A Holy Burden
Scripture reading for May 8th: Nehemiah 1-2
Today we find Nehemiah with a “holy burden” concerning Jerusalem and it’s people. Nehemiah, was an exile in Babylon, held an important position. He was cup bearer to the king. As cup bearer, he was responsible to taste all the wine and drinks that the king received and make sure that they had not been poisoned. His face reflected sadness as he came before the king, and the king asked him what was wrong. Nehemiah prayed quickly to himself, then shared his holy burden with the king. (Nehemiah 2:1-5)
Nehemiah’s burden came from pondering a report about Jerusalem and it’s inhabitants. It had been some time since Ezra had taken men back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and this work had been hindered by opposition. As Nehemiah heard about the discouragement, the broken walls of the city and the burned gates, his heart broke for its restoration and deliverance. He prayed and fasted, confessing sins that had brought about the terrible conditions of the once beautiful city and it’s great temple of the Lord. (Nehemiah 1:3-7) He reminded God of His promises to restore His people if they would return to Him. He asked God for favor with the king as he went before Him. (Nehemiah 1:11) This was why Nehemiah was now able to share his burden with the king!
God graciously turned the heart of the king to allow Nehemiah to go back to his beloved city and work on the walls. Nehemiah went quietly and surveyed the city walls for himself. He then shared the plans with the Jews living there and told them of the provision of God and His guidance. This sparked encouragement and the willingness to begin the work! There was some opposition from locals who opposed both the rebuilding and the Jews themselves. Nehemiah declared in faith to them, “The God of heaven will give us success. We His servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” (Nehemiah 2:20)
Prayer is always the place to start when we have a holy burden. We lay it before the Lord, confess our sin and offer ourselves as a resource. God takes over and leads us onward. A holy burden is His heart’s burden placed on us. Faith then takes us to action that lifts the burden like a balloon filled with helium.