Nehemiah 2:10-20

Nehemiah is a man who has a problem put on his heart. God gives Nehemiah a desire to see his people restored in Jerusalem and protected. 

In the passage today we’ll read Nehemiah doing several things: 
– he surveys Jerusalem and the damage
– makes a plan
– invites others to join 
– holds fast to his convictions and the truth in the face of opposition.

10 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.

•       Satan would love for this to be a social club. A box for you to check.

11 So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. 

13 I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 

•       We’ve got a picture of the city and the wall that ran around it. We have a decent idea of where these places are that Nehemiah is taking about, and it says that he inspected the areas that had been broken down and destroyed by fire.
•       Indeed it has been destroyed, Daniel attests to this:
•       “You [God] have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem.” -Daniel 9:12  

14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass. 15 Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. 

•       Nehemiah tells us the animal, probably a donkey or something similar could not pass through the gates. I think what he’s saying is the structure is so ruined, he had to dismount and climb under the rubble.
•       vs 15, he inspects the wall, looking at it with his own eyes, and throughout it he’s making a plan. Assessing the situation. Reminds me of Jesus telling those who wanted to follow him to count the cost.
o       For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish. – Luke 14:28
•       He knows what God put on his heart, and he is preparing to do it, but he’s making sure he understands the assignment.

16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.”

•       He then approaches the people with an invitation, a call to action.
•       They are in some serious trouble. A city without a wall is not a city. 
•       It is an important thing he is calling them to do. It might seem strange today, there is no wall around your house or the city of Atlanta, but it was important then.
•       God gives an invitation to join, but doesn’t need them. He is going to get this job done, but they get a chance to participate. A chance to be obedient.

 18 And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. 

•       He tells them it isn’t of himself but a calling and plan from God. He isn’t asking them to follow his idea. He wants to do what God is asking him, and is asking them to join in.
•       The response of the people is encouraging, they are in to it! And more than that, it says they prepared. They didn’t just run out there and say “god will give me the strength”.
•       They made sure they were ready.

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 

•       They clearly care quite deeply about what is going on, the work that Nehemiah is proposing to do.
•       They try to snip the idea in the bud by bringing an accusation. “You are going against the king”
•       This is a very serious accusation, something that would bring about death, disloyalty could be seen as treason or insurrection.  

20 Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.”

•       They are coming with lies and deception. Satan is the father of lies. Nehemiah doesn’t engage or dignify them with a retort. He knows it’s a lie, they probably know it’s a lie. He doesn’t cast pearls before swine, does not get distracted. 
•       There is no rebutting the claim, even though he knows it’s not true, he has permission. only the truth boldly proclaimed. The lord “will make us prosper.”
•       Nehemiah also makes it clear that they will not have any portion of the work they are doing. They don’t get anything to do with it. No middle ground. There are the people who are for it, and those against it.

key principles:
–       God’s people are invited in to participate. 
–       God’s people accept the responsibility
–       God’s people prepare for the work there is to do. 
–       God’s people have confidence. 
–       God’s people expect opposition

So how do we apply this? This is not a parable. It’s a narrative. 
God first calls Nehemiah to participate and now the people get the chance to join in as well.