s name was Nehemiah – and he was the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes, king of Persia.  As the book begins, the children of Israel had been in captivity in Babylon for almost 70 years!  When Persia overthrew Babylon, the Persians allowed the Hebrews to return to Jerusalem. Many returned, but Nehemiah stayed.  Eventually, he rose to a position of prominence was in a place to be used of God!

The events of this book begin around the year 445 BC.

NOW, through his access to the palace, God had placed him in a position to intervene.  Isn’t it amazing how God places His people in strategic positions to be used of God? The name, Nehemiah, means “comforter.” Around 25 years before Nehemiah came to Jerusalem, another Hebrew in Persia was faced with the challenge of making a difference for God’s people.  Esther 4:14 records the challenge of Mordecai to Esther, “Maybe God raised you to this position for such a time as this?!” That was true of Esther and it was true of Nehemiah. Their obedience encourages us with the truth that it might also be true for us.

Have you ever had a moment of truth?  A moment you know will define you? When the need to act outweighs the comfort of your inactivity!  The people of Israel had come through a difficult time – only to find themselves in another one.  When they returned to Jerusalem, the walls had been destroyed. That was over 90 years ago! Haggai and Zechariah had encouraged the people to rebuild the Temple.  But, that was 70 years ago! Jerusalem had been vulnerable to enemy attack that entire time. It was only the providential hand of the Lord that protected them. Yet, they were still afraid to rebuild.  Their fear paralyzed them and kept them from moving on.

But, the fault lines of their broken-down walls dated long before the walls fell.  It was their sin that caused their deportation. And it was their sin that kept them from being restored to the God whose Covenant they had broken.  The unrepaired walls were merely a metaphor of their broken relationship with God. Soon, Nehemiah realized that more than just the walls of the city needed to be rebuilt.

As chapter one unfolds, the broken walls are met by the broken heart of Nehemiah.  And that’s where rebuilding began.

Outline of the Passage

1:1-3 – Nehemiah received a visit from his brother

1:4-11 – Nehemiah’s response to a disturbing report from his brother

Exegesis of the Passage

Vs. 2 – Hanani – “one of my brothers”

Vs. 3 – the people are in “trouble” and “disgrace.”

Eleven times in the book – Bible indicates for us that Nehemiah Prayed

=> More specifically, 7 different circumstances in which prayed!


Chapter 1 – First faced the need – Nehemiah prayed

Chapter 2 (4) – When Nehemiah speaks to King – Neh. Prayed

Chapter 4: 4,9 – Reproached by his enemies – N. prayed! (Get ‘em)

Chapter 6: 9 – threats on his life – N. prayed

Chapter 6:14 – Enemies threaten to attack – N. prayed

Chapter 8 – When Nehemiah leads people in worship – N. prayed

Chapter 13 – 3x in this chapter (2x elsewhere) – Remember me!

Vs. 4 – Nehemiah’s response to the news concerning Jerusalem involved mourning, weeping, fasting, and prayer

Vs. 7 – Confess Where My Failure Results From My Sin

Sermon on the Passage

Ill.  – “A praying man will stop sinning and a sinning man will stop praying”

  1.  Nehemiah’s habit of Prayer teaches us that
  2.  Prayer Must Be a Habit and Not a Last Resort
  3.  Prayer Must Be for Me to Hear God’s Heart, Not Just for God to Hear Mine
  4.  Prayer Must Be a Passion and Not Just a Passing Thought
  5.  Nehemiah’s practice of prayer models for us that
  6.  Prayer must acknowledge God’s Character
  7.  Prayer must Confesses our Need
  8.  Prayer must be born out of our humility over our need
  9.  Prayer must grow out of our brokenness over our sin
  10.  Prayer must be Confident in God’s Sufficiency

Ill.  2 Chron 7:14 – “If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

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