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  • Writer's pictureStan Stringer

Moments with Pastor: The Twentieth Year

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,

Nehemiah 1:1

The Twentieth Year

The twentieth year of the reign of King Artaxerxes. He is also known as Darius. It had been a very difficult 20 years, especially concerning war with Egypt.

During his 7th year as king, he had helped Ezra to lead a group of Jews back to Jerusalem. God had called Ezra to go to Jerusalem to teach the Bible. The Temple had already been rebuilt, but the people had sadly strayed away from God. Imagine the excitement of the young man Ezra, born and raised in Babylon, with a call from God to teach the Bible in God’s land to God’s people. The 1,000 mile, 4 month trip across the desert to Jerusalem was nothing to stop him from answering to the call of God to his mission field. He may have envisioned the people with outstretched hands for the Word of God, and eager hearts to learn and gladly obey. His ‘honeymoon’ period lasted about 4 months. Then, he began to learn of the deep sin these ‘God’s people’ were practicing. He saw first hand how the teaching and preaching of God’s Word will reveal the sin in people’s lives, and that sin must be faced and corrected.

Now, 13 years later, God has dealt with Nehemiah. He has had 13 years to grow into a young man. He has developed into a man with a heart for God, and a love for the people of God. He evidently is a young man of luxury, from a well-to-do family, living in the sumptuous palace, employed in the enviable position of the King’s Cupbearer. He is comfortably settled in, and has a bright future ahead of him.

But, when he hears of the sad state in Jerusalem—the walls are broken down and the gates are burned—his heart is broken for the people of God. God challenges him to leave his comfort zone, and do something about it.

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