We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine

Nehemiah 1 & 2: May I Ask a Favor? Part 1

Would you ask a favor from the only person who could help you out of a serious dilemma if you knew that person also might just kill you if you asked? That’s the dilemma that Nehemiah faces with Artaxerxes, king of Persia.

You may be familiar with the story from the Bible. Nehemiah, the king’s cup bearer, holds one of the highest positions in Persia. He has just received word that Jerusalem is in shambles. The social, economic, political, and religious condition is deplorable, and he is the only family member in a position to help–but doing so may cost him his life.

Nehemiah, which means the LORD of consolation, responds to the bad news with one of the most incredible plans in all of history. And he needed an incredible plan because the last person who asked the king for a favor found himself tied down in the hot sun with honey poured over his face. Or consider the elderly father who gave king Xerxes a large sum of money plus five of his six sons to fight in the king’s war. When he asked that his sixth son remain at home, the enraged king ordered the son cut in half. He then forced his army to march through the severed body as a lesson for what happens when you ask a Persian king for a favor.

Imagine for a moment that you are Nehemiah. How would you approach a situation that you know is probably not going to turn out in your favor? Nehemiah’s tactic is brilliant, but even he didn’t expect what he was about to get…and we’ll get the rest of the story in the next Lamplighter Moment!

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