Turning Points: Seek First the Welfare of Zion

Read Nehemiah 1:1-11 and Nehemiah 2:1-8

Disciples of Jesus Christ, whether custodians, physicians, engineers, managers, artists, at home raising children, retired, etc. carry two ‘hats:’ servant of the king (=those to whom we report in our daily lives) and servant of the King of kings.  This seems “old hat” to some and yet, it’s deceptively difficult to apply in real life.

Nehemiah embodies the idea of a trusted “servant” to his boss (he is cupbearer to King Artaxerxes; Nehemiah 2:5), the ruler of Persia. He performs his day job admirably.

But Nehemiah’s second and main hat is “servant” of the King of kings (Nehemiah 1:11). When Nehemiah hears of how Zion (aka Jerusalem, aka God’s people, see Hebrews 12:22) has faltered and needs some serious assistance, he pivots at the drop of a hat and embraces his first calling as servant of the King of kings. He hits the ground praying for an extensive period of time (about 4/5 months, Nehemiah 1:2-8).  His time of prayer yields results beyond his wildest expectations as Nehemiah finds himself the answer to his own prayer! King Artaxerxes  commissions Nehemiah as Governor to restore the worship of the Living God in the temple (Nehemiah 2:1-8).    Artaxerxes would only entrust this task to someone who would never betray him, and that person is Nehemiah.

The big lesson for us? When you carry two hats, you routinely re-prioritize your life and put the welfare of Zion first.  Jesus says, “seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).  This can mean a time of concerted prayer, which could then lead to a change of location, direction, or calling. There is no cookie cutter formula out of Nehemiah’s life as we each have to follow our own call, but one thing is certain: Anything is possible and we all need to be open for new directives from the King of kings.  For some of us, this is unsettling (those who love routine and hate change), for others it’s exciting!  Regardless of our own disposition, God works with us and prepares for these momentous turning points. It’s not really an “if” but rather a “when.”  When you and I carry two-hats, we give up our own agenda and we embrace God’s.