Arise and Build - Introduction


Good morning everyone. I tell you, I had a little flashback this morning to my childhood sitting next to my wife. She started elbowing me and I elbowed her to back and I thought I was sitting next to my brother for a little bit and I thought Margaret was going to have to separate us. It's good to be with you this morning and and in our worship assembly. If you leave your bibles open and I, you were going to begin a series of lessons today that are going to take place on the first Sunday of each month. So beginning next week we'll come, we'll start the first Sunday of each month through the end of December through December and there'll be another additional 11 lessons from the book of Nehemiah. You look at the title on the slide, you see our theme for the year, "Arise and Build Lessons From the Book of Nehemiah."

And that's really what I want us to do because I believe that when we look at it and if we look at it the way that, that we're going to present it this time. We're going to look at it not just from a historical standpoint, but I believe that we're going to be able to make some applications as far as leadership, uh, what God's people should be doing even today, even though this is a different era and being workers in the Kingdom of God. I don't know if you've paid any attention to the songs this morning, but brother, the Randy called, uh, texted me last night knowing, wanting to know what I was gonna preach on it. If I had any requests and I didn't have any requests, I told him what the title was and, and the theme was for the year and he picked out songs that I thought fit pretty well with what we're going to talk about this morning.

I appreciate that. See that just it. We can teach in song. We don't have to just have a sermon up here. We can teach in songs as well. And when they are united our services are united together and I appreciate that very much. But we'll want to talk about Nehemiah a little bit today. And what we're going to do, basically what this lesson is is going to be an introduction to the remainder of the lessons that we're going to have. I'm not going to do what I did for the book of James and go through the entire book of Nehemiah this morning. Basically what I want to do is I want to give us some background information. I want to talk about leadership just a little bit. But before I do that, but we'll talk about some of the background and why Nehemiah is where he is when he comes to Jerusalem and what is going to happen.

I think it's going to be important for us too, to have this type of background and understand that when you look at the things that are being done by Nehemiah. You're going to be impressed with how this one man was able to get a people, the people of God, to rise up and build. And so I think about that and I think about leadership because if you think about Nehemiah in general, you would say yes, he was a leader and you might think he was a natural born leader. I don't, I don't necessarily agree with that. I think this was just one of those that he ended up coming out of obscurity and, and where he was in captivity and was able to come back home for a minute and saw everything and he just got stirred up and he said, we cannot be still.

We can't sit here and let this continue. But you think about leadership. We face it every day in our lives. We see it on just about every level of our lives, don't we? We see it in politics and I'm not real sure politicians are. I would consider them to be real good leaders because I think they're real good at coaxing you into getting their votes, but I don't necessarily think that they're always good leaders. We see it in our workplace. You have people that are very highly motivated individuals and and they move up in a business. And some of them eventually begin to have their own own business and what they'll do is they'll attract people to them and they will show them how to do things and convince. They become leaders in ways. They communicate well enough that they can become a leader.

You see it in homes where the parents are supposed to be the leading children, but sometimes you see it even in the children as they grow and as they mature. The way that they communicate with others, somewhere along the line they're going to be leaders. In the church, I see it and I'm not just talking about elders and I'm not talking about deacons because if you, you turn over in your bibles for just a moment to Ephesians chapter four, you see that, that there were lots of things are several individuals that were given to the church so that they could be built up. And you look at Ephesians chapter four beginning at verse 11 and he himself gave some to be apostles, prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and some teachers. Let me suggest that those are going to be leaders. But that word teacher at the end that think is a much broader word because it can include anybody from that matter.

But it's done for the equipping of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. And so I look at, at someone coming out of here and when communication breaks down, there's a desperate need for leadership. And I believe that that Nehemiah, when he comes back to Jerusalem and sees it, the city lying in the condition that it is, he also understands that there is a desperate need for leadership among his people at this time. They've grown comfortable living just the way they are right now. And that should be ashamed to see the city in ruins like it is. And so you look at that and you can ask the question of who is a leader? And I got it. That's one of the things that I kind of just started laughing. I decided to look it up instead of opening the dictionary, I said, I've got my computer open. I'll just go online and look, look at Webster's dictionary online. And as soon as I started reading the definition, I started laughing out loud.

