Thursday, April 21, 2011

The story of Nehemiah - The Lord's Rebuilding Process

1 Corinthians 3:11 "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."

In Isaiah 58, the Lord has shown us the attitude of heart that we must have in order to be used by Him as the rebuilders of towns, cities and Nations. He has also shown us His upside down way of how this will happen, which is begin by making a plan to remove the yoke of oppression over the poor. The story of the way the Lord used Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in record time, is a wonderful model of how the Lord would have us repair and rebuild something that had been destroyed and ruined.

Nehemiah’s Heart
Nehemiah hears about the ruins of the walls of Jerusalem (v 3), and his immediate reaction is to sit down and weep and mourn and pray and fast before the Lord (v 4). Nehemiah had a good position as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, so his mourning was not selfishly motivated for what He had personally lost or could gain, but he weeps because of the shame and dishonour that the ruination of Jerusalem brings to God and the people, who are called by His name.

His prayer begins by remembering God’s steadfast love. This is such a good place for us to start because Romans 8: 35 tells us that nothing can separate us from the unconditional love of God. We can be enormously encouraged by the knowledge that the Lord uses hardship and difficulties in our lives to shape and prepare us in His wonderful sanctification process.

The Lord doesn’t chasten and discipline us as condemned criminals, but as errant sons and daughters who have had all our sins paid for by the astoundingly unselfish and loving vicarious death of Jesus. Meditating on the truly amazing grace and the unconditional love of God will help us to have a similar attitude to Nehemiah.

As we have seen in Isaiah 58, the highest importance to our Lord is that the motives of our hearts must be completely unselfish. We cannot expect the Lord to lift His chastening hand and use us as the rebuilders, if our hearts are selfishly motivated by what we can gain, but rather to see what we can give in terms of delivering the poor and bringing glory to our Lord.

After praising God for His steadfast love, Nehemiah then acknowledges his own sin and that of God’s people. Then in verse 9 he also acknowledges God’s condition for deliverance, “If you return to me and keep my commandments and do them…” Brian is well aware that we cannot confess or repent of anybody else’s sin because it is all about a personal love relationship with the Lord, but we can identify the sins of others and exhort them to turn, not least of all, by our sincere confession of our own sin.

This turning back to God is very important to the Lord. Repentance is not just an Old Testament stipulation by God. We repent in the New Testament as saved saints, who are a sorrowing and mourning before God for sinning against such unconditional love, which can also deprecate His immensely costly sacrifice for us (Matthew 5: 3-6). This sorrowing for our sins and our renouncing of them seals in our hearts a precious determination not to sin again.

This is a very powerful way to show our love to God with a totally unselfish motive in our hearts. If selfishness is at the root of all sin, it would be a complete contradiction and a travesty to repent with a selfish and legalistic heart. The Nehemiah story shows Nehemiah to be a very unselfish man and leader.

No comments: