Scaffolding now surrounds Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which was set ablaze on April 15, 2019. Although there are many opinions on how to restore the 900-year-old iconic structure to its former grandeur, everyone agrees it will not be an easy task. One critic asked: “How can we build something in five years that has taken hundreds of years to be built?”
Nehemiah served as royal cupbearer in the court of King Artaxerxes of Persia. He told the king the story of his home city lying in ruins and his desire to help rebuild it (vv. 1–5). It was risky for him to even look sad in the king’s presence, and even riskier to ask for a favor, but God blessed him with the king’s approval.
Nehemiah had both prayed and prepared for this moment (vv. 6–9). He had a plan and specific requests ready to go, no doubt drawing on his palace insider’s knowledge of the workings of the imperial government. When he arrived in Jerusalem, the situation was politically dangerous. Several local authorities were content with the status quo and didn’t want to see the city rebuilt (v. 10). Nehemiah kept his plans to himself and discreetly inspected the walls and gates to assess the size of the challenge facing him (vv. 11–16).
When he was ready, he shared his plan to rebuild with the Jewish leaders (vv. 17–20). The key was simple: “The God of heaven will give us success.” Though He had righteously judged the nation’s sin, He had not abandoned His people. Opposition and ridicule could be overcome. The gates that had been burned (v. 17) could be rebuilt, with His help, and dedicated again to His purposes (see Neh. 12:30).
>> Do you have areas of your life that are damaged and in need of rebuilding? In our human strength, we may feel discouraged. But remember that the God you serve is over all things and in Him we are made new.