The books of Ezra and Nehemiah, though separated in most modern translations, are believed to in fact be one long narrative written by a single Author. The books take the reader through a narrative of God’s people demonstrating what the fulfillment of this part of the prophetic word from Isaiah will look like when the time comes. It starts with a man called Zerubbabel who is called by God to return to the ruins of Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Then, Ezra is called by God to return to the ruins of Jerusalem, disciple the people, and rebuild the community. Finally, Nehemiah is sent back to Jerusalem and leads the effort in rebuilding the walls which marks Jerusalem out as a city once again.
First the temple, then the community, and finally the city.
It’s a pattern which reveals God’s heart for how He wants to save the world. He will raise up a generation to restore His temple, His people, through a move of Holiness. Then that generation will restore Godly community through discipleship and teaching. Often this is where our visions stop as we live in a culture which is content with the comfort that community brings. But the prophetic voice of Isaiah, and the example of Nehemiah, proclaims that this generation WILL go a step further. They will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. They begin to look beyond their own lives and into the cities they find themselves in. The Lord will raise up a new apostolic spirit to see the restoration of not only individuals or the church community in which they are planted, but instead they will see whole campuses, towns, and cities restored in a way which hasn’t been seen for hundreds of years.
Does it sound like revival? That’s because it is. But revival doesn’t fall into our laps. Every move of God is built on a foundation of the bloody knees of intercessors and prayer warriors. The same is true for Nehemiah. He saw the state of the city and was broken. His call to restore the wall came out of potentially months of mourning and fasting for the state of Jerusalem.
Are you willing to facilitate the renewal of our ruined cities, campuses, and universities? Could you put aside a time every day to pray that God would move? Could you regularly fast on behalf of our culture and society? These are the big, persistent prayers that change the world.
We invite you to join us as we journey slowly and prayerfully through Isaiah 61 - line by line over forty days.