Day 272: The Call of Nehemiah

Nehemiah 1-13 Nehemiah’s story is much like Ezra’s: he was an official in the Persian court who, when grieved after receiving word of the dilapidated state of the Jewish homeland, received permission from the Persian king to return to Judah and begin the rebuilding process in Jerusalem. Nehemiah spearheaded the effort to rebuild the city walls and infrastructure of Jerusalem, while Ezra supervised the rebuilding of the Temple and the implementation of the Law.


Ch 1:1-11 Nehemiah understood immediately that the destruction of Jerusalem was a direct result of the sinfulness and infidelity of the People of God. His penance and mourning ran deep as he prayed for God’s mercy and for the reunification of all of Israel. (CCC 1739, 2448)


Ch 2:1-20 After four months of prayer, Nehemiah secured permission from the Persian king to rebuild Jerusalem. He also obtained letters from the king to the local governors enabling him to enter the city and to obtain the materials needed for the project. He met with some opposition but managed to get the officials in Jerusalem to assist with his plans.


Zechariah 12:1-14 Speaking again of the restoration of Israel, the prophecy promised protection of Israel and victory over its enemies. The identity of the much-mourned deceased person is not clear-perhaps Zerubbabel or one of the other beloved figures-but the language certainly prefigures the Death of Christ.


Ch 12:10 Look upon...pierced: This messianic prophecy is also quoted in the Gospels (cf. Jn 19:37). The Passion and Death of Christ is sufficient to atone for all sin and make available the salvation of every person. This dazzling display of love typified by his pierced side should move every individual to profound conversion. (CCC 1432, 2561)

Ch 13:1 The fountain is an image of cleansing and purification. The proper response to God’s love and desire to forgive unconditionally is a motive for repentance and interior reform. Cleansing water is a type of the Sacrament of Baptism by which Original Sin and actual sins are washed away. (CCC 694, 1219, 1262, 2345, 2561)


Ch 13:2-6 Once cleansed, Judah needed to reject all forms of idolatry and seek the help of the one true God only.


Ch 13:7-9 The shepherd here may be symbolic of Zerubbabel or of Zechariah’s “shepherd of the flock” in Chapter 11. This passage was cited by Christ regarding how his disciples would abandon him upon his arrest: “Strike the shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered” (cf. Mt 26:31; Mk 14:27; Jn 10:30-31).


One third shall be left alive: here is another reference to a faithful remnant of Israel, for many would not be able to endure the trials ahead.


Proverbs 20:20 This warning expresses the gravity of failing to honor one’s parents according to the Fourth Commandment. Christ’s deference to his parents, even as an adult, is an example of how this Commandment is fulfilled (cf. Jn 2:1-11). (CCC 2197-2220)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)


Nehemiah and Rebuilding the City Walls

  • Nehemiah, who in captivity served as cupbearer to the king, leads the third wave of return.

  • Upon hearing of the disrepair of the Holy City, he immediately gives himself to mourning, fasting, and prayer.

  • This deep awareness of the nearness of God and his dependence on him is one of the outstanding features of the man.

  • Before the face of God, Nehemiah readily takes up solidarity with his people and confesses their corporate unfaithfulness to the covenant (Neh 1:7-11).

  • Nehemiah’s understanding of the phenomena of captivity and exile is shaped by Deuteronomy.

  • Faced with the consequences of Israel’s infidelity toward God, Nehemiah does not seek to absolve himself of personal responsibility but rather identifies himself with the wretchedness of his own people.

  • In “reminding” the Lord that the people belong to him (“your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed”), Nehemiah enters the story as another Moses, who in like fashion interceded for Israel after the great apostasy at Sinai (Ex 33:12-16).

  • With the help of God, Nehemiah, like Ezra before him, departs with the king’s official blessing, expressed in letters that he carries on his journey to Jerusalem.

  • Once again, this movement from pagan land to the Promised Land should be seen as a new Exodus.

  • In all three returns, God himself is the mover of the hearts of the Persian kings.

  • The Spirit of God softens the heart of Artaxerxes II to release Ezra and Nehemiah, just as he moved Cyrus to issue the decree and Darius to protect the people’s work.

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)


  • Remember, Ezra and Nehemiah originally were one book

  • Now we are continuing the story

  • BUT…

  • It is fascinating that Nehemiah is written in FIRST PERSON

  • Fr. Mike was struck to pray for our enemies, whoever they may be in our lives and doesn’t know why

  • Jesus comes back to that so often, that we have to be DIFFERENT

  • We have to not want to take vengeance on our enemies

  • We have to be able to say, “Ok Lord, I want you to save their lives. I want you to make them holy.”

  • Not to say that we don’t want JUSTICE

  • But we do pray for GRACE in their lives

  • That is what Proverbs 20:22 says, “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will help you.”

