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Bible Commentaries

John Brown's Commentary on Selected Book of the Bible

Nehemiah 2

 

 

Verses 1-10

John Brown

Nehemiah 2:1-10

Preparation and Equipment

Luke 14:27-31 (NKJV) "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has [enough] to finish [it]-- "lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see [it] begin to mock him, "saying, `This man began to build and was not able to finish." "Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Last week in our study of Nehemiah we were challenged to, "rise and build!"

1. For any building project to be successful, we will need a bill-of-materials!

2. In other words, as we see in Luke , we must first sit down and figure out what it is going to cost to finish the project!

3. When one of God"s children says, "I want to build or Revelation -build in the Lord." He/she must do likewise.

a) If we approach the task with our eyes wide open, there will be less for the enemy to use against us later!

B. The Old Testament offering is good illustration of the heart and attitude we need as we Revelation -build.

1. It was voluntary.

a) If we don"t see the honor and privilege in "building or Revelation -building" for the Lord, and only do it because we "have to", that"s not a very sweet offering to the Lord!

2. It was all placed upon the altar.

a) If we realize going in that sacrifice is involved, it is harder for satan to make us feel sorry for our selves.

(1) In fact, it usually that part that we "hold back", that he will use against us!

3. It was consumed by fire.

a) A genuine sacrifice to the Lord must be set fire to!

(1) Meaning, if it is really to the Lord, LET IT GO!

(2) So many times we do what we do "with attachments."

4. And finally, the Old Testament sacrifice, when properly done, was a sweet smelling aroma to the Lord.

a) You remember the story of Cain and Abel.

(1) The Lord could only accept Abel"s sacrifice because he did it the way the Lord had asked.

(2) Cain on the other hand wanted the blessing, but his was a work of the flesh.

(a) He knew what the Lord required, but did it his own way and was rejected.

b) When we approach the project with a pure heart, and build the way the Lord requires, we"re blessed, He is blessed!

(1) Please keep in mind, that blessing most often involves sacrifice!

(2) Let"s take a look at how Nehemiah prepared for the work ahead of him!

(a) His "bill-of-materials" if you will!

II. NEHEMIAH"S BURDEN (The first thing on the list)

A. Nehemiah 2:1-10 (NKJV) And it came to pass in the month of Nisan (March-April), in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes (444BC), [when] wine [was] before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before.

2Therefore the king said to me, "Why [is] your face sad, since you [are] not sick? This [is] nothing but sorrow of heart." So I became dreadfully afraid,

3and said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers" tombs, [lies] waste, and its gates are burned with fire?"

4Then the king said to me, "What do you request?" So I prayed to the God of heaven.

5 And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers" tombs, that I may rebuild it."

6 Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), "How long will your journey be? And when will you return?" So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.

7 Furthermore I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors [of] [the] [region] beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah,

8 "and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king"s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which [pertains] to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy." And the king granted [them] to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.

9 Then I went to the governors [in] [the] [region] beyond the River, and gave them the king"s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.

10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard [of] [it], they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.

B. Four months time has elapsed between Chapter1verse1 - and Chapter2 , verse1.

1. As soon as Nehemiah heard what condition God"s people and the Temple was in, he had sat down, wept, mourned and prayed, but:

2. He continued to pray for4months- so far!

a) There was much for him to pray about:

(1) He knew in order to be successful, he needed the Lord"s blessing.

(2) He knew that in order for him to go to Jerusalem he had to have the king"s blessing.

(a) To be sad in the presence of the king was punishable by death!

(b) And yet he was so sad that he couldn"t hide it from the king!

(c) Four months gave him time to pray and ask the Lord to go before him.

3. After four months God opened the door!

a) Please notice that it was through weeping, fasting, and praying that the Lord opened the door!

b) Notice also, that the king brought it up!

c) God prompted the king to take the initiative!

