About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Chapter - Chapter 2
begin with we should note that many prophetic Futurists believe the
events of this chapter, that is, when the king allowed Nehemiah to
return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls, this begins the seventy weeks
spoken of by Daniel the prophet. See
1 mentions the month of Nisan. This is the first month of the Hebrew
Calendar, corresponding to our March to April period.
the last chapter I mentioned that Nehemiah was a butler.
Here we see the specifics of his job.
He was a "cup-bearer."
This means that he brought both food and drink to the king.
He would taste it first to see if it was suitable for the king.
In this instance Nehemiah brought some wine to the king.
in verse 1 we note that Nehemiah was never sad in the presence of the
king, and this wasn't just by choice.
Any attendant to the king was not suppose to express any typed of
verse 2 we learn that Nehemiah came to the king very sad.
He was sad enough that the king noticed it.
Nehemiah wasn't sick physically so the king understood that
Nehemiah was growing through some kind of mental anguish over something.
Something was clearly bothering him.
last phrase of verse 2 tells us that Nehemiah "was very much
afraid." He was afraid
to tell the king why he was so sad that day.
Kings had a lot of power over people in those days.
If you got on the wrong side of a king, he could easily put you
to death. And for Nehemiah
and those working with them, they were supposed to be joyful when they
were before the king. So it
appears to me that Nehemiah was extremely sad since he was unable to
hide his sorrow. We
know from chapter one how he was feeling, and it wasn't very good.
or no fear, Nehemiah just came out and told the king the reason for his
sadness. It was all about
his home land and the city of Jerusalem
where his forefathers were buried. The
city was in ruins and its walls had been burned to the ground.
The city of God
was very important to Nehemiah, as it should be for us today.
4 tells me that the king was not upset with Nehemiah.
He even asked what Nehemiah wanted, as if to say, "what can
I do for you?"
last part of verse 4 tells us that at that point Nehemiah prayed to the
God of heaven. Obviously he
did not get down on his knees and pray for hours before the Lord.
This was most likely a very quick prayer of desperation.
There isn't anything wrong with such prayers. There are various
ways in which to pray, and each kind of prayer has its place.
The important thing is that we are in tune with the Lord
sufficiently that we are motivated to pray at a moments notice.
answered the king in verse 5. Nehemiah
says that "if it pleases the king, and if my servant has found
is how servants of the king spoke to the king.
There could be no hint of arrogance in this request.
Nehemiah approached the king as the servant he was.
He asked if he could be allowed to return to the city in Judah
where his forefathers were buried. This
had a great sense of history, and a great respect for his forefathers.
This is something that we can learn from.
Christians have a heritage, parts good and parts not so good.
We should have an understanding where we've come from.
Church history is important.
verse 6 we note that the queen was sitting beside the king.
We're not sure why Nehemiah makes reference to this.
It might well be that the queen encouraged the king to let
Nehemiah go. She would have
obviously known Nehemiah and maybe was fond of him.
So the king asked when Nehemiah wanted to go and how long he'd be
away. It seems to me that
the king wanted Nehemiah to return at some point.
He was most likely a very good worker, as godly people should be,
and clearly Nehemiah was a godly person.
the end of verse 6 we see that Nehemiah set a date.
We can't say for sure, but because of the king's question, the
date might be in reference to when he would return back to work.
Nehemiah might have been a quick thinker to come up with the date
as soon as he did. He must
have been a wise builder, as the New Testament would say, because he was
able to lead the construction job on the walls of Jerusalem. One would have to be a
clear and decisive thinker to do this work.
verse 7 we see that Nehemiah got permission to leave. He
went another step and was bold enough to ask another request of the
king. He asked for a letter
of recommendation to give to the governors of
Trans-Euphrates so they could offer him protection as he passed
through those regions. Trans-Euphrates
is the land west of the Euphrates River.
would be in the far western portion of this region.
did not stop at this request. In
verse 8 he had yet another one. He
wanted a letter of recommendation to give to Asaph.
I don't know anything about Asaph other than he was the
"keeper of the king's forests" as the text says.
