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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Nehemiah 2

Verses 1-20

  1. Intro:
    1. Last chapter it was Weep & Pray, this chapter it is Wait & Pray.
    2. Recap Nehemiah’s concerns from ch.1 (1:2-4)
    3. Patriotism. I like what Adlai/Add-lay Stevenson II [Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.] said, Patriotism was not a short & frenzied outburst of emotion, but the tranquil & steady dedication of a lifetime.
      1. ​​​​​​​Remember Nehemiah was praying for his nation before he even had seen it, or lived in it…now that’s true Patriotism.
    4. Slide5 Title: 3 + 3
      1. ​​​​​​​3 qualities of a great leader: Waiting, Praying, Asking.
      2. 3 essentials to Christian Service: Investigation, Cooperation, Determination.
  2. WAITING (1)
    1. ​​​​​​​Nehemiah didn’t up and quit his job & then make haste to Jerusalem.
      1. Suetonius [sooA-TONE-ee-us] (Roman historian, just after time of Christ) said, Make haste slowly.
      2. No, he prayed & worked faithfully for 4 months.
      3. He waited to approach the king in the Lord’s time.
        1. Is there anything he is asking you to wait for right now?
        2. How are you dealing with it? Need some tips? (Nehemiah Nuggets)
    2. 3 scriptures that help us not to rush into things:
      1. Stand still and see the salvation of the LORD. Ex.14:13
      2. Sit still my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day. Ruth 3:18
      3. Be still and know that I am God. Ps.46:10
    3. Waiting on the Lord is not wasting time but investing time.
      1. Working is easier than waiting…but wait any ways.
      2. A Latin Proverb, Impulse manages all things badly.
        1. ​​​​​​​We’re in such a hurry. Annual cost of running red lights (in medical bills, car repairs, etc) $7 billion. Average amount of time saved by running a red light: 50 seconds. (U.S. Department of Transportation, cited in Hope Health Letter (2/96). "To Verify," Leadership.)
    4. Do you have faith to wait?
      1. Let these Scriptures seep in:
        1. Is. 28:16 Whoever believes will not act hastily.
        2. Is.30:18b Blessed are all those who wait for Him.
        3. Hab.2:1-3 I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected. Then the LORD answered me and said: "Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.
      2. Faith + Patience ≠ laziness
      3. In what area is the lord asking you to wait in?
  3. PRAYING (2-4)
    1. ​​​​​​​Why was Nehemiah afraid? What was the rule of the day?
      1. No one was to appear before the king w/sadness or bad news.
      2. Esther 4:1,2 When Mordecai learned all that had happened, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city. He cried out with a loud and bitter cry. He went as far as the front of the king's gate, for no one might enter the king's gate clothed with sackcloth.
      3. You could lose you life for having one bad day at the office.
      4. My, how some have perfected the act of sadness among others.
        1. Each time you speak to them it is the whoa is me syndrome. Often simply seeking attention (I’m not referring to those legitimately sad)
    2. Through fear…a splendid courage.
      1. His secret?…Prayer.
      2. He was effective in his 911 Prayers because he spent much time alone w/the Lord. i.e. all of chapter 1. And 4 months worth so far.
        1. Regular times of prayer must be the context for all our instant prayers.
    3. Do you talk to God like this throughout your day?
    4. Interesting to note, Nehemiah could come to the God’s Throne of Grace any time, but he had to wait an invitation before Artaxerxes throne?
    5. (3) In typical Rabbinical Jewish fashion, he answers a question, w/a question. (not demanding)
    6. Tombs – why does he mention this?
      1. A pagan monarch wouldn’t be moved to sorrow over the ruins of Jerusalem, but would show respect for the dead.
  4. ASKING (5-10)
    1. ​​​​​​​He needed safe passage & building materials.
    2. He answers the king confidently & respectfully.
      1. Which of these 2 do you struggle with?
      2. If you were telling the story to a friend would it come across too confident w/no respect? Like, (with attitude) then I told that king…]
      3. Or would you show respect only & leave off any confidence? [uh, uh, uh, I don’t need anything Mr.King Sir!]
        1. Remember you’re one of The Kings kids. When you speak up for your King, or on behalf of Him, or as an ambassador from Him…Speak up, with respect.
