When starting a new book, I always like to see what the guys over at the Bible Project have produced because it’s more fun to watch their introductions than read a Study Bible.
There are aspects of this video that I don’t love in terms of the way things are framed; however, I appreciate the background information of the Babylonian Exile and agree with their final conclusion of the incompleteness of the promises later fulfilled by Christ.
That being said, Israel was still in captivity, and Jerusalem lay in ruin. The consequences for disobedience found in Deuteronomy 28 had come to pass. However, as Nehemiah received the news about Jerusalem, his fervent prayer was in the hope found in Deuteronomy 30, where God promised that if Israel humbled themselves, he will regather His people to the Land and continue to bless them as we see in verses 8–9.
There are three things to note in this chapter: prayer, promise, and position.
As we will see, Nehemiah was a man of prayer. He was broken hearted about the sin of Israel and that God’s people were scattered while the God’s holy city lay in disrepair. This grief drove Nehemiah to his knees. Also, it appears to us in chapter 1 and chapter 2 that Nehemiah received the news then a few days later approached the king. Au contraire, chapter 1 opens in the month of Chislev and chapter 2 is in Nisan—that’s four months that Nehemiah prayed between chapter 1 & 2.
Nehemiah knew God’s Word and the promises of Deuteronomy 30 et al. What promises from God’s Word are you clinging to and praying about daily? There are many promises of God as yet to be fulfilled, and that should be the content of our hope as we walk in this life. Through Christ, one day we shall stand in the perfection of the New Heavens and New Earth, without fear, shame, guilt, tear, worry, or doubt in perfect unity with each other, with ourselves, and most importantly, with our Creator. Salvation is much more than being saved from sins, it is being saved for eternal perfection in awe-struck wonder of the majesty of the Most-High God. That’s a promise worth looking forward to.
Nehemiah simply states, “Now I was cupbearer to the king.” Meaning, “I am so expendable to this man that my job is to test for poison every day with my life.” Yes, he worked in the palace, which brings with it a certain status; however, he was not exactly a beloved assistant to the king, he was just inconsequential. However, although Nehemiah fervently prayed while clinging to the promises of God, he also prepared. He understood that God had given him a position that could be leveraged to accomplish God’s purposes—soon he would have the opportunity.
What burdens are you carrying around today? Maybe you need to meditate on Romans 8:18 today, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us,” thinking about how great that day will be. But before that day, where has God placed you to be used by Him and what preparations can you do to make his name more famous?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate