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You are here: Home  > Faith Alive! | June 2009

Faith Alive! | June 2009

In Faith Alive! this issue:

  • What’s on the web?
  • Pathword
  • Ready to give an answer?
  • Nehemiah (2) The eunuch
  • The power of poetry in the Old Testament (2)
  • “Shew me thy glory”
  • East European Youth Week 2009 Twenty-first century Christadelphians
  • Taking control (1) Coping with temptation – taking action
  • The world and our morality (1) “Be ye separate” – practical advice and scriptural guidance about the drinking and clubbing scene
  • Crossword
  • Kings in archaeology
  • Book recommendations
  • Bible Triplets
  • “Life’s greatest inventions” (2) Symbiosis

A sample article from this edition:

Nehemiah (2)

The eunuch

NEHEMIAH is working in Shushan, the capital of Susiana, a province of Persia, the winter residence of the Persian monarchs; situated about 250 miles east of Babylon (Nehemiah 1:1 – also see Esther 1:2; 3:15; Daniel 8:2). His mind is brought by his brother Hanani to Jerusalem. Some had already gone up to Jerusalem thirteen years earlier (Ezra 7:7). Yet little had been done about building Jerusalem up. Attempts had been made, but they were failing. So Nehemiah weeps. He is utterly devastated that this place, where he knows God wants to dwell, is in ruin. The first thing he looks to do about it is to bring the problem to God, so he “prayed before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4).

Why was it that Nehemiah didn’t go back before? The man of faith that he was, why did he not try to return with those others Ezra mentioned? For Nehemiah to be working this close to the king he was very likely a eunuch. Possibly Nehemiah felt that he was better off working in this far-off land being a witness in whatever way he could find. He knew that the law wouldn’t allow a eunuch to serve in the house of God (Leviticus 21:16-21).

Hezekiah’s eunuchs

Nehemiah would be aware of the words of Isaiah to Hezekiah, that his sons would be “eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon” (2 Kings 20:16-18). Here was Nehemiah, now in the kingdom which had followed Babylon, in this exact situation, a eunuch in the palace. He seems to be aware of this prophecy when he refers to working for “Artaxerxes king of Babylon” (Nehemiah 13:6).

There was, then, hope for this man of God. Maybe as Nehemiah wept he remembered Isaiah’s words to Hezekiah. His mind might have gone to the prayer Hezekiah made. Note the similarities between their prayers:

Nehemiah Hezekiah
1:4 wept 2 Kings 20:3
1:5 beseech 2 Kings 20:3
1:6 hear 2 Kings 20:5
1:6 servant 2 Chronicles 32:16
1:8 remember 2 Kings 20:3

As Nehemiah’s mind would have started recalling scripture, he could well have ended up in Isaiah 56:1-8. It’s a passage which gives hope to eunuchs and lets them know there is a place for them within God’s walls (verse 5 – the very thing of course that Nehemiah went off to build) and within God’s house of prayer (verse 7). It was to encourage those who join themselves to God and keep His sabbaths (verse 4).

Remembrance

Hezekiah’s motivation to live was “that I shall go up into the house of the Lord the third day” (2 Kings 20:8). So too Nehemiah’s pleas were that he might be able to go to the place that God had set His name. Once in Jerusalem it is possible Nehemiah still had Hezekiah’s example in mind when he decided after three days of being there to get up and go into the city (Nehemiah 2:11). What better man could God have used to demonstrate the right way than Nehemiah the eunuch, the man of prayer?

“And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy.” (Nehemiah 13:22).

Being a eunuch could well explain the continual emphasis Nehemiah places on God “remembering” him. With these things on his mind Nehemiah worked, but with a sad heart and no doubt he kept on praying.

Lessons for us:

  • There will be times in our lives when we need to act and if tears are shed, so be it.
  • God will answer prayer when He sees it best.
  • It’s important to acknowledge God’s greatness in prayer. If you find this hard then use the Bible as a starting point.
  • It is important to confess our weaknesses.

John Owen

 

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