Strengthening Our Hands
After the release of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, and the subsequent return to their homeland in Jerusalem, reports were sent back which told of the great distress and lack of progress they were having in re-establishing this once great city.
The Jews who had returned were living in unsafe conditions and humiliated by living in a city with no walls or city gates. "The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire," Nehemiah 1:3.
Upon hearing these reports, Nehemiah, the King’s cupbearer, wept sorrowfully. He then made an appeal to the king to return to Jerusalem and help in the rebuilding of the city wall. The king granted his request.
As the difficult work progressed, several enemies harshly opposed its completion. Many tactics were used to stop the work:
Numerous invitations were sent to Nehemiah to attend meetings to discuss the work. These meetings were planned to be held outside of the city.
Spies were sent to report the work’s progress to the enemy leaders.
These spies also spoke very favorably to Nehemiah about the intentions of his enemies.
Accusations were made that Nehemiah was not following the king’s orders.
False claims of an insurrection against the king were also made.
Nehemiah was threatened and advised to “hide out” inside the temple.
Through all of this controversy, Nehemiah stated that the accusations were false and that he was authorized by God and by the king to do this important work, and he would not cease to do it.
Nehemiah was not afraid. He refused to be deterred from the work. He proclaimed his loyalty and maintained his integrity to God, to the Jewish people and to the king. Significantly, he prayed that God would "strengthen his hands” (Nehemiah 6:9).
At West Mason, we are about to embark on a great building project: construction of a new, larger auditorium and the redesign of many parts of the current structure. Although we will not face the same type of enemies to the work as Nehemiah did, this work will require planning, patience, money, demands on our time, and the endurance of inconveniences.
The purpose of the building expansion is to enable the growing membership at West Mason to continue serving God and to assist others who also seek to worship Him. We should all pray for our elders, our deacons, the planners, contractors and workers, that this great work will be completed and bring glory to God.
Remember that Nehemiah was not a builder. He was a cupbearer for the king. Yet God helped him with the difficult construction. He was persistent, had hope for the future of God’s people and trusted in God to “strengthen his hands.” We should do the same.