Bible Stories for the Young


Returning to Zion to Rebuild the Protecting Walls


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Nehemiah : Returning to Zion to Rebuild the Protecting Walls

Not all of the Shining Survivors had moved back to God’s land yet. Some were still living and working in the cities of Persia. One of these men was named Nehemiah.

Nehemiah was a special servant to the king of Persia. He was a cupbearer. He brought the king his cup with drinks, like a waiter.

One day, one of Nehemiah’s brothers who had been living in Jerusalem came back to Persia.

“Tell me about Jerusalem, God’s City!” Nehemiah said anxiously. “How are the people? And the city?”

“Oh, the people are very sad,” his brother answered. “The wall around Jerusalem is broken down. It’s just a pile of rocks now. And the gates have all been burned with fire. The people are shamed.”

When Nehemiah heard this, he sat down and cried. “What? No walls?” The walls and the gates were what protected God’s City, God’s Children. The walls kept enemies out and kept the people safe. God’s City must have walls! It must have gates! Oh, something must be done. Nehemiah kept crying for many days. He didn’t even eat, but just kept crying.

He cried, “God, You are so great and powerful and have been so kind to Your Family. I’m Your servant. Will You hear me? I know we have all committed many crimes against You and have made You sad, including me! But remember what You told Moses? You told him that if we came back to You and obey what You’ve said, then You will bring us back together from all the places we were scattered. So please, give me favor with the king.”

Sometime later, it was time for Nehemiah to take the king his drink. Nehemiah walked into the court and handed the king his cup. “Nehemiah,” the king asked, “why is your face so sad? I know you aren’t sick, but it looks like your heart is sick.”

Nehemiah became very afraid at the king’s question. Should he tell the king the truth of why he was so sad? What if the king got mad at him for being sad about his home country being a conquered nation?

But Nehemiah took a deep breath and told the king, “How could I not be sad when the land of my family is all broken down and burned up?”

The king looked back at Nehemiah, then asked, “Well, what do you want?”

Nehemiah could hardly believe his ears! Did the king just ask him what he wanted? He wanted to go home of course! He wanted to DO something to help God’s City and Family! Nehemiah prayed a silent prayer to God, and then boldly said to the king, “O King, would you please send me back to the city of my relatives so that I can rebuild the walls and the gates?”

Could it be?

What?! Nehemiah was a cupbearer! A waiter. Not a builder. What made him think he could help with such a huge task? Could it be that he had been praying about helping even before the king asked him? I don’t know. But, I appreciate how Nehemiah’s heart was ready to do his part. A heart like Isaiah’s that said, “Here I am! Send me!”

The king asked Nehemiah, “How long would your trip take? How long would you be gone?”

When Nehemiah saw that the king was really thinking of letting him go, he knew God’s favor and grace were on him, so Nehemiah told him a time and then with a Holy boldness, Nehemiah continued, “Would you also give me some letters? And some soldiers to keep me safe on my journey? And also, what about some wood to rebuild the walls and gates!?”

Woah! Woah! Woah! Does it seem like Nehemiah is getting a little carried away and asking too much? Nah… Not when God’s involved. Nehemiah is just following those breadcrumbs of God’s favor and grace. And the king replied, “Sure. Absolutely,” and gave Nehemiah everything he asked for.

God was with him and oh, so good, wasn’t He?

So Nehemiah packed up and off he went. He was going Home, Home, Home.

After Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he didn’t tell anyone what God had placed in his heart to do for God’s City… at first.

On the third day Nehemiah got up in the night and quietly inspected what was left of the broken walls and burned gates of the city.

He rode on his donkey through the Valley Gate, then past Dragon Spring, then on to Garbage Gate. He took a close look around at the crumbled, burned mess. He continued to the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool. Then just before the morning sun was rising, he returned back through the Valley Gate.

None of the people there knew what Nehemiah had in mind. He didn’t come in yacking and trying to be a hero. Just like Esther, he had quietly and patiently watched and waited till just the right time. But once he got back from looking around, it was time. Nehemiah said to the people, “This city is truly in a mess! The gates have been torn down and burned, and everything is a disaster! We must rebuild the city’s wall!”

Then he told them all about God’s favor and kindness in how the king had agreed to help. And when everyone heard all that, they said, “Well, yeah! Let’s start rebuilding right now!”

“My household and I will rebuild the Valley Gate!” one person said. “And mine will do the Garbage gate,” another said. “And we will work on the wall near our house!” one said. “And my household — we will work next to you!” his neighbor said. “And we’ll fix down by the Horse Gate! Each one of us in front of our own house!” said one of the priests.

And on and on and on, more and more and more worked side by side by side. Day after day with ALL their heart, they built and stacked stones and fixed the gates and walls.

Pound, pound, pound. Sweat, sweat, sweat. Heave, heave, heave. And sing, sing, sing.

With all that singing and working hard for God, can you guess what happened next? Yup. You guessed it. Enemies… Booooo!