The Example of Nehemiah (part 1)

“Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction…..” 1 Corinthians 10:11

The book of Nehemiah is a historical book that records the events surrounding the restoration of the city of Jerusalem following its destruction by the Babylonians under king Nebuchadnezzar at around 450 BC. The summary of the book is that Nehemiah, one of the Israelite captives from the Babylonian seizure, is a cup bearer for king Artaxerxes of Persia (Babylon was overtaken by the Medes and Persians), and when Nehemiah learns of the extremely poor condition of the remnant of Israelites in Jerusalem, he is noticeably sad in the king’s presence and, when confronted by the king about his downcast appearance, is subsequently allowed to go to Jerusalem to restore the cities demolished walls and gates, to protect the people from abuse by the surrounding tribes.

“They said to me, ‘The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.’” Nehemiah 1:3

Nehemiah was made governor of the providence and given authority by the king to do this work and to obtain the materials needed for rebuilding. He was governor for 12 years and restored order to the city of Jerusalem, despite the efforts of the surrounding evil governors to thwart their efforts, rebuilding the walls and gates, and then re-establishing the city government.

Nehemiah as a Type of the Holy Spirit

The name Nehemiah means “comforted by the Lord.”  Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the “comforter” and therefore it has been suggested the Nehemiah is a type of the Holy Spirit.  Certainly Nehemiah’s mission to restore the wall of Jerusalem can be symbolically compared to God’s efforts through the Holy Spirit to restore the broken defenses in our lives that allow our enemies to abuse us.  As Christians, we are God’s temple.  Before our conversion, the enemy of our soul, the devil, was able to break down and destroy the walls and gates of protection in our lives and can pillage us at his will, keeping us in distress and reproach.  This lack of protection makes it impossible to establish our internal spiritual “temple” where we can enter into the presence of the Lord and communicate with Him.  When we come to Jesus, the Spirit begins His work of restoration, building up our defenses, delivering us from the destructive bondages that had become a part of our lives, and then restoring our ability to communicate with God.

Remember that the issues that we struggle with are internal, not external.  The devil would like us to focus on the external, physical things.  This is his trick.  Listen to this lesson from the gospel of Mark chapter 7:

 “The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me.
But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’

Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”

After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.  [If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”]

When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts. fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.  All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Mark 7:1-23

It is our internal thoughts and feelings that are the root cause of the difficulties of our lives that cause us to enter into bondage and to be abused by the enemy.  The sad thing is most people in the world don’t even understand or recognize this truth.  They only see the symptoms and think that it’s a physical problem so they think that some medication or operation or vacation or change of scenery or some other physical remedy will solve their problems.  That’s exactly what the enemy wants us to think.  That way, we don’t put any attention into restoring the internal walls and gates that are broken down.  The truth is that we need to change the way that we think.  As the quoted verse from Mark says, “For from within, out of the heart (or mind) of men, proceed the evil thoughts….”  And the power of the Gospel is that it shows us how we should think.  As you read through the Scriptures, you will notice phrases like “consider yourself…” or “Reckon” or  “have this mind..” or “put on the mind of Christ” or “don’t be conformed to how this world thinks, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…”  We must recognize that faith is a way of thinking.  The Scriptures are intended to show us how we should think.  We should notice how the heroes of the faith would think and copy them.  Thinking thoughts that are immersed with our faith are a defense for the attacks of the enemy.  Ephesians 6:16, “in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” The flaming arrows of the enemy come in the form of internal thoughts.  We must safeguard ourselves against these evil thoughts by using the shield of faith, that is, by countering the false thoughts that come from the enemy by acknowledging the truth.  We must think the thoughts that are established by God’s revelation and are accepted by faith because they are spiritual and not physical.

In the parable of the sower, as taught by Jesus in the Gospels, we learn that the seed that falls by the wayside and is eaten by the birds is symbolic of the word of truth that some people hear but immediately it is stolen away by the devil.  Matthew 13:19, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.” Here the devil replaces the truth with a lie.  It happens in our minds; this is where he enemy has access to steal away from us the valuable truth that can set us free and replaces it with lies that keep us in bondage.

Our fight is not a physical fight, but a spiritual one.  The walls that are being restored are not physical walls but are spiritual ones, internal, having to do with our thought life and thought habits.  Many of these habits cause us to automatically think thoughts that trigger emotions or reactions that lead to negative manifestations.  Including God’s truth in our thoughts changes everything.  Thinking from God’s perspective, and seeing things from an eternal, spiritual viewpoint will change everything about our situation.

Jesus complemented a centurion’s faith because of the way that he thought about his situation: Matthew 8, “And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.”  Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.”  Here the centurion was able to recognize the reality of the Lord Jesus’ authority and applied this realiy to his situation.  We need to do the same as we encounter similar situations.  Consider the centurion’s thoughts: he was humble, unassuming, peaceful, confident, and assured as a result of his faith.  How would we respond in a similar situation if someone close to us or important to us was afflicted and tormented?   Our spiritual battles are won or lost depending on how we think in our daily situations.  It takes an effort to apply faith to our thoughts, and to take the viewpoint that God is in control and that the eternal things are what really matters.  Guard your thoughts and fight to keep them pure and focused on spiritual truth.

If you are a new Christian, recognize that it is God’s desire to build up the defenses in your life by restoring the purity of your heart and removing the lies that the world and the devil have convinced you of over the years, replacing them with the truth.  For older Christians that have been already mostly restored, recognize that God may still be working in some areas to secure up your defenses. Keep on guard and don’t allow them to be torn down again.  Also, Older Christians are used to help the restoration of younger Christians.  Be aware of what the Holy Spirit’s work entails and what the true goals are, that is, internal changes, not external.

”Keep (or guard) your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

  1. sf said:

    Very well written. Thanks for this post.

  2. sf said:

    Reblogged this on untitled press and commented:
    A post which caused me to do some deep thinkin’. My fav part: “The sad thing is most people in the world don’t even understand or recognize this truth. They only see the symptoms and think that it’s a physical problem so they think that some medication or operation or vacation or change of scenery or some other physical remedy will solve their problems.”

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