Some feel this forest is in Lebanon.
in verse 8 we see that Nehemiah acknowledged that the "gracious
hand of God was upon him." So
because of God's grace the king did as Nehemiah asked.
So we learn here that God can use secular men and women in the
promotion of His kingdom. It
wasn't that God's hand was on the king, the secular man.
God's grace was on Nehemiah, the righteous man.
verse 10 we see two men mentioned. They
were Sanballat and Tobiah. They
were both Jews, although Sandallat appears to be a Samaritan since he
was probably governor of Samaria. They opposed Nehemiah's
plans to rebuild. The
probable reason for their opposition was that they had prominent
I said, Sanballat was the governor of
other name mentioned here is Tobiah, meaning, "God (Yah) is
good". This might
suggest that he was from a family that were more Jewish than pagan.
Tobiah was a Jew, but he was called an Ammonite, probably because he
lived in Ammon. True
Ammonites were descendents of Lot, when
will see later, in verse 19 another man opposed to Nehemiah's attempt to
rebuild Jerusalem. His name is Geshem, meaning, "rain".
He was the governor of Kedar.
Kedar was the second son of Ishmael.
There territory was what we would call
verse 11 we see that Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem. He rested for three days
before he did anything, much like Ezra did a few years earlier.
verse 12 Nehemiah set out at night to inspect Jerusalem. He had a few men with him
but none of them knew what God had placed in Nehemiah's heart to do for
verse 13 to 16 we see the trip that Nehemiah made around Jerusalem. Things were in quite a
mess. I'm sure his heart was
very saddened to see these things. If
his heart was heavy while in the kings palace without actually seeing
these ruins, how much more saddened would he be to actually see them in
person. Still, he did not
tell any of the religious or civil leaders his plans at this point.
He might well have been doing what Jesus suggests in New
Testament days when He told us to be wise as serpents but harmless as
17 is interesting. Nehemiah
had just taken a tour of
men got used to the disrepair their city was in. They got so used to it
that it didn't bother them. They
didn't even see the need to fix the city up.
They were used to living in mediocrity.
This is the human tendency. This
is the way with our modern church. We're
living well below our Lord's expectation.
We're living well below what we should be living in, yet we are
so used to it, we don't even know we're living in what God would call
pointing out the situation to the men Nehemiah told them how gracious
God had been to him in the sense the He had given Nehemiah great favour
in the eyes of the king. Once
these men's eyes were opened to the ruins in which they lived, and once
they heard of God's grace towards them they were eager to start
building. It just took a man
with a godly vision to point out the need and then the solution, and the
rest followed, or at least most of the rest.
We saw earlier that there was some opposition to the rebuilding
project, but that's normally the case.
should note here that some of the leaders opposed, not all, but the
ordinary people followed the vision of Nehemiah.
This too is often the case. A
study of church history clearly shows that it's leadership that opposes
change more than the ordinary person.
opposition is seen in verse 19. Tobiah
and Sanballat who we saw earlier in the chapter were opposed.
They were joined by an Arab named Geshem.
It is interesting to me that the two Jewish men joined forces
with an Arab to discourage the building project.
This too is often the case in the church today.
So-called Christians join forces with non-Christians to oppose
God's work. They
opposed the work by suggesting that they were going against the kings
wishes, Nehemiah knew better. A real example of this is when the Jews
formed an unholy alliance with the Romans in order to put Jesus to
was the Jews arch enemy, but they needed them to do what they wanted to
do in putting Jesus to death.
verse 20 Nehemiah responds to the criticism by stating the fact that God
was behind this building process and He would bring success to their
efforts. He could have
easily told his those apposing him that the king was the one behind the
building project. The might
have ended the discussion right away.
But Nehemiah went right back to God, since He was the one who
granted Nehemiah favour through the king.
also told them that they would have no part of Jerusalem
once it was rebuilt. They
would have no claim to the city or no historic right to the city.
And this is the case with anyone who opposes the work of the
Lord. This is clearly seen
in the days when Jesus was on earth.
The Jewish leadership opposed Him, and they were judged for it
and cut off from being God's people.
They lost any claim to being God's people or living in God's holy