TODAY’S READING: NEHEMIAH 1-4
Nehemiah prays to God about Jerusalem’s desolate condition; Nehemiah petitions the King for permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem; Nehemiah organizes the people and they begin repairing the walls; opposition to the work arises.
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
As the Book of II Chronicles came to an end, we saw that God’s people were taken into captivity by the Babylonians. In the Book of Ezra, we saw that God worked in the heart of Cyrus, the pagan King of Persia (note, that while Israel was captivity, the Babylonians were overtaken by the Persians), to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple and restore Temple worship. After this small revival, (only a remnant of God’s people chose to return), which began around 536 B.C., God used a prayerful man named Nehemiah in 445 B.C. to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls of the ruined city. God’s purpose behind this mission was to restore safety and order to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
After hearing reports of the sad state of the city of Jerusalem, Nehemiah became burdened for his brethren and began to pray. This was all in spite of the fact that he was in a high position in the King’s court (he was the cupbearer – Neh. 1:11) and truly had no worries for himself. It wasn’t his fault that the city was in the condition it was in. He could have easily justified not doing anything but praying. Instead he risked his own life by going before the King with his request to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:1-6). Unlike Nehemiah, we oftentimes pray, expecting God to do all the work. Yet we need to be more like Nehemiah who was willing to get up and do something about it. God can’t direct our steps if we aren’t moving (Prov. 16:9)! Note that God did more than just get the King to grant his permission for the work, he funded the whole thing as well! Our God is certainly able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think (Eph. 3:20). We need!
to ASK and then we need to ACT, just like Nehemiah! Pray as if all depends on God, but work as if it all depends on you.
In chapter 3, God lists the names of the workers and the work that they did. Each man had a specified area of responsibility. No man can do everything, but every man can do something. It is interesting to note that in verse 5, some of the nobles didn’t do anything! God reminds us of this truth in I Corinthians 1:26-29, when he says that "not many noble are called" to do the work of God. Be careful if you find yourself not doing anything because you are just too good to be doing such meaningless tasks. It may well be because you are too "noble" in your own mind!
There are 10 gates that were repaired in this chapter and they paint for us a very incredible picture of the Christian life:
1. The sheep’s gate (vs. 1) – speaks of Christ’s sacrifice for us on
the cross. This was the first gate repaired, for without the
sacrifice, there is no salvation. Note that the sheep’s gate had
no locks or bars, for the door of salvation is always open for
the sinner to enter!
2. The fish gate (vs. 3) – We are called to be fishers of men (Mark
3. The old gate (vs. 6) – We are to follow the old paths and old
truths of the Word of God (Jer. 6:16).
4. The valley gate (vs. 13) – We are to be humble just as Christ was
5. The dung gate (vs. 14) – This is the gate through which the waste
of the city was taken. We are to cleanse ourselves of all
filthiness of the flesh and spirit (II Cor. 7:1).
6. The gate of the fountain (vs. 15) – We need to be filled with the
Spirit (John 7:37-39, Eph. 5:18).
7. The water gate (vs. 26) – Speaks of the Word of God (Eph. 5:26).
This just “happens” to be the seventh gate mentioned (seven is
the number of perfection in the Bible). Psalm 19:7 says that
God’s Word is perfect! It just so “happens” that this gate
needed no repairs!
8. The horse gate (vs. 28) – The horse is a symbol of war and we are
certainly in a warfare as soldiers of God (Eph. 6:10-17; II Tim.
9. The east gate (vs. 29) – This reminds us of Christ’s return. For
the Sun of Righteousness will rise in the east (Mal. 4:2) with
healing in His wings.
10. The gate Miphkad (vs. 31) – this speaks of God’s judgment. This
Hebrew word means "appointment", "account", or "census". We,
too, will have to give an account before God at the judgment seat
of Christ (Rom. 14:10-12).
Just the order in which the gates are mentioned can teach us some amazing truths about the Christian life.
In chapter 4, the enemy appears. One thing you can be sure of – when God’s work is being accomplished, the enemy will come against it. The enemy tries ridicule, force, discouragement, and fear to get God’s people to stop the work. How did they overcome all of these? Through prayer (vs. 9). Note that Nehemiah did not just depend on prayer alone, he also set a watch. God expects us to do the possible, and then trust Him for the impossible.
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
As the KING’S CUPBEARER – Nehemiah 1:11 (Nehemiah was the King’s cupbearer – i.e. served the King beverages at his table. Jesus took the cup of wrath of our King for us on the cross – Luke 22:42).
Through NEHEMIAH – (He left the King’s court and his high position behind, to go far away (approx. 750 miles) to build a wall of protection for God’s people) – Nehemiah 1-3. (Jesus did this same thing for you and me!)
As the SHEEP GATE – Nehemiah 3:1 – (The only way we can become one of Christ’s sheep is by entering through the right "door," which is Christ himself – John 10:1,7,9,10).