Bible Reading: Nehemiah 1:1-11

“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”. 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.” 

When Nehemiah heard of the condition of Jerusalem, Nehemiah fell down and wept in prayer before God. Jerusalem was God’s dwelling place. But, God’s people had all been scattered in the exile, and the city and temple in Jerusalem had been left in ruins. What was to come for the future of God’s people? What was to come for God’s faithful promise of a Messiah from the root of David who would atone for the sins of the world? 

Brokenhearted, Nehemiah got down on his knees to pray. Nehemiah had a heavy burden for God’s Kingdom, which seemingly had been demolished. How much of a burden do we have for God’s Kingdom today? Thinking far and abroad, Christians are persecuted all around the world. They have been scattered into hiding. Looking closer to home, western civilisation, which used to flourish by Biblical principles, has rapidly left the church and turned to vile paganism. Is God’s kingdom going to stand in the next generation? Or are we going to be swallowed by all the evil around us?

 This is how Nehemiah starts his prayer, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments” (Nehemiah 1:5). The first thing that Nehemiah holds on to is God’s own faithful character. He knew His God who would be faithful to His promise that He gave in Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations”. Do we know our God? Do we trust that He will be faithful towards His church until the day Christ returns? 

Nehemiah then confesses his sin and the sin of the people. “We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the states, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses” (Nehemiah 1:7). Why were the Israelites in exile? Because of their sin. So why is Christianity declining in our culture today? It is, too, because of our stubbornness and ignorance of His ways. Lord, forgive us and turn us back to Your ways!

Yet, Nehemiah remembers God’s promise of forgiveness for those who would return to God’s commandments. He remembers God’s promise, which says, “but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there” (Nehemiah 1:9). God’s promise still stands today. If God grants repentance amongst our generation, many will return to the Lord, and He will dwell amongst His people. 

Do we have a burden for God’s Kingdom? When the Lord then gave Nehemiah the opportunity to go to Jerusalem and rebuild its walls, he promptly obeyed. So may our hearts be burdened for God’s kingdom, and may our feet be ready to go swiftly where God calls us to do His work. 

Lord, please shape in us a burden for Your kingdom. Forgive us because most of the time, we only think of ourselves. Many around us need Your Word. If it is not You who work, how can anyone ever come to know You? Keep faithful to Your promises of old, Lord, and continue to raise up strong Christians in the new generation who will continue the expansion of Your Kingdom until You come again. Teach us how to pray. We need Your mercy. In Jesus’ name, amen.