Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Lessons from Nehemiah's Mother

*Disclaimer these are my ideas and not based on any fact*

As I was reading the book of Nehemiah last week, I thought to myself, who was Nehemiah's mother?

Yes I agree this is a strange question but when you think of who Nehemiah was, where he lived and the time he was living in you have to wonder about his upbringing. He was a man of strong character and that type of character doesn't develop on it's own.

If you are unfamiliar with Nehemiah, he lead the third and last return to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. He was the cup bearer for King Artaxerxes of Persia. He went to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. (Nehemiah 1-7:3)

While I read I wrote adjectives about Nehemiah. I felt like he was: humble, faithful, loyal, trustworthy, compassionate, vision minded, diligent, wise, confident in his calling, determined, honored God.

Were there any adjectives that you'd add?

This question led me down several rabbit holes. I was on a quest to find out as much as possible about Nehemiah. I'm still not completely satisfied with what I know but it'll have to do for now.

Back to my original question of who was Nehemiah's mother. The Bible doesn't mention her or even give a nod to her, but through Nehemiah we can catch a glimpse of her.

In my opinion I feel that she was an intentional mother. She raised a Godly son that was promoted to a prominent position protecting the king.

These are all theories, but I truly feel that these are lessons that we can learn from her based on Nehemiah's character.

1. She was faithful to God.
Based on my readings we know that Nehemiah was born in captivity in Babylon. His name means "Yahweh comforts." We know that throughout Biblical history children were given names with meaning that usually had to do with something that was happening at that time in the mother's life. (Here is an example)

For Nehemiah's mother to give him this name, either he was a blessing at a time when she needed it or she felt that he might need comfort. Obviously I don't know what she was thinking or her specific circumstance, but I do know she was in captivity at this time away from what she knew in a foreign land.

She did not turn to the pagan gods for comfort. She turned to God.

2. She had a strong Jewish heritage.
Traditions and heritage are very important in many cultures, the Jewish culture is no different. Even in captivity, Nehemiah's parents didn't forget where they came from. They must have told him stories about Jerusalem and described it's greatness in great detail.

We know this because when Nehemiah heard about the condition of Jerusalem's walls and gates, a city that he never lived in or visited, he wept for many days. (Nehemiah 1:2)

Also, his response to the description of Jerusalem's current condition showed that he knew about the city and it's great beauty and the heritage that it once was.

She did not want him to confuse his current circumstances for who he truly was.

3. She set an example of Biblical principles.
After Nehemiah wept, he prayed and fasted.

When Nehemiah heard about the condition of Jerusalem he didn't hesitate to jump into action. Even though he was part of the kings trusted people, he didn't go to him for help. He went straight to the one that he knew could help, God.

In chapter 1 we read the words that he prayed. During his prayer he quoted scriptures that he most assuredly heard while he was growing up. Deuteronomy 6:7

After 4 months of praying, Nehemiah was questioned by the king as to why he was sad. Nehemiah responded by telling him about the state of Jerusalem.

When the king asked what Nehemiah's request was, Nehemiah prayed before responding. He once again showed how he knew where his help came from.

She wanted him to know where his help came from.
Nehemiah was raised in a very pagan culture yet his mother's Godly teaching and example were stronger. Obviously this wasn't only by her strength but by God's, but this gives me hope that even in this fallen world that we live in God can do the same for me and my kids. It isn't a promise from him, after all children have their own minds. But one thing I do know is that I will do my part to plant the seed and let God do the rest.

Our hope is in God, the creator of the universe. The one who sent his son to die for us even when we were still sinners. The God of mercy and grace. What a great God we serve!

I'm praying for you today and always!
Stephanie

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