Day 69: The Way Of The Warrior - The Warrior's Journey®

Day 69: The Way Of The Warrior

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The Way Of The Warrior

In our last devotion we began to examine the ministry of Nehemiah.  We noted he had a report from Israel about the destitution of Jerusalem, and was appalled, and heartbroken.  He sensed a call by the Lord: O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant…and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Now I was cupbearer to the king. (Neh. 1:11).

Nehemiah doesn’t yet have a plan, he has a call.  He’s feeling compelled, but he’s not yet formulated the nuts and bolts of a blueprint.  He’s needing to ponder what the Lord, wants him to do, but it’s based upon his relationship with his boss – Artaxerxes. As Nehemiah envisions it, Artaxerxes was the one person the Lord needs to impact: grant him [Nehemiah] mercy in the sight of this man [Artaxerxes].  Is the Lord up to the task?  Yep.

Artaxerxes was the one who can give Nehemiah resources to help the Israelites.  Nehemiah had not brought the matter up to the king, but something bothers the king: And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” (2:2).  Nehemiah spills the beans: 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).

Now comes the tipping point, if Artaxerxes is going to be interested or dismissive of Nehemiah’s concerns.  The king could just wave it off, ignore Israel, but something has intrigued him, so: Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?”  (2:4).  This was the necessary next step, and the king opened the door.  Before Nehemiah answered the most powerful man on the planet: So I prayed to the God of heaven. (2:4).  The king has some oomph, but Nehemiah goes to the real power behind the scenes — the God of heaven.

Now Nehemiah had permission to verbalize a plan: And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” (2:5).  This is audacious!  Artaxerxes’ question was the thing Nehemiah needed to start the ball rolling.  In fact, the king was delighted to have a part in this! And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. (2:6).  ‘IT PLEASED THE KING TO SEND ME!!!!!!!

Did God just send a lightning bolt into the king’s brain?  Was Artaxerxes just minding his empire’s business, when an inspiration illuminated in his mind?  Maybe…

…The queen sitting beside him… For you married men, you know this is important!

Was the queen pinching him, or what?  Why was she mentioned?  Every word of the Bible carries significance, so this little phrase has a wealth of meaning.  Who’s the queen?

This queen, my friends was Esther, the woman who won the beauty contest to become Artaxerxes wife.  So what?  Read the Old Testament book of Esther (right after Nehemiah) and find out about this young lady.   She was a Jewess orphan, who grew up with her uncle, Mordecai, and he saved the Persian monarchy from a revolt.  Jews were impacting Persia.

Artaxerxes thinks favorably about his wife’s people and how Mordecai, a Jew, saved the Persian empire from a coup.  History was on Nehemiah’s side, and the influence of a godly Queen helped cement a deal with Artaxerxes’ favor.  You can’t outthink the Lord.

So it pleased the king to send me

Nehemiah’s prayer was answered by the Lord, with stunning clarity!  Did Nehemiah think this was just good fortune?” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me. (2:8).  God is in the business of righteousness — doing the right thing. It is a glorious thing to be in the middle of God’s mediatorship.  If the Lord gives you the privilege of witnessing his divine plan being worked out, it is a huge boost, like riding in an F -16!  Whoosh!!  There’s nothing better than being in the middle of God’s will.  Nehemiah’s smiling and the Lord was beaming.  Good stuff!

Nehemiah prioritized people, he prioritized prayer, he prioritized power, now he prioritized God’s plan.  Yet storm clouds would come on the horizon.  Evil doesn’t take a day off, even when people of power and influence grease the skids.  Next, Nehemiah would prioritize problems.  Problems were on the way.

Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. (2:9).  Sweet, Nehemiah had armed forces to protect him.  But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.  (2:10).  There now was political opposition from enemies of Israel.  These two men Sanballat and Tobiah were nasty, mean.  Artaxerxes was too far away to have real influence on them and their little fiefdoms. Sanballat and Tobiah, were like Mafia godfathers, and they will not share their turf.  They were ardent anti-Semites.

Nehemiah gets to Jerusalem and does a recon mission: 2:11 – 16.  He does not leave the job to a subordinate, he does the hard work himself.  He doesn’t ask the locals to give him a report, Nehemiah gets his hands dirty, climbing, crawling, jumping.  He comes up with an assessment and reports: And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work. (2:16).  He was not a fancy-pants bureaucrat.

Here’s his report and plan: Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” (2:17).  Wait, the city has been like this for decades, and you just waltz in here from Persian and say let’s rebuild!  Why should the local officials listen to him?  Do they ask Nehemiah for his bona fides?  They know he has clout.

And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me.  (2:18).  Nehemiah doesn’t try and convince them with his credentials, but with God performance.  The Lord’s the reason we can do this!  The Lord has proved himself faithful.  Oh, yeah, Artaxerxes was on board also!  What will they say?

Has the Lord asked you to do the impossible? I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13).  Get going!       We’ll see what the leaders in Israel decide.

By Nathan Werner

The Warrior’s Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you, when we are unsure or wondering, you are faithful to minister hope to us.  Even when circumstances are challenging, you invade our life giving us confidence, and assuring us you’re able to encourage us.  “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:3, 4).  Thank you for being my rock, immutable, immovable, impregnable, immense.  Without your might we would be crushed by life.  Thank you for holding us, whispering to us, assuring us, that you are present and willing to help with our life, and our mission.  Let this truth be ours: ‘O Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul.’  Let that be a truth, rather than a slogan, Father.

Then as we are satisfied in you, may we gather boldness to make much of you to a lost and dying world.  Let your vision be our vision.  May your desires, be our desires.  May your hopes be our hopes.  May your service be our service.  Let us not shirk our duties as faithful followers of Jesus Christ, rather let courage be our mantle: ‘For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’ (Rom 14:17).  And let us: ‘In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Rom 8:37).  We ask this for your glory and our edification.  We pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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