A leader is defined as something that leads a person that leads. Well, who to thought that. I mean that is about as simplistic a definition as you can get because naturally that's what they're going to do. A leader is going to be someone that leads. But how do they accomplish that? How do they become a leader? And you look at this and what you need to understand is that question who is a leader goes a little bit deeper than that, doesn't it? You look at it as a leader and you see sometimes it's just simply someone that thinks he leads it. Let me suggest to you right away, it's not someone that thinks he leads because he may be walking in front of everybody and nobody's following him. And it's not just someone you know that has a title.

Let me give you a better definition that I think of leadership that fits what we're going to be looking at it when we're looking at Nehemiah, and this was given by a former president, Harry Truman, his definition and what he, how he describes a leader, he says, "A leader is someone who can get others to do what they don't want to do and like doing it." Now think about that. When you, when you listen to that, in essence, when we're going to sweat, we're going to see is Nehemiah is going to do that very thing when he comes to Jerusalem. These people, it took them years to build their own temple, rebuild the temple after they got back and Nehemiah's coming in to Jerusalem after that fact. And he's going to come in and the walls of the city are still torn down from when Nebuchadnezzar came in and destroyed it. And he's staying. It's, it's, he's not using these words, but we want use. It's a crying shame for the city to look the way it does.

And he inspects the city at night and he goes around and looks at it and looks at the walls. He comes back and he tells, the people, said, we've got to build. And what does Nehemiah do? He convinces them that what they should have been doing, all the long or should've done before he ever showed up. They're going to do it because what we find in chapter two is Nehemiah is they became of the mind to do the work. So Nehemiah, what did he do? He convinced them to do a work that they didn't want to do and they're going to like doing it even though it's going to be hard and even though it's going to be a struggle. Because when they see the end result, the shame that was there won't be there anymore. Now think about that. Leadership then is influence, isn't it? It's the way that we influence another individual and you think about all the books that have been written that fill bookstores and libraries on this one subject of leadership, this book of Nehemiah, I'll tell you I believe is the best one.

And so when you think about Nehemiah, you think about this man, a cup bearer for the king. We'll see this in chapter one and chapter two and see the, the status that he has and you'd think about this. He's a slave. He's a servant. Just like our scripture reading. Just a little while ago from second chronicles chapter 36 when Nebuchadnezzar came in, it took captives, he made them his servants. He made them theirs slaves. We'll talk about this, but what we're going to find out when we look at Nehemiah in general throughout this entire book is that he is a man. He rose from obscurity to national recognition. He became a leader. He became someone that was important and God deemed him important. Important enough to have him mentioned in his holy word.

He's going to be a man that you're going to discover is one who has an impeccable character rating. He had exceptional qualities of character. You think about this, you know he would. He would be the perfect servant because what I picture in Nehemiah is the one who is willing to do the work. He'll do whatever it takes to get the job done. He's motivated. He doesn't have to have somebody looking over his shoulder the whole time to this. And then he's going to convince other people to do the same thing. He's influential. He's a motivator, and then you look at him too. He's a man of uncompromising faith. You see in the very first chapter, a man who is on his knees praying and next week when we talk about Nehemiah, that's probably what, that's the title of the lesson, A Leader On His Knees. This is a man you think about. He is of true patriot. He loves the nation of Israel. He loves his people and you see him weeping for them.

He's a man who was held to strict ethical standards and in that prayer in the first chapter he confesses the sin of the people and ask God to forgive them. And I believe he then is an example of a leader. Now we have leaders in the church. You go to first Timothy Chapter two and you see qualifications for elders. You see mention of deacons there too. You know, you look at first Timothy, second Timothy and Titus. You see letters to preachers, you have instruction to to anybody. But the thing about influence, if you are salt and light in the world, true salt and light, you're going to have influence and in that influence you will lead someone. You may lead, may lead many people. But Nehemiah is that example that we can t can turn to and we can look at him. You think about it, our tendency when it comes to people like this is we elevate well known to a status that is often unwarranted. He's not that individual is he?

