Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nehemiah: A Motivator for the People Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending Sept. 27, 2009

Purpose: To see that the devotion and commitment of Nehemiah helped him rally the people to work for the common good.

Scripture Text: Nehemiah 2:5, 11-20 (NRSV)

Nehemiah 2:5, 11-20
(5)Then I said to the king, ‘If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves, so that I may rebuild it.’

(11)So I came to Jerusalem and was there for three days. (12)Then I got up during the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. The only animal I took was the animal I rode. (13)I went out by night by the Valley Gate past the Dragon’s Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that had been broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. (14)Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool; but there was no place for the animal I was riding to continue. (15)So I went up by way of the valley by night and inspected the wall. Then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. (16)The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest that 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 burnt. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, so that we may no longer suffer disgrace.’ (18)I told them that the hand of my God had been gracious upon me, and also the words that the king had spoken to me. Then they said, ‘Let us start building!’ So they committed themselves to the common good. (19)But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they mocked and ridiculed us, saying, ‘What is this that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?’ (20)Then I replied to them, ‘The God of heaven is the one who will give us success, and we his servants are going to start building; but you have no share or claim or historic right in Jerusalem.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Have you ever seen someone that has a unique ability to lead? Have you ever analyzed that person’s character and charisma to see what makes them a special leader? Nehemiah was such a leader, and we want to look at how he became such a good leader.

The first thing you should know is that Nehemiah was a “layman”; that means he did not hold any office within the religious order. Second he had earned the responsibility as Cup-bearer to the King. Third, he was a listener, if you go back to Chapter 1:1-5 it says: "The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. In the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capital, (2) one of my brothers, Hanani, came with certain men from Judah; and I asked them about the Jews that survived, those who had escaped the captivity, and about Jerusalem. (3)They replied, ‘The survivors there in the province who escaped captivity are in great trouble and shame; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been destroyed by fire.’(4)When I heard these words I sat down and wept, and mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven."

We can also see from this passage that he was willing to humble himself, and willing to fast and to pray concerning the situation, all of the things we are instructed to do when seeking God's face. (See ll Chronicles 2:14).

Notice that when Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem, he does not come in with a brash, my way or the highway, attitude, but rather he listens and watches for three days. When he goes to inspect the walls of the city, it is not with a lot of fanfare but chooses to go at night, in the quiet time. He had a quiet assurance about his mission; he had both God and the King of Persia on his side. He was not frightened by those that wanted to distract him from his mission. It is important that those that lead us are confident and have a clear vision, and are not easily swayed by outside influence. Nehemiah's other quality was his ability to convince the residents that what he purposed to do was for the common good of everyone. Sometimes we are hesitant to accept new ideas even when we know it would be better for the community.

Just a short history lesson; In the Hebrew writings the Book of Ezra and Nehemiah are one book, and they are relatively close in time to the Book of Esther. Esther became Queen in 476 BC, Ezra went to Jerusalem in 458 BC, and Nehemiah went in 445 BC, so all three books cover a 31 year period. If you notice in verse 6 of Chapter 2 there is the quote (6) the king said to me (the queen also was sitting beside him), ‘How long will you be gone, and when will you return? There is no other explanation for this statement except that it was Queen Esther. Some have said that the Kings names do not match, but you should know that they are not names but titles. Artaxerxes is a title that simply means "The Great King"; Ahasuerus is a title meaning "The Venerable Father."

Nehemiah was a great “laymen” and he was a great leader, more importantly he was a great believer in God's promise to His people. He realized that it was important for God's overall mission that Jerusalem be restored, he became aware of the need and God called him to go and fix the problem. There maybe problems that need fixed in your community or church, God may be calling you to be a leader like Nehemiah. “See the need and do the deed.” Listen, fast, pray, and learn to lead, allowing God to work through you. The great promise we have is “God is with us” Emmanuel.

No comments: