Come, Let Us Arise And Build!
Nehemiah Chapter 2: Verses 11-20
Today’s message finds me with many different thoughts that are going on in my mind. Many things that I’d like to bring out with this message. Some that I undoubtly will and some that for whatever reason I may not. That being said, turn with me to Nehemiah 2.
Nehemiah Chapter 2: Verses 11-20
I love the statement we find here in vs. 20 – therefore we his servants will arise and build. What a thought and challenge that is for us today! We his servants will arise and build. If ever we lived in a day and age that need servants and builders of God to arise and build; today is that day!
We live in a day and age where the inner cities of America have been laid waste to!
Isaiah 61:4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
I love the inner city! I love Philadelphia! I do! I am not like most that say “oh, I can’t wait to get out of this city”! There are people like that folks; they can’t wait to get out and on to green pastures! And as a result and it’s with a heavy that I say this our United States cites including Philadelphia are waste places, yea, “old” waste places! For generations, Independent Baptist Bible Believing churches for the most part have forsaken the inner cities!
We have forsaken the cities by REMOVING the presence of the gospel witness and salt of the soul-winning New Testament church. Our inner city churches of the past have flourished to the point that, like many in the secular world, we literally picked up and moved the church from the city to the suburbs, leaving no witness behind!
We have forsaken the cities by AVOIDING them altogether! In our colleges and seminaries, young men are counseled and warned against establishing INNER CITY works. We have become masters of the bus ministry. I am not against the bus ministry, but a bus route is NOT a church! Not one sound Independent Baptist church or preacher would financially support a missionary to “start a bus route” on a foreign field, yet this is what we have deemed sufficient for our cities! Bus routes!
We have forsaken the cities by DENYING them the status of “mission field”. We won’t go there, we won’t send our young families there, yet ask an inner city church planter what he hears from most preachers when they find out he is a “home missionary” and not going to a “foreign field”.
We have forsaken the cities by ALLOWING THEM to remain “mission works” indefinitely. I believe that even inner city works can eventually become self-supporting! A church that depends upon the financial support of other churches is accountable to those other churches, and therefore is not completely autonomous. It may take longer to achieve this in the inner city, but it is a necessary thing to the integrity of the inner city church!
We have forsaken the cities by DISOBEYING God’s call! YES INDEED, GOD STILL CALLS SERVANTS TO SERVE HIM! Yes, He still calls men to go, at times to places and people they do not wish to go (remember Jonah, remember Paul in Acts 18?). How many have been called, and have not heeded that call to go? Only God and those individuals know!
I would compare inner city ministry in our day to the period of time we see here in Nehemiah where we see Nehemiah returning to rebuild the Temple, the people, and the city. They, as God’s people, had the same duties as they had at any other period. However, the difficulty and danger involved in the performance of these duties was far greater. There is a reason that there are more churches in the South and in the Midwest parts of our nation. The area’s known as the “Bible Belt” has far more churches while having far less people. I wonder how many Independent Baptist churches there are in Greeneville South Carolina verses New York City, Atlanta or Philadelphia. Sin is everywhere, there is no doubt, but in the inner cities, sin is open and is deeply seated in the generations of the people living there!
And there is no doubt in my mind that now more than ever is the time to arise and build! Listen, God is able! We see that time and time again in all of the Bible but what is needed; is builders, servants who will simply have the mindset that we will arise and build knowing beyond any shadow of a doubt that it is God who will protect, prosper, and bless our efforts to build His kingdom and His work; seeing souls saved and lives changed! That’s what is needed; builders, servants who will arise and build!
Listen, there can be no doubt in any of our minds that in our sinful fallen humanity that it’s very easy to analyze, scrutinize, and talk about all of the problems of the world and of the church but what is needed is not simply complainers, critics, self-proclaimed prophets, and back seat drivers who are content to do nothing more than to fill a pew, to sit, soak, and sour, and talk about all that needs to be done while nothing at all! What is needed are men and women like Nehemiah, who saw the problem in Jerusalem and took action and did something about it!
And that is one of the very first things Nehemiah teaches us about where God goes when He wants to get a work done! You mark it down, whenever God wants to get a work done; He goes to people who are willing to do some work! He lays hold of people who are willing to do something! There are many that can point out what needs to be done but few that are willing to do something about it!
May I encourage you before we move any further into this afternoon’s message, if you see work that needs to be done to see this church and work built up, DON’T SIMPLY TALK ABOUT THE JOB/WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE, GET TO IT, DO IT, AND GET IT DONE!
If it be something as small as cleaning the bathrooms and emptying the trash, if that’s what God wants you to do, than do it and do it with joy! If God wants you to drive a van route, drive a van route! If God wants you to usher, than usher! If God wants you in the choir, than be in the choir! If God wants you in the nursery, be in the nursery! If God wants you to teach a Sunday School class or help with a Sunday School class, be willing to teach or help that Sunday School class! If God wants you to song lead, than song lead and give it your all! If God wants you to preach, than preach and give it your all! If God wants you in the ministry, than be in the ministry! Be willing
to be used of God wherever He would have you be used! Don’t simply be one to say, oh what a need! Seek to fill that need as Nehemiah did!
