I have a very great deal in my mind that will not find expression in these messages, but I have been taking in the whole compass of the Bible in connection with this, and I am especially moving in the New Testament, as you will see as we go on. I am thinking of the Apostle Paul, the great Nehemiah of this dispensation. What a situation he had to face among Christians! What a condition of things he had to meet and deal with! We feel, as we read his first letter to the Corinthians, that we would have given it up and said: "This is a hopeless mess - is this Christianity at all?" But see how Paul heroically and courageously faced that situation. He did not give it up.
Today, we might be greatly discouraged, we might easily feel that it is not possible to have a full, clear testimony that glorifies God, seeing how the Church is destroyed, how "the wall ... is broken down," how "the gates ... are burned with fire" (Nehemiah 2:13, 14) - that is, how the whole testimony is rent, and torn, and in ruins, as we might say. Yes, the situation is a disconcerting one and we have to face this question: Does God want it to be otherwise? Does God mean it to be otherwise? Has God given it up? Is He desiring and intending - nay more, is He moving to secure a different state of things? If there is anything to prove that God is actively concerned about this matter, then we dare not abandon it But it takes a great deal of courage, all the courage that God can give us, to face the present situation. Those who know it know that I am not exaggerating.
The Vision and Inspiration of Nehemiah
And then, once more, in his action Nehemiah brought others into his vision and into his concern. First of all, it was in his own heart and it was hidden in his heart. He said nothing to anyone of what God had put on his heart. It was something between himself and the Lord, in the first place, and it was not until he had reached a certain position, and made a certain decision consequent upon his investigation, that he opened his heart to others. I think that is a splendid thing, a thing of which to take note. It is so easy to have ideas and then to begin to broadcast your ideas and unload them on to other people. It is quite another thing, between yourself and God, to have got to grips with the situation and become fully impressed with the greatness of it, and then to resolve that this thing must be done and to bring others into your vision and inspiration.
You see, Nehemiah was made to be a tremendous inspiration You read through this book and see what you might almost call the magnetism of this man's personality, the inspiration that he was. People leapt to the impossible under the inspiration and vision of this man. There were times when they were very low in despondency, but then he pulled them out of their slough. What a force he was as a true leader to bring others into his vision! And do you not feel strongly that that is the real need today - of people who have vision, who have weighed up everything, who have faced the whole issue, and then who have such confidence in God, with the assurance that God wants and means something different, that they have come out with their positive impact upon others, so that others come into line? That truly is a great need. It is the easiest thing in the world to be a passenger, always to be carried. Ah, it is so easy to be a parasite, just living on and draining others. But it is quite another thing to be an inspiration, to be one who really does help others into the thing that God is after, to be an inspiration to them to come along to help in the work of the Lord. Nehemiah was that; and I put it to you that if we have any sense of things being other than according to God's mind, and that God would have them otherwise, we ought to be positive people in this matter, and be an inspiration to others about it.
And so Nehemiah, having taken the full measure of it, and having weighed it all up, and having impressed himself with the greatness of the task in hand, without despairing, turned to it and so inspired the other men to whom he opened his heart that they said: "Let us rise up and build" (Neh. 2:18). Oh, for a people like that! A people today who know all about it, and, seeing how things are, will say: 'Let s do something about it - let us rise up and build!'
Well, that is the beginning of his action, and you will agree that that is action indeed. Of course, we are not just looking at this as a human matter, because none of us can be like this for very long, at any rate not unless we are energized by the Spirit of God. Consider the Apostle Paul again, who knew all about it, all about the conditions, and knew how discouraged and despondent the people of God could be about the situation. His prayer was this: "that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inward man" (Eph. 3:16); "that ye may be ... strengthened with all power, according to the might of His glory, unto all patience and longsuffering with joy" (Col. 1:9, 11). The mighty energies by which we shall be able to go on. We must allow a large place for the inward working of God in the life of Nehemiah, because we know full well that only so can we do anything about this situation.
(continued with # 6)