What’s your view of God? Do you see Him as the One who can handle every challenge you bring before Him? Nehemiah knew the Father in this way. On hearing of Jerusalem’s destruction, he mourned, fasted, and prayed for intervention.
For a glimpse into how Nehemiah viewed the Almighty, let’s look at his supplication. Notice that in verses 5-11 of today’s passage, Nehemiah addressed God in different ways. For example, he first used the name Yahweh—a term that means “I Am” and indicates One who never changes. Then he referred to the Lord as Elohim, a name that speaks of sovereignty. In presenting his request, the prophet chose language that indicated his full confidence in God.
And the Lord answered that prayer in a powerful, dramatic way. As cupbearer in the palace, Nehemiah tasted food and drink first to protect King Artaxerxes from possible poisoning. For a servant in this position, to look sad was risky, yet the terrible news disheartened him (Neh. 2:1).
The Lord worked powerfully: When the king asked what was troubling his cupbearer, Nehemiah expressed concern for the Jewish people. Instead of punishing him, Artaxerxes let him go to rebuild what had been destroyed and even supplied the materials! God handled what seemed like an overwhelming, impossible burden for Nehemiah, and He can do the same for us.
Having the right view of the Lord will allow us to approach Him with absolute confidence. And we know that He will hear and answer our prayers (Psalm 86:7). Remember, He is absolute in faithfulness and infinite in power. Our heavenly Father is the ruler over all.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)
There are many dark valleys mentioned in Scripture, and these typify the many sufferings and hard experiences through which the people of God must pass. “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29).
The valley of Achor—which means “trouble”—was so named because sin in the camp of God’s people had caused great defeat for their armies there (Joshua 7:25-26). Willful sin inevitably must result eventually in a trek through the dark vale of trouble and defeat.
Then there is the vale of tears called Baca, or “weeping.” Opinions differ as to whether this was an actual valley in Israel, but it came to symbolize a time of deep loss and sorrow. Repentance and restitution will lead one out of the valley of Achor, but God’s comfort will guide through Baca. “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee. . . . Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well. . . . They go from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:5-7).
Perhaps the darkest valley of all is the valley of the shadow of death. All must enter that valley once at least—some may even travel it often before its thick darkness finally conquers them. For those without Christ, it is a valley of great fear; there have been multitudes “who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:15).
But for those who know the Lord, they need fear no evil for God is with them. Even His guiding staff and buffeting rod are comforting for they prove the love of the Shepherd. No wonder the 23rd Psalm is the most requested passage of Scripture by those deep in this dark valley. HMM
There was a spirit of unity among the returned exiles, and a warm love to the worship of God, and therefore as soon as they had made such arrangements as were absolutely needed for their own living, they met to consult concerning the rebuilding of the temple. Things will be sure to go well with the cause of God when all the people are as one man.
Atonement for sin must be presented, and thanks must be rendered. The Lord’s people love the altar of sacrifice.
And they set the altar upon his bases or upon its former foundation
Ezra 3:4, 5
Though but few and poor, they were very earnest, and very careful to do as the law commanded them. In this they are our teachers.
They were probably the best educated men and the fittest for overseeing the work.
It was an honour to these men to have their names recorded, and it will be equally honourable to us if we do anything for the church of God.
Ezra 3:10, 11
The laying of the foundation was celebrated with much sacred pomp and praising of the Lord. Who will not be glad when the Lord’s temple is being builded?
Ezra 3:12, 13
It was a noble structure; but for the size and costliness of the stones, and the preciousness of the metals, it was far inferior to Solomon’s. Moreover, it had not the ark, nor the Shechinah light, nor the Urim and Thummim. In all that we do for God we shall see cause to mingle regret with rejoicing; we serve the Lord with gladness, but we sorrow that we serve him so ill. May the blood of Jesus cleanse our holy things.
Not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4)
I am really sad for the great throngs of men and women who have never known the satisfaction of believing what God says about all of the good things He has created—and everything having its purpose!
This is an area in which you must begin with God. Then you begin to understand everything in its proper context. All things fit into shape and form when you begin with God!
In Christian circles, there is now an undue deference to intellectual knowledge and accomplishment. 1 insist that it ought to be balanced out. We appreciate the efforts and hours that go into academic progress, but we must always keep God’s wisdom and God’s admonitions in mind.
Search and study as we will and we discover that we have only learned fragments of truth. On the other hand, the newest Christian believer has already learned many marvelous things at the center of truth. He has met and knows God!
That is the primary issue, my brother and sister. That is why we earnestly invite men and women to become converted, taking Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord!
“Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” Isa. 66:5
Possibly this text may not apply to one in a thousand of the readers of this little book of promises; but the Lord cheers that one in such words as these. Let us pray for all such as are cast out wrongfully from the society which they love. May the Lord appear to their joy!
The text applies to truly gracious men who tremble at the word of the Lord. These were hated of their brethren, and at length cast out because of their fidelity and their holiness. This must have been very bitter to them; and all the more so because their casting out was done in the name of religion, and professedly with the view of glorifying God. How much is done for the devil in the name of God! The use of the name of Jehovah to add venom to the bite of the old serpent is an instance of his subtlety.
The appearing of the Lord for them is the hope of His persecuted people. He appears as the advocate and defender of His elect; and when He does so, it means a clear deliverance for the God-fearing and shame for their oppressors. O Lord, fulfill this word to those whom men are deriding!