In Nehemiah’s day, the walls of Jerusalem were in ruins, the city a literal pile of stones. And the church was totally backslidden, with no witness left. The wicked powers surrounding Israel persecuted them severely, mocking every work they tried to undertake.
How did God respond in such a time of ruin? Did He send a well-trained army to help them? Did He send a palace guard to smite their prominent enemies? No, God raised up a man—Nehemiah.
Nehemiah was a man with God’s burden on his heart. He spent his time praying, fasting and mourning, because he was broken over Israel’s condition. He also continually dug into God’s Word, grasping prophecy and moving in the Spirit.
Although Nehemiah served as cupbearer to the king of Persia, he remained separate from the wickedness surrounding him. In the midst of all the sensuality, immorality and godlessness taking place in Israel, he maintained a holy walk with the Lord. And, in turn, everyone who heard him preach was purified in soul.
Soon a revival of holiness swept the land. “The priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall” (Nehemiah 12:30). The house of God also was purged, with everything of flesh cast out. Nehemiah sent workers into the temple, telling them, “I want every piece of filth out of here. Don't leave anything that has to do with idolatry or sensuality” (see Nehemiah 13:8-9).
Beloved, this is God’s concept of revival! It is all about sweeping out every chamber in your heart that’s unclean and unsanctified. He wants no dark places left.
Where did Nehemiah get such spiritual authority, to cause compromisers to tremble, and to bring back godly fear to the temple? The king did not give it to him. No church bishop gave it to him. He didn’t learn it from a Bible school.
No, Nehemiah got his authority on his knees—weeping, broken, wanting to know God’s heart. And because he was a man of prayer, he was able to confess the sins of a whole nation: “That thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night . . . and confess the sins of the children of Israel . . . both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments” (Nehemiah 1:6-7).