"GOD'S SPECIAL DAY."
Intro. Nehemiah who was the cupbearer to king Artaxerxes had been talking to some people who had just returned from Jerusalem. He questioned them about the conditions there and received a discouraging report. He was so moved by the report that he wept, fasted, and prayed. Great and terrible God.
I. IN NEHEMIAH 2:1
, HE IS CAREFUL TO RECORD THE DATE OF THE EVENT. "AND IT CAME TO PASS IN THE MONTH NISAN, IN THE TWENTIETH YEAR OF ARTAXERXES THE KING, THAT WINE WAS BEFORE HIM: AND I TOOK UP THE WINE, AND GAVE IT UNTO THE KING.
A. Why do you suppose that the Lord would inspire that the exact date be recorded when this particular event happened?
1. There are many stories and events in the scriptures for which no dates are given.
a. In fact, the majority of the events the date they happened is not recorded and we are only left to guess as to the date and year.
b. Yet God saw fit to record this special date.
2. God must have had a reason for giving us this particular date.
B. The date is in the 20th year of Artaxerxes the king.
1. This would be the Artaxerxes Longimanus of secular history, and we know from history that he began to reign in the year 465 B.C., which would make the year of this event, 445 B.C.
2. In those days they used a lunar calendar so that the month of Nisan was part of March and April. In the year 445, the first of Nisan was March 14th.
C. So on March 14th, 445 B.C., Nehemiah was bearing the cup of wine to the king.
D. This was the day that Artaxerxes gave the commandment to Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem and oversee the rebuilding of the city.
E. The significance of the date.
1. Almost 100 years earlier, the angel Gabriel had appeared to Daniel the prophet and told him the day that the Messiah would come to the earth.
2. He told Daniel that from the time the command would go forth to restore and rebuild Jerusalem it would be 69 seven-year periods, or 483 years to the coming of the Messiah, the Prince.
F. In Daniel 9:24
we read: "Seventy sevens are determined upon your people and upon the holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, (The Lord wanted us to understand this prophecy, in Matthew 24
as Jesus quotes from this prophecy He said, "He that reads let him understand." This is perhaps one of the most important prophecies in all of scripture.) the prophecy goes on: from the time the commandment is given to restore and to build Jerusalem unto coming of the Messiah the Prince shall be seven sevens, and sixty-two sevens: the streets shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. (As we shall see as we continue the book of Nehemiah.) And after the 62 sevens the Messiah shall
be cut off, but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; (That would be Titus and the Roman troops in 70 AD) And result will be a dispersion of the people, and to the end, wars and desolations are determined."
G. This then is the day prophesied by Daniel, the day that the commandment went forth to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, March 14th, 445 B.C. If the word of God is to be relied on the Messiah should show up in 483 years.
H. In 536, Cyrus the king of Persia gave the command to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.
I. Seventy-nine years later in the year 457, Artaxerxes gave to Ezra and a group the freedom to return to Jerusalem to worship and to set up a provisional government.
J. Now some 12 years later in the month of Nisan, or March 15th of the year 445 B.C., Nehemiah receives the command to restore and rebuild the city walls.
II. THE PROPHET ZECHARIAH SAID THAT WHEN THE MESSIAH CAME, HE WOULD BE RIDING ON A DONKEY.
A. We read in Zechariah 9
, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: for your King is coming to you: He is just, and is bringing salvation; He is lowly, and will be riding upon a donkey, upon a colt the foal of a donkey."
B. As we move ahead 483 years, from this day in which Nehemiah received the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem taking into account that the Babylonian calendar was predicated on a 360 day year, and that there was no zero year, the year after 1 B.C. would be 1 A.D. Thus 483 years from March 14th, 445 B.C., would bring you to April 10th, 32 A.D. In the year 32 A.D., April 12th fell on a Sunday and what happened on that day? Luke tells us in Luke 19
"And it came to pass, when he came near to Bethphage and Bethany, at mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, saying, Go over to the next village and when you enter you will see a colt that is tied, upon which no man has ever sat. Untie him and bring him to Me. And if any man asks you, why are you loosing him? Just say, Because the Lord needs him." So they went to the village, and found the colt where Jesus said they would. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners of the colt said
unto them, "Why are you loosing my colt?" And they said, "The Lord needs him." And they brought the colt to Jesus: and they put their garments upon the colt, and they sat Jesus on it, and as He went toward the temple, they spread their clothes on the path, And when He began to the descent, from the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, "Blessed is the King that comes in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest." And some of the Pharisees who were in the multitude said unto Him, "Master, rebuke thy disciples." And He answered and said unto them, "I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." And when He was come near, as He beheld the city, He wept over it, Saying, "If you had only known, especially in this your day, the peace you could have had. But it has been
hid from your eyes. Now the days are coming when your enemies shall encircle the city, and lay siege against it, and they shall level the city, they will slay your children, and they shall not leave one stone standing upon another; because you knew not the time of the coming of the Messiah."
C. This is the day of which Chesterton wrote: When fishes flew, and forests walked, And figs grew upon a thorn, Some moment when the moon was blood, Then surely I was born. With monstrous head, and sickening cry, And ears like errant wings, The devil's walking parody, Of all four footed things. The tattered outlaw of the earth, Of ancient crooked will: Mock me, scourge me, I am dumb, But I hold my secret still. Fools! I also had my hour, One fierce hour and sweet. I heard the shouts about my ears, And there were palm branches at my feet.
D. Some interesting notes.
1. It was on the 10th day of the month that the lamb was chosen that was to be sacrificed for the Passover.
2. It was on the tenth day of the month that Jesus presented Himself as the Messiah.
3. It was on the 14th day of the month that the Passover lamb was slain.
4. It was on the 14th day of the month that Jesus was slain.
5. John the Baptist had rightly called Him, "The Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world."
E. About this day.
1. It was the first day that Jesus had ever allowed any public acknowledgment of Himself as the Messiah.
a. Prior to this He told them not to tell anyone.
b. When they at one time were going to take Him by force and declare Him King, he disappeared from their midst.
c. But on this day He took special pains to have them bring the donkey in order that He might fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah.
d. He spoke of the things that belonged to their peace in "This thy day."
e. When commanded by the Pharisees to quiet the disciples because they were acclaiming Him as Messiah, He said, "If they would be quiet, the very stones would cry out.
2. The people were quoting the 118th Psalm, which was a prophecy of the coming Messiah. I will praise You: for You have heard me, and You are my salvation. The stone which the builders refused is the head cornerstone. This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Hosanna I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed is He that comes in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD. God is the LORD, who has shone us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even to the horns of the altar.
a. Note that the psalm speaks of the special day, "This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.
b. Note also that the psalm makes reference to the builders or leaders rejecting the Stone. Peter quoted this to the rulers in Acts 4:11
, "This is the Stone which was set at nought by you builders, which is become the head of the corner."
c. Finally the psalm in speaking about the Stone that the builders refused, he wrote, "Bind the sacrifice to the altar." Conclusion: The Messiah came on the very day prophesied by Daniel. He was riding on a donkey as Zechariah prophesied. He was refused by the religious leaders as was prophesied in the psalm. He was cut off without receiving the kingdom as Daniel prophesied, and the city of Jerusalem was leveled and the Jews were dispersed as was predicted. However, as Daniel prophesied, the Messiah did make an end of sins, and reconciliation for our iniquities. He was refused by the people in that day, and they paid dearly for their ignorance, it cost them their lives. If you refuse Him today, you also will pay dearly for your folly, it will ultimately cost you your opportunity for eternal life.