Suggested Reading: Nehemiah 1-2
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Key Verse: Nehemiah 2:18
And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to do this good work.
King Artaxerxes, ruler of the vast Persian Empire and stepson of Queen Esther, became God’s servant in the answers to the prayers of Daniel and many others who suffered ethnic cleansing at the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The Jews were still subjects of Persia, but the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem provided some sense of control over their own destiny as a distinct people. Some have called this period of time “The Springtime of Judaism.”
Ezra, in our readings over the past few days, has concentrated on the spiritual restoration of Judah, and now Nehemiah focuses on the political and geographical restoration. God gave the Jewish people one more leader who was a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah, the prophet Malachi. His ministry to the people was crucial to the revival of Judaism. The final book in the Hebrew cannon of Holy Scripture is powerful. To discover the power of Malachi’s words we may read Malachi 3:6-12.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Lord God, like Nehemiah, I pray with all sincerity for You to move upon the lives of those in authority. Please lead, guide, and direct our leaders in Your ways. You influenced the Persian Kings for the good of Your ancient people; now I pray that You’ll do the same for our current civil authorities, and in particular our spiritual leaders. Raise up in our time, O Lord, powerful prophetic voices as You have done in times past. I pray all these mercies in the Name of Jesus, Amen!!!
100 PERSONAL WORDS:
More than 25 years ago, I was invited to speak at a conference of pastors and church leaders in Berlin, Germany. Rev. Volkhardt Spitzer was my host. He was the leader of a great Pentecostal congregation which had taken possession of the great church building in which Kaiser Wilhelm, of WW1 times, had worshipped. I passed through “Check Point Charlie” into Eastern Germany, where I had the honour to preach in a Methodist Church. There in Communist-controlled territory, I found a church full of young people. Poverty was evident, but the joy of the Lord filled the building.
The next day, I took a taxi from my hotel to the infamous Wall that the Communist East Germans had built, with the support of the USSR. A house which was a part of the Wall was being torn down and the Wall was being constructed to fill the gap. Police with machine guns were everywhere on the East German side. I approached the Wall from the west to try and make conversation with the masons laying the stones. I spoke in my best German (not that good) a warm greeting, but was met with no response. The workers would not look at me. I was totally ignored. I tried several times, but there was no response. I shared that evening in the conference that God is seeking to get our attention, but we just keep on building walls which separate. President Reagan said a few months later, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” As in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, God still uses leaders to bring about positive change in human affairs. I must never give up hope.
Yours for optimism based on the knowledge that God hears and answers prayer,