Nehemiah 2 - Before the King, Off to Jeruselem

Nehemiah 2:3 - Considering that Nehemiah was in exile from his homeland, it stands to reason that this king may have been responsible for bringing him there. (Was he?) Even if he wasn't he was responsible for keeping him there, so to express to the king his deep sadness at the state of his homeland I imagine could have been considered a slap in the face.

Nehemiah 2:4-8 - Not only was he bold enough to speak up to the king, he's emboldened to ask to be allowed to go back and for letters from the king for safe passage and for timber to do the work.A bit like saying "King, while you've kept me here, my city is in ruins! So let me go back, provide me assurance of safe passage and materials to fix what you (or your predecessors) destroyed. OK?"

No wonder he stopped and prayed in the middle.

What's more amazing than his request (or not, if you know God) is that the king grants it.

Nehemiah 2:9 - And he got a military escort!

Nehemiah 2:17-18 - "So they strengthened their hands to do the work." he says. After his planning, his request from the king, it's amazing approval, his journey there, his scouting the city and his telling the story, then "they strengthened their hands to do the work." It seems that Nehemiah's courage and boldness gave room for courage of their own. How long had they been there, looking at broken walls, but doing nothing about it. For whatever reason, paralyzed by fear or faithlessness maybe, they didn't act. They just lived with it. By acting in faith and forging the way, Nehemiah made room for them to act on faith as well. The obstacles appeared too great but Nehemiah came and cleared them away.

Sometimes people just need to have the path cleared a bit before they can move ahead on their own.

Nehemiah 2:19-20 - They accused him of rebellion against the king, when they knew (verse 9-10) that the king had given his approval to what Nehemiah was doing. But Nehemiah's response wasn't to remind them of the king's approval, but to affirm God's approval for the work.

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