I was in Shushan the palace … So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days … Nehemiah 1:1; 2:11 KJV
I was in Susa the capitol … So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days… Nehemiah 1:1; 2:11 NASB
Nehemiah had both a desirable and a dangerous job. He was trusted by the king and held in high favor. You can be certain that the king would do all he could to maintain a good relationship with the man who was responsible for seeing he was not poisoned. No doubt he enjoyed the comforts and perks of palace life. He would know little of reproach or want; surrounded by the splendor of the Persian Empire, he knew luxury and lavishness, majesty and glory.
As the king’s cupbearer, Nehemiah’s recommendations went unchallenged; his suggestions were valued. He enjoyed a place of esteem and privilege.
But need of others moved him. He heard, through Hanani, of the condition of his brethren and of the city of his fathers, Jerusalem. The need of others drove him to a major life-changing decision: he would leave the palace and make his way to Jerusalem. The months of prayer and waiting for the window of opportunity to open are well known by all. What is significant to our consideration, are what he left and where he went.
The comforts of Persia were exchanged for the crude conditions in Jerusalem; the luxury of Shushan for the lack of things in Jerusalem. He laid aside honor and prestige to be linked with a despised remnant at which the surrounding Gentile nations laughed (Neh 4:1). He left with the sincere desire expressed in chapter 2:10. “There was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.” He left all that was pleasing to man naturally, for the welfare of others.
We often sing of the Lord Jesus leaving the “ivory palaces” and coming into this “world of woe.”
Scripture speaks with an economy of words of what He once enjoyed and which He laid aside. The Lord Jesus spoke of the “glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:5). We are told that He was “in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Phil 2:5). Those outward insignias of deity and glory were veiled, and He came “to seek the welfare” of, not just His brethren, but of an entire rebel race.
Nehemiah knew the reproach of his enemies and the plots contrived by his own countrymen (Nehemiah 6). The effects of his ministry were constantly being opposed by some within the nation and those without. False accusations and impugned motives were raised against him.
But another came to seek the welfare of His creatures and we met Him with not only false accusations and hostile actions, but we gave Him a cross and cast Him out of His own creation. He left far more than a palace for a place of poverty! He left heights of glory for depths of shame; unsullied majesty for unmeasureable suffering; not an ivory palace but a place, position, and prestige of unspeakable greatness – for our world of sin and chaos.
Can you think of other ways in which Nehemiah is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ?
How does Nehemiah contrast with the Lord Jesus?