Ellen G. White Writings

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Christ Triumphant, Page 183

Faith and Works Should Be Combined, June 25

And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it. Nehemiah 2:5.

At last the sorrow that burdened Nehemiah's heart could no longer be concealed. Sleepless nights devoted to earnest prayer, care-filled days, dark with the shadow of hope deferred, leave their trace upon his countenance. The keen eye of the monarch, accustomed jealously to guard his own safety, is accustomed to read countenances and to penetrate disguises. Seeing that some secret trouble is preying upon his servant, he suddenly inquires, “Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart.”

The question fills the listener with apprehension. Will not the king be angry to hear that while outwardly engaged in his service, the courtier's thoughts have been far away with his afflicted people? Will not the offender's life be forfeited? And his cherished plan for restoring Jerusalem—is it not about to be overthrown? “Then,” he says, “I was very sore afraid.” With trembling lips and tearful eyes he reveals the cause of his sorrow—the city, which is the place of his father's sepulchre, lying waste, and its gates consumed with fire. The touching recital awakens the sympathy of the monarch without arousing his idolatrous prejudices; another question gives the opportunity for which Nehemiah has long sought: “For what dost thou make request?”

But the man of God does not reply until he has first asked the support of One higher than Artaxerxes. “I prayed,” he says, “to the God of heaven.” The silent petition then sent to God was the same that he had offered for many weeks—that God would prosper his request. And now, taking courage at the thought that he has a Friend, omniscient and all-powerful, to work in his behalf, the man of God calmly makes known to the king his desire to be released for a time from his office at the court and be authorized to build up the waste places of Jerusalem, and to make it once more a strong and defensed city. Momentous results to the Jewish city and nation hang upon this request. “And,” says Nehemiah, “the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.”

While Nehemiah implored the help of God, he did not fold his own hands, feeling that he had no more care or responsibility in the matter. With admirable prudence and forethought, he proceeded to make all the arrangements necessary to ensure the success of the enterprise.—Manuscript 58, 1903.

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