SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
Nehemiah 1:1-4; 2:4-5; 13, 16-18
Key Verse: Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. – Nehemiah 2:17-18
The Bible teaches us how God works. When God addresses a problem in the lives of his people, he does not send ten thousand angels to right a wrong. His remedy is not an earthquake, fire, or flood. He sends a person to get the job done.
We see this clearly in today’s lesson. Jerusalem was in trouble. Leadership was needed. The wall needed to be rebuilt. Into this vacuum God sent a man who could rally the people and motivate them work together.
Nehemiah was that man. As much as John years later would be “a man sent from God,” Nehemiah was a man sent from God to inspire people to do the will of God in his day.
When God sends a person on a mission, that person never goes alone. God is with the one who serves him. The resources of God are abundantly available to those who accept the call to serve God. Nehemiah did not have to work in his own strength alone.
What kind of people does God call? Mainly, people who, trusting God, are willing to make themselves available for the Lord’s work. To probe this question further, let us observe what kind of person Nehemiah was.
He was a man with a broken heart. He was deeply disturbed by his own sin, and the sins of the people. He wept and prayed, begging God to have mercy upon the people and allow them to return to him in faithful obedience. God is not likely to call the person who is at “ease in Zion,” and who callously indulges sinful behavior.
Nehemiah was open to the leadership of the Spirit. He was willing to receive a vision from God. He allowed God to stir his heart until he could see a way to address the need. He did not go off half-cocked. He realized he needed the resources available to him through his connection to King Artaxserxes.
He was a man of prayer. He realized the need to bathe his mission in prayer. In his conversation with the King, he did not foolishly rely on his own cleverness. When the King asked Nehemiah what he wanted, he did not answer until he had “prayed to the God of heaven.” He knew that wisdom came from God. Imagine how much more effective we might be if we did not share our own thinking before turning to God for understanding!
Nehemiah carefully assessed the need before tackling the problem. He did not depend on hearsay. He found out for himself what needed to be done to the gates and the wall.
He constantly gave the glory to God. He spoke often of “the gracious hand of my God upon me,” revealing that he understood the Source of his strength. He resisted the temptation to think of himself as “a great leader” by remembering it was his God who was great.
Nehemiah had coaching skills and recognized the need for the people to work together as a team. Observe that he says, “Come, let us rebuild the wall…” He did not preach at the people, telling them what they should do. He was willing to get his own hands dirty. Such leadership is always effective.
He was a man of action. He preached to the people with his hammer in his hands. He wasted no time studying the problem in committee meetings. He was not tentative or bashful. He did not risk “analysis paralysis.” He said boldly, “We have a problem. God will help us. Together we can get the job done. Let’s go to work.” Shamefully, this reminds us that all too often we are prone to “talk problems to death” before picking up our tools and going to work.
He refused to be thwarted by his opposition. Ridicule and mockery did not slow him down. He reminded his opponents that God would give him and the people success.
The righteous are always opposed by the unrighteous in doing the will of God. If we will, we can allow opposition to strengthen our resolve to do God’s work instead of deterring us from our mission.
There are many needs today faced by our churches. There is so much that needs to be done to the glory of God. God still needs men, and women, like Nehemiah to humble themselves and answer his call.
Will you let God call you to meet a need where you live? Let him give you a vision of what needs to be done, and be willing to be a modern-day servant who is “sent from God” to rally people around the great mission of God! + + + +