Artaxerxes’ Decree – Nehemiah 2

In a special visitation during an impassioned prayer, the angel Gabriel brought the prophet Daniel God’s timetable for arrival of the coming Messiah.  Using the terminology of a week as a group of seven years, the message from God to Daniel stated:

25 So know and understand:

From the issuing of the decree to restore and to build Jerusalem until the time Mashiach, the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and 62 weeks.

It will be rebuilt, with plaza and moat, but it will be in times of distress.  Daniel 9:25 (TLV)

The decree in question would be given to a humble person named Nehemiah ninety-two years later.  Nehemiah was a cupbearer in service to King Artaxerxes of Medo-Persia, and the event occurred in 444 BC. 

Nehemiah records how this momentous milestone came about.

1 Then in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was set before him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before. So the king said to me, “Why is your face so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”

I was very frightened, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

The king asked me, “What is your request?”

Then I prayed to the God of heaven, Nehemiah 2:1-4 (TLV)

Nehemiah’s big moment had arrived to present his case to the king.  Wisely, he said a silent prayer before speaking.

and I answered the king, “If it seems good to the king and if your servant has found favor in your sight, send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried that I may rebuild it.”

Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you return?” Since it pleased the king to send me, I set a time for him.  Nehemiah 2:5-6 (TLV)

Artaxerxes gave a royal decree for Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem and provided all of the materials and authority he would need to oversee completion of the work.

I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let him give me letters for the governors of Trans-Euphrates that will enable me to pass through until I arrive in Judah, as well as a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest so he will give me lumber to make beams for the gates of the fortress adjacent to the Temple, for the wall of the city and for the residence I will occupy.”

The king granted me the requests because the good hand of my God was upon me.  Nehemiah 2:7-8 (TLV)

Starting the prophetic clock from the moment of Artaxerxes’ decree and converting Gabriel’s 69 “sevens” of years from 360-day years to our current 365-day calendar years, we get a little over 476 years after this meeting until the appearance of Messiah as king in Judah.  This occurs in April 33 AD, the time when Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  This was Palm Sunday before Jesus’ Good Friday crucifixion.  He would be resurrected from the dead on Sunday morning, Easter Sunday. 

What lessons can we learn from Nehemiah?

First of all, to pray. God hears us. His answer may be yes, no, or not now, but He hears us.

Second, when we are in alignment with our best understanding of God’s will, His good hand will be upon us.  He will get us the provisions we need to walk in the light of Christ in service to Him.  If we need to adjust our direction or path, He will let us know. 

In the meantime, despite any hardship or opposition we may face, we are wise to continue along in the direction He has sent us, trusting in the One who shows us such good favor.

Reflection

What path are you on with God today?  Which ones has He redirected you from in the past? Which new ones did He replace them with?

Lord, show us the path that You want us to walk in holy service to You.  Help us to know where we need to make a change, and if it be Your will, help us to stay where we are despite any difficulties.  We trust You to get us safely through all of our trials and to put us specifically where You want us, with divine victory.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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