A Different Kind Of Person.
Nehemiah. Well known for being the great leader with a great vision who rebuilt Jerusalem’s walls in the Old Testament. Reading this story, we tend to get swept away by the political, social, and religious interaction between Tobias and Sanballat, who are opposed to the restoration of Jerusalem’s people. Not willing to let up on their complaints they decide to interrupt Nehemiah’s rebuilding program. However, the one little moment we can so easily skip when reading this story, the minor detail that so often gets overlooked is that before Nehemiah became a rebuilder and restorer, he was the cupbearer to the king. A different kind of person whose responsibility was to die first.
A cupbearer was a high-ranking official whose job was to taste the wine that was going to be served at the royal table. As one of my lecturers in college points out, “the job description of a cupbearer says, I am willing to die first.” I can imagine not many would apply for this role as a willingness to die first takes a different kind of person. But because of the responsibility of the position, a cupbearer had the trust and confidence of the king and was allowed influence in the royal court.
Trust, confidence, influence. Not the tools we associate with builders. However, Nehemiah wasn’t just rebuilding walls, he was rebuilding a covenant between God and His people. ‘You are the keeper of the covenant and loyally love those who love You and follow Your commands.” (Nehemiah 1:5) Perhaps, this is why God chose Nehemiah, the cupbearer who became the rebuilder? Maybe it was his willingness to die first in his job description to an earthly king that caught God’s attention. A different kind of person to faithfully build something that was just as important to him as it was to God and he wasn’t going to allow a couple of naysayers to ruin the plan.
Ever noticed when you’re trying to build or rebuild something you always seem to encounter the naysayers. Like Tobias and Sanballat, the gloomy cynics are placed within earshot to make sure you halt your progress of building something for God. You know the ones. Striking up their conversations with words like, “rumour has it that…” and “that is never going to work because…” designed to intimidate and discourage your efforts. But, when you’ve been a cupbearer before you became a builder, you have learned to die first. You’ve become a different kind of person who sticks to God’s plan because regardless of what any killjoy says, you’re in the middle of great work and it cannot be interrupted.
It seems that this Old Testament story of Nehemiah echo’s the New Testament story of Jesus.
Jesus is the new covenant and He willingly died first so our relationship with God could be rebuilt. “Take this and drink, all of you: this is My blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:27-28) This time, instead of Tobias and Sanballat, it is the chief priests who are scheming and musing about how they could trick Jesus into doing what they wanted rather than what God wanted.
However, Jesus wasn’t rebuilding any walls, He was taking one down, brick by brick. The wall that sin had built between God and man when Adam and Eve were in the Garden. Jesus knocked down that wall when He died on the cross and He became the bridge. The trusted cupbearer who died first in our place so a relationship could be rebuilt between God and man.
It takes a different kind of person to be willing to lay their life down so something can be built for God. And when you’re building, Satan will try to unnerve you and send the naysayers to halt your progress. He’ll tell you how pathetic you are, how deluded you’ve become and discourage your efforts. However, you have the trust and confidence of a King. A King who’ll use your influence, commitment, and unselfishness to not just “do” something for Him, but to “become” something for Him. A different kind of person whose life is shaped into a wine tasting, “die first” cupbearer so you can become a restoring kingdom builder for a King.
Are you trying to build or rebuild something, and you have encountered naysayers? Conversations that start with words like, “rumour has it that…” and “that is never going to work because…” have knocked your trust and confidence in helping to build something for God?
I pray today, that your confidence will be restored, that you’ll become a different kind of person who doesn’t allow the enemy to discourage your efforts. Confidence that shows you how to become a person who sticks to God’s plan regardless of what anyone says, because you’re in the middle of great work and you will not be interrupted. Amen.