And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant, Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there’ (Nehemiah 1:3-9).
Nehemiah recognizes that because of the Israelites’ sins against God, that they had turned their back on God and had lost His protection seeing the wall of Jerusalem broken down and the gates destroyed by fire. Despite sin, which separates man from God (Is. 59:2), Nehemiah realized that although Israel had broken the covenant with God, that God is faithful and has an everlasting love for those who love Him by keeping His commandments.
Nehemiah, knowing the Book of the Law of Moses that had been rediscovered by Hilkah the High Priest (II Kings 22:8), will demonstrate what a pleasing faith to God looks like. Nehemiah humbled himself before the Lord, realizing that not by his doing nor his fellow Israelites are they able to help themselves whether in bondage or not, that in expressed faith and godly sorrow, admits that he and his fellow brethren have sinned against God. In tears, Nehemiah knows that His people need a revival to the true and living God and asks that God remember His covenant, which provided instructions on how the unfaithful were to seek God again (Neh. 1:8-9).
As Christians, do we demonstrate such a pleasing faith in our Lord? Nehemiah recognized trouble by bondage and the wall of Jerusalem and its gates’ condition and prayed for his and his brother’s sins against God, that God might remember Israel because of the Covenant. While we may not come across broken walls and gates that have been destroyed in our daily walk, certainly we can recognize that there are entire congregations and individuals who have or are departing from the faith that was once delivered (Acts 20:28-30; Gal. 1:6-10; II Pet. 2:1-4) and are in need of fervent prayer of the righteous. If our own walls are falling down around us in our homes and we no longer see God’s protection and care – do we look for THE BOOK, the Holy Bible for our answers, and do we in godly sorrow pray to God for His restoration, love, and care?
“For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them” (II Pet. 2:21).
“Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).
-- Damon Long