“REPLANTING THE CHURCH” Neh. 1
INTRO – “Remember me w/ favor, O my God.” (Neh. 13:31b)
This morning, we are going to take a jet tour through the book of Nehemiah. As we think about replanting our church here as we begin year 26, the principles & truths that we find in this OT book are so applicable. If we will hear them & APPLY them to our lives individually & corporately, we will see God do some amazing things in our midst that we can’t even imagine right now.
QUICK OVERVIEW: The book of Neh falls into the history category of writings in the OT. Tells part of the story of Israel’s return from Babylonian captivity & the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem & the temple there. The temple had been built by King Solomon & was destroyed by the Babylonians when they invaded Jerusalem & took the Jewish people into captivity. 2 Kings 25:8-11 tells of the final sad moments when this happened: “On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9 He set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. 10 The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. 11 Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon.”
So one of the main things that the book of Neh focuses on is the critical rebuilding project that needed to happen in Jerusalem. That’s why we are looking at it today. While our church has not been destroyed or torn down as the walls around Jerusalem were, we are continuing to consider what it takes for us to “replant” as a church, & the truths that we find here in this book will keep us on track as we replant.
REALIZATION – Ch. 1 – Neh was made aware of the situation when some of the men informed him about the wall in v. 3. They told him about:
- The Despair – “Those who survived the exile & are back in the province are in great trouble & disgrace.” Even though the people had survived & were back in their homeland, the terrible situation they were in brought great discouragement to them.
- The Damage – “The wall of Jerusalem is broken down…” – The walls of these ancient biblical cities were necessary for to defend the city from attacks from the enemy. They were also useful to discourage crime inside the city b/c guards would walk along the top of the wall & watch for criminal activity inside the city. And many homes were built right up against the walls. So if the walls were damaged & down, the city was extremely vulnerable externally & internally.
- The Destruction – “…its gates have been burned w/ fire.” City gates were very important in biblical cities. Not only were they vital in being able to secure the city against enemies, they were where important business transactions were made, court was convened, & public announcements were broadcast. So, for the gates to be completely destroyed meant that the city would grind down to a complete halt. Commerce would be interrupted. Justice would be inconsistent. Progress would be impeded.
- The Dedication – These 3 negative realizations led Neh to a very positive, strong realization – a realization of dedication – that God wanted to use him to rebuild the city. When he came that realization, he asked God to bless him & use him. Look at v. 11 – “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
REBUILDING – Beginning in ch. 2 & going through the first part of ch. 7, we find the rebuilding project happening. In the rebuilding, we find 3 groups of people:
- Those who led – Obviously, Neh was the main leader in the rebuilding project. He first went to God & sought His wisdom, will, & direction. Then he went to the king to obtain permission for the project; he scouted out city & surveyed the level of damage; he enlisted others to join w/ him in the rebuild. He assembled a team of nobles, officials, & priests to lead the people as they rebuilt the wall.
- Those who built – In ch. 3 (looked at this last week), we find an extensive listing of the workers who worked side-by-side in this project. “Next to him/them” – 19X in ch. 3. Once the vision had been cast, there was a huge buy-in from the people & THEY GOT AFTER IT!
- Those who opposed – But the project was not w/out its opponents & naysayers. At the very beginning of the project, 3 men stepped up in opposition against God’s work – Sanballat, Tobiah, & Geshem – 2:19; 4:1-3; 6:1ff
RETURN – Once the rebuild was complete, the people returned to the city to live. But not only did they physically return, but they spiritually returned as well. Ch. 8 tells of the gathering of the people to hear the Word of God being read by Ezra. He read it for 6 hours & the Scriptures say that “all the people listened attentively” (8:3b). Listen to what their response was to the Word:
- They stood in honor of the Word – 8:5
- They lifted their hands – 8:6
- They agreed w/ the Word – 8:6
- They bowed down & worshiped the Lord – 8:6
- They wept in brokenness – 8:9
- They celebrated “w/ great joy” – 8:12
- They confessed their sins to the Lord – 9:2-3
What beautiful evidence of the people returning to the Lord! Worship – confession – brokenness – rejoicing – celebration!
For CWBC to replant (pic of field):
REALIZATION – Def. – “the making or being made real of something imagined, planned; the result of such a process” (dictionary.com actually had this suggested sentence after the 2nd def: “The church was the realization of a 10-yr dream.”).
Take just a minute & dream & imagine what you desire for CWBC to look like.
- Imagine the people we are reaching for Christ
- Dream about the families that are being impacted
- Imagine the marriages being saved
- Dream about the Christians who are growing deeper in their walk w/ Christ
- Imagine the unreached people of the world we are touching
- Dream about the missionaries that we are supporting
- Imagine the people who are pouring into this place to worship Jesus
- Dream about planting missions in other places in our community
- Imagine starting a satellite campus of CWBC in another place in the metro area – maybe Pearl or Brandon or Florence/Richland area
- Dream about the children & youth who are coming to Christ & reaching their friends
- Imagine Mission Byram w/ its own building & operating 365 days a year w/ church groups from around the country coming to work here
- Dream about us having a missionary home where missionary families who are on furlough can stay
What will it take for us to realize those dreams & imaginations?
REBUILD – Just as the people came together to rebuild the walls, so THIS CHURCH has to come together & work hard side-by-side to replant here in this community. It’s hard work but it’s so worth it!
- We need to get a fresh word from God
- …a fresh understanding of what the needs of our community are
- …a fresh vision for what God can & will do
- …to make a fresh commitment to plant ourselves right here
RETURN – So, let’s return to the Lord right now together!
- Be broken