In Nehemiah 2:1-2, we read, “And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid.”
Why would he be so afraid to just look sad? I’ll tell you why: No cupbearer, or no servant at all, would dare to come into the presence of an oriental king with a sad face. It would be an unforgivable sin, punishable by death. No wonder Nehemiah was afraid.
The king says, “You’re not sick. Why are you looking so sad?” Nehemiah had a burden on his heart so big he couldn’t hide it. What was on his heart came out on his face. Nehemiah had prayed, and he’d sought the face of God. In 2:3-4, we read, “And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchers, lie waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.”
The king says, “What is it you want, Nehemiah?”
Nehemiah is praying and talking at the same time. Have you ever done that? I do that when I preach. There are times when I am praying and preaching at the same time.
Nehemiah was in essence saying, “Oh God, here’s my chance. Lord, the king wants to know what it is I want.”
Now, do you think he just suddenly blurted it out? For four months he’d been planning it. He knew exactly what he wanted. And, he asked for three things of the king that every one of us need to ask.
A. We Need To Ask For His Permission
The first thing that he asked for was the king’s permission. In 2:4-5 we read: “So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favor in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchers, that I may build it.”
Before we do anything in the name of Jesus, we better get His permission. It’s as dangerous to run ahead of God, as it is to run behind Him.
Someone might say, that he didn’t need an earthly king’s permission.” Yet, it wasn’t the earthly king who was giving him permission. Don’t you know that an earthly king is controlled by the Heavenly King, the King of kings? The Bible says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).
B. We Need To Ask For His Protection
In Nehemiah 2:7, we read “Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah”(Nehemiah 2:7).
He’s saying, “As I go, these people are going to say, ‘Who are you? and, What is your authority? What right do you have to travel here?’ And,” he said, “I want a letter that I can pull out. I want something that I can show to say that King Artaxerxes sent me. I want your protection.”
As God’s children, we have his divine protection. Aren’t you glad that He’s given us His letter, God’s Holy Word? Aren’t you glad that He has given us His authority? Jesus said, “Behold, I give unto you power over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19). “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”(Matthew 28:20).
C. We Need To Ask For His Provision
He wanted the king’s permission and he wanted the king’s protection. Third, he also wanted the king’s provision. In 2:8, we read, “And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into.” He said, “I need some building materials, king, and I want you to give them to me.
“And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me” (Nehemiah 2:8).
This earthly king was only a tool in the hand of the King of kings. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever He will” (Proverbs 21:1)
When we visualize until God gives us a burden, and then, if we will take that burden, and agonize until we know that you’ve confessed our sins and made a commitment, then we have every right to come, organize, and go to work. We have every right to look into the face of our God, and say, “God, I want your permission; I want your protection; and, God, I want your provision, because I am getting ready to rise up and build.”
Now, I’m not just talking about building a building, I’m talking about building a life. I’m talking about building a family. I’m talking about building relationships. It is time for God’s people begin to act like it. Well, the Bible says, “The people who know their God shall do exploits” (Daniel 11:32). Let’s go out and do great and amazing exploits in the name of Lord!