Monday after the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Nehemiah 1:1-11 (NKJV)
1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah.
It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, 2 that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”
4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
5 And I said: “I pray, LORD God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, 6 please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. 8 Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; 9 but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ 10 Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. 11 O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”
For I was the king’s cupbearer.
The book of Nehemiah takes place during the restoration of Jerusalem, well after Cyrus’ edict that allowed the Israelites to return to their homeland. Nehemiah was still in Persia, serving as the king’s cupbearer. This position not only guarded the king’s food and drink, but it allowed Nehemiah to become a trusted advisor. After learning through visitors of the deplorable conditions in Judah, Nehemiah was appalled and immediately interceded in prayer for God’s help. He knew the importance that Judah held, not only for the Jewish nation, but for the fulfillment of prophecy. The prophets Micah and Zechariah had foretold the key roles that both Jerusalem and Bethlehem would play in the life of the Messiah to come.
We see that Nehemiah was first and foremost a faithful servant of God. Even though he held an important position next to the king, he was primarily concerned with God’s mission for the nation of Israel and the Redeemer Who would come from God’s chosen people.
In our world today we are no longer bound to a nation or a place, as the Kingdom of God is established where Christ is present in Word and Sacrament. “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him'” (John 4:21-23).
Prayer: Dear God, regardless of what tasks we perform or positions we carry, help us always to remember our true calling is to serve You and Your Church; in Jesus Christ. Amen.