‘In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.’
They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
What stirred up in Nehemiah’s heart? Was it because through his brother, he felt kinship with those left behind? Was it because he realised that he had been comfortable and had neglected the possibility of going back? Was it when he dwelt on how Jerusalem had been in its’ days of greatness?
Regardless, it stirred up a deep sadness and emotion in Nehemiah which in turn, spurred him to action. This consisted of: acknowledging who God is (v5), repentance (v6-7), recalling His promises (v8-9), declaring truth into action (v10-11). And the last sentence of the chapter sets the scene for what was to come.
I was the cupbearer to the king.
I was the research fellow in a world-renowned renal unit.