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The Heart of a Godly Leader (Part Three)

Posted on May 2, 2013 at 1:19 PM Comments comments (3)
Text: Nehemiah 1:1-11

This Journal discusses the remaining four descriptions of a Godly heart: (1) A Godly heart is honest in admitting biblical truth about the love and justice of God in every situation, (2) it is knowledgeable of the biblical definition of a covenant from the Old and New Testaments’ perspectives, (3) a Godly heart knows that confession of sins to God is the greatest secret in touching God’s heart for mercy (1 John 1:9), and (4) it is honest in applying biblical truth in any given situation.  I will begin with the concept that a Godly heart understands biblical truth with regard to God’s love and justice.  

The Description of a Godly Leader’s Heart    

A Godly heart is honest in admitting biblical truth about the love and justice of God in every situation.  Pivotal to touching God’s heart is the recognition and affirmation of His sovereignty. A broken heart must first believe in the sovereignty of God and His covenant with man.  The commandments pertain to two basic areas of human life: the first five concern man’s relationship with God. The last five point to relationships among human beings. The commandments were given first to Israel in the making of the covenant at Mt. Sinai shortly after the exodus from Egypt. Though the date of the Sinai covenant cannot be fixed with certainty, it was probably around 1290 B.C. In order to understand the commandments, it is necessary first to understand the context in which they were given.[1] The first division points to man’s relationship to God as I had mentioned.  More especially God does not want us to worship other gods:  “…I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below…” (Ex. 20:1-4).   Coming to God with brokenness as did Ezra and Nehemiah, we need to come with the belief in His love, justice, and sovereignty – the Creator of heaven and earth. With this in mind, we also need to understand that because God is sovereign, He keeps the covenant of love made to His people.

A Godly heart believes in the faithfulness of God to His covenant.  Nehemiah 1:5 reads: “Then I said, ‘O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands….’”  The phrase: “who keeps his covenant of love” was very important to Nehemiah.  He knew God’s commitment to Israel.  Lexically, the Hebrew word translated covenant is berit. It occurs 287 times in the Old Testament, only in the singular.  Culturally, it means an agreement between two persons in which each party has to honor his part of the agreement or contract.  “The broad theological use of the term bĕrît could easily lead to the mistaken view that the basic sense is that of a contract between Yahweh and Israel. But the recipients of a bĕrît are first blessed and then show themselves to be obedient. The word makes sense only if the sovereignty of the God who commits Himself by giving and demanding remains inviolate. The term thus covers the whole area between the gospel and the law in the OT.”[2] In the case of God’s entering into a covenant with Israel, elected based on God’s love, Israel was blessed to become the true representative of Yahweh. So, in this case Nehemiah prayed and held unto God’s promise made to them. The covenant of love was in Israel’s election, in which if they sinned, they would be punished; and if Israel repented, God would be faithful to His promise because He is the promise keeper.  But Israel had always walked in disobedience. Nehemiah called on God to hear his prayers that he was praying for Israel, His servants.  The Hebrew word servant translated here is ebed and it truly means slave. The Hebrews were delivered from the slavery of Egypt and automatically became slaves for the holy God of heaven.  In this case, Israel was to do the will of God, and God … being the new Master … would provide all their needs.

A Godly heart knows that confession of sins to God is the greatest secret in touching God’s heart for mercy (1 John 1:9).  It recognizes that human perfection before God is impossible. Nehemiah began to pray for his own sins, the sins of his household, his father’s sins and for the sins of the people of Israel.  One who offers Confession must recognize God’s justice.  Nehemiah thanked God for His justice that led them to 70 years of exile, that God was right, and they had done wicked things in their disobedience. Imagine the destruction of your country wherein several hundred of thousands people die, property is destroyed in the billions, and an entire population is taken into exile for 70 years. For Nehemiah to admit that God is just and they deserved their punishment is unbelievable to the natural mind!  The truth is that Israel decided to serve other gods and, in some cases, they were making human sacrifices.  So, as the apostle Paul rightly says in Roman 2:18-32, "God gave them up to do as they please." But this time, it would be outside of the Promised Land.  From a human point of view, such suffering could not be considered as just, but Nehemiah, knowing a myriad of evil they had done, said: God was just in their punishment and that Israel as a nation has done wrong against their God!

A Godly leader is honest in applying biblical truth in any given situation. The fact is, Nehemiah argues that, God is acting based upon the covenant of love He made with them to which they are responsible: “…If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name” (Neh. 1:8).  Because Israel was repenting in exile, God began to re-settle them to their homeland. The first group was sent back to Jerusalem by King Cyrus, headed by Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple.  The second group was headed by Ezra the priest to reinstitute the law.  By these Nehemiah believed that God is faithful and just.  Nehemiah reminded God ( not that God forgot) that Israel was His servant that He had redeemed them from the Pharaoh of Egypt.  He prayed that God would honor his prayers, and grant him favor as he presented the needs of his people to the king.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that the greatest mark of a Godly leader is his love for others and concern for their problems.  What are the true characteristics of our church leaders today?  Are they caring for the needs of the people and even their own country?  Patriotism is important, but do you have genuine love for the members of your church?  Are you helping to address their needs and problems? The true comfort of a Godly leader is not in his personal achievement, though it is appreciated, but rather in helping others to be blessed.  A Godly leader has great faith in God and is focused on prayer and fasting in everything. His prayer moves God into action.    

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[1] Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. Tyndale Bible dictionary: Tyndale reference library (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001) 303.
[2] Fahlbusch, E., & Bromiley, G. W. Vol. 1: The encyclopedia of Christianity (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leiden, Netherlands: Wm. B. Eerdmans; Brill, 1999-2003) 711.
Election is God’s choice of an individual or group for a specific purpose or destiny.