Nehemiah 1 – 2 … Consider Him Who Came to Seek the Welfare of the People

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, (2:10 ESV).

Nehemiah had it pretty good. He was the cupbearer to the king.

Now I was the cupbearer to the king, (1:11).

“According to the Greek historian Xenophon, one of the cupbearer’s duties was to choose and taste the king’s wine to make sure that it was not poisoned (2:1). Thus Nehemiah had to be a man who enjoyed the unreserved confidence of the king. The need for trustworthy court attendants is underscored by the intrigues that characterized the Achaemenid court of Persia. Xerxes, the father of Artaxerxes I, was killed in his own bedchamber by a courtier,” NIV Study Bible.

Life in the palace as the trusted confidante to the king was probably a pretty good life. But when Nehemiah heard of the state of his people in Judah, his comfortable, good life was not his concern.

When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven, (1:4).

Any time I read of someone in Scripture acting selflessly on behalf of others, I am certain that is the Spirit of God working through them. Because let’s face it; naturally, we are pretty much inclined to look out for ourselves above others. And also, any time I read of someone in Scripture acting selflessly on behalf of others, I can’t help but think of Jesus.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 2:3-5).

Nehemiah’s attitudes and actions remind me so much of our beloved Savior. And though it was displeasing to His enemies, still He Came. And not for Himself. He Came to Seek the Welfare of the People.

Consider Him Who Came to Seek the Welfare of the People

So many aspects of Nehemiah’s account are a beautiful depiction of the heart of our Savior Who Came to Seek the Welfare of the People.

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:41).

  • He Came to Seek the Welfare of the People… weeping
    • When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days… (1:4).
      • When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, (Luke 19:41).
  • He Came to Seek the Welfare of the People interceding
    • …and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven, (1:4).
      • …Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us… (Romans 8:34).
  • He Came to Seek the Welfare of the People… leaving the throne room to become a servant
    • Now I was the cupbearer to the king… I said to the king, “If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor before you, send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it,” (1:11; 2:5).
      • …Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men, (Philippians 2:5-7).
  • He Came to Seek the Welfare of the People enduring hostile opposition
    • When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about it, it was very displeasing to them that someone had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel, (2:10).
      • When He left there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile and to question Him closely on many subjects, 54 plotting against Him to catch Him in something He might say, (Luke 11:53-54).
  • He Came to Seek the Welfare of the People… calling attention to the current condition
    • Then I said to them, “You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire…” (2:17).
      • And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business,” (John 2:15-16).
  • He Came to Seek the Welfare of the People… extending His invitation to join the work
    • “…Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach,” (2:17).
      • And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men,” (Mark 1:17).
  • He Came to Seek the Welfare of the People… conveying God’s favor
    • I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me… (2:18).
      • My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one,” (John 10:27-29).
  • He Came to Seek the Welfare of the People relying on the God of Heaven for success
    • So I answered them and said to them, “The God of heaven will give us success…” (2:20).
      • Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner,” (John 5:19).
  • He Came to Seek the Welfare of the People revealing God’s plan for His People
    • “…therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem,” (2:20).
      • “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. 22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him,” (John 5:20-23).

How do we respond to Him Who Came to Seek the Welfare of the People?

The walls of Jerusalem were meant to provide protection from the enemy. Our spiritual walls are also meant to provide protection; and when they are damaged and undermined through disobedience and sin, our defense against the enemy is significantly weakened.

Jesus Came to Seek the Welfare of the People, to rebuild the walls God had established at creation, that sin had destroyed. When we receive salvation, by faith, secured for us by His sacrifice on the cross, we are then given the call to join Him in His good work.

…Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work, (2:18).

To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ, (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).

Today, as the walls of our families, our nation, and sadly even our churches appear to be crumbling, we must respond as Nehemiah, beginning with repentance and confession. Let us seek Him, as Nehemiah did, in mourning and repentance over our own sins, and those of our churches and our nation.

“The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire. When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven,” (1:3-4).

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion,
(Proverbs 28:13)

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much, (James 5:16)

Our walls are damaged and in danger of being destroyed altogether. Our only hope is in Him Who Came to Seek the Welfare of the People. Today, let us intercede as Nehemiah prayed, in faith and dependence on His lovingkindness and His covenant, in honest confession as we acknowledge our sins against Him, and in passionate agreement with His Holy Word, let us beseech Him, that He would grant His favor upon us.

Let us spend time in intercession today, following the prayer of Nehemiah as our guide:

I said, “I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’ 10 They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. 11 O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man, (1:5-11).

He Came to Seek the Welfare of the People, but we must join His work to rebuild the walls through our commitment and obedience to His Word, empowered by His Holy Spirit. That is both our defense and tool for preserving the structural integrity of His work. Oh, let us prepare ourselves in the strength of His might, that we would put our hand to His good work.

…Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work, (2:18).

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (Ephesians 6:10-17).

Let’s Grow Together!

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