IT’S THURSDAY SO IT’S NEHEMIAH NIGHT.

September 16, 2016

the bible

WELL HERE IT IS Thursday AND HERE IS PART TWO OF OUR STUDY ON NEHEMIAH OF OUR Thursday DEVOTION.

The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven…

Nehemiah 1

What are characteristics of godly leaders?

Second Timothy 3:17 says that Scripture is given to equip the man of God for “all righteousness.” All righteousness includes things like marriage, being a good employee, and even being a great leader. The Bible is full of stories about leadership but none may be as instructive as the book of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah, who was a cupbearer for the king of Persia, gained favor with the king to leave his post and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He inspired the Israelites to rebuild the walls and also to restore the worship of God. He was a tremendous leader.

The story behind the rebuilding of the walls is that Israel had rebelled against God during the times of the kings, and God judged them by exiling them to Babylon for over 140 years (586 BC-445 BC). After seventy years in exile, bands of Israelites started to return to Israel. In fact, there were three returns. The first was led by Zerubbabel—a descendant of David who rebuilt the temple in Israel. The second was led by Ezra—the priest who brought an initial spiritual revival in Israel. The third return was led by Nehemiah, as told here.

Nehemiah began to rebuild both the walls and the spiritual lives of the people, as he became their governor. As we look at Nehemiah, we will learn a lot about godly leadership.

I say godly leadership because godly leaders have character and they commonly tackle God-sized problems. This work was beyond Nehemiah’s power, and it virtually seemed impossible to complete.

God’s leaders are always confronting impossible problems. Moses had to set Israel free from the slavery of Egypt; he had to cross the Red Sea with the angry Egyptians following right behind him. Here in this text, Nehemiah was over 800 miles away from the problem.1 Israel was in ruins, and the people were being harassed by their neighbors. He had an impossible problem. However, he did not only confront it but also was successful.

God wants to develop leaders today in his church to help rebuild nations, churches, families, and individuals who have fallen away from God or never known him. In ancient societies, walls were very important because they protected the people from the attack of looters and other enemies.

In the same way, for many Christians, their walls have been broken down by allowing sin to infiltrate them both individually and corporately. Many churches and Christian organizations have been affected by doctrinal liberalism. Many young Christians have started to look and walk like the world. There is a need to rebuild the walls in order to protect God’s people.

This is what Galatians says about a brother in sin: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

Godly leadership brings one in contact with the sinful and the broken in order to help rebuild, but it also exposes one’s life to dangers and temptations. We see this with Nehemiah as he was confronted by many detractors because he sought to help Israel. In this text, we will see many characteristics of godly leadership.

Big Question: What characteristics of godly leadership do we find in chapter 1?

Godly Leaders Are Concerned and Responsive to Problems

Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.

Nehemiah 1:2-4

Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king; he tasted the king’s food and lived in the king’s palace. Even though the position doesn’t sound very impressive, it was. One scholar said that the cupbearer “was often chosen for his personal beauty and attractions, and in ancient oriental courts was always a person of rank and importance. From the confidential nature of his duties and his frequent access to the royal presence, he possessed great influence.”2

Certainly, this was an easy position for a person to be unconcerned about the situation in Israel. Nehemiah was completely taken care of.

He first shows his concern by asking questions of Hanani, his brother, who had just come from Judah. Godly leaders are concerned and informed. However, it is one thing to be concerned and to gather information, and it’s another thing to be responsive. He immediately wept and began to pray for the nation.

His response was very similar to that of Christ when he saw the large crowds in Matthew 9. This is what Matthew said:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Matthew 9:36-38

Christ was concerned about the needs of the people and so was Nehemiah. They both responded in prayer.

Application Question: Why is it so easy to not be concerned about the spiritual temperature of others or the problems of others?

There are many reasons:

    People are unconcerned sometimes simply because of apathy. It is easy to care only about ourselves and not about others, especially when the problem doesn’t affect us.

    People are unconcerned sometimes because they feel like they cannot help. The problem is too big. We say to ourselves we cannot do anything about it.

    People are unconcerned sometimes because they fear responsibility. The more we know; the more we are responsible for. Solomon said with knowledge comes more pain (Ecc 1:18).

    People are unconcerned sometimes because they are too busy with other things.

    People are unconcerned sometimes because they suffer from the “bystander effect.” This means we say to ourselves that somebody else will take care of it.

Nehemiah was wealthy and living in the house of the king of Persia. He had many reasons to not care about or get involved with the problems in Israel. Yet, when his brother came back from Israel, he asked how things were going there because he cared. But not only did he care enough to ask questions, he also cared enough to get involved.

GET INVOLVED.

GOD BLESS FROM SCUMLIKEUSCHURCH@GMAIL.COM

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