It's day seven of our 10-day fast! Here is today's "Heroes of Fasting" video (3:31), from Matt Bennett, Founder and CEO of Christian Union Day and Night.
Hi, Matt Bennett here. We're looking at heroes of fasting - men and women in the Scriptures who loved the Lord and sought His faith through fasting. Fasting makes a difference. It makes a difference in our lives. It makes a difference in our relationship with God. That's why we're looking at these heroes. We're looking at Nehemiah. Nehemiah was an extraordinary man. He was a high official to King Artaxerxes, the first of Persia. He was Jewish, Nehemiah was. He lived with him in his palace in Susa, about 450 B.C. Nehemiah got this incredible news, bad news, and that is his home country Jerusalem, the walls had not been rebuilt. A lot of people had been in exile. They returned and they hadn't seen progress there but the walls were not built, which made them vulnerable to attack.
When Nehemiah got this news, it really broke him. It just tore him inside. In chapter one and chapter two of Nehemiah, you see him just really emotionally impacted by this news. This is typical of a man or woman of God. They hear things that aren't right and it moves them inside of them. What it does is it moves them to seek the Lord. That's what happened with Nehemiah. He sought the Lord through fasting and prayer.
It says this in chapter one. It says in verse four, "As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven." It goes on the rest of the chapter. It talks about how he wept and he mourned and he confessed his sins, his sins, but also the sins of the Israelites. This is what we do when we confess our sins, and not just our own but the larger Christian community or the whole nation. It’s what we do and confess because we are part of that. When we're part of a community we're part of the sins that are committed in that community.
He did that, and he did it for a long period of time. It says it in there. He went starting in the month of Kislev. He went all the way to the month of Nissan. Those are Hebrew months and those are four months apart. He did this day and night for about 120 days. Hebrew months are 30 days long. Now, that's incredible. That's how much he felt it. That's how much he sought the Lord.
During this time he confessed his sins and he asked the Lord for favor. He called God out for the promises that were given to him, and that is: God would answer and hear the prayers if the people repented. And that's what happened. He went to the King Artaxerxes as the high official. The king noticed that he was sad, asked him what the problem is. Then the king made him governor of Judah so he could go back, oversee the rebuilding the wall, gave him letters explaining the cause, gave him provision from his forest so they could go and rebuild the wall. And in 52 days, the wall was rebuilt. An extraordinary tale, but this came about in part through Nehemiah humbling himself through fasting.
The Lord hears our prayer. When something burdens our heart like perhaps the burdening of the condition of the United States, or your family, or your community, and you want to see change, God has given us promises in his Scriptures that His kingdom will be made known and be made manifest and the name of Jesus will be known everywhere. This is a promise we have from the Scriptures. We claim that and humble ourselves and fast. Thank you, God bless.