The Return to Jerusalem -
According to the Good Hand of My God Upon Me
Read Time: 8 Minutes
Seventy years of desolation was to be accomplished in Jerusalem according to Jeremiah (Jer. 25:11 and 29:1, 10) and reiterated by Daniel (Dan. 9:1-2). During this time Daniel, Shadrach, Mishach, Abednego, Esther and Mordecai have been influencing the rulers of Babylon/Persian and Media-Nebuchadnezzar and Darius (Astyages). The kings recognize the power of God and the profit associated with taking care of the Children of Israel. When Nehemiah explains the plight of the Children of Israel in Judea to Artaxerxes ("the great king" Astyages) he listens.
Nehemiah was one of the princes of Judah that were taken captive (Neh. 9:38, 10:1) and he served in Shushan the palace as the king's cupbearer. His name means "comforter of (or appointed by) Jehovah." The book of Nehemiah begins at about 455 B.C. Daniel is still alive and Esther is still queen.
:1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah.
And it came to pass in the month Chisleu,
in the twentieth year,
as I was in Shushan the palace,
:2 That Hanani,
one of my brethren,
he and certain men of Judah;
and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped,
which were left of the captivity,
and concerning Jerusalem.
:3 And they said unto me,
that are left of the captivity there in the province
are in great affliction and reproach:
the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down,
and the gates thereof are burned with fire.
This is 22 years after Nebuchadnezzar's siege against Jerusalem and its destruction in 477 B.C. Nehemiah was taken captive prior to the destruction of Jerusalem possibly with Daniel since he was a prince (497 B.C.). We must remember that there was no newspapers or radio or T.V. so any word that he would receive from Judah would come via travelers. That journey is over 1,000 miles long from Jerusalem to Shushan since they travel the Fertile Crescent instead of going directly east. This may explain why news took so long to reach him.
This was very distressing news to Nehemiah. The following is his prayer to God. Pay attention to what he says.
:4 And it came to pass,
when I heard these words,
that I sat down and wept,
and mourned certain days,
and prayed before the God of heaven,
:5 And said,
I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven,
the great and terrible God,
that keepeth covenant
for them that love him
and observe his commandments:
Nehemiah glorified God.
:6 Let thine ear now be attentive,
and thine eyes open,
that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant,
which I pray before thee now,
day and night,
for the children of Israel thy servants,
and confess the sins of the children of Israel,
which we have sinned against thee:
both I and my father's house have sinned.
:7 We have dealt very corruptly against thee,
and have not kept the commandments,
nor the statutes,
nor the judgments,
which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.
Nehemiah is humbled before God and confesses the sins of Israel.
:8 Remember, I beseech thee,
the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying,
If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:
:9 But if ye turn unto me,
and keep my commandments,
and do them;
though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven,
yet will I gather them from thence,
and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.
Nehemiah reminds God of His promise.
This is a very important principle in God's Word here. Nehemiah speaks and claims the promise that God told the Children of Israel. In order for us to see God's Word in action we must speak forth the promises of God. When God created the heavens and the earth He spoke them into being. We see repeatedly in the Word where God's people pray and they speak the promises that God had given them. The promises in this Grace Administration are available to us as we speak them.
:10 Now these are thy servants and thy people,
whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power,
and by thy strong hand.
:11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant,
and to the prayer of thy servants,
who desire to fear thy name:
I pray thee, thy servant this day,
and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. [Darius-Astyages]
For I was the king's cupbearer.
2:1 And it came to pass in the month Nisan,
in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, ["The Great King" Darius--Astyages]
that wine was before him:
and I took up the wine,
and gave it unto the king.
Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.
:2 Wherefore the king said unto me,
Why is thy countenance sad,
seeing thou art not sick?
this is nothing else but sorrow of heart.
Then I was very sore afraid, [because servants were not allowed to be sad in the kings presence]
:3 And said unto the king,
Let the king live for ever:
why should not my countenance be sad, when the city,
the place of my fathers' sepulchres,
and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?
:4 Then the king said unto me,
For what dost thou make request?
So I prayed to the God of heaven.
:5 And I said unto the king,
If it please the king,
and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight,
that thou wouldest send me unto Judah,
unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres,
that I may build it.
:6 And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,)
[queen- -ha-shegal- -wife, an Akkadian word used of a foreign queen, aptly describes Esther]
For how long shall thy journey be?
and when wilt thou return?
So it pleased the king to send me;
and I set him a time.
:7 Moreover I said unto the king,
If it please the king,
let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river,
that they may convey me over till I come into Judah;
:8 And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest,
that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace
which appertained to the house,
and for the wall of the city,
and for the house that I shall enter into.
And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.
What a great and wonderful God. The Children of Israel, for the most part, had walked away from seeking God. There were a segment remaining that loved God and did His Word according to what they were taught and remembered. They didn't have Bibles around but they trusted God and believed Him to the best of their ability.
How utterly privileged we are to have Bibles at our fingertips and study material available to research the Word, and then, to have the wonderful privilege of reaching people all over the world with the Word of God via the Internet. I am so very thankful for all that God has made available to us. I am also succinctly aware of the responsibility we have as Believers to rightly divide and deliver the Word of God.
Just as God worked with the kings of Babylon and Persia and Media so can He work with our leaders today, in all offices. We need to stand faithful on the Word and love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. We need to make our voices heard and stand up for what is right. Pray and make our requests known unto God and our leaders.
Nehemiah 2:8c And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.