C. Under this topic of Nehemiah"s burden of prayer, I want to point out that realizing the need is not enough!

1. Nehemiah needed could have heard about the need to rebuild the walls and said, "I"m going to pray that the Lord will raise somebody to rebuild those walls!"

2. As we said last week, realizing the need is just the first step!

3. The realization must be followed by prayer and waiting upon the Lord until:

a) The great need becomes a burden of my own heart to rise and do the work that the Lord had called me to do!

b) You see, it is usually after we are willing to accept the challenge personally that the Lord opens the door for change!

c) There is an old saying, "Hey if it was easy, any body could do it!"

(1) The best offering to the Lord is one that costs us something!

(a) 2 Samuel 24:24 (NKJV) Then the king (David) said to Araunah, "No, but I will surely buy [it] from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

(b) Alan Redpath said, "God help the children whom any Sunday School teacher professes to teach who has never felt that load upon his or her heart."

(c) Nehemiah counted the cost and was willing to pay the price.

(d) Now he wanted the blessing!

III. NEHEMIAH"S BLESSINGS

A. He wanted the King"s blessing to go! Nehemiah 2:5 (NKJV) And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers" tombs, that I may rebuild it."

1. He got it!

B. He wanted and received the blessing of safety! Nehemiah 2:7 (NKJV) Furthermore I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors [of] [the] [region] beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah,

1. He got it!

C. He wanted and also received, supplies from the king! Nehemiah 2:8 (NKJV) "and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king"s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which [pertains] to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy." And the king granted [them] to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.

IV. CONCLUSION

A. Every Christian, when he/she begins to "arise and build", needs to know that they have the blessing of their KING!

1. John 20:21 (NKJV) So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."

a) Alan Redpath: "...The true source of inspiration for service is always behind me and never in front of me."

b) The challenge and the resources to meet that challenge will always be in front of me.

(1) In other words, I don"t know what lies ahead! I must trust.

c) But the Power and the Motive for Revelation -building cannot be in what I see ahead.

(1) I must settle that in prayer before I start!

(2) If I let circumstances determine my success, then when the task gets hard, I will determine that God is not in it any longer!

(3) I / we must have the assurance that it was the Holy Spirit that called us, therefore we will finish the walls!

(a) Alan Redpath: "We are sent out to be exceptional in ordinary things, among sometimes mean people, in frequently sordid surroundings. Only the man sent by the King of Kings could take that, and only a man with a true burden will ever accept it."

B. Every Christian soldier, when he begins to "arise and build", must know that his King will keep him safe!

1. Notice that I didn"t say, "secure."

2. If fact, in any spiritual service that counts often our security is the first thing to go because the Lord wants our security to be in Him!

3. This "safety" that our King provides is more in the spiritual than in the physical.

a) I have found it to be true that when we decide to "arise and build" anything for the Lord, trials get upgraded!

b) But, I have also found that the Lord usually raises up others to pray for us as we serve Him!

C. Every Christian, when he/she begins to "arise and build", must know that their King will supply what they need to be successful!

1. Ephesians 4:7 (NKJV) But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ"s gift.

2. Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

3. Alan Redpath: "He promises grace for everything that is within His will for you, but for nothing that is outside His will for you."

a) That is why it is imperative for me to know that God has called and sent me!

b) Because if it is the Lord, then I know He will keep me safe!

c) And I can be assured that He will not allow me to be tested beyond my capacities!

(1) 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV) No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God [is] faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear [it].

D. Remember that there is no battle until a Christian gets involved. But as soon as he/she says, "Let us arise and build," satan says, "Let me arise and stop him!"

1. Here are a couple of questions that we can ask ourselves to determine if whatever we have "risen to build" for the Lord is effective!

a) Does our service to the Lord cause satan any worry?

b) Does he have to burn the midnight oil because we are fighters and Revelation -builders?

c) Alan Redpath: "A hundred people with a burden are better than a thousand without!"