  • That does not mean God will overlook or deny justice

  • It does mean that we take a back seat and say, “It is not my job to repay evil for evil.”

  • We can work for JUSTICE

  • Know what I’m saying?

  • IT’S A CHALLENGE OBVIOUSLY

  • Especially when we have that opportunity to take vengeance on somebody

  • Even in our normal speech that is one of the things that can happen

  • We might not have massive enemies

  • IN FACT…

  • The people that we wrestle with, fight, and take vengeance on the most are the PEOPLE THAT WE LIVE WITH

  • They are the people that we promise to love FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES

  • We realize, “Wait a second! With my WORDS I just took vengeance on them. They said something to me earlier. They did something that was annoying to me. What I just did was I decided to be annoying to them. I decided to be mean to them with my words.”

  • We can make it really abstract and say, “Those enemies are out there somewhere.”

  • BUT…

  • We realize, “Wait a second! I am most often most cruel with those people who I am the closest to. And I don’t think that’s a good idea. I think that’s something to repent of and say, ‘God please help me.’”

  • Maybe Proverbs 20:22 means talking to your kids, parents, spouse, friends, the people you talk to everyday

  • MAN OH MAN!

  • YEESH!

  • Proverbs 20:21, “An inheritance gotten hastily in the beginning will in the end will not be blessed.”

  • Kind of like people who win the lottery and have had their lives devastated after winning it

  • They haven’t necessarily been blessed by winning, but they have been hurt

  • Ok then onward to Zechariah

  • Today we got to hear some INCREDIBLE WORDS

  • Zechariah Ch 12 is Jerusalem’s Victory

  • Zechariah 12:7-8, “And the Lord will give victory to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not be exalted over that of Judah. On that day the Lord will put a shield about the inhabitants of Jerusalem…”

  • This is important for us

  • Because in The Book of Nehemiah they are putting up walls around themselves in the city

  • It’s not the same thing

  • Ok it’s kind of the same thing

  • But not necessarily the same thing (now my brain hurts...🤪)

  • That Zechariah is prophesying about

  • BUT…

  • In the end of Zechariah Ch 12 we have Mourning for the Pierced One

  • GOSH!!

  • This is also quoted in The Gospel of John Ch 19

  • Zechariah 12:10, “...they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadadrimmon in the plains of Megiddo.”

  • Ok so who are we talking about?

  • THE LORD JESUS!!

  • THE ONLY CHILD

  • THE ONLY SON OF GOD

  • THE FIRST BORN OF ALL AGES, OF ALL CREATION

  • Here is this INCREDIBLE PROPHECY

  • Could you imagine as Zechariah and his listeners are hearing about the PIERCED ONE they would wonder, “What is that?”

  • Maybe that’s the Jewish people experiencing suffering

  • BUT…

  • It becomes incredibly PERSONIFIED and INCARNATED in JESUS CHRIST!!

  • SO REMARKABLE!!

  • That prophecy that is ultimately made COMPLETE in JESUS ON THE CROSS out of LOVE for you and for me

  • We know it’s one thing to hear these prophecies and think, “Wow! That’s amazing! Here is Zechariah writing hundreds and hundreds of years before Jesus and he’s saying this and that’s fascinating, it’s powerful.”

  • BUT…

  • Then we realize, “Why was Jesus pierced through in the first place?”

  • OUT OF LOVE FOR YOU!!

  • BECAUSE HE HASN’T GIVEN UP FOR YOU!!

  • OUT OF LOVE FOR FR. MIKE!!

  • BECAUSE HE HASN’T GIVEN UP ON FR. MIKE!!

  • IT’S SO IMPORTANT FOR US TO HEAR THESE WORDS AND REMEMBER THEM

  • BECAUSE IT IS SO EASY TO FORGET THEM!!

  • JESUS ACTUALLY LOVES YOU!!

  • JESUS WAS PIERCED THROUGH AND MOURNED OVER

  • Because he DETERMINED

  • He DECIDED

  • He has DECLARED

  • THAT YOU ARE WORTH HIS VERY LIFE

  • YOU ARE WORTH HIS DEATH

  • So many people feel ALONE in this moment

  • But just recognize here is Zechariah writing HUNDREDS OF YEARS BEFORE JESUS

  • He says, “There will be a day of mourning because of the PIERCED ONE.”

  • THAT DAY ACTUALLY HAS ALREADY HAPPENED!!

  • In so many ways, to get to this point on Day 272 where YOU HEAR THESE WORDS

  • Where you get to hear the TRUTH that here is JESUS, GOD HIMSELF, who LOVES YOU TO THE POINT OF DEATH

  • You might feel DISCOURAGED

  • You might feel ISOLATED

  • You might feel ALONE

  • You might feel that you can’t even talk to God right now, even though you pressed play and are listening to His Word

  • BUT HE LOVES YOU!!

