Relying on God in spite of the odds Be Determined Nehemiah’s leadership, dedication to God, and reliance on prayer Written by Ezra – drawn from Nehemiah’s personal diaries Scribe with access to royal archives of Persia Events began in 446 BC, 20 years into the reign of Artaxerxes (464 – 423) Ezra, Esther and Daniel written in this time period 1 Kings 11:9-13 -- The Lord Raises Adversaries And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the Lord commanded. Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.” After Solomon's death his son Rehoboam takes the throne Abandons wise council of his father Rehoboam is overthrown by Jeroboam and flees to Jerusalem Kingdom divides into North 10 tribes, Israel, & South 2 tribes, Judah Kingdoms continue to rebel against God 9I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the LORD, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. 10 I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 “But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the LORD, “and will make it desolate forever. 722 BC - Assyrians captured Israel and scatter them over the know world, because of their unfaithfulness to the covenant 2 Kings 15:29, 2 Kings 17:6,7 Assyria resettles Israel (2 Kings 17:24) No return! 605-586 BC – Babylonians destroy Jerusalem (2Kings 25) Remained in captivity for 70 years 539 BC -- Persians conquer Babylonians (Dan6; 9-12) Initial captivity -- 605 BC by Nebuchadnezzar– Dan 1:1-7 Defeated the Egyptians Judah became a colony of Babylon, but the best and brightest were taken Second captivity -- 597BC (2 Kings 24:1-16) Jehoiakim rebelled against Babylon Cities destroyed, 10,000 select individuals taken including Ezekiel Third captivity -- 581 BC (2 Kings 24:20-25:21) Many fled to Egypt, 70,000 taken to Babylon Man can chose his sin, but God determines the consequences. Are you attempting to manage your sin, or will you chose to confess your sin to God and walk in obedience with Him? God will use ungodly people for his on purpose. Are you trusting in earthly powers or in God the Father? God restores the worst of sinners Dan 4:34 - 37 Like father, like son ….. NOT. Belshazzar takes over from Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 5) Daniel predicts the Persian conquest which occurred in 539 BC Dan 5:17 – keep your gifts to yourself Dan 5:18 – God gave Nebuchadnezzar his kingship and glory Dan 5:22 – You had the knowledge but did not humble your heart Dan 5:30 – Belshazzar is killed and Darius the Mede takes over Daniel’s Prayer – Dan 9 – asks God to fulfill his promise Three waves return to Israel 538 BC -- Zerubbabel returns and begins work on the temple 482 BC -- Ezra returns 445 BC -- Nehemiah returns Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance -- Proverbs 1:5 Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching -- Proverbs 1:5 Are you increasing your learning and seeking guidance? God always honors his promise. But it may not come in the form your looking for. Be Ready … Be Determined! Who said the following: Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Ezra 1:2 What do you feel passionately about? Nehemiah was a man who felt passionately about an issue. Read Nehemiah 1. Who was Nehemiah? What impression of him as a person do you get from this first chapter? A man of Passion – V4 He wept, mourned, fasted and prayed for days A man of Prayer – 12 instances of pray in this book A man of Perseverance – over and over again he overcomes adversity A man of Principle – uncompromising A man of Power – prays, plans, & acts decisively, despite the consequences What was Nehemiah’s burning issue? Why was it so important to him? What did Nehemiah do about his passion? How did he respond to the information he received from Hanank and friends? What cost was he willing to pay? 1. He recognized the character of God 2. He repented of personal and corporate sins “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, Neh 1:5-6 …confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Neh 1:6-7 3. Remind God of his gracious promises Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. Neh 1:7-10 4. Request the specific help to begin the process O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Neh 1:10-11 How would you describe Nehemiah’s relationship with and attitude to God? What are you passionate about, if anything? If you can’t think of anything, why do you suppose that’s the case? What do you do to stay informed about the things that concern you? What do Nehemiah’s actions tell you about his character? For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. Tit 1:6-9 How can you follow Nehemiah’s example as you deal with things you’re passionate about? What is one thing you can do this week about an issue you feel passionately about? Last week we left our hero……. Listening to the report on Jerusalem Weeping over the ruins of Jerusalem Praying to a glorious God to rebuild, repair, & recover Who do you consider to be a person of great faith? Why? All things are possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23 Nehemiah had a passionate desire to return to his people and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. To carry out his dream required faith. What logistics did Nehemiah need to have happen in order to accomplish his dream? What were the evidences of Nehemiah’s faith? 1. Faith to Wait 2. Faith to Ask Faith to Go 3. Faith to Challenge Others Why did Nehemiah have to exercise his faith by waiting? It was 4 months between the report and request to the King Be still and know that I am God. Ps 46:10 In the presence of King Artaxerxes Kings observations ….. And Nehemiah’s reaction and response What risks was Nehemiah taking by asking the king for approval to leave his post? What insight do you have on the king’s reaction? Do you find anything interesting in Nehemiah’s response? How does he address the King? How does Nehemiah refer to Jerusalem? the city, the place of my fathers' graves, Neh 2:3 to the city of my fathers' graves, Neh 2:5 Who is sitting next to the King? In what way had Nehemiah backed up his faith by being prepared for moments of opportunity? List the verses that show he was prepared. Personal Question: Can you remember a time in your life when someone granted your request & you were certain that it was because of God’s grace? What groups of people did Nehemiah challenge? Why? The external resistance Sanballat the Horonite - Governor of Samarian; devoted to Horon, a local deity in Palestine, Probably a Moabite Tobiah the Ammonite - Governor of Jordan; descendent of Lot; many Jewish friends and relatives by marriage Geshem the Arab – official from south of Jerusalem Probably behind the opposition in Ezra 4:7-23 How did Nehemiah deal with his enemies? (v19, 20) Nehemiah was camped in Susa outside Jerusalem Where did he go and how long did he stay? Who did he take? Why? What did God put in his heart? But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luk 2:18-19 Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. Ps 111:2 • What conditions did he find the walls in? Who did Nehemiah address? What information did Nehemiah reveal after stating their mission? How did they respond to Nehemiah? Personal Questions: What are some of the challenges you are praying about? What are you pondering? Are you relying on God? Has someone opposed your efforts when trying to follow God’s will? Personal Challenge: What do you need to do to be ready to help make the answers to one of those challenges happen? What principle(s) do you learn from our passage that you can apply the next time you are opposed when on a mission for God?