nehemiah wall_final

Nehemiah was broken over the complacency of the people of Jerusalem. They were living in ruins and they accepted it. They were willing to walk around the devastation instead of being concerned enough to do something about their situation.


I measure for a living. Yes, people get paid to do that. We’re called Metrologists. We love to measure, to understand how uncertain we are about a measurement. We actually have conferences where bunches of us get together to discuss our measurement issues. Slide rules, scientific calculators, calculus, strange words…It is a regular Nerd-a-palooza! It may sound like strange career, but it is a rewarding one. I’ve been doing this for the past 32 years of my life. I can measure. Well most of the time I can measure.

My dad could build anything out of nearly nothing. He could take scrap lumber and make the Taj Mahal. He was THAT good. Unfortunately that part of him skipped me. I can build stuff but not nearly on the scale or precision that my dad could build. He tried to teach me but it really didn’t stick to well. One thing he taught me that should have stuck but didn’t was the adage “Measure twice, cut once.” The idea behind that is to be sure BEFORE you cut that you want to cut at that point. I should put that into practice sometime.

There is a spiritual aspect to “Measure twice, cut once” that I think is overlooked far too often. It has to do with prayer. So often we rush into prayer for things we have no knowledge of. Now I realize that there are times when we can’t have a lot of knowledge. My thoughts drift to the persecution of the Church in certain parts of the world. We can’t know what exactly is going on but we know we need to pray. But here is the point: we do know SOMETHING about the situation. How often have you prayed without really being burdened about what you are praying about? Have you ever just said some words without a real burden for the reason for your prayer. Yeah, me too. So what is the cure for this lackadaisical attitude towards prayer? Lets take a look at someone and learn from him the importance of being burdened and how being burdened actually positively affects our prayer life.

In Nehemiah we see a wonderful example of a person who had this correct. He didn’t just jump to prayer – vainly reciting words about things for which he wasn’t concerned. No, as we will see today, Nehemiah, before he prayed, would know the situation so well that he would be burdened for that situation. It was out of that burden that Nehemiah’s prayers – and actions – would flow.


These are the words of Nehemiah son of HacaliahIt so happened that in the month of Kislevin the twentieth year,   I was in Susa   the citadel. 1:2 Hananiwho was one of my relatives,  along with some of the men from Judahcame to me,  and I asked them about the Jews who had escaped and had survived the exileand about Jerusalem. 1:3 They said to me, “The remnant that remains from the exile there in the province are experiencing considerable  adversity and reproachThe wall of Jerusalem lies breachedand its gates have been burned down! 1:4 When I heard these things I sat down abruptly,  crying and mourning for several daysI continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 

So who is this Nehemiah guy?

We know from verse 11 that Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king. As cupbearer Nehemiah had a great job: he had intimate access to royalty, political standing, and a place to live in the palace. It was a cushy job that provided everything he needed. And yet, when one of his brothers returned from a road trip to Jerusalem, verse 2 says that Nehemiah “questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.” The word, “question” means “to inquire or demand” an answer. Nehemiah was greatly concerned about what  was happening in Jerusalem. He could have insulated himself if he chose to, but he didn’t. He sought them out and wanted to hear the first-hand report. You see Nehemiah was concerned about the problems in Jerusalem.

This is an important starting point. It’s so easy for us to stay not involved and unaware. Some of us don’t want to even think about stuff that’s going on in our own lives much less the lives of others in the Church. Even though Nehemiah had never been to Jerusalem, he had heard stories about it, and knew that his ancestors had been led away in chains when Babylon destroyed it. He was doing what Jeremiah 51:50 instructed the exiles to do: “…Remember the Lord in a distant land, and think on Jerusalem.”

As he thought on Jerusalem, he listened to the report in verse 3 that the survivors were in great trouble and disgrace, that the wall of Jerusalem was in shambles and that its gates had been burned with fire. As he tried to imagine the shame in the city of David, he could barely stand it. The phrase, “great trouble” meant that the people had “broken down and were falling to pieces.” Three words summarize the bad news: remnant, ruin, and reproach.

Nehemiah was broken over the complacency of the people of Jerusalem. They were living in ruins and they accepted it. They were willing to walk around the devastation instead of being concerned enough to do something about their situation.

Friends, nothing is ever going to change in your life, in the life of the church, or for that matter, our nation, until we become concerned about the problem. Some of us have become complacent about the way our lives are going. We’re living with rubble and it doesn’t even bother us any more. We don’t care to pray about our situation. And when we do pray, those prayers lack urgency and passion How sad. When we become so unconcerned with the state of our sanctification that we don’t engage it anymore, we are truly getting a little too comfortable in the rubble of life. This should never be!

Think about this for a moment: have we lost the walls that once surrounded our lives? I’m not speaking about the protective wall God places around us. No I’m talking about the walls that hem in our actions  – the walls that keep us away from the things that we should avoid, and in the things we should be in. How are you doing here? Are you reading things you shouldn’t read? Are you looking at things that that are impure? We do not need to experience immorality to say immorality is wrong.

When Nehemiah heard this report, he hit the ground and began to weep in verse 4,  much like Jesus did when he cried out in painful tears when he observed the hard hearts of those in Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). He also fasted. These are all signs of humility and show his deep concern for the problem of the desolation of Jerusalem.

Are you deeply concerned with your closeness to Christ? Or are you too comfortable in the rubble of your life? Have you taken steps to be more intimate with your Savior? Before you DO anything, pray. You know, its really hard to be intimate with someone when you rarely talk to that person.

Take time to be holy…take time to pray. 



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