QT: Ask for the sky? Nehemiah 2:4 Week 26: 21/06/2023. Wed

QT: Ask for the sky? Nehemiah 2:4 Week 26: 21/06/2023. Wed
Ask for the sky? Nehemiah2:4 Week 26: 21/06/2023. Wed

Once in a while, you get to ask for the sky or moon. Nehemiah 2:4 Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. (ESV)

Nehemiah was asked what he really really wanted. What answers would you give if asked? Some were stumped (not sure). Some would like a new start (开始), others continuity (继续), others want a fast ending (结束). A few would like to return to the good old days, while others just couldn't wait for new ones to arrive.

If God asked you for your longing wishes today, what would that be? The person who asked Nehemiah that question was none other than king Artaxerxes, king of Persian. For this question of "What are you requesting?" the important point was not that the enquirer was the king of Persia nor his power. The main challenge was that Artaxerxes was the very person who STOPPED the rebuilding effort earlier.

Readers can recall the politically charged Ezra 4:7—9, resulting in the famous Ezra 4:21–22 wherein Artaxerxes stopped the work, "[21] Therefore make a decree that these men be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until a decree is made by me. [22] And take care not to be slack in this matter. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?” (ESV)_

The situation was thus a complex one, even dangerous for Nehemiah. What Nehemiah wanted was opposed to the current edict of the king—stop the building! To ask for something contrary to this edict in force was to court trouble, smells of in-subordination, and a ripe opportunity for Nehemiah's opponents in Judea to exploit.

When in such a bind, neither being able to move forward (invite danger) or backwards (against wishes), there was one think Nehemiah could do—"So I prayed to the God of heaven" (2:4). If indeed travellers on this journey could no longer do anything, or simply do not know how to walk the next steps of life, readers or believers today could immediately ask God to intervene.

This type of prayer need not be verbose, lengthy, nor does it involve any particular one posture or ambience. It must, nevertheless, be genuine and true, not uttered with a forked tongue, nor wayang nor asking for something to "sound" good but not REALLY what is wanted.

The text today reminds us to let God pave the way forward. May you have a good restart (even if mid-year already), continuation and good ending in God's sight. We pray the Holy Spirit give you the very words needed for your situation.