Thursday, August 2, 2018

New Languages and Royal Favors

After Jerusalem was destroyed and its people taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Persian Empire conquered Babylon and the Jewish people were allowed to return to Jerusalem and begin rebuilding. But when the Persian King was informed of Jerusalem's rebellious history, revolting against Egypt, Assyria, and several times against Babylon, Artaxerxes stopped the rebuilding of the wall. He didn't trust Jerusalem and didn't want to take a risk on it.

But then God laid the state of Jerusalem's wall on the heart of Nehemiah, Artaxerxes' trusted cupbearer and food taster. Nehemiah waited until the Persian New Year, when the kings were known for giving lavish feasts and being very generous in granting requests and then he approached the king and asked, "If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah and to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I may rebuild it" (Nehemiah 2:5, HCSB).

Now, Artaxerxes knew Nehemiah was from Jerusalem and was aware of what Nehemiah was asking for a city Artaxerxes did not trust, but Nehemiah never used the word Jerusalem. He knew that the moment that word passed from his lips, the king would stiffen up. So Jeremiah presented his request in a different light, using a phrase to communicate clearly which city he was talking about but would connect it to Nehemiah's grief and not the king's suspicion of a rebellious city. Nehemiah did not deceive and he did not change his request but he knew his audience and knew how to communicate with the king.

As we interact with our neighbors, friends and co-workers, as we witness to people who may have hang ups about the church or who have been hurt by religion, we need to get to know these people well enough to communicate with them on a level they will respond to. Rather than using church language or pushing a religion, we need to learn to communicate the pure Gospel of Christ in a language and in terms they will respond to. We need to be aware of their hangups and suspicions and do what we can to communicate the Gospel in a way that doesn't make them bristle up and shut down. Such an approach may require some effort and some patience on our part, but we will be much more effective in communicating the Gospel.

Signing God's Non-Disclosure Agreement

Suggested Reading: Romans 11:33-12:2 In the television series Stargate SG-1 , the United States Air Force controlled an alien device call...