“So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4
What would it take for us to have similar concerns for the work, witness and ministry of the Gospel as Nehemiah had for Jerusalem? He wept, mourned, fasted and prayed many days.
Is it possible for Christians today to so have such a heart for the Lord Jesus Christ and His mission to lost people that they weep and mourn over sin and fast and pray for their salvation?
This passage possibly may raise more questions than it gives answers. Certainly we can follow Nehemiah’s process which includes worship, humble repentance, confession, reference to God’s Word and an appeal based on that Word, but it does not provide answers to the matter of the heart. Perhaps the only hint is in verse 11 where he prays, “… your servants who desire to fear your name …”
We cannot artificially manufacture this kind of care for the lost. It will come from Christ in us by the Holy Spirit. He will not provide this for us unless we seek it persistently in faith with genuine desire.
Nehemiah’s passion was for the walls and city of Jerusalem. This may seem trivial in our society but Jerusalem was the centre of Israel’s worship of the Lord, the place of the temple and the Covenant promises. In its fallen state it was a reproach on the Lord and His people giving the surrounding peoples cause to mock and despise the Living God (1:3; 2:17).
The same may be said concerning the fruitless state of the church in our day. Surely the ‘walls’ and the ‘city’ of God are in ruins and we go on as if all is well. It can only be because we are deceived or blind. Why are we not weeping and mourning for the unsaved and why do we not fast and pray for their salvation?
Until we do we cannot lay even a little claim to being obedient to the commandments that Jesus said were the greatest: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).