He's one who is there behind the scenes at first before he becomes prominent and stands out. But what do we do in our society today? Some people demand to be looked at and I'm going to use Hollywood for an example right here. Some of the stars out there that we have labeled stars out there in the world today think that they are in such a position that we ought to listen to them whenever they speak. It doesn't matter whether it's it's they're acting in the movie, but they believe the political and the cultural issues of the day. They are the ones that are enlightened and you need to listen to them and follow them. When in fact what we should be doing is listening more to God in his word. Nehemiah would not compromise with the world.

You think about politicians, you think about sports role models. The thing is sometimes the title of leader is either self-imposed or the public grants it to them undeservedly. I mentioned to you in the Bible class, I believe last week, Theodore Roosevelt, a man had come up to him and said, said, you are a great man. President, former president Roosevelt said, “No, Teddy Roosevelt is simply a plain, ordinary man who happens to be highly motivated!” And in many ways that's how you might describe Nehemiah. A plain ordinary man who was highly motivated. Good leaders are just that they are highly motivated. Not just to be in the spotlight, but will also be able to be motivate others to follow them, to engage in their cause or their work. And you think about John the Baptist and the following he had and the disciples he had. You think about Jesus Christ and the following he had. And then they think about what happened in the first century when the church was established on the day of Pentecost and all those who were willing to follow ordinary men who were highly motivated by the Holy Spirit to become disciples of Christ.

We can do that in this century today, the where we live. We can be that type of individual that could convince people that they need to be a servant of God and not a servant of the world. So the book of Nehemiah, when you, when you look at it, it's going to contain timeless truths. I believe the principles that you're going to find in this book are going to be just that they are going to be such that you are going to be able to look at, at how to motivate yourself even. If you truly have a love for God and a love for his people. It should light a fire under your seat, so to speak, to get you up and not just sing to the work, to the work, but actually get to work.

I think when you look at this and you look at the background, you think about it historically , there you can go back to second Chronicles 36 and that gives you some of the historical background that's taking place. It tells you what took place as Israel is taken off into captivity. You have to really go back a little bit further than 586, you can go back to about 605, 610 BC. Somewhere in that range. And Nebuchadnezzar has already come in to Israel and taken some captives off into captivity. That would include men like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego. They would have been some of the early captives that have been taken off. We read about them in the book of Daniel. You can go back even further with what happened to the northern tribes of Israel around 722 BC and they, because of their sin had been taken into captivity first. Judah because she was not willing to repent, would eventually follow, Nebuchadnezzar is what we're talking about. When we look at second Chronicles chapter 36 and you look about there and you see who is taken captive there and you look at what happens. "Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand."

If you go back and you look at anything about Nebuchadnezzar history wise, this was an army that was an army truly of destruction. And when they laid siege to a city, they left it after they conquered it in shambles. They destroyed the temple of God in Jerusalem. They broke down the walls and left them gaping holes in these walls, these fortified walls of Jerusalem and went in killed people.

Had no mercy on them, the ones that were left alive, he took and made them servants, captives. Expatriated them, moved them entirely away from their homeland and moved them off into Babylon itself. It would have been a horrible scene to watch as you're inside the city walls and you think God is going to protect us and yet you've been unfaithful to him. God had warned you all these years what would happen if you didn't? He warned them all the way back in the book of Deuteronomy. He gave them a choice to choose life or they'd be punished. And what you see right here going all the way, like I said, going all the way back to Deuteronomy Chapter 28 beginning at verse 15 you can see the choices that they had. It became obvious that Israel had not chosen life and suffered the consequences for the transgressions against God. Nebuchadnezzar was the instrument of that punishment of God's judgment against them.

You look at the the text right there and you look at how the prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled in verse 21, "to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years." 70 years, Jerusalem would lay desolate, in ruins, and you can look at that and you think about God had chosen the city to be his dwelling place. And Israel did not love him enough to keep him there. They did not love him enough to be faithful to him.

So the Nebuchadnezzar moves them somewhere around 800 miles away from home. 536 BC. We move forward a little bit. Because verses 22 and 23 you see another king named, Cyrus the Persian King. If you go back to Daniel Chapter two you can see there a vision that Nebuchadnezzar had while he was king. A huge idol that was divided up into different sections and his head was the head of gold. And the very next section was this particular kingdom, which would actually be a, a dual kingdom. Persia and the Medes would actually joins forces over time and they would be this kingdom at Cyrus is the king now. And it would be Cyrus that would allow the remnant that God had promised to return to Jerusalem.

