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Stone wall & Revival: What happened when Nehemiah prayed

{This “Rock Collection” series explores stories and places in the Bible that include mention of rocks or stones, with an underlying message for today’s shaky times.}

The stone wall lay in ruins.
The people were in “great trouble and shame.”
When the news reached Nehemiah, Scripture records:

“ 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.”

(Neh. 1:4)

The book of Nehemiah is named after the leader who inspired God’s people to rebuild their broken wall and convicted them to restore their broken worship.

A century before Nehemiah’s time, God allowed the Babylonians to conquer his people and carry the ones who survived into captivity. When the Persians overthrew the Babylonians, God used king Cyrus to release the Jews who desired to return to their homeland.

God’s people in the minority without a stone wall

They returned to rebuild their capital city, Jerusalem. In their absence, however, their land had been populated with a myriad of competing cultures and groups who did not want them to succeed.

So there they were in the middle of a land that used to be theirs.
Once upon a time, they were in leadership, setting the agenda, making the laws, and enjoying their moral majority.
But now they weren’t just the minority – they were a remnant, living in the middle of pagans who would have loved to see them disappear.

Every day and from every direction they faced moral and religious challenges that threatened to dilute their distinctive beliefs. They were submitting to a government who held no allegiance to their God.

Their own leaders took advantage of them, exploiting their brothers and sisters for their own gain. This extortion wounded their morale even worse than the enemy’s opposition.

Furthermore, they were trying to reestablish their worship and way of life in the middle of ruins.
Without a stone wall around their homes and families, they were vulnerable to attacks from their enemies.
They needed the fortification but felt powerless to make it happen.

Standing against enemies without and within

When news of their broken state reached Nehemiah, he was moved with empathy and compassion. He had stayed in Babylon as cupbearer to the king, but his heart was in Jerusalem with his people.

So he fasted and prayed and asked God for permission to be part of the solution. God said “Yes” and moved the king to answer likewise.

Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to fortify the city. When the enemies heard of the rebuilding effort, they were furious. They attacked Nehemiah’s character, challenged his patriotism, and openly insinuated he was a threat to the governing nation. They mocked the progress, demoralized the people, and threatened the workers.

Nehemiah was unmoved. He withstood attacks from the enemies and stood up to the corrupt Jewish elite. He called sin, sin. He led the people to both pray and work. He admonished them to defend each other and eased their fears by pointing them back to God.

“Do not be afraid of them.
Remember the Lord,
who is great and awesome,
and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

(Neh. 4:14)

Rebuilding led to Revival

This resulted in a record-breaking building campaign. The stone wall that had laid in ruins for 120 years was rebuilt in 52 days. What came next is perhaps even more notable:

1-The enemies of God’s people lost their confidence, “for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.” (Neh. 6:16, NASB)

2-God’s people experienced revival. Revival is always marked with an awareness of sin and a recommitment to God’s ways. They actually ASKED the scribe Ezra to read from the book of law. They stood and listened for hours. Their listening turned into weeping of repentance when they came face to face with their sins. (Neh. 8)

Their rebuilding led to their revival.


And it all began with one man.
One person filled with a holy discontent for the disintegrating status quo.
One concerned citizen declaring #NotOnMyWatch.
One prayer warrior confessing sin and requesting a commission.
And God gave him an assignment that would change the course of a nation’s trajectory.

The wisest man ever to walk the face of this earth said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecc. 1:9)

So it is today.

We are in desperate need of rebuilding and revival.
And just like Nehemiah, the road to restoration will be marked with prayer.

It begins with a holy discontent with our current status quo and a commitment to seek the face of God on our knees.

I have something that might help.

Want to restore hope, renew vision, and revive your walk with God?

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Want to restore hope, renew vision, and revive your walk with God? Take the challenge to pray Scripture promises for five days to start your New Year. Make 2017 a year of prayer and God’s Word!

“Prayer does not equip us for greater works. Prayer is the greater work.”
~Oswald Chambers


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Unless otherwise marked, Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the NASB.

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