(1) Song of Solomon , let us first allow our hearts to be broken for the Lord!

(2) Then let us count the cost of rebuilding the walls!

(3) And thirdly, "Let us arise and build," knowing we have the Lord"s blessing!


Verses 11-20

John Brown

Nehemiah 2:11-20

Facing the Challenge

I. INTRODUCTION

A. As we have said before, when faced with building or Revelation -building the spiritual walls in our life, our home or our neighborhood, we have2choices:

1. We can ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit and eventually the conviction will go away! OR

2. We can face the challenge with the Lord"s strength!

B. Nehemiah decided to face the challenge and his decision contained3important ingredients that are necessary today if we are going to Revelation -build successfully!

1. Investigation.

2. Cooperation.

3. Determination.

a) Let"s take a look

11. Nehemiah 2:11-20 (NKJV) So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days.

12Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode.

13And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire.

14Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King"s Pool, but [there] [was] no room for the animal under me to pass.

15 So I went up in the night by the valley, and viewed the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned.

16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the others who did the work.

17 Then I said to them, "You see the distress that we [are] in, how Jerusalem [lies] waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach."

18 And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king"s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, "Let us rise up and build." Then they set their hands to [this] good [work].

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard [of] [it], they laughed at us and despised us, and said, "What [is] this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?"

20 So I answered them, and said to them, "The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem."

A. INVESTIGATION

1. In this area of INVESTIGATION I want to remind you of Luke 14:27-31 (NKJV) "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has [enough] to finish [it]-- "lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, . . .

2. Nehemiah was not a foolish man; he didn"t under-estimate the cost!

a) He took a "tour of inspection" around the city at night.

(1) The walls were so bad in places that he had to dismount to get around!

b) He didn"t "over-spiritualize" the situation.

(1) Refusing to look at the difficulties and hardships of the task.

(2) Assuming God is something that He is not or that He will do something that He has not promised to do!

c) He looked at the facts, diagnosed the problems and rose to the occasion!

(1) If I can over-spiritualize or ignore the condition of my private life or marriage or the people around me, I will never see their "broken down" condition!

(2) If I refuse to see their true condition, they will never get any better!

B. COOPERATION

1. Nehemiah 2:17 (NKJV) Then I said to them, "You see the distress that we [are] in, how Jerusalem [lies] waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach."

a) Nehemiah knew he needed the help of God"s people to be successful.

(1) It was their God and His testimony was being made a mockery of!

(2) They shared the same God. They would share they same work of Revelation -building.

(a) If there is no unity of vision, there will be no unity of purpose!

(i) In other words, if a man or woman doesn"t see things the way the Lord does, their life won"t change!

(ii) If a husband and wife don"t see things the way the Lord does, their marriage won"t change!

(iii) And if a church is not willing to unite for the cause of Christ, it too will get lost in unimportant issues, and the work of Christ will not get done!

(3) Nehemiah was able to translate the vision; therefore they all had the same purpose- TO Revelation -BUILD THE WALLS TO GOD"S GLORY!

b) Nehemiah worked from a planned strategy.

(1) In Chapter3we will see that he divided the work among42groups!

(a) Each group was committed to getting their particular task done!

(b) Each group saw the "big picture" and because of that, it minimized their jealousy.

(i) They knew they needed each other, therefore they appreciated each other for the work they were able to contribute!

(c) THERE WAS NO INDEPENDENT SPIRIT!

(i) Amos 3:3 (NKJV) Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?

(ii) Leviticus 26:8 (NKJV) Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.

(iii) God honors only One life, and that is the life of His Son!

(a) As we are in unity with that life we are honored and blessed. WE ARE STRONG!

(b) The strength of an individual, a family or even this church, or any other church, is its unity in Christ!

(c) The minute our vision changes from God"s purposes to our own private "work", our strength is gone!

(2) Nehemiah set each group to work on the wall that was nearest to their own home!

