here is the intro that didn't make it into the sermon:
We began with taking a look at Nehemiah himself, whose name possibly means, the Lord, who is the comforter, or consoler of His people. Nehemiah was a man of great stature, who bore the wine-cup to the king, but greater than that, he was a man of God. From his moving prayer, we could see that he knew very well who the Living God was, and all that He had promised to His people. That because of His covenant love, no matter how disastrous the situation looked after the sin-caused exile, yet if they would turn back to Him, if they would repent and trust Him again, He would gather them back from the farthest corners, and make them His people, His children, His covenant family.
Nehemiah although he seemed to be faultless and righteous in his own behavior, identified himself completely as one of those who had sinned against the Living God, and prayed that the Lord would restore their lost heritage. We saw that the High King of heaven, then heard Nehemiah’s continuous intercession to comfort His people, and made him the answer to his own prayer, and gave him the opportunity and resources to go and re-build the walls and gates of Jerusalem, the city of the people of God. He identified with them, interceded on behalf of them, and then decisively acted to build a home for God’s people – knowing that all this was at the very heart of the will of His Father in heaven.
So he went with the full approval of the king, together with a small entourage, and came to the ruins of Jerusalem. Yet it was not the army of the Persian King that would rebuild the city of God, but this privilege would only be restricted to the faithful remnant of God’s people, who had eagerly returned earlier to reclaim their identity. So after a quick reconnaissance mission, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, Nehemiah confronted the people, he dealt with facts of the reality of the situation that their sins had led them into, and showed them the wonderful grace of God - the “Good hand of his God was upon them”, He would lead them to rebuild what they had trampled on. As they relied on the Living God, their hands would be made strong by His Strong Hand - yet that in no way meant that there would not be very real difficulty and, as we will see more today, opposition.
The people acknowledged the reality of their broken lives, and with one voice declared that they would “Arise and Build”, and so they immediately entered into the work of building the Lord’s kingdom. As we saw a couple of weeks ago, everyone, except a few who would not stoop down, built together, no matter what stage of life they were in, what their occupation was, in fact none of them were stated to be professional builders! Everyone with all their various gifts and talents, as given by the Lord, was involved in this historical task – despite the fact that it could have been a great challenge, they worked hand in hand together – they were One.
Now they were beginning to be a people, no longer just some disgraced individuals – no they would have a common identity, they were the family of God – they would no longer be lost, without a home, free to be taken advantage of by the nations around them – no, they would be secure in the will of God, and they had one purpose.
Plus the fact that I think when Paul does Eph 6 - he's not really thinking of his Roman prison guard... but rather these guys...