The Great Work God Has Called Us To, and the Good Hand of God to Help Us Do It - Radical

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The Great Work God Has Called Us To, and the Good Hand of God to Help Us Do It

The church has been tasked with reaching the next generation with the gospel and with reaching the nations with the gospel. Both of these aspects of the church’s mission have eternal implications, and both can feel overwhelming. In this message from Nehemiah 2 by David Platt, we’ll see that the great work God has called us to is possible, but only with the good hand of our God working in and through us. As we seek his face and rely on his power, we are strengthened and sustained in the great work of making disciples of all nations.

Observation: What does the passage say?

1) Read Nehemiah 2 aloud as a group. Let group members share observations. Try not to move into interpretation of the passage or application of what you read quite yet. Simply share what you observe.

a. What do we learn about Nehemiah’s heart for the welfare of God’s people and God’s glory? Nehemiah 1:1–4; 2:1–3, 17 

b. How did Nehemiah react to the King’s questions? What feelings did he experience? What did he do? What specific requests did he make to the King? What was the King’s response? Nehemiah 2:2–8

c. What lessons can we learn from Nehemiah about prayer and planning?  Nehemiah 1:1–4, 2:4; Proverbs 16:3, 16:9; Luke 14:28–33 

–What lessons can we learn from Esther and Ezra’s approach to handling the great work that God called them to? Ezra 8:21–23, Esther 4:16

d. What actions did Nehemiah take when he arrived in Jerusalem? Nehemiah 2:11–15 How did the people respond? Nehemiah 2:17

e. How does Nehemiah’s actions reflect his dependence on God in this chapter? Nehemiah 2:8, 12, 18, 20

2) How would you summarize Nehemiah 2 in your own words?

Interpretation: What does the passage mean?

  1. How did Nehemiah model handling his personal grief and his professional duties? Nehemiah 2:1–2 
  2. How do you see the hand of God evident in the King’s generous response to Nehemiah’s request? 2:2, 4, 6 
    • What do you learn about God’s providential hand and His faithfulness? Nehemiah 2:6–9, Proverbs 21:9
  3. How did Nehemiah motivate the people to begin rebuilding the walls immediately? Nehemiah 2:17–18, Psalms 90:16
  4. Why was Nehemiah afraid? Nehemiah 2:3, Esther 4:11 How did he respond despite of his fears? What lessons can we learn from him?
  5. Why did Sanballat and Tobiah oppose the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem? Nehemiah 2:10, 2:19–20 How is their opposition similar to what the church face today? How did Nehemiah model resilience and courage in the face of adversity?
  6. Accomplishing the great work that God has called us to reach the next generation, and the nations with the gospel, starting right here in your city, will be met with great opposition. How can the truths of God’s word encourage us to persevere amidst oppositions?  Psalm 46:1–3; Isaiah 41:10; John 14:27, 16:33; Ephesians 6:10–20; 2 Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 13:5–6; 1 Peter 5:8–9

Application: How can we apply this passage to our lives?

  1. What specific step(s) is God calling you to take in reaching the next generation and the nations with the gospel, starting right here in your city? How can your Church Group pray for you? 
  2. What specific step(s) can you take this week, similar to Nehemiah, Ezra and Esther, to fast and pray for:
    • God to do what only God can do to reach the next generation, and the nations with the gospel, starting right here in your city? And seek God’s wisdom to discern what part is God calling you to play. 

Nehemiah 2 ESV

In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” 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, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.

Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls

 9 Then I came to the governors of the province Beyond the River and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. 10 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.11 So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. 13 I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass. 15 Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. 16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work.17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.”

Sermon Recap

Seven steps Nehemiah took to accomplish this great work God called him to:

  1. Pray
  2. Fast
  3. Plan
  4. Risk
  5. Work
  6. Persevere
  7. Trust the good hand of God
David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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