"The With Series, Part 3" WITH PURPOSE

Friday, March 11, 2016

"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." --Nehemiah 2:17

When God gives us a vision, He does not leave us wondering what to do next. He undertakes and confirms direction. He had so engineered the way for Nehemiah to leave his position in Susa, that the king had readily dismissed the fact he had not hidden his melancholy. During that era, this was a grave risk that could have alleviated Nehemiah of his service--and even his life.

Once in Jerusalem, Nehemiah investigates, going to several places to make sure everything he heard was true. He is now equipped with full knowledge of the state of the walls, the city gates, and what is needed. Nehemiah gathers the priests, nobles and officials of Jerusalem, and for the first time, unveils his vision, telling them about the gracious hand of the Lord upon him, and of the cooperation of the king.

This resonated with the people. They replied, "Let us start building" (Nehemiah 2:18). When God is at work, He will be at work in other people's hearts with the same purpose. The singular Nehemiah has now become plural, and from here on in Nehemiah's writing, it is us, we, or they. From first hearing the news of the devastation in Jerusalem to involving the people, everything has fallen in place. God confirms the direction. Not only does God conceive the vision for us and confirm the direction, but He completes the mission.

The immense task of rebuilding the city walls was met with adamant opposition by a coalition of high ranking people surrounding Jerusalem. Nehemiah answers with confidence their bold accusation of rebelling against the king with this undertaking. "The God of heaven will give us success," he said. "We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it" (2:20). Our confidence, says Nehemiah, is in God... period.

Characterizing Nehemiah's work are two complimentary aspects: (1) his spirituality in being in constant touch with God, and dependent upon Him, and (2) the practicality of making both his vision and God's vision a reality. God looks for people who have His agenda at heart, and make themselves available to bring about a purpose much deeper than the practical necessities for which we work, but which fulfills the eternal purposes of heaven. It is essential we regularly spend quiet time alone with God, because He is willing to speak, and to bring to fruition our God-given vision. Despite severe opposition, in an astounding 52 days, the rebuilding of the gates and walls surrounding the entire city of Jerusalem was completed, and God's relationship with His people restored.