God Works Through Intercessors
By Rich Carmicheal
The Herald staff hopes the articles in this issue on the theme of revival encourage you to pray with great faith for revival in the lives of individuals, churches and nations. While the situation around us may seem hopeless, our God desires to awaken many to repentance, salvation and revival – and He is able to do so! In fact, He is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”! (Eph. 3:20).
As a source of encouragement in this, consider the account of Nehemiah. This story begins with a seemingly hopeless situation as Nehemiah receives this tragic report concerning Judah: “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire” (Neh. 1:3). The conditions of his nation were so grievous that he wept and mourned for many days (v. 4). But he also began to turn his attention fully to the Lord. He fasted, prayed, confessed the people’s sin and his own sin, and called upon the mercy and the faithfulness of the Lord to forgive and restore (vv. 4-11).
And something began to happen. God began to work. Now at first, Nehemiah had no idea of the extent of what God planned to do. Nehemiah’s hope was to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. And in due course, with the provision, protection and strength of the Lord, Nehemiah successfully led the people in doing so. The accomplishment was so amazing that their enemies and the nations around them “perceived that this work was done by our God” (6:16).
But the Lord was actually up to much more than Nehemiah initially realized. The physical restoration of the wall was only a beginning; the Lord’s ultimate goal was the spiritual restoration of His people. To this end, He worked through Nehemiah to deal with oppression and exploitation among the people (5:1-19) and also to restore His Word to them (see the article “A Nation Turns Back To God” on page 7 for more about this).
This return to God’s Word eventually led the people to confession and repentance of sin, and to renewed consecration and commitment to the Lord and His ways (9:1 – 10:39). By the time of the official dedication of the wall, the reversal of the situation in Jerusalem and with God’s people was absolutely amazing: “…That day they offered sacrifices and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off” (12:43).
Keep in mind, all of this started because one man humbled himself before the Lord and asked Him to intervene in the desperate situation of His people. Nehemiah could never have anticipated all that was on the Lord’s heart to do, and all that He would work through Nehemiah to accomplish. We, on the other hand, have the story of Nehemiah, and countless other examples, that remind us that nothing is too difficult for our God! Perhaps He, just as in Nehemiah’s day, and in Ezekiel’s day, is seeking “for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before [Him] on behalf of the land, that [He] should not destroy it…” (Ezek. 22:30).
If you would humbly and wholeheartedly take up this challenge, what great work could the Lord do through your intercession?