Day 68: The Way Of The Warrior - The Warrior's Journey®

Day 68: The Way Of The Warrior

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The Way Of The Warrior

We are going to study a man, who had to go into a combat zone, and fix the destruction from warfare.  The combat zone was an entire nation, and its capitol city was in ruins.  The man who went to fix the mess, was not asked by any men or women to do the job, but the Lord chose this man to manage the project without troops, or resources.  It was a danger-ous job, with enemies still in the region.  The civilian survivors were not warriors, nor trained in military matters.  The man chosen was not a military leader, but a civil servant. His name was Nehemiah.  He lived in Persia, and he went back to his native land of Israel to rebuild the entire city of Jerusalem.

Why did a civil servant, think that he could make a difference in his homeland a thousand miles away?  Nehemiah was the Cup-bearer to the King of Persia – Artaxerxes.  Nehemiah was a trusted courtier, a man of prestige and accomplishment.  In modern parlance he was the king’s Chief of Staff.  Nehemiah was a ‘can-do’ person, not cowered by tough or knotty problems.  He had his boss’s back, in a land of competing power groups, of political back-stabbing, of palace intrigues that threatened rulers.  It was not a nice world that Nehemiah was embroiled in. But he was honest and trustworthy, a man of his word, who did things with integrity, that was his currency. Thus, the king trusted him to manage the Empire’s affairs, though he was a Jew. He was a ‘tough-as-nails’ honest-to-a-fault kind of man.  He also was a faithful follower of the Lord.

The time frame was about 445 B.C. after Persia had defeated the Babylonians and taken over as the greatest empire of the world. Nehemiah was the cream of the crop, a man of  talent.  Why would he want to go back to his demolished homeland, when he had all the trappings of prestige and success?  He wanted to go back!  He wanted to leave his position of being counselor to the most powerful man in the World, and go to Jerusalem a place of destruction, to help the destitute.

By the way, that is a picture of Jesus Christ.  He left Heaven to come to earth: And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (John 17:5). Jesus left the glories of Heaven to help the lost – that’s you and me.

Nehemiah was in the palace when he got visitors from Israel.  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.” (Neh. 1:2, 3).  It was not good news, but how could he help since he’s bound to his job in Persia?

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. (1:4).  Nehemiah had great sensitivity for his homeland.  The condition that his people experienced caused Nehemiah to bow in a serious prayer of contrition and confession.  Here was a man of considerable power and influence, yet the first place he went to his knees.  This is a great example for us moderns.  God, not Artaxerxes was the person to whom Nehemiah turns, with great humility and penitence.  This is meaningful for us, and we need to put the Lord’s honor and reputation into perspective in a fallen world.  Read Nehemiah 1:4-11 and learn.  Nehemiah prioritized his call with prayer: give success to your servant [Nehemiah] today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” (1:11). What man?  Artaxerxes. I was cupbearer to the king. (1:11).  Nehemiah asked God to give him favor with the most powerful man in the world!

That’s audacious!  Nehemiah wanted the Lord to influence Artaxerxes to help him! The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will. (Prov. 21:1).  Nehemiah read Scripture, and believed it, then asked the Lord to act accordingly.

As believers, the keys are simple.  Don’t minimize the Word, don’t minimize prayer, don’t maximize your ability, ask the Lord to maximize his power for you.

Nehemiah goes about his life, with his mind still wrenching on the problems in Israel. Artaxerxes, no dummy, sees this impact on Nehemiah and asks: “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick?  (Neh. 2:2).  In the ancient world, if you let your issues supersede matters of state – you got replaced – harshly.  But Nehemiah couldn’t pretend, he’s authentic. Then I was very much afraid. (2:2).  His behaviors leaked into the king’s life, and that was not okay.  He was right to be afraid.

Yet, Nehemiah was fearless.  He’s fearful, but not cowering in front of the powerhouse of the world – the king of Persia.  Simultaneous extremes.  Sometimes the Lord allows us to be squeezed by competing tensions, not to degrade us, but to enhance us.  Nehemiah gives the king the scenario: I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” (2:3).  Here you go king, that’s my problem.

Why should Artaxerxes care about some far-flung territory of his empire that is challenged?  Israel was an insignificant part of the Persian empire, and of no real consequence.  Nehemiah cares, not the king. Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” (2:4).  Bells and whistles should be going off here.  This is the tipping point, where the king is going to separate Nehemiah’s head from his shoulders or show marginal interest this far-flung province.  Drum roll, please.

So I prayed to the God of heaven. (2:4). Before Nehemiah responds to the most powerful man in the world, he goes to the most powerful person in the Universe – the God of Heaven. Do you?  Nehemiah’s priorities of understanding power are correct.  Artaxerxes has some earthly influence, but Jehovah has mega-supernatural majestic power.

Note: our Sun burns 6 billion tons of material a second, and that is just one star of the 100 billion of the Milk Way, which is just one galaxy of 100 billion galaxies.  God is beyond comprehension powerful. Nehemiah made a good choice going to Him first. You should too.

Is Nehemiah ready to answer Artaxerxes?  Most certainly.  He prioritized people, he prioritized prayer, he prioritized power, now he’ll prioritize his plan.  This is a good formula for your own spiritual life. The Lord also planted a key person into this equation: (the queen sitting beside him) (2:6).  Is she important?  God was way ahead of the game.

By Nathan Werner

The Warrior’s Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

How often I let circumstances steer my life, rather than coming to you first.  Give me insight that is guided by wisdom to know my limitations, and then prompt me to come to you, the limitless power-source.  Do not let me be self-sufficient, but dependent on you and your majestic strength and your everlasting devotion to me.  He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5).  Thank you for your staying-power despite my wavering.  Strengthen me, uphold me, train me to resist evil and abide in you. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (Jn. 15:7).

Then Father launch me to do your will.  You choose the task you have equipped me for, then open the doors for me to, by faith, to walk the journey of completing the task.  Help me first to love my wife, my family, making them my launching pad for the mission you have designed that I fulfill. Commission me with the power of the Holy Spirit, so that I am empowered with spiritual muscle that fuels my duty.  Don’t let challenges deter me, rather assure me of your vision, then purify my desires, and imbue me with the confidence that only one who faithfully follows you is certain.  Thank you for targeting my weaknesses, then turning them into attributes.  I pray this in Jesus’ precious name.  Amen.

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