Key people



God is in the business of working through his people to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. God often shapes people with personality characteristics, experiences, and training that prepare them for his purpose, and usually the people have no idea what God has in store for them. God prepared and positioned Nehemiah to accomplish one of the Bible’s “impossible” tasks.

Nehemiah was a common man in a unique position. He was secure and successful as cup-bearer to the Persian king, Artaxerxes. Nehemiah had little power, but he had great influence. He was trusted by the king. He was also a man of God, concerned about the fate of Jerusalem.

Seventy years earlier, Zerubbabel had managed to rebuild God’s Temple. Thirteen years had passed since Ezra had returned to Jerusalem and helped the people with their spiritual needs. Now Nehemiah was needed. Jerusalem’s wall still in ruins, and the news broke his heart. As he talked to God, a plan began to take from in Nehemiah’s mind about his own role in the rebuilding of the city walls. He willingly left the security of his home and job in Persia to follow God on an “impossible” mission. And the rest is history.

From beginning to end, Nehemiah prayed for God’s help. He never hesitated to ask God to remember him, closing his autobiography with these words: “Remember this in my favor, O my God” (13:31). Throughout the “impossible” task, Nehemiah displayed unusual leadership. The wall around Jerusalem was rebuilt in record time, despite resistance. Even Israel’s enemies grudgingly and fearfully admitted that God was with these builders. Not only that, but God worked through Nehemiah to bring about a spiritual awakening among the people of Judah.

You may not have Nehemiah’s unique abilities or feel that you are in a position where you can de anything great for God, but there are two ways you can become useful to God. First, be a person who talks to God. Welcome him into you thoughts and share yourself with him - yours concerns, feelings, and dreams. Second, be a person who walks with God. Put what you learn from his Word into action. God may have a “impossible” that he wants to do through you.

Strengths and accomplishments

    • A man of character,persistence, and prayer

    • Brilliant planner, organizer, and motivator

    • Under his leadership, the wall around Jerusalén was rebuilt in 52 days

    • As political leader, led the nation to religious reform and spiritual awakening

    • Was calm in the face of opposition

    • Was capable of being bluntly with his people when they were sinning

Lessons from his life

    • The first step in any venture is to pray

    • People under God’s direction can accomplish “impossible” tasks

    • There are two parts to real service for God: talking with Him and walking with him

Vital statistics

    • Where: Persia, Jerusalem

    • Occupation: King’s cup-bearer, city builder, governor of Judah

    • Relatives: Father: Hacaliah

    • Contemporaries: Ezra, Artaxerxes, Tobiah, Sanballat

Key verse

    • “Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king. They replied at once, ‘Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!’ So the began the good work” (Nehemiah 2:18).

Nehemiah’s story is told in the book of Nehemiah.