Benalin C.R., (UP-EGF coordinator, Allahabad)
The Holy Bible contains a lot of dynamic, interesting and strenuous characters. Nehemiah, Esther, David, Moses, Joshua, Abraham, Caleb, Paul, Ruth are a few to mention. Meditating on these characters beef up our spiritual life. The part played by Nehemiah in the rebuilding of the Jerusalem wall is indispensable. Let us see few traits of Nehemiah with reference to Nehemiah: 1 & 2
Nebuchadnezzar assaulted Jerusalem in 586 B.C. He also battered and broke down the walls around it and set fire the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the house of Jerusalem natives were made captives and taken to Babylon (II Kings 25). The restoration of the Jewish exiles began in B.C 536 under the rule of King Cyrus. In B.C 516 the temple was built. Jewish had also attempted to rebuild the walls in the reign of King Artaxerxes I. But after the protest of Rebum and Shimshai, the King ordered the Jews to desist (Ez 4) .This is the period when Nehemiah comes to the scene in the Bible.
Nehemiah was the son of Hacaliah. His name carries the meaning “the Lord comforts” .He was the cup bearer to the king Artaxerxes I. When one of his brothers came from Judah to the Citadel of Susa, Nehemiah questioned about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile and got to know about their great trouble and disgrace. Hearing these things, Nehemiah mourned, fasted and prayed.
Following are a few traits that enabled Nehemiah to take initiative in building the wall.
Being the cup-bearer, Nehemiah enjoyed the unreserved confidence of the King. So there is all the opportunity for him to lead a blissful and care free life. A man working in the royal court hardly has to worry for anything. But accordingly to Neh 2:2 Nehemiah’s face looked so sad when he was ‘not ill’. “This can be nothing but sadness of heart”. He was sad as the Jewish remnants in Jerusalem were in great trouble and disgrace and as Jerusalem was in ruins. Nehemiah considered the sadness of Jewish remnant his own. If we give a glance to the happenings of the globe, we can see a similar condition. The world in which we live in is in its ruins. It is “a wasteland“ as the poet, critic and playwright T.S.Eliot will call it. Are we concerned of the world we live in when we witness mass murder, terrorism economic meltdown and many similar incidents.
b. Daring to take risk:
In Nehemiah 2:2 we come across the phrase “I was very much afraid” The use of the double adjective “very much” is note worthy. This proves Nehemiah to be an ordinary human being like us. Nehemiah might have been aware of the protest of Rehum, Shimshai and others when the Jews attempted to rebuild the wall. Interestingly enough, the king under whose court he was working was the one who ordered the Jews to desist. Still with prayer Nehemiah approached the King and asked “If it pleases the King and if your servant has found favour in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it”. Nehemiah took leave from the court and made plans to build the wall.
When Nehemiah heard the ‘great trouble and disgrace’ and the ruin of Jerusalem, he sat down and wept for some days; he mourned, fasted and prayed (Neh 1:4). Here we find a man in whom concern is translated into prayer. The developments in technology dump us with information. But are we really sensitive to respond to the prayer points or concerns?
d. Trust in God:
Nehemiah’s prayer in 1:5-11 expressed his trust in the Lord. He claims the promise God has given to Moses “… if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place have chosen as a dwelling for my Name”. Nehemiah also faced ridicule and mockery from Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem. But Nehemiah had a strong faith that “the God of heaven will give us success” (2:20).
Concern about his own Jews in Judah, daring to take risk, prayerfulness and deep trust in God even in the midst of oppositions helped Nehemiah to initiate the work for building the Jerusalem wall.
A kick starts the bike. Many people want to do great things for the Lord, but they want someone to initiate the work. Initiating in fact is a great task. Nehemiah did and God used him to bring change. Who is ready to initiate the broken student community? Do we have those traits which Nehemiah processed? If not come on ask God. If you do have it’s your time. Come on start building the student community.