As we turn to Nehemiah 4:9-23, we find Nehemiah’s work crew discouraged for the first time since the project of rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem began. But what caused the discouragement? How did Nehemiah handle it? The answers to these questions apply directly to the discouragement many leaders face today.
Every worthy task contains its share of challenges, and Nehemiah’s God-given work was no exception. The first 13 verses of Nehemiah 5 shine a spotlight on a dismal financial fiasco involving the workers. This problem caused the project to grind to a temporary halt while their leader guided them to a godly solution. Though our own tasks today are different, problems and difficulties will surely find us, and wise leaders will need to know how to handle them.
Using Nehemiah’s own experience as the basis of our study, we learn how to pass the test of integrity that comes with a promotion.
For months, Nehemiah led the project of rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls in spite of constant opposition, both subtle and overt. As the walls neared completion (Nehemiah 6:1), threatening foes once again assailed this leader. But this time the attack was much more insidious than before—the enemy attempted to intimidate Nehemiah through several frightening plots.
Nehemiah 11 recognizes the “willing unknowns,” a special group of people who served a vital function in Jerusalem but never saw their names in lights. We will consider also our own sacrificial service and learn to appreciate those who work behind-the-scenes in our homes, workplaces, and realms of leadership.
God offers to each of us at least two great moments in life: the moment when we were born—though we might not wish to dwell on the number of birthdays from that day to this—and the moment we realize why we were born.
Once the walls and gates were finally completed (Nehemiah 6:15), Nehemiah organized Jerusalem into a well-guarded, stable body of people (7:1-73). The beginnings of spiritual revival were taking place. And the potential for revival is always present in our own lives, if we just know where to look.
In search of a solid foundation in the Law, they returned to Ezra, seeking insight—wisdom that could be built into their daily lives. They committed to clear away the rubble of wrong thinking and their old patterns of living, replacing them with obedience to the Lord and His Law. This biblical method for spiritual renovation is an excellent model for rebuilding our spiritual lives today.
“You can prove anything you want to from the Bible!” Have you ever heard someone make that claim? Probably so. For the most part, it is true. If a person really wants to find biblical “justification” for some belief or activity and is willing to use half-verses, to take passages out of context, and to twist the meaning of various terms, then he or she can “prove” just about anything from Scripture.
After God’s people had heard and obeyed His Word by observing the Feast of Tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:13-18), they met for a time of corporate prayer. The celebration brought them to an understanding of both the holiness of God and the depth of their sins, which led to an expression of deep sorrow and humility. The Israelites’ example provides guidelines for the discipline of prayer that are meaningful, logical, and relevant for us today.