SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3 (EGW)

26/92

Nehemiah

Chapter 1

1. Men of Opportunity and Principle—Nehemiah and Ezra are men of opportunity. The Lord had a special work for them to do. They were to call upon the people to consider their ways, and to see where they had made their mistake; for the Lord had not suffered His people to become powerless and confused and to be taken into captivity without a cause. The Lord especially blessed these men for standing up for the right. Nehemiah was not set apart as a priest or a prophet, but the Lord used him to do a special work. He was chosen as a leader of the people. But his fidelity to God did not depend upon his position. 3BC 1135.2

The Lord will not allow His work to be hindered, even though the workmen may prove unworthy. God has men in reserve, prepared to meet the demand, that His work may be preserved from all contaminating influences. God will be honored and glorified. When the divine Spirit impresses the mind of the man appointed by God as fit for the work, he responds, saying, “Here am I; send me.” 3BC 1135.3

God demonstrated to the people for whom He had done so much that He would not serve with their sins. He wrought, not through those who refused to serve Him with singleness of purpose, who had corrupted their ways before Him, but through Nehemiah; for he was registered in the books of heaven as a man. God has said, “Them that honor me I will honor.” Nehemiah showed himself to be a man whom God could use to put down false principles and to restore heaven-born principles; and God honored him. The Lord will use in His work men who are as true as steel to principle, who will not be swayed by the sophistries of those who have lost their spiritual eyesight. 3BC 1135.4

Nehemiah was chosen by God because he was willing to cooperate with the Lord as a restorer. Falsehood and intrigue were used to pervert his integrity, but he would not be bribed. He refused to be corrupted by the devices of unprincipled men, who had been hired to do an evil work. He would not allow them to intimidate him into following a cowardly course. When he saw wrong principles being acted upon, he did not stand by as an onlooker, and by his silence give consent. He did not leave the people to conclude that he was standing on the wrong side. He took a firm, unyielding stand for the right. He would not lend one jot of influence to the perversion of the principles that God has established. Whatever the course others might pursue, he could say, “So did not I, because of the fear of God.” 3BC 1135.5

In his work, Nehemiah kept the honor and glory of God ever in view. The governors that had been before him had dealt unjustly with the people, “and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver; yea, even their servants bear rule over the people.” “But so did not I,” Nehemiah declared, “because of the fear of God” (The Review and Herald, May 2, 1899). 3BC 1135.6

5-11. A Prayer to Be Studied—[Nehemiah 1:5, 6 quoted.] Not only did Nehemiah say that Israel had sinned. He acknowledged with penitence that he and his father's house had sinned. “We have dealt corruptly against Thee,” he says, placing himself among those who had dishonored God by not standing stiffly for the truth.... [Nehemiah 1:7-11 quoted.] ... 3BC 1136.1

Nehemiah humbled himself before God, giving Him the glory due unto His name. Thus also did Daniel in Babylon. Let us study the prayers of these men. They teach us that we are to humble ourselves, but that we are never to obliterate the line of demarcation between God's commandment-keeping people and those who have no respect for His law. 3BC 1136.2

We all need to draw near to God. He will draw near to those who approach Him in humility, filled with a holy awe for His sacred majesty, and standing before Him separate from the world (Manuscript 58, 1903). 3BC 1136.3

6, 7. Nehemiah Trusted God's Faithfulness—By faith taking fast hold of the divine promise, Nehemiah laid down at the footstool of heavenly mercy his petition that God would maintain the cause of His penitent people, restore their strength, and build up their waste places. God had been faithful to His threatenings when His people separated from Him; He had scattered them abroad among the nations, according to His Word. And Nehemiah found in this very fact an assurance that He would be equally faithful in fulfilling His promises (The Southern Watchman, March 1, 1904). 3BC 1136.4