“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, … then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
When Nehemiah heard that the city of Jerusalem and its gates were burnt and the walls were broken down, he started to pray with tears and fasting. He began to remind God of His promise made to the children of Israel (Lev. 26:40-45). To begin with he confessed his own sins, the sins of his father’s house and the sins of the people of God.
The condition of many believers these days is very similar to that of the children of Israel in the days of Nehemiah. There is a sad barrenness among them because they have not given the proper place to God, His Word and His House in their lives (1 Cor. 3:1-6). Only when we humble ourselves and turn to God, with true repentance, and honour Him whole heartedly can we obtain His rich blessings. When we tremble before God and confess our sins, God hears our prayers and forgives us of our sins and blesses us. Believing in God’s promise in 2 Chro. 7:14, Nehemiah started to pray with mourning and fasting for certain days. When we humble ourselves, and pray to God, we can recover our first love for Him. Then God also starts working in us by pouring out upon us the spirit of prayer and intercession. Then our lives become fully fruitful. Once more we obtain God’s blessings which we had enjoyed initially.
When Nehemiah went to Jerusalem and saw the condition of the city in a very sorrowful state he informed others also (Neh. 2:17). Many came forward to help when the work began. He also told them that God’s hand was upon him (v.18). Even these days we need men like Nehemiah about whom people should be able to say, “Truly God’s hand is upon this man.” When people saw that God’s hand was upon Nehemiah they also joined in the work of God. But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arabian heard about it, they laughed, and scorned and despised them. Thus we find that when we want to take any share in the work of God, we are bound to be ridiculed and opposed by the enemies of God. That is the first weapon which the devil uses to discourage and frighten us.
During Nehemiah’s time these three were the most influential men of the city. We come across men like Sanballat and Tobiah in every country who powerfully oppose the work of God. Such people very successfully hinder us from following the Lord if we do not pray sufficiently for God’s strength. Nehemiah overcame all these obstacles through prayer. He did not take notice of their railing, but kept his mind fixed on God. That is why he was able to say with great confidence, “The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build” (v. 20). Those who are not born again and are worldly minded, appear to be very clever but they have no part in the work of God because they have not been called by Him.
Many people obey God, but when difficulties come they place more trust in seeking the favour of rich people rather than trusting in God. God’s people should not depend on ungodly and worldly people under any circumstance. By the help of prayer and complete obedience to God we can very definitely defeat the enemy, who tries to obstruct and frighten us when we take a bold stand for the work of God. Thus by depending on God through prayer, Nehemiah not only withstood the opposition of the enemy but defeated him also.