BAD NEWS IN HIGH PLACES
Holy Lord, sometimes life is too fast for me. I want to slow down, develop a deep, vibrant spiritual life, touched by Your hand.
Read NEHEMIAH 1:1–11
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Bring your praise to the “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments” (Neh. 1:5).
Listening to news is dangerous. In our media-saturated society, it feels like a constant torrent which streams morning, noon and night through television and tweets, radio and rumor. We learn to develop a filter mentality, lest we be paralyzed by information overload. We may feel it necessary for survival, but it can also deafen us to God’s call. It can harden our hearts.
As cupbearer to the Persian emperor, Nehemiah must have heard all sorts of news. After all, he was right at the center of influence. Artaxerxes, a king of vast power, regarded as semi-divine, trusted him utterly for his safety, from the wine he drank to the security of the royal apartment. His job would have involved keeping his ear to the ground. It also required meticulous handling of imperial confidences. Surrounded by sumptuous palaces and majestic gardens, in the highest of offices, it could have felt privileged and influential.
So what is it about this news from afar that reduces Nehemiah to tears? Why does he fast from the king’s lavish table? How do crumbled walls and a disappointed people get to him, when he must always have been hearing about ruin and suffering? It shows that, despite his pagan setting, his personal priority is to the God of heaven. Although he serves a Persian administration, he has not accommodated himself to it. He identifies primarily with the Jewish people, so all that he knows of this covenant God spills out in a heartfelt prayer shaped by the confessions of Moses and Daniel. This news grips him like nothing else and calls him to respond. It begins necessarily with waiting on God in prayer, worship and repentance; he pleads for guidance and divine mercy. The powerful official bows before the Lord of heaven and awaits his orders.
Do you grieve about the state of God’s people? In what ways does this passage show how you can respond?
Lord, amid the constant bombardment of needs around me, help me to discern Your voice and Your call.
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