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The Israelites had been held in captivity by the Babylonians for over seventy years, exiled from their homes and the land God had given them. After decades of displacement and servitude to foreign kings, something remarkable happened. A rival king, Cyrus of Persia, captured the Babylonian territory, including Jerusalem. Then miraculously, he let the Israelites return home. We learn in the book of Nehemiah that when the Israelites returned home, the city was in great disrepair.
Nehemiah hears about the condition of the city and is grieved by the report. He plans to take his request to the king to help repair the walls of Jerusalem but knows if the king is displeased with his request, he could lose his position as cupbearer and even face execution. Nehemiah is desperate for a favorable response from the king, so he fasts and prays.
Nehemiah 1:4 says, “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.”
Nehemiah’s praying and fasting resulted in an unprecedented response from the king. Not only did the king allow him to go help in the repair, but sends security and timber with him to help with the reconstruction!
God delights to do more than we can ask or imagine, especially when we choose to humble ourselves and pray. You can rest assured that not only is God going to answer as you continue to seek him, but he’s going to answer in even bigger and better ways than you could have ever thought possible!
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 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.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Now I was cupbearer to the king.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.