BLESS THOSE WHO DESIRE TO FEAR YOUR NAME
Nehemiah 1:11 “O Lord, I pray, please let your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.”
If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and it is, then a desire to fear His name it should bring to us the knowledge of how to walk in the blessings of God. First let us understand that the fear of the Lord is the reverence that it is due to His name.
Unfortunately most Christians have a casual understanding of what true reverence is; now it is true that a father who is in a position of great authority wouldn’t get too upset if his child venture into his office while he is conducting important business, but he would make sure that such a distraction did not happen too often, for that would show him to be incompetent.
So that the casual child like attitude that many Christians show towards God, though at times it may not be treated as irreverence by our heavenly Father due to our child like behavior, it is something that definitely keeps us from entering into His office where the business of blessings is taking place. For in His presence, while in fulfillment of His ministry, the protocol of His office demands maturity and self-control.
For I was the king’s cupbearer. Nehemiah was a servant to the king.
In those days the king had unquestionable authority over the lives of those whom he ruled; Nehemiah was a slave from a conquered nation who had gained the confidence of the king to be one of his many servants that attended to the king’s daily needs.
Two things that you did not want to be in those days: one who delivered bad news to the king, or a personal servant to the king who failed to satisfy the king’s request, either one of those could get you killed.
The point that I am trying to make is that Nehemiah understood what proper reverence was all about, after all his life depended on it in a daily basis, his actions and behavior towards God are recorded for the benefit of those of us who have a desire to learn how to come before God and into His holy presence in true reverence.
Nehemiah 1:7 “We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.”
A true sign of maturity is when a person understands the difference between the power of holiness and the weakness of sin.
The reason why the basic meaning for the word reverence is the word fear, is because fear of not gaining or fear of losing our well being is what is at stake in our relationship with a holy God. After all He is holy and we are not, and without His grace, mercy, and compassion we are at a loss.
A heart that deep within itself says, I am not worthy to be anywhere near the holy presence of God, will immediately acknowledge that fact if allowed into the presence of God. There cannot be any level of self righteousness within ourselves in the presence of a holy God.
Nehemiah said, we violated the commandments, the statutes, the ordinances, we deserve everything bad that has happened to us, so that there is an inherited fear, respect, and reverence while in His presence that says, we are totally dependent upon Your mercy Lord.
Nehemiah 1:8-9 “Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If your are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling place for My name’”
Nehemiah acknowledges that everything bad that has happened to them is in accordance with what God had promised, so that he is in agreement with the Word of God; but then he pivots and reminds God that along with the judgment God also had promised restoration, that is why he starts his prayer on the basis of God’s promised mercy to those who would acknowledge their sins before God in repentance.
Nehemiah 1:5-6 “And I said: ‘I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my fathers house and I have sinned.’”
What prompted Nehemiah to pray was the bad news that he received from some travelers that came from Judah and Jerusalem. He was told that God’s people were in great distress and reproach, and that the walls of Jerusalem were also broken and the gates were burned with fire.
Look at the humble heart of this man of God as he confesses before God the sins of the children of Israel and adds, both my fathers house and I myself have sinned and are responsible for this catastrophe that has befallen God’s servants, the children of Israel.
In our opening text Nehemiah asks for prosperity: And let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man, but he is not asking for personal prosperity but rather he desires to be prosperous in the commodity of mercy.
What Nehemiah is referring to is that after hearing all this bad news he is going to have to go and do his duty of serving the king,;a bad attitude is not going to serve him well in front of a king that does not like bad news. So he asks the Lord of Mercy for mercy when he goes before the king, knowing that he is not going to be able to be the usual cheerful servant that the king is used to.
Nehemiah 2:1-2 “...I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before. Therefore the king said to me, ‘Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.’ So I became dreadfully afraid.”
Obviously, the king kept a wide eye upon all his servants and immediately recognized that something was wrong with Nehemiah, not that he was so much concerned about his personal problems as much as he was probably suspicious of those around him when they were not behaving normally, that is probably why Nehemiah became dreadfully afraid. He could have been accused of plotting anything against the king and executed right on the spot, but he had prayed to the God of Mercy for mercy.
Nehemiah 2:3 “And said to the king, ‘May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my father’s tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?’”
I am pretty sure that the king kept track of all that was going on under his palace and knew that Nehemiah had received foreign visitors, and knew of the bad news that they brought to Nehemiah, so that once he heard Nehemiah’s explanation his suspicion abated.
Nehemiah 2:4-5 “Then the king said to me, ‘What do you request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, ‘If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my father’s tombs, that I may rebuild it.’”
What an amazing story, Nehemiah goes from a situation of been in dreadful fear for his life, to asking for the deliverance of an entire nation in the course of one verse; one can only learn that, from being in the presence of the God of Mercy, for those who truly fear the Lord are also made aware of His great power to impart the blessings of mercy.
Notice how Nehemiah says that before he answered the king he prayed to the God of heaven, he probably said to himself, What should I ask for Lord? The answer was what he truly desired in his heart and what he had been praying for: Restitution, for that is what mercy does!
In those days when a king asked one of his subjects for a request it was a big deal, for a king could truly make somebody extremely prosperous, but Nehemiah had not being praying for personal prosperity, he had been praying for mercy and restoration for his people.
Imagine the surprise that the king had when the request that Nehemiah made was not a request for personal gain, but made on behalf of a vanquished nation.
We are told that the queen was sitting next to the king when the request was made, almost like the king looked at the queen and then asked Nehemiah, how long are you going to be gone? If there is one thing that a king understands is the level of devotion that the subjects to his kingdom demonstrate, now he understood what it was that made Nehemiah such a faithful servant to his kingdom. Nehemiah truly valued the security that a well run government offered its citizens.
That is why we are commanded to pray for those in authority, for if we understand how the physical authorities function, and how they are suppose to function, and have a healthy respect for the process of governing even under an imperfect human government, then we can live and minister in the house of God, the church, in awed, holy fear and respect for a perfect Sovereign God who governs justly.
Nehemiah 13:30-31 “Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan. I also assigned duties to the priests and the Levites, each to his service, and to bringing the wood of offering and the firstfruits at appointed times. Remember me, O my God, for good!”
If a government is going to run properly it must rid itself of bias and corruption, a corrupt government will drown itself in its corruption.
Nehemiah understood how the principle of corruption could bring down the human government, and he learned that in order for the house of God to be governed well, it also had to be rid of the bias and corruption that paganism brings into the house of God, for that is what eventually leads the contaminated worshipers into bondage.
Paganism is to the church what corruption is to the government.
And I venture to say that if a nation that was founded on Judeo Christian values, is now under a corrupt government, it is as a direct result of the paganism that contaminates the churches that exist within that nation that are supposed to promote biblical values instead of the human paganism that fosters and tolerates corruption.
Think of that, the condition of the church is reflected by the condition of the government that rules over the nation where those churches minister.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t? If we want to rid our governments of corruption, then we need to rid ourselves of paganism!
It could be just as simple as that.