In 445 BC, Nehemiah is told that Jerusalem was razed to the ground and its citizens oppressed. He weeps. He fasts and prays to the God of heaven.
VERSE 1. The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the palace,
in the twentieth year. That is, 444 BC.
VERSE 2. Hanani, one of my brothers, came, he and certain men out of Judah; and I asked them about the Jews who had escaped, who were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
VERSE 3. They said to me, “The remnant who are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”
the remnant. The Bible describes a uniquely faithful group of believers called “the remnant.” Are they Jewish or Christians? Now or in the future? Who are they really? Read more »
The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down. Jerusalem will be destroyed so completely that shepherds will pitch their tents and graze their herds on its site:
Nehemiah 1:3. They said to me, “The remnant who are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”
Nehemiah 2:3. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why shouldn’t my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates have been consumed with fire?”
Nehemiah 2:17. Then I said to them, “You see the bad situation that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come, let’s build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we won’t be disgraced.”
Jeremiah 6:3. Shepherds with their flocks will come to her. They will pitch their tents against her all around. They will feed everyone in his place.”
VERSE 4. When I heard these words, I sat down and wept, and mourned several days; and I fasted and prayed before the God of heaven,
When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. When Nehemiah discovered how poorly people were doing in their faith-lives, he felt sympathy for them.
Nehemiah reminds us of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus saw how poorly people were doing, he too felt sympathy for them:
Matthew 9:36. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were harassed and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd.
I fasted and prayed. Upon learning of this terrible news, Nehemiah responds by fasting. Fasting is a natural human impulse. And it is a wonderful companion during our special times of prayer to God.
God of heaven. This term seems to have originated during the exile in Babylon.
VERSE 5. and said, “I beg you, LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness with those who love him and keep his commandments:
VERSE 6. Let your ear now be attentive, and your eyes open, that you may listen to the prayer of your servant, which I pray before you at this time, day and night, for the children of Israel your servants, while I confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Yes, I and my father’s house have sinned.
VERSE 7. We have dealt very corruptly against you, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances, which you commanded your servant Moses.
VERSE 8. “Remember, I beg you, the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you trespass, I will scatter you among the peoples;
VERSE 9. but if you return to me, and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts were in the uttermost part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and will bring them to the place that I have chosen, to cause my name to dwell there.’
VERSE 10. “Now these are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power, and by your strong hand.
VERSE 11. Lord, I beg you, let your ear be attentive now to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants, who delight to fear your name; and please prosper your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Now I was cup bearer to the king.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.