The Message of Nehemiah: Rebuilding -- By: Mark Dever

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 09:3 (Fall 2005)
Article: The Message of Nehemiah: Rebuilding
Author: Mark Dever


The Message of Nehemiah: Rebuilding1

Mark Dever

Mark Dever serves as Senior Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. He is the Executive Director of 9Marks Ministries and has taught at a number of seminaries, including Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama; Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois; and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Dever is the author of Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (Crossway, 2004) and the book from which this sermon is taken, The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made (Crossway, forthcoming, 2006).

Assert Yourself

Well, I got it again:

“Dear Mr. Dever,
“Your career isn’t just about money, is it?
“I didn’t think so. It’s about something deeper.
“Something so central to your core, to what makes you tick, that you can’t imagine living without it.
“It’s about leadership. Having your say. Making things happen. Putting your stamp on the future.”

Twice now I have received this letter from the Harvard Business Review. I must be scheduled to get it mid-summer every other even-numbered year. Aside from the humor of the fact that they have sent me the same form letter twice, the letter itself is actually quite instructive. The most concise and highly-researched conclusions about where our society is today can often be found in the advertising campaigns that depend on split-second appeals. These appeals give us a peak into how people think. Surely, the Harvard Business Review must offer us an accurate reflection of what people today think about leadership. Apparently, we like to think of ourselves as leaders, and a leader is someone who, as they say here, “has your say,” “makes things happens,” “puts your stamp on the future.” Leadership is self-assertiveness. It’s self-confidence. Really, it’s self-centeredness.

Is that right? Are these things the core of leadership?

Introducing Nehemiah

In considering the nature of leadership, few books speak more clearly than the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, which was originally the second half of the book of Ezra. We have reached Nehemiah in our present series of overview sermons on the histories of the Old Testament. In case this is your first, an overview sermon attempts to get at the main message—or the weight—of a whole book of the Bible in one sermon.

Our series began with the book of Joshua, which is set about one thousand years earlier than Nehemiah. Joshua described for us Israel’s conquest and initial settlement of the Promised Land. Judges followed, which recounted three centuries of leaders, so...

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