  • HE HAS NOT FORGOTTEN ABOUT YOU!!

  • YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!

  • That’s part of what this BIAY community is

  • Even if it’s a virtual community

  • There are people online who pray with these reading every single day

  • They talk with each other every single day

  • There is a bunch of us who are not connected that way

  • BUT…

  • WE ARE CONNECTED RIGHT NOW

  • WE ARE CONNECTED IN PRAYER

  • WE ARE CONNECTED IN WHAT IS DECLARED IN GOD’S WORD

  • So Fr. Mike invites you to receive God’s love right now

  • Zechariah Ch 13 talks about how if someone prophesies and then his mom and dad kill him, he is talking about FALSE PROPHETS

  • Just in case you were wondering

  • MAN OH MAN! DON’T BE A FALSE PROPHET!!

  • Onward to Nehemiah

  • It is VERY IMPORTANT

  • Remember we had Zerubbabel who was the first wave of return

  • Ezra was the second wave of return

  • Ezra is going to show up here in The Book of Nehemiah Ch 8

  • AND YET…

  • Now we have the third wave of return, Nehemiah

  • Under Ezra we had the rebuilding of Temple worship

  • Nehemiah recognizes that there are no walls around the city of Jerusalem

  • He tells the story The Call Nehemiah

  • IT IS INCREDIBLE

  • Let’s skip a rock across Nehemiah Chs 1-2

  • Nehemiah had already visited Jerusalem maybe 15 years before this

  • Nehemiah asks, “Hey, you were in Jerusalem. How is it?”

  • He gets informed that the walls had not been rebuilt and the city is vulnerable and open to attack

  • Nehemiah’s response is AMAZING

  • Nehemiah 1:4, “When I heard these words I sat down and wept, and mourned for days; and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”

  • GOSH!!

  • THINK ABOUT THIS!!

  • Nehemiah cares about the people of Jerusalem

  • Nehemiah cares about the city of Jerusalem

  • Nehemiah cares about the worship happening in Jerusalem

  • And when he hears that there are no walls around the city, HE SAT DOWN AND WEPT FOR DAYS

  • HE PRAYED FOR DAYS

  • HE FASTED FOR DAYS

  • So we have to ask the question, “Man, is my heart so hardened, or am I so unfaithful that when I hear bad news, my response NOT that I sit down and weep? It’s NOT that I immediately pray. It’s NOT that I turn to the Lord in fasting.”

  • A lot of the times we turn to the news

  • A lot of the times we turn to each other

  • A lot of the times we turn to SOMEONE ELSE

  • Nehemiah’s response when his heart is broken is that he TURNS TO THE LORD

  • Nehemiah has multiple prayers in Ch 1

  • THEY ARE SO GOOD!!

  • One of the things that Nehemiah does is he acknowledges it

  • He says, “We deserve this. Because you let us know, God. If we are faithful then we will have success. And we were not faithful. And it’s my fault. It’s my father’s fault.”

  • IT’S INCREDIBLE!!

  • BUT…

  • Then he goes on to say, “Please, give us a chance. Let me do something.”

  • Nehemiah 1:11, “...Now I was cupbearer to the king.”

  • DUN DUH DUH (dramatic music at the plot twist 😉)

  • So what happens next?

  • In Nehemiah Ch 2, he is in King Artaxerxes and the queen’s presence and he’s the cupbearer

  • The king notices that Nehemiah is sad

  • He had never been sad before in the presence of the king

  • The king says, “It’s not because you’re sick. Your heart is sick. What’s up?”

  • How Nehemiah unfolds this is INCREDIBLE

  • Nehemiah 2:3, “...Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lies waste and its gates have been destroyed by fire?’ Then the king said to me, “For what do you make request?’”

  • THIS IS THE PATTERN FOR EVERY ONE OF US

  • We have a BIG ASK

  • We have SOME TASK

  • The king says, “What do you want?”

  • Nehemiah says, “So I prayed to the God of heaven.”

  • He doesn’t just say what he wants

  • He prays, “God, please help me.”

  • One of the things Fr. Mike loves about his students is as they begin their prayers, they acknowledge the fact that they don’t know how to pray

  • They say, “Come Holy Spirit, teach me how to pray” before EVERY PRAYER

  • It’s an acknowledgment of, “I’m going to talk to you, Lord, and I realize I can’t talk to you without your Spirit. I can’t even talk to you, God, without YOU, God.”

  • SO GOOD!!

  • “Come, Holy Spirit, teach me how to pray.”

  • It’s like Nehemiah here and the king says, “What do you want?”

  • Nehemiah basically said, “Come Holy Spirit, teach me how to speak to the king.”

