13 April 2021

This was the message received by Nehemiah when he was in Susa and this was the message he communicated to the Jewish officials and leaders in Jerusalem when he encouraged them to rebuild.

The parallel we have today is the burden, concern and distress for the broken-down state of God’s church. The gospel preached in most instances is no longer the biblical gospel; the true gospel tells men that they need God, but not that God needs them (a modern falsehood); it never loses sight of the divine majesty and sovereign power of the Christ it proclaims, but rejects flatly all misrepresentations of Him; it has no room for the cheap sentimentalising which turns God’s free mercy to sinners into a softheartedness on His part which we can take for granted.

In a postmodern world, even so-called theologians reject the inerrancy of the Bible; miracles by God are interpreted and explained in apparently ‘scientific’ manner and rationalisation – it baffles them that the Almighty Creator has no limitations and miracles are no ‘problem’ to Him if they are needed. The preaching and teaching of Scripture are distorted, promoting ‘cheap grace’, ‘hypergrace’, ‘legalism’, and extreme unhealthy ‘fundamentalism’ which puts self-effort in the forefront and the grace of God in the background.

In the light of all these, Nehemiah’s response to God’s calling is commendable and serves as a reminder to all believers today. Notice first of all the passion for God’s glory when he contemplated the sad state of Jerusalem (where God’s temple and the centre of worship reside). We need to learn like Nehemiah to pray for the struggling communities of God’s people and to accept any change of circumstances and any risk (including spiritual ‘attacks’) involved in rendering the needed service God puts upon our hearts.

Like Nehemiah, we have to learn to put God first, others second and ourselves last as we seek to fulfill our call to service and ministry. Do we act in a disinterested way, not seeking ease or personal advantage but simply loving and serving our Lord God by loving and serving our neighbour, leaving it to the Lord to look after us and our personal interests as we concentrate on the tasks God gives? Note that Nehemiah, subsequently as the ‘governor’, forfeited his own ‘wage’ and ‘provisions’, to help the needy and those who required the extra help. How different it is today when Christian leaders serve for monetary gain and for personal ‘profit’ and ‘popularity’; when work is done because it promises a position of status and appreciation from others.

When God is pleased to use us as a means of good for HIs people, shall we with Nehemiah give Him the glory and praise for what has happened and decline to take the credit for ourselves? Shall we humbly acknowledge God’s grace and kindness in using us rather than conceitly supposing that the result is in no small way due to our own skills, talents and efforts?

Let us evaluate our present state individually and corporately in the light of the response and faithfulness of Nehemiah, truly a man of God.