Counting the Cost (Nehemiah 2:11-20)

Posted on November 1, 2016 by Curt Snyder

We would like to introduce you to Curt Snyder.  Curt is pastor of discipleship and outreach at Lifehouse Church, and will be sharing some thoughts on the book of Nehemiah throughout our series:

“In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten, then he who continues the attack wins.” – General Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses Grant, the 18th President of the United States, is probably best known as the commanding General that accepted the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army at the end of the Civil War. Some have praised him for pushing until the union army caused the confederate army to surrender, but others have vilified him for his willingness to send so many men into battle and causing their death by his relentless pursuit of victory on the battlefield. Regardless of how you may feel about this, the reality is Grant understood the cost of victory and was willing to take the steps necessary to see that become a reality even if it meant continuing when others would have quit and sending men into harms way.

Nehemiah had a desire to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He had King Artaxerxes’ approval and he had arrived in the city to begin the process, but he didn’t have the backing of the city officials who were already there.  As a matter of fact he hadn’t even shared with them the plan he had. So, he made a private assessment of the disrepair, evaluated what it would take and then went to the officials to get their support. He counted the cost, gave the officials the information they needed and then gained their support to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

“I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 12 I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on. 13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work. Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.

Nehemiah knew the destruction. He had assessed the situation and drawn a conclusion as to what it would take to rebuild the wall but he couldn’t do it by himself. He needed the city officials on his side. He got their support, but it wasn’t that simple. He also ran into opposition.

But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”

Everything in life that is worthwhile comes with a cost. It may not be a financial cost but it will be something that you hold dear and most times it will require something of others around you. Many of our cities and communities lay in ruin and there are those who oppose any change to the current situation. It is not necessarily a physical ruin where structures and buildings are falling down but rather a spiritual and moral ruin.  Division, disunity and despair fill our streets, our homes and our families. But that is not the end.

We have this great promise from the Old Testament and what is required is pretty clear.  2 Chronicles 7:14 states, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  

So, have you counted the cost of “rebuilding” your city? What are you being asked to do and are you willing to do your part? What steps can you take right now that will help “rebuild” the city?