Nehemiah pt 3-
The Right Man in the Right Place

You can see the powerpoint associated with this teaching here


1.Being the right person at the right time.

There is a famous sketch by Charlie Drake, who plays all the instruments in the orchestra performing the finale from Tchaikovsky’s  1812 Overture. 
You can see the sketch here
Throughout we see the triangle player counting his beats ready for his big moment at the end.  Of course he miscounts and fails to be the right person at the right time.

Throughout the Bible and even into modern times God has chosen people who were the right people at the right time.  We see how God positions men and women of God with the opportunity to establish God’s purposes.

  • Moses.  Raised in the court of Pharaoh
  • Justin Welby. A successful city banker and a brilliant academic mind.  God has placed this man as Archbishop of Canterbury for such a time as this. 
  • GideonUsed like Moses in spite of all his own lack of confidence, to bring Israel together as a people
  • Winston Churchill History speaks of a courageous man and an inspired leader, but we know too that he had his own struggles and after the war faced difficulties.
  • Terry Everett- As a member of our Church community Terry works with older people and shared his testimony of the way in which God provides opportunity to share his faith or simply demonstrate the love of God. Terry would also recognise his own lack of confidence as a natural evangelist or in speaking to larger groups, but responded with courage and inspired us all.
  • Nehemiah  This senior civil servant in the court of Artaxerxes, used by God.

2. What had happened?

  • 586 BC Jerusalem and the temple sacked and destroyed and a large proportion of the Jews taken into captivity in Babylon.
  • 538 BC Persian King Cyrus conquers Babylon. Offers Jews and others the chance to go home. Darius (522 – 486 BC) continues this policy
  • 445 BC The returns are taking place and they are having a rough time (1 v 2 “in great distress)

3.  What was happening in Persia and or Babylon

  • Synagogue worship was developing, quite separate from the temple.  This was significant as it was a marked departure from the earlier centrality of the Temple worship in Jerusalem.  
  • They were clearly developing skills and trading etc. – goldsmith, perfume maker, merchants. They were in their exile developing a prosperity distinct from the Jewish population that had remained behind in Jerusalem -These are not skills that develop in the “frontier”.
  • Many of them became quite senior e.g. Daniel, and in particular Nehemiah the Cup Bearer. – It is worth reminding ourselves that this cup bearer role was ceremonial and described someone who was a senior advisor to the King, rather than someone who was simply a lowly wine taster/ bar tender!

4. Characteristics of Nehemiah:

 So what have we learned from these early chapters and what Sue shared with us previously about the character of this man Nehemiah that enabled him to be in the right place for God to use.
  • He was getting on with his job Neh 2 v 1
    And clearly doing this well.  He was valued.  His experience as an advisor gave him insight and experience
  • He had learnt to turn to prayer in his circumstance  Neh 1 v 4
    This was a prayer life of reality not just set times, but also in the midst of life circumstance; showing that he had a genuine relationship with God.
  • As a result of Both the above he had some idea what to ask for. Neh 2 v 5
    Combining experience with the wisdom to ask both for God’s favour and insight
  • He was trusted Neh 2 v 7, 8, 9 (the King gave him what he asked for)
    This was no small request.  The decision to allow Jerusalem to regain a stronger identity was a risk for Artaxerxes and this is supported by the way in which Sanballat later opposed the work. 
  • He did not rush into hasty action Neh 2 v 1, 2
    He took time when he got to Jerusalem to survey the situation and talk to people on the ground.
  • He envisioned his team Neh 2 v 17.
    Throughout this story we see a man prepared to act with confidence about what he was certain of and draw on the expertise of others, when he wasn’t.
  • He met opposition / setbacks with prayer Neh 4 v 9
    He knew that great and mighty prayer of the Godly man… ‘Help!’
5. Us in 2015 and beyond?
So we can draw from the life of this man some helpful clues for godly living which enable us to be in the right place at the right time for God to use.


 In 2015 and beyond

  • Don’t give up your day job.

  • Learn to pray.

  • You are not alone. You are part of a team

  • .Keep your ears and eyes open

David Donoghue, 27/01/2015