  • Nehemiah 2:5, “And I said to the king, ‘If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may rebuild it.’”

  • He reminds the king that he has been doing a good job

  • He doesn’t just say, “Oh, here’s what I want.”

  • He says, “If I’ve done a good job, and if I have found favor in your sight…”

  • The king asks how long he will be gone

  • Nehemiah knows EXACTLY what he wants

  • This is out of the blue

  • This is a request of King Artaxerxes because he notices that Nehemiah is sad

  • BUT…

  • Nehemiah has already thought this through

  • He says that he’ll be gone this long (no specifics)

  • He needs letters from Asaph

  • He needs letters to the people beyond the river

  • He also needs permission to have some wood to rebuild some things

  • This next part is AMAZING

  • IT IS INCREDIBLE!!

  • Nehemiah gets to Jerusalem under armed guard

  • Remember, Ezra had to pray, “Lord, guide me with no guards.”

  • Well Nehemiah took some guards

  • Nehemiah 2:10, “But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.”

  • Whenever you try to do a WORK FOR GOD, there will ALWAYS be someone who OPPOSES YOU

  • They could be NAYSAYERS

  • They could be people who DON’T LIKE THAT YOU ARE DOING THIS

  • They could be people who DON’T LIKE YOU

  • THERE WILL ALWAYS BE OPPOSITION

  • Nehemiah inspected the walls in the middle of the night

  • Many older priests told Fr. Mike to WALK THE GROUNDS AROUND THE CHURCH TO SEE WHAT’S GOING ON

  • A priest can’t just say, “I trust the fact that the walls are still up. I trust the fact that nothing is leaking.”

  • YOU HAVE TO INSPECT IT!!

  • Nehemiah gets out there and walks around the walls

  • He does not tell anyone about it

  • Because he has not yet announced to the people of Jerusalem that they would be rebuilding the walls

  • He wants to INSPECT the project before he ANNOUNCES the project

  • THAT IS SO WISE!!

  • You have to have boots on the ground and eyes really looking at this thing in order to know what’s the project

  • Then Nehemiah makes the decision to restore the walls

  • People say that he is rebelling against the king

  • He doesn't reply, “Well the king gave me some letters.”

  • Nehemiah 2:20, “Then I replied to them, ‘The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build…”

  • SO GOOD!!

  • He doesn’t have to DEFEND HIMSELF

  • He doesn’t have to EXPLAIN HIMSELF

  • “Listen, God’s got this. God’s got me. And because you are opposing this, you will have no part in this.”

  • The Book of Nehemiah is a MASTERCLASS when it comes to LEADERSHIP and ABILITY TO LISTEN TO GOD’S WORD AND ACT ON IT VERY CLEARLY, CLEANLY, AND DECISIVELY

  • EVEN IN THE MIDST OF OPPOSITION

  • Nehemiah is going to experience INTERNAL OPPOSITION as well

  • WE ALL EXPERIENCE THAT!!

  • Not only EXTERNAL OPPOSITION

  • BUT…

  • EVEN INSIDE THERE IS A BATTLE

  • Sometimes we get DISCOURAGED

  • We are going to see Nehemiah facing all those battles soon

  • Today we get The Call of Nehemiah and his prayers

  • This is someone who is going to do something INCREDIBLE

  • That incredible thing is just simply building some walls

  • BUT…

  • He is doing it BECAUSE GOD ASKED

  • He is doing it AS GOD ASKED

  • For every one of us, THAT IS THE KEY

  • TO DO WHAT GOD ASKS AS GOD ASKS AND BECAUSE GOD ASKS!!

  • PRAY FOR EACH OTHER

  • That is the SECRET OF LIFE

  • TO DO WHAT GOD WANTS BECAUSE GOD WANTS AND AS GOD WANTS!!

  • PRAY FOR FR. MIKE


Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. Thank you so much. Thank you for this day. Thank you for Day 272. Thank you for guiding us and being with us. Thank you for inspiring us and giving us the Grace to be able to keep pressing play. Lord God, gosh, thank you for the blessings of this day. Thank you also, Lord God, for the hidden blessings of this day as we continue to pray. Open our eyes that we can see the blessings that we often just pass by. Those things that we’ve seen them so often that they are now unseen. Those things in our lives that we would never immediately consider blessings but ultimately, upon reflection, they are helping us become more like you, they are helping us become closer to you. Lord God, we ask you this day also, not only to receive our prayers, receive our praise, receive our thanks, but also those people that we love, receive them into your heart. Those people who have wandered far from you, Lord God, we ask you to please send out your Grace to be upon them. Those people who we love and are far from you, those people that we don’t love like we should, send your Grace upon their hearts and their lives as well, Lord God, today. Bless those who have hurt us. Bless those who hate us. Help us to love them the way that you love them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”