(a) People are a little more apt to do good work and build a stronger wall if it is for the security of their own family.

(i) We too, must start " Revelation -building" the walls closest to home first!

(b) Jesus spent the first30 years of His life "building the walls" and preparing for the ministry that was ahead of Him!

(i) We too must be men and women of prayer and devotion in private so that we will be ready when we are called to public ministry!

(c) Jesus started his ministry in Jerusalem, His home!

(i) We too must start in our homes.

(a) In all honesty, we have to start the building or Revelation -building process in our private lives before we can even begin in our families!

(b) Then we can "branch out" into our families, then into our church, and our neighborhoods, til eventually we may be accused as was Paul, " Acts 5:28 (NKJV) saying, "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine. .

(ii) As Christians we must endeavor to bring and "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" in the home. Ephesians 4:3

(a) Mark 3:25 (NKJV) "And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

(b) Please keep in mind that as Christians we are all "of the same house!"

(c) The church will also not be able to stand if it is divided against itself!

C. DETERMINATION

1. Nehemiah 2:19 (NKJV) But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard [of] [it], they laughed at us and despised us, and said, "What [is] this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?"

a) It seems that there is always a Sanballat, a Tobiah, and a Geshem when we try to build something for the Lord!

(1) They"re always there, like these guys, to laugh at you and discourage you.

(2) But please notice that Nehemiah was determined because his calling was behind him, not in front of him!

(3) He had settled it with the Lord! So whatever happened from that point on didn"t change the calling to Revelation -build the walls.

(a) Nehemiah 2:20 (NKJV) So I answered them, and said to them, "The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem."

b) He spoke with authority, boldness, and courage to these enemies!

(1) He knew that there would be a war with these guys!

(2) He knew that the work before him was going to be hard and tedious!

(3) But he also knew that it was God"s will and would not give up until the work was done!

(4) He also knew better than to listen to the counsel of these ungodly men

(a) Psalm 1:1-3 (NKJV) Blessed [is] the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight [is] in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. . . .

III. CONCLUSION

A. Does our lives and service to the Lord contain these3very important ingredients?

1. Investigation, cooperation, and determination.

B. INVESTIGATION

1. Have I really accepted that my life is not my own to do with as I please?

a) My "vision" for life must line up with the Lord"s if there is to be unity!

2. Have I taken a "tour of inspection" lately to see what condition my "walls" are in?

a) Is it time to Revelation -build?

b) How about those "family walls?"

c) How about any walls in the church that I can help to Revelation -build!

C. COOPERATION

1. There was an old song that said, "We all need somebody- to lean on."

a) Scripture puts in another way, Philippians 2:2 (NKJV) fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, [being] of one accord, of one mind. Philippians 2:3 [Let] nothing [be] [done] through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

b) The right choice in friends can make a big difference in your Christian walk!

c) They can either lead you closer to the Lord or further away.

d) They can influence you to "sin less" or cause you sin more!

e) A small group of committed Christians can do an awesome work for the Lord!

(1) 12of them changed the world forever!

2. We must keep our eyes on the "big picture", not the petty things of this world!

a) We are stronger when we love and serve each other in Christ!

b) But if satan can get us to get our eyes off Jesus and on each other, he has won!

D. DETERMINATION

1. In spite of the enemy"s attacks and accusations, are you still in the war?

a) Is your calling and election sure?

(1) Is it behind you and not determined by what the Sanballats, and Tobiahs" say?

b) Are you listening to the counsel of the enemy, who doesn"t want you doing the work in the first place?

c) Are you determined to finish what God called you to do? NO MATTER WHAT!

(1) REDPATH: "There is one kind of person for whom God can do nothing; it is the person who is absolutely satisfied with what he is at this moment in the sight of God."

 


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Bibliography Information
Brown, John. "Commentary on Nehemiah 2:4". John Brown's Commentary on Selected Books of the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jbs/nehemiah-2.html.

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