Isaiah had prophesied about Cyrus in Isaiah chapter 45, 44 and 45 and it's interesting to see this and read this prophecy because this prophesy specifically names him. It names him in such a way that you think about it. He's not even born. This is and it's not just talking about his birth next year. We're a hundred plus years away from the birth of Cyrus. Isaiah Chapter 44 in verse 28, Who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, "You shall be built," And to the temple, "Your foundation shall be laid."' You look at the book of Ezra and Cyrus writes a decree, allowing them to go back, giving them the materials that they need to rebuild the temple.

Isaiah chapter 45 and verse one, "Thus says the LORD to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held-To subdue nations before him And loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut." He's not born and yet, God is going to mention him and then use him after that. 536 BC, the Persian empire comes and Cyrus, allows, Zerubbabel, Ezra and some others to move back to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, while they're in Jerusalem, they kind of sit back on their laurels and do their own thing.

They don't rebuild the temple quite as quickly as they should have. They should have gotten busy when he was there when they first moved there. But if you look at the book of Haggai, you look at the book of Malachi, you see that the hearts of the people still were not completely restored to God. In Haggai Chapter One and if you look beginning at verse six I've actually go back to verse five, "Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes..." What have they done? "Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways!. Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified," says the LORD. You looked for much, but indeed it came to little." What have they done? Instead of going back and rebuilding the temple, rebuilding the house of God, they went back and eventually they rebuilt their own homes. They started working and doing their own jobs.And what they ultimately found out is they weren't being blessed like they thought they would be blessed.

This is going to upset Nehemiah. Fast forward now about 99 years, 444 BC.

The temple by now has been rebuilt. The people of Israel after they had somewhat repented for not doing that and it got busy and Ezra got them all stirred up there to do that. They built it, but they, they looked at the temple that had been rebuilt and they, wept because it didn't match the glory of the one that Solomon built. In Nehemiah. This patriot who was a servant of a king, wants to come home. Chapter one in chapter two of the book of Nehemiah, he prays. He goes to see his king. He prays again after the king has given him the time to go. And he eventually will leave. And I can only imagine the stunned look when Nehemiah is approaching the city. No, he hasn't been home. He, he's never been to Jerusalem.

You can imagine the stories of the glory of the temple and the beauty of, of the city that had been told to him from childhood.

By parents and others that had seen it. And it comes back and it's not anything like he'd imagined it. So he's there and he becomes the right man for the job. He looks, inspects the city at night and then convinces in chapter two, the people to do the work. This work is not going to be easy. They're going to be enemies that we'll read about. The names of Sanbalot will be one that stands out to you.

People who truly despised the people of God and would try to halt the reconstruction, the rebuilding of these walls.

And Nehemiah is gonna stand firm. He's going to stand for God for God.

You're going to see a picture later on in the book of Nehemiah as the workers are working, that the first priority of rebuilding the city wall. There are going to be workers that are going to be working with one hand and a sword in the other.

They're going to be people who standing guard and while people are doing the work, it's going to be work that's going to be done around the clock.

And you're going to see a city wall that had been destroyed, built in 52 days.

Speaker 1: (26:53)
That's something!

That included some motivation, included some purpose behind what was being done. But when you think about the book of Nehemiah, the question we have to ask then, "Is there relevancy for today?" And that's really where I think that we need to, to understand are there similarities from then to now? Do we see a similar problem of rebuilding and restoring spiritual priorities? And I think that's the the the true issue for us today. You see, we faced problems that are similar to these. We might, because it's so easy to compromise with the world. It's so easy to be a follower and just go with the flow, than it is to do what they did. Work with one hand and carry the sword of the Lord in the other. And be able to, to wield this sword of faith the way that we should.

It's easier to pay lip service to God. All you have to do, go back to Haggai chapter one and then then when you're through with that, look at Malachi chapter one and you'll see that what they were doing is just that. Malachi chapter one talks about that. How, how God is ashamed. I said, I'm your father and you don't respect me. You offer me defiled sacrifices and then you can kind of see the children of God doing a little backtalk there. Well, when did we do this? It's an attitude that develops. It's easy to be consumed with personal desires. It's to be consumed with our individual pleasures, than it is sometimes to give true service to God. Nehemiah would not let the people forget who they were and who they belonged to. And we cannot do that either. You see, for us it's not for a lack of information.

