We’ve almost made it through! I’m so happy that we’re doing this, even though it’s a stretch for many. As we pray and seek the Lord like this, God will send His answers in amazing ways. Let’s thank Him for hearing and responding to our prayers!
Nehemiah is actually seeing physical progress come to the plans that the Lord had given him! He is beginning to walk in the steps that will bring him to the fulfillment of the vision. He travels to visit the secular governors in the area of Judah, bringing letters authorizing Jerusalem’s repair from the king. Note in verse nine that Nehemiah was sent with captains of the army and horsemen. Why was that? Very simply, there were enemies on the way to the fulfillment of this God-given vision. And as you see in verse ten, the most imposing of those enemies turned out to be ungodly representatives of local government! They were “deeply disturbed” concerning Nehemiah’s plans. You will always find that the godly progress you need to make will be opposed by enemies. They may take a form that you can or cannot see, but if people seem to be your problem, take a note from the Apostle Paul. It’s not flesh and blood, but principalities and powers, dark demon forces that are behind the opposition. Put on the whole armor of God, bind them in Jesus’ Name and trust that your Heavenly Father has sent an army to stand with you as you battle through to the goal.
Nehemiah came to Jerusalem, finally. He spent a few days there, initially, to begin the project of reconstructing the wall around the city. His first recorded act was to get up in the night while no one was awake, take a few chosen men with him, and inspect the situation. It was sobering. Just as he had been told, the walls were broken and the gates were burned with fire. Before you go any further with the fast, your plans, the vision that God has given you, ask Him this question: God, would You let me see the full extent of the condition I am in? You may not have paused long enough yet to really see the condition of your heart. You may not see just how far you are away from a holy, committed, “first love” kind of life. Let Him convict you with the truth. The one wonderful thing it will do is to convince you that only God can do in you what needs to be done. Only God has the resources to carry you from here to where He wants you and your family to go this year. Let the distance make you helplessly dependent upon God and you’ll be in the right place.
No one but his travelling companions knew that Nehemiah went out in the night to see the ruins. It was good that he let the burden build in his heart alone, as he was the one whom God had put in place to compel the people there to actually do the work. It was only when it was clear that Nehemiah spoke to them. Look at what he spoke. In verse 17, he defines the problem, the distress we are in. Then he defines the goal, the work to be done, the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. Lastly, he tells them about the miraculous involvement of the Lord, as evidenced by the king’s favor. It was compelling! You are called to be a leader on some level. Can you define a godly burden after you’ve seen it clearly? Can you define what needs to be done? Can you point to the backing, the favor of God in the process? If you can communicate those three things to the people in your life, you’ll compel your family, your coworkers, your world to help you to reach the goals He has set before you this year. You can’t do it alone.
This chapter from the book of Nehemiah is full of names and tasks. It’s interesting to see who worked where, hear some of the side comments (I like the one in verse 5 about the nobles who wouldn’t work) and read the descriptions of the gates. It may seem boring to some, but to us it’s not boring at all. In this we can see that God has differing parts of a larger work for everyone to do. There is a big Kingdom out there and lots to be accomplished. It encompasses the whole world and it’s important work, vital work. How about your part of the wall? Do you feel like you got the “dung gate” (verse 14, referring to where the garbage, including manure, was taken out of the city) of assignments in life? Don’t despise the assignment you’ve been given by the Lord. Every part, and I mean every part, is important. If any gate of the city was not completed, the rest of the work would have been in vain, as all an enemy needed to loot the city was just one opening in the wall. Thank God for the place He’s given you, pray you can do the very best there and continue to rely on Him to help you do it.
Here we find that the wall was closed up, but built only to half its eventual height. The work was going well, but it wasn’t done. This is where the enemy chooses to do his worst. See verses 7 and 8. The enemy’s tactic was to intimidate them by fear, first and foremost. You won’t make it. You’ll be attacked when and where you least expect it. And the people were tired, the mess was very overwhelming and the continued need very great. What did they do? Just what you and I need to do. They prayed (verse 9), they were watchful (also verse 9) and they didn’t stop. Your life is given to you by God. Your future is given to you by God. Enemies will tell you that you won’t make it, the mess is too big and enemy strength is too great. Just be satisfied with status quo. No! Press on toward the goals the Lord has given you and don’t stop. In verse 17, we find that the people of God worked with the sword in one hand and the trowel in the other, building steadily. The enemy is real, but so are the weapons of our warfare. Fight and build.
Issues! We often think that the enemy will try to discourage us from the outside, but then he really gets at us from the inside. Just when things seemed to be moving along and well defined, Nehemiah has to deal with the fact that nobles and rulers had long oppressed the common people by debts owed the rich. The poor weren’t able to even feed their own children. What was the answer to this situation? Giving in the Name of the Lord! Nehemiah had to answer a parallel situation himself. Previous governors had taxed the people to death, but he decided it was time to reverse that. He fed over 150 folks at his table without demanding from the people. Are your issues, the things that hinder your progress, internal? Is it possible that you need to reverse some things that have been a staple in your life for many years? Don’t let the enemy hinder you from within. Get the help you need from those who have the care for your life. And then discipline yourself to reverse the pattern. Instead of taking this year, give!
Day Twenty One
Here we are at the end of the fast and here we are at the end of Nehemiah’s journey. Or is it? Nehemiah finished the wall reconstruction in a nearly unbelievable time of 52 days. It was so quickly and efficiently done that even their enemies had to admit that God was behind the effort. (verse 16) However, this was not the end but the beginning of the next stage of the work. Now that the wall was rebuilt and the gates re-hung, worship needed to be re-established, the Word needed to be replanted and holiness with repentance had to be carried into everyday life. During this fast, God did a great work in you. You were challenged, you had to endure, you had to resist the enemy and you have prevailed because of the Lord. What will you carry on from here? A renewed sense of closeness to the Lord in relationship? A new pattern of prayer and discipline? A new schedule and priority in life? Sit down today, write down what you’ll do from here and plant it deep into your life and plans. We didn’t fast just to make it through a fast. We fasted for a changed life. Congratulations on taking a very big step in finishing our 21 day fast!