(January 16, 2023) Hope Flinchbaugh, concludes her reflections on Nehemiah’s commission from God…
I’ve been sharing how Nehemiah, although an exile in Babylon, was cupbearer to Artaxerxes the king of Persia.
On learning the plight of his troubled people back home in Jerusalem and the city’s broken-down wall, he had wept and prayed to God for guidance and help (Nehemiah 1).
The outcome was that he obtained permission, and letters of authority, from the king to return home (Nehemiah 2).
In effect Nehemiah responded to God’s call to build that wall… and I’ve been encouraging you, dear reader, to respond to whatever God’s calling on your life may be.
God our amazing helper
Nehemiah 6:15-16NASB declares that, despite opposition, ‘… the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they realised that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.’
The prophet had willingly become a leader and fulfilled God’s calling to build Jerusalem’s fallen wall! A new beginning lay ahead for God’s people and they had much to praise God for!
Then came the day when all the people – every ‘man, woman and all who were able to understand’ (Nehemiah 8:1-3) – gathered to hear Ezra, the priest and scribe, as he stood on a high platform, to read from daybreak to noon from the Book of the Law of Moses.
Verse 3 tells that they listened attentively and when Ezra praised the Lord, they lifted their hands and responded with ‘Amen! Amen!’ They even bowed down in worship with faces to the ground!(v6). Nehemiah, the newly appointed governor, encouraged the people to be joyful that ‘This day is sacred to our Lord’(v10). Then the gatherers happily celebrated (v12).
Nehemiah and Ezra were true leaders, appointed leaders, who had a heart for the people! May we find such leaders today in our churches. For that matter, are you called to be such… in some capacity whatever it may be?
Hope… and no fears
The people stood beside these leaders whose first thought in the morning was obviously Jehovah and whose second thought was how to lead the sheep of Jehovah’s pasture.
On his return to Jerusalem, Nehemiah had discovered brethren who were being mistreated by their fellow-Jews (Nehemiah 5:1ff)! This had made him very angry and he immediately swung into action accusing wrongdoers!
In effect, God had sent Nehemiah the prophetic governor, and Ezra the prophetic scribe, to help His distressed, troubled people. Now, like the red sun rising, so was hope burning in their hearts again. There was nothing to fear, no future interest charges demanded (v9-12).
Do you know a leader like this? For that matter, are you leading a church, company, classroom, government or your own family like this? What sort of wall are you building for God?
Power in praise!
I will try to give us a taste of the power and revelation that was revealed and fell on the people of God as they praised Him in this place of restoration… As you read this, I want you to imagine your family, your nation, your people group, your land gathering at such a place – and pray and praise your God. Picture this:
‘While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshipped the Lord their God. Now on the Levites’ platform stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani and Chenani, and they cried with a loud voice to the Lord their God. Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebani, and Pethahiah said, “Arise, bless the Lord your God forever and ever!”’(Nehemiah 9:3-5NASB).
Even the confession of sin begins with praise to our heavenly God for His goodness to us here on earth. The historical account of God’s mighty hand in leading the faithful testifies of His greatness, His love!
Confession is not just getting down on yourself for doing something wrong. It’s not just repenting and telling God or others you’ve offended, a mere ‘I’m so sorry.’
Confession deeply involves the gaze of the soul on the redeemer Himself, His history in dealing with men and women, and His love in rescuing them again and again. This is true confession because the soul of the sinner is not ‘navel gazing,’ or looking at me, me, me and how terrible ‘me’ has been!
Please understand that God sees the sin you (or your flock, pastor, your charge, leader!) have committed, yet is as eager as you are to forgive and forget about it.
- It is the devil’s ploy to draw us into days of deep remorse over our own poor state.
- There is no healing and certainly no future in this state of mind.
- So do not ‘navel gaze!’ Stop looking at yourself and behold the faithfulness of God to forgive!
True confession hates the sin – while looking with fresh expectation to the Great Rescuer of the Ages, remembering how He’s heard the cry of the sinners before and brought them out of all their troubles.
Centre on God
Pastor, leader… if you are wondering what to say or how to lead your group in confession and praise, use the words of these happy Jews (Nehemiah 9:5b-8NASB) to jump-start your praise right now:
‘May your glorious name be blessed
And exalted above all blessing and praise!
You alone are the Lord.
You have made the heavens,
The heaven of heavens with all their host,
The earth and all that is on it,
The seas and all that is in them.
You give life to all of them
And the heavenly host bows down before you.
You are the Lord God,
Who chose Abram
And brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees,
And gave him the name Abraham.
You found his heart faithful before you,
And made a covenant with him
To give him the land of the Canaanite,
Of the Hittite and the Amorite,
Of the Perizzite, the Jebusite and the Girgashite –
To give it to his descendants
And you have fulfilled your promise,
For you are righteous.’
As this scripture acclaims, it’s all about Him, isn’t it? It’s all about His faithfulness, His miracles, His creative power – His force to reach into the heart of all… even become like me in order that I might receive Him – He came to be thought of as human in order that I might put Him on (Romans 13:14).
Look at Him!
Look! Look! He became like us so that He could identify with us and so that we can learn from Him and not turn our back on Him. This is faithfulness to the uttermost. This is the utmost love of God. Had He not loved me, I would not know how to love!
Look at Him, I urge! Even in the deepest regret of sin and most heartfelt confession and repentance from evil, always remember Jesus the Messiah.
For this Christ – this Messiah has united us to God and we are –
- Joined to Him who is immortal so that we will become immortal too.
- Still here today… reading and living the pages of scripture – but for a moment, a vapor in time.
And then – in a blink of the eye
- We are before Him forever, all sin forgotten, and the river of life at our disposal to drink, wash, and immersed in the baptism of holy immortality!
- Whether by death or by rapture, we will be presented faultless before the throne of God – faultless because He loves us and gave Himself for us and cleansed us by His own blood. Hallelujah!
Look for Him! Live for Him! We’ll see him sooner than we think!
Hope Flinchbaugh, editor-in-chief of Hope Editors, a special team helping publishers and authors, has written three historical fiction novels and two nonfiction books. Hope’s love for children is evident in her delightful Baby Babbles series… available from Amazon Author Page or International Orders Here. I Come to the Garden Alone… Jesus is waiting – come and talk to Him, is Hope’s inspiring daily devotions booklet. Hope’s Amazon Author Page. Links: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com / When God Calls