It's not necessarily our ability to know what to do or what God says to do. Sometimes it's the motivation behind it that's required. Getting up and actually doing the work, accomplishing what needs to be done. It's how James says it in James Chapter two, faith and works combined make the individuals show God who they really are. Show me your faith without your works. I'll show you mine with my works. That's what Nehemiah did. He showed God faith with words and works, faith and works. And it made it possible to restore city walls as quickly as it did. And it makes restoration of spiritual priorities and the building of spiritual walls in our lives to protect us from the world possible. And it also makes reconciliation to God possible. Because what Nehemiah got the people to do again was draw them closer to God in the process.

What about us? We claim to be part of a, you know, the church in America, claims to be, often claims to be part of a restoration movement. Can I make a comment here about that? I don't believe the church ever needed to be restored. It was people that needed to be restored. The church, you think about that, the restoration of the church often makes it sound like the church had to be rebuilt. The church never had to be rebuilt. Jesus Christ built it. It was a church that man or other powers could not destroy. But what needed to be done was that people with the foundation that had been laid, needed to build their lives on a proper foundation. Changing their priorities and drawing closer to God. And there were men that were involved that helped bring people back to God. Many that we might look at and might say that they patterned a little bit after Nehemiah's life. But I think about that you compare modern evangelism to the day.

To the first century, how would we compare in our zeal to reach the lost? Compare our tendencies to see how close we can get to the line of sinful compromise to those who are willing to die for Christ in that first century. Then ask ourselves now, is there still work for us to do?

Speaker 1: (32:02)
Yes there is.

We can arise and we can build. Three quick things that we can do. We have to start with ourselves. I truly believe Nehemiah did that in his prayers, but he also included the nation of Israel in his prayers as well. But when he said that they had sinned, he was including himself in that. So we have to take personal inventory of our own lives. We need to ask ourselves, are there cracks in our spiritual foundation? And then we need to return to this and fill those cracks, seal them up, make our faith stronger, make up the foundation that we've built our faith upon proper.

And then we need to clean them out, filling them with the word of God. And we can start reconstruction today. Know that the work of restoration is not always going to be easy. You're going to face enemies in your life. You're going to face people that are gonna say "No, It's so much easier to live over here like this than it is to be restricted and not have any fun as a child of God." You don't use some of the most boring people. You realize that. As children of God, you're some of them. You never have any fun. Do you see eyebrows raise up? Oh yes we do, but our joy comes from a different place, doesn't it? We find our joy in God and being his servant and it's not something that is burdensome to us because we do it out of love because he first loved us. He was gracious to us. We were that, that servant that we're going to look at in Matthew chapter 18 who has a debt that we could never repay and our master said he would forgive it and did because he sent his son into this world.

There is a process. It takes time. It takes determination and you have to just look back at Nehemiah and know that there was time and determination that was used to rebuild that wall. But we can never forget that with the help of God, what we can accomplish in our lives spiritually. Third never give up, never give in. No matter what the obstacles is. You need to understand that if Nehemiah would be considered the man for the job and the job was difficult for him. Life today in the 21st century, spiritual life today in the 21st century is not going to be any easier and in many ways it stays the same, but it's different. We've got different things to distract us now. Different things trying to draw us and make us part of the world and stop our spiritual construction. We can repair, we can rebuild and we can becomes the spiritual leaders that God wants his people to be. We have to look to him for strength. We have to look to one another for strength and encouragement. So throughout the year, be thinking of the different ways that you can construct or reconstruct the spiritual walls in your life. Make them stronger! Fortify them because it's time to arise and build. Take out your songbooks.

If you're here this morning, you've never obeyed the gospel. You can start construction on your life, new life today. And you can build it on the foundation of faith that you have, that Jesus Christ is the son of God. And you can start that with repenting of sins that are in your life, confessing him before men are being baptized for their mission of your sins. And if you've strayed from God in any way, you can reconcile to him and start repairing the cracks in the walls of your life and be reconciled and restored the fellowship. All you have to do is be determined to arise and build. Will you obey God today? Will you be in fellowship with him this day? If we can help you, won't you let it be known that coming forward as together we stand and as we sing.