- Neh. 13:4-11, 15-31; 12:27-47; 13:12-14, 1-3
Twelve years after his first trip to Jerusalem, Nehemiah returned to the Persian palace in Susa. Sometime afterward, Nehemiah was told that the spiritual condition in Israel was not good, so he again asked King Artaxerxes for permission to return to Jerusalem, and the king agreed. The high priest Eliashib had given an associate named Tobiah a room in the temple, apparently to live, which desecrated it. One of Eliashib's sons Joiada had married the daughter of Sanballat the Horonite, who was one of the main opponents to Nehemiah's restoration efforts in Jerusalem years earlier.
The Israelites had completely neglected their written covenant with GOD regarding these things, as though they had forgotten that it even existed. It hadn't even been 15 years and they had already returned to their wicked ways before Nehemiah was governor. Nehemiah quickly straightened out these major violations, which also included buying and selling goods and food on the Sabbath day, which was also a violation of the Law of Moses.
With these sins purged, Nehemiah arranged a beautiful dedication ceremony for the completion of the rebuilding of the walls. This was long overdue, as the project had been completed in just over 50 days into Nehemiah's first stay in Jerusalem years earlier.
These events are a serious reminder of the importance of having good strong spiritual leadership for any group of GOD's people. Every time GOD's children have lacked strong spiritual leadership, the majority of the people have fallen into spiritual decay and great sin, leading to suffering and punishment, before being restored later under the hand of a new spiritual leader. We are subject to the same problem as well. Look around at the majority of people who call themselves Christians. In most countries today, if things are generally well within the land it seems that believers grow content with their lives, as though they feel they no longer depend upon GOD for all things, and they grow weak spiritually.
What does it take for a person to be a strong spiritual leader? Let's consider six characteristics:
- A heart that desires to love, please, and serve GOD.
- A close personal relationship with GOD that includes a strong constant sense of His presence daily.
- A passion or zeal to see GOD's love, majesty, glory, and name proclaimed and His will obeyed.
- A love for the souls of people.
- Regular Bible study so as to develop strong scriptural knowledge.
- Consistent personal prayers during which even our most private thoughts and desires are expressed.
GOD has a role planned for each of us in His kingdom. It is His will that we each discover that role, in His time. Ask Him to show you His plans for you, and then allow Him to lead you down the path He wants you to travel. That's praying the will of GOD. That's a prayer that, if we're honestly praying it, GOD will always answer, "Yes!"