“So I arrived in Jerusalem. Three days later, I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem. We took no pack animals with us except the donkey I was riding. After dark I went out through the Valley Gate, past the Jackal’s Well, and over to the Dung Gate to inspect the broken walls and burned gates. Then I went to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but my donkey couldn’t get through the rubble. 15 So, though it was still dark, I went up the Kidron Valley instead, inspecting the wall before I turned back and entered again at the Valley Gate.” – Nehemiah 2:11-15.
As Christians, should we plan for the future? If God is in control, then should we plan at all? The Bible talks a lot about the future and whether or not Christians ought to prepare for it. The Bible demonstrates that God is not only concerned for our earthly future, but also for our eternal future. So as Christians, we ought to prepare for the future. An example of that was Nehemiah.
Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king of Persia. For him to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls was not a step he would take randomly. For four months Nehemiah prayed and fasted about his plan before he approached the king for permission and help. His prayers paved the way for him to receive the king’s favor. Nehemiah knew his project required the king’s resources, so he was prepared when the king asked him what he needed. Because of Nehemiah’s preparation, the king granted his requests.
Nehemiah needed to understand the circumstances of the project he was about to undertake. Initially, he was not physically in Jerusalem, so his early assessment was made from discussions he had with people who saw first-hand the destruction and were knowledgeable about the current state of the walls and gates. Once on-site, he spent three evenings personally examining the damage to the wall and the gates before rebuilding. For our plans to be effective and complete, we need to invest time upfront—thoroughly assessing the project we are about to undertake.
Nehemiah began seeking God’s vision for rebuilding the wall. For Nehemiah to rebuild the entire wall around Jerusalem in only 52 days, it took an effective strategy (overall, long-term plan), tactics (short-term, specific actions that support the strategy), and God’s favor. When we seek God’s favor towards our work, we need to first seek God’s vision. Be prepared that it may be different from our own.
There are many ways Nehemiah could have tackled this challenging project. However, a key strategy he used was to develop effective teams that could address the needed repairs. At the same time, Nehemiah developed a strategy to overcome their enemies. Nehemiah 4:18 says, “All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm.”
Plans are meaningless if they’re never executed. Nehemiah was a man of action. He developed his plan, but he also knew when it was time to act. He formed his team, delegated responsibilities, and then called his team into action.
Planning is important, but we must be diligent to move the plan forward.
- Read Nehemiah 2:17-20: How does Nehemiah describe the situation that the people have been used to for many decades? What are some troubling realities you have become accustomed to over the years?
- Think about the beautiful response of the people, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” and the words, “they began the good work.” What good work has God given you to do, and what was your response to it?