Now, some needed introduction to this book before moving on! First, who is Nehemiah? First and foremost we see that Nehemiah was the King’s Cupbearer in Nehemiah 1:11. Throughout the entire book of Nehemiah, we find him in three distinct and different roles. In chapter 1; the King’s Cupbearer, when called by God he becomes Nehemiah the Builder, and by the end of the book, he becomes Nehemiah the Governor!
Now, being the King’s Cupbearer we can see what he might have been to the King. The cupbearer was to have great authority and responsibility, it was a position of great influence, he could have been a confidant to the King, as well as an official of the court. But the position was also one that placed Nehemiah’s life on the line every day because one of the cupbearer’s responsibilities included preventing the king from being poisoned, whether accidentally, or as part of an assassination. And because of this, it was also a very well paying position. (Nehemiah 5:8, 10, 14, 17)
Now, I do want you do get this and understand something. God turned to Nehemiah NOT because of his position as the King’s Cupbearer! Rather, because he was someone that was burdened because of the problems he saw with Jerusalem and was willing to do something about it! And folks, the same is true today! God does not, has not, and will never turn or go to someone because of their position! God goes to those with willing hearts to serve Him! And that is one of our biggest problems with Christianity today! We’ve professionalized every aspect of Christianity! We have professionalized preachers, we have professionalized choirs, and we have professionalized this, and professionalized that! Listen, God is not concerned if we’re professionals or not! He is concerned with is our hearts right before Him and is it our heart’s desire to serve Him!
We can be professionalized in every aspect of ministry that we want to be, look right, dress right, speak the right things, and have the “how to” down to a science but if we’re not doing it for the right reasons, than it’s all vain, empty surface service! Listen, we don’t struggle with the “how to”, we struggle with the “why”! Nothing you do for God will please Him when you don’t have a heart for God. Don’t forget why you do what you do!
Isaiah 1:11 – To what purpose [is] the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD:
Mark 7:5-8 – Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
That’s why we have so many of these so called great churches that have the “how to” down yet when it comes to having the heart for God, they are lacking! I’d rather have a church full of people with a heart for God serving God the best they can than a church that has it all down pat with no heart for God that is just going through the motions!
For the rest of chapter 1 and chapter 2, we find Nehemiah in three characteristics that made him the man that God could use! We see that he was a man of burden in 1:1-3; he was a man of prayer in 1:4-9; and finally we see that he is a man of action in 1:10-2:20 making himself available willing to sacrifice himself for the work and will of God!
Now that we have the background on Nehemiah and who Nehemiah was, we come back to verse 20 of chapter 2 and the thought of arise and build and the question becomes, how are we as Christians suppose to arise and build? As I said earlier, if there was ever a day and age that it is needed for God’s people to arise and build, today is that day! But how? Well, Nehemiah shows us how! And very quickly now this afternoon, let’s see how we arise and build! To arise and build we must;
1. Know The Need
Here in verses 1-3, we see that Nehemiah learns of the distress that his city is in. He now knows of the need to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. This is the first step in any effort to arise and build for God and that is knowing the need. And folks, we, you, and I know the need of our city here in Philadelphia! As of this message preparation and printing, there have been 31 murders since the New Year began; there is a homeless population of approximately 4,000 on any given day.
Truly it can be said as in verse 3 the captivity there in the province are in great affliction! The people of the City of Philadelphia and the cities of America are in great affliction! We know the need! And the need is more Bible preaching, Bible teaching, and people reaching churches! That is the need folks. Churches and people that are getting the life changing Gospel of Jesus Christ out to a people that are in great affliction!
And to give you an idea of how great the need is for churches in our cities, listen to this; here in South Philadelphia, there are but three Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches for a population of 168,782 people. In Philadelphia as a whole, there are, according to Baptist Info, 15 Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches for a population of 1,526,006 people! Quite a need!
The need is for people with a heart for those that are hurting in sin and on their way to a very real place called Hell! And if we as the churches of America do not start to get serious about the need of reaching the lost, of arising and building churches, and people up in the Lord, we will see our cities become waste cities, old wastes, desolate as Isaiah calls them!
And folks, the need is seeing the heart need of people! That’s it! I’ve said it before and will keep saying for as long as I shall live and God gives me breath; we must see only the heart need! We cannot worry about the outward appearance of people! The Gospel that we preach, the wonderful life changing Gospel, is open to whosoever will and it’s time that we as churches remember that!
This is one of the reasons I believe that our cities are in the shape they are in, and that’s because we’re too concerned with the outward of people so much so that it clouds our view of the need of the heart! Listen, weather someone comes in those doors with a million dollar suit on smelling of the best cologne or perfume there is or if they come in with nothing but rags and smelling not so fine; you make them feel welcome!
