Nehemiah 3-4, Hebrews 7

Our Great Intercessor.

Nehemiah 3-4, Hebrews 7

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.  Hebrews 7:25 NLT

God has always provided a way out for His people. While they may have found themselves facing times of difficulty and despair, God was always nearby, ready to intercede on their behalf. As Nehemiah and the people began the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, they not only faced a formidable task, they encountered opposition. Any time the people of God attempt to do the work and the will of God, they will find themselves confronted by the enemies of God. As the people worked side by side repairing and restoring the walls, their enemies mocked, jeered and threatened them. The enemies of God will always attempt to undermine the efforts of His people. “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices? Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?” (Nehemiah 4:2 NLT). God’s enemies will always try to feed the doubts and fears lingering in the minds of God’s people. Satan has an uncanny knack of getting us to question our own ability to carry out what God has called us to do. ““That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it!” (Nehemiah 8:3 NLT). But the remedy to the taunts and jeers of the enemy is prayer. We must always turn to the One who can provide a way out. Which is exactly what Nehemiah did.

What does this passage reveal about God?

Nehemiah took their need to the very One who could do something about it. He turned to God. He begged God to intervene and hold their enemies responsible for their constant threats and their unceasing efforts to undermine the work of God. Nehemiah knew that those who stood against him and the work on the wall were really standing against God. As long as the people of God were doing the work of God, they could count on His protection and provision. Nehemiah was able to encourage the people to trust in God, despite what they might hear or see. “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” (Nehemiah 4:14 NLT). But isn’t it interesting that while Nehemiah reminds the people to remember God, he also tells them to be prepared to fight. God would do His part, but they must also be ready to do theirs. We see in this passage a timeless principle that mixes prayer with preparation. Right after Nehemiah’s prayer recorded in chapter four, we read, “So we built the wall” (Nehemiah 4:6 ESV). Nehemiah knew that they had a job to do – a job given to them directly from God. He also knew that they must be prepared and vigilant. While the battle was ultimately the Lord’s, that did not mean there would be no role for them to play. So they prayed AND took practical steps to prepare to defend their families, their nation and their work. “But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves” (Nehemiah 4:9 NLT).      

What does this passage reveal about man?

God has work for His people to do. Just as He had called the people of Israel and set them apart to be a holy nation, He has called believers to live lives that are distinctly different and wholly dedicated to His Kingdom. We exist for His glory, not our own. We are here to serve as His ambassadors, acting as salt and light in the world, and conduits of His grace to a lost and dying generation. And as we do His will, we will face opposition. His enemies will become our enemies. They will taunt, threaten, and even attack us. And when they do, we must turn to the One who always stands ready to provide protection and provision. We have a great High Priest in Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Father, and the writer of Hebrews tells us, “He lives forever to intercede with God” on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25 ESV). In Jesus, we have found an advocate and representative who ministers on our behalf. He stands ready to aid and assist us every step along the way as we attempt to faithfully do God’s will in the face of ongoing opposition. The people of Judah should have been very grateful that they had someone like Nehemiah to stand in the gap for them and take their problems to God. But as believers in Jesus Christ, we don’t have to rely on a fallible man, we have Jesus Christ, “who has been made perfect forever” (Hebrews 7:28 ESV). “He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven” (Hebrews 7:26 NLT). And we can turn to Him at any time to help us with any need we may have.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

This life can at times be difficult. As the people of God we will always be surrounded by the enemies of God. When we attempt to do God’s will and accomplish the work He has given us, we can count on facing opposition. We will even encounter our own sin natures along the way. We are told that we will face the world, the flesh and the enemy. All three will do their best to undermine our efforts and cause us to doubt and despair. But we must remember that we have an advocate with the Father. We have an intercessor who stands ready to step in and provide us with all we need to fight the good fight to the finish. As we do God’s will, we must never forget that we have God’s Son on our side. He has already won the battle. He has already conquered sin and death through His selfless sacrifice on the cross. His resurrection turned defeat into victory and should turn our despair into hope. I am reminded of the words of Paul recorded in Romans 8:31-39:

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Father, You never told us that this life would be easy or without struggle. But You did tell us that You would be here for us. You even sent Your Son to provide us with a way to have constant, unhindered access into Your presence. Now He sits at Your right hand, interceding on our behalf. We can face the condemnation and threats of the enemy because of what He has done. We can live victoriously in this life because He is with us. At the end of the day, we can rest in the knowledge that we are loved by You. And nothing can ever separate us from that love. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men