Roughly twelve years after Ezra had successfully rebuilt the temple and restored the worship of God, Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls. Together they were a formable team that restored the political and spiritual state of Israel.
As I have said before, Nehemiah had a great job. He was the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, the king of Persia. I say it was a great job because he was the guinea pig who had to taste the wine before the king could drink it. If he lived, the king would drink it. Glad I don’t have that job.
One day as Nehemiah stood before the king, the king noticed that Nehemiah was sad. This was a punishable offense and could have easily cost him his life, but the king likes Nehemiah. He even asked him what was wrong and after a quick prayer, Nehemiah explains the reason for his sadness. The king, along with God’s help, grants Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. The very king who destroyed Jerusalem is now going to pay to rebuild it. Our God is powerful and has a great sense of humor.
This was a big job and he would face much opposition, but God was with him. Leading with determination and hard work, Nehemiah turns the tide for God and his people.
“Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.” (Neh. 2:20, ESV)
Nehemiah knew that despite the hardships and difficulties that stood before him, the God of heaven was with him. The people were determined and had a mind to work (Neh. 4:6) and this reinforces our lesson. When we trust in the God of heaven, put our hands to the plow, and push through the hardships; there is nothing we cannot accomplish.
Ezra and Nehemiah stand as eternal and powerful lessons for every generation of people who trust God. If you are committed, work hard, and trust in the Lord with all your heart you can change things. All too often we think, “I am only one person,” “what can I really do,” or even worse, “why should I try if no one else is trying?” Each one of us is important and who knows, just maybe God has brought us to this very point for this very reason (Esther 4:14).
God has always used one person to make a huge difference in the lives of His people. Every great story of success begins with just one person, a person like Nehemiah, who was committed to making a difference. Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, the prophets, and even some of the kings all made huge changes in the lives of God’s people.
I believe you can be that person. I believe that a small group of committed Christians can change the world. I believe that God has called each one of us to be difference makers in this world. Let’s follow Nehemiah’s example and commit to making a difference.