Being a contemporary of Ezra and a cupbearer to the Persian King, Nehemiah, a Jew, was challenged by a great need as he became a visionary worker for God’s people! Exiles had returned almost a hundred years ago, but had not started any construction on the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. What was Nehemiah’s first action? No doubt he thought that so much should have been done since 586BC. Next, he asked and was granted permission by the king to return to Jerusalem where he led a delegation of workers to reconstruct those walls. The third challenge was the opposition by pagans! God led Nehemiah and blessed his efforts to complete this great work in only 52 days! With unlimited power God made everything immediately possible. The quick work of the Jews probably shocked their enemies. Nehemiah definitely obtained favor in the sight of his fellow-workers. Despite problems with the pagans, Nehemiah kept his faith in God’s help. He continued doing things God’s way and much progress was rapidly made. We know that as a visionary leader, Nehemiah challenged his countrymen to arise and rebuild the shattered walls of Jerusalem. Even with opposition and obvious abuse, much was accomplished in such extremely short time! We can always trust God to provide what we need, when we need it and to work out our problems in ways that are better than anything we ever imagined!
One strategy Nehemiah used was some secret storing of his plans to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:12-16). Plans can sometimes be destroyed with too much talking, especially to non-supportive people. Nehemiah’s work was done under much stress. The horrible view of waste, burned gates and the broken walls of Jerusalem never limited his praise to God nor the king’s words of hope. Ignoring the laughter and words of scorn, Nehemiah was proudly able to join God’s people as they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Feeling inner strength and also seeing God’s hand at work at the same time can cause any of us to set our minds to doing good works for the glory of God.
Nehemiah was such a great visionary for God’s people. With this position known, he went before King Artaxerxes after he was filled spiritually by God. He was determined to do the good work described in chapter two. As a visionary he pictured what could have been done. God gave Nehemiah the passion to complete the project. He was motivated with God’s empowered help from the others to rebuild those walls which was the main defense for the city. Can we imagine the helpless feelings that existed among the people? Notice how Nehemiah prayed before confronting the king. He did not go on his own to appeal for the king’s sympathy (Nehemiah 2:4). Support letters and requests for rebuilding materials along with officers and an army were taken to the king with Nehemiah. God blessed him as he made his requests known.
With an abundance of resources and the support of the king, Nehemiah began to supervise the rebuilding tasks. He wanted to remove that horrible sight of disgrace (Nehemiah 2:17). Through prayer, Nehemiah heard from God who made everything possible step-by-step with the king’s support. Nehemiah faced great odds and did a magnificent job according to the Bible. Did anyone think that it would have been possible for an unknown cupbearer to oversee the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls? This story can indirectly suggest prayerful determination to ignore those who may oppose our plans that glorify God who will help us to do a great work in His name! Nehemiah told the Israelites that the God of heaven would give them success (Nehemiah 2:20).
It may be wise to read the first six chapters of the book of Nehemiah to learn more about his enemy attacks such as a plot to confuse the building (Nehemiah 4:7-11). Did the plot fail (Nehemiah 4:12-15)? Read on to discover other attempts to stop the building (Nehemiah 6:1-14). God, our helper, intervened and the walls were completed (Nehemiah 6:15-19)! Focusing on prayer kept Nehemiah’s work moving in the right direction. Let us remember again that God makes everything possible according to His will. Other forces will never block the spirit of God in our lives when we give Him first place in our hearts.
Nehemiah consistently focused on prayer as an extremely disturbed Jew who learned of the devastation of Jerusalem’s walls after the Babylonian exile. How can Nehemiah’s story inspire the completion of our works for God? With prayer and increased faith, what is possible for us? Nehemiah’s success in rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls provides encouragement to us today in all works that glorify God. Do we learn of fruitful leadership principles in this story that can be used today? Nehemiah, like us, must have struggled through problems while waiting for another chance from God who makes everything possible according to His will! Let us continue to praise God for all help and to give Him the glory for our accomplishments.
Mrs. Gladys R. McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.