    3. So he asks for 2 things:
      1. SEND ME (5,6)
        1. Whenever God wants to get a work done, He uses willing people. (He can override of course)
        2. Nehemiah had been planning his work carefully, so he was able to give the king satisfactory answers.
        3. It is not clear thinking & organization OR Prayer. But instead… Prayer + clear thinking & organization.
        4. They are not opposites but allies, best friends.
        5. Nehemiah was very thorough as a leader. He knew the time schedule & even had his building list made.
        6. He even knew the name of the keeper of the forest. (8)
      2. GIVE ME (7-10)
      3. How does this relate to Ezra 8:22 who, for integrity’s sake, wouldn’t ask this from the king?
        1. Ezra refused military protection for a testimony to the faithfulness of God (i.e. God will take care of his own)
        2. Nehemiah on the other hand was a governor on official business; he could not travel without his military escort.
    4. (8) He trusted in the Lords strong hand (1:10) & in His good hand (2:8) to accomplish this great task.
    5. Now, 3 essentials to Christian Service: Investigation, Cooperation, Determination.
  5. INVESTIGATION (11-16) Feel it, experience it yourself
    1. ​​​​​​​Before asking for help, he personally was acquainted with the needs.
      1. He’s forced to dismount & have to actually stumble over the debris.
      2. Horseback to on foot.
      3. Slide14 Difference of watching ground zero on TV to standing next to it after 9-11
        1. Such emotional ties. [St Patricks Cathedral, Bag Pipes, orange buckets]
    2. Dedicated leaders are awake when others are asleep.
      1. They also see more in darkness than others see in the daylight.
      2. In the night...by night (12,13) - It was dark.
        1. ​​​​​​​This is when God has you wrestle in some dark Gethsemane prayer.
  6. COOPERATION (17,18) Secure others to help you
    1. ​​​​​​​(17,18) Nehemiah didn’t believe in a one-man band.
      1. He challenged the leaders to work with him, not for him.
      2. 1 can chase a 1000, but 2 put 10,000 to flight. Deut.32:30 paraphrase
      3. The motive? To not be a reproach (17b).
        1. He sought the Glory of God & the Good of the nation.
    2. If you are a Leader here are some questions. (Adapted from Warren Weirsbe, pg.35)
      1. Do you have a burden first in your heart for the work the Lord has given you to do? (12)
      2. Next, are you willing to sacrifice to see it accomplished?
      3. Are you patient in gathering the facts & planning the work?
      4. Are you willing to allow others to help you & learn along w/you, or are you a lone ranger?
      5. Are people following you or the Lord?
    3. If the Lord has you as a Follower in a ministry
      1. Do you listen to your leader?
      2. Do you share his/her burdens?
      3. Do you cling to the past & are afraid of God doing something new?
      4. Are you cooperating w/the enemy in any way?
      5. Do you tend to be a destroyer or a builder?
    4. Well, when ever you are shown the needs, decided to meet that need, & then rise to the occasion…then opposition is usually aroused. (19,20)
  7. DETERMINATION (19,20) Push through trouble
    1. ​​​​​​​Slide21 (19,20) Who are these guys?
      1. Sanballat – chief political enemy of Nehemiah.
        1. He was governor of Samaria. Hear his attitude in 4:1,2.
        2. A letter found by archeologists dated to 407 BC confirmed his position.
      2. Tobiah – is thought to be a Jew w/lands in Gilead. [name means pleasing to Jehovah] :(
        1. He has many family ties in Jerusalem.
        2. The phrase Ammonite official refers to his position, not his race.
      3. Geshem – probably chief of the Arabs, south of Palestine.
    2. The weapon of ridicule is the only weapon some carry…and boy they can wield it well.
      1. This is the very weapon enemies used back in Ezra 4.
      2. Ridicule is a very effective means to discourage us from acting.
        1. A smirk, a raised eyebrow, or a mocking laugh have kept many Christians from teaching Children’s Church, playing an instrument, following a call to the mission field, or moving towards full time ministry.
        2. Have you ever run into a Sanballat or a Tobiah? They have many descendants in society today…ever meet one?
          1. I remember being discouraged from moving out here.
        3. What have you been talked out of? Embarrassed by?
        4. Will you pray about doing them again?
      3. This means encouragement must go so far, if the opposite is true.
        1. Who on the other hand has been quiet the encouragement to you? (Gary Ansdell w/Is.61)
    3. Nehemiah performed no signs, no wonders, nor any prophesy’s, he just faithfully did his work & prepared a city for the coming of the Messiah. Dan.9:25.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Nehemiah 2". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/nehemiah-2.html. 2017.