You offer to sit with them, to get to know them, and most importantly of all, to see if they are in need of the need of the saving knowledge and power of the Lord Jesus Christ! And if they are, show them how they can be saved and know it! We must know the need in order to arise and build! And unless you’re living with blinders on, you know the need of this city, of your friends, of your family, of your co-workers. The question; are you willing to know the need in order to arise and build?
To arise and build we must;
Nehemiah shows us some wonderful truths regarding prayer in these few verses. First it shows us the need of praying BEFORE we ever begin any work we’re doing for God! One of the biggest mistakes we can ever make is just going and doing without first seeking God in prayer!
Secondly, it shows us that we MUST be man and women of prayer! In the thirteen books of Nehemiah, there are about ten times that Nehemiah prays and seeks God! The book begins and ends with prayer!
Thirdly, it shows us is that the answers to our prayers comes in God’s time and not ours but an answer will come! Notice in chapter one, Nehemiah learns of the need in Jerusalem and begins to pray in the month of Chisleu which for us would be the month of December.
His answer comes in chapter two and verse one in the month of Nisan which for us is April. So, we see from this that Nehemiah sought God in prayer for four months before an answer came but an answer did come! Proof that God does in fact answer our prayers! What an encouragement!
Prayer is without a doubt, one of the most important tools the Christian has and yet it is one of the tools so often neglected! But folks, if we’re ever going to arise and build, see lives changed, and people saved, that cannot be the case!
1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing
Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
To arise and build we must;
3. Take Risks
Here at the start of chapter two, we see that Nehemiah takes two risks in order to be able to go and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The first risk that he took was one that could have cost him his life. And that was being sad in the presence of the King. Notice verse 2. The King took notice of his sad countenance and notice Nehemiah was very sore afraid! Nehemiah had a great position, one that he should always have been happy and glad but he was burdened and by allowing himself to be sad in front of the King, what a risk that was!
And then we see the second risk he takes and that is basically making a sacrificial act of being willing to go! Oh sure, he enjoyed security, he enjoyed comfort, he had the prestige of being the King’s cupbearer but his love for God was greater than his love for any of those things and he was willing to leave his comfort zone, willing to pay the ultimate price, and give himself fully to the task that he saw needed to be done!
See Christian, if you’re ever going to do a great work for God, you’re going to have to be willing to take some risks! To leave your comfort zone and be willing to give yourself fully to God and His work!
To arise and build we must;
Nothing’s ever going to get done if we don’t take this step of going! Nehemiah left all that was safe in order to go because of the burden that was on his heart! And as Christians that are seeking to arise and build for God, we cannot stay at home, on the sidelines and expect someone else to go. We need to be willing to get in the game and go as Nehemiah did!
To arise and build we must;
5. See The Need
Up until this point, Nehemiah has heard of the need, he knows of the need, but now he sees the need! And folks, if we’re ever going to be truly burdened about something we too must see! You say how do you know that?
Mine eye affecteth mine heart….
Seeing the needs of people always will produce an effect on our heart and will cause us to do something! We see examples of this all in the Bible!
Nehemiah here in our passage was moved when he saw and heard of the ruined walls in Jerusalem!
And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
The Apostle Paul was stirred when he saw the city of Athens given to Idols!
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was moved with compassion when he saw the people without a shepherd!
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
But seeing will always lead to something and that’s what we see next here this afternoon.
To arise and build we must;
Nehemiah, Paul, and Jesus could have very well stopped at just seeing and took it no further! But they didn’t! Nehemiah saw the need, was moved, and acted by rallying the people together to rebuild the walls, Paul saw the need, was moved, and acted by delivering one of the greatest messages the Bible ever records on Mars’ Hill, and our Lord Jesus Christ saw the need of fallen man, was moved, and acted by giving His life for us on the Cross of Calvary!
As Christians, we must do in order to arise and build! We simply cannot sit back and point out all that needs to be done! Sure, there are some like that but if you’re ever going to do a great work for God, than like Nehemiah, Paul, and our Lord, you must DO as well!
And finally here this afternoon, to arise and build we must;
7. Endure Opposition
Nehemiah 1:10 and 2:19
Now, what is interesting about the opposition that Nehemiah is facing in these verses is that it’s not coming from the outside. It’s coming from within. Now I want you note something and then we’ll get to the encouragement before closing.
Anyone that seeks to do great things for God will face opposition. Mark it down; if you’re seeking to do a great work for God, you will face opposition both from those within who are supposed to be on your side wanting what you want but also from this world! This world does not want to see any great work for God take place and will do everything they can to see that it does not happen! But praise God we don’t rely on them for what we do! We rely on God almighty Himself and here is the encouragement as we close this afternoon!
It is God who will prosper us if only we His servants will arise and build! What a thought! But the question and challenge for us as God’s people is this; are we willing to arise and build? Are you available to receive a burden, to give yourself to prayer, and to sacrifice for the work? Come, let us arise and build!