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When the news is bad

Rev. Enoch Thompson | October 17, 2023 | Nehemiah 1:1-4


They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire." Nehemiah 1:3 (NIV)


Someone has said that NEWS stands for North, East, West and South, in other words, news is information from all around us. There are times in life when the news is bad. Bad news has a way of shattering our confidence and breaking us down. When Nehemiah asked about the situation of the remnants and the city of Jerusalem the news was that "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire." Nehemiah 1:3 (NIV). What devastating news!

We get news of a negative nature about our health, our spouses, our children, our parents, the economy in which we operate, and also about the Church. The world news is often not good news. In agreement with the end-time prophecies of our Lord Jesus Christ, we hear of wars, rumours of war, pestilences, droughts, famines, global warming, persecution of Christians, false Christs in various places, increasing numbers of earthquakes with greater intensities (Matthew 24).

In a fallen world, bad news is the news, and bad news sells very well, as our local and global news outlets have demonstrated. Bad news is bad! Instead of bad news we desire good news and thank God for the good things that we have and do experience. The bad news of Israel was because of disobedience to the laws of God and an imitation of ungodly nations around them. Bad news is not always due to disobedience, it is sometimes due to the failure of other people to put in place the right systems and provisions to ensure the welfare of those under their care. Bad news happens because of human error, and bad news comes because of satanic evil in a fallen sinful world.

It is one thing to hear bad news, and it is another thing how we respond to it. Tears and sorrow are natural responses and Nehemiah did that. But most importantly we must learn to pray when the news is bad. There is a God up in Heaven who rules in the affairs of our lives and has His ears open to our cries. Nehemiah got it right in chapter 1:4 when he says, “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” NIV


Have you come in touch with some bad news? How are you handling it? Scripture does not forbid us from weeping when we hear bad news, but we are not allowed to get stuck in that state of sorrow. When David had wept in Ziklag, he remembered to stand before God and in prayer seek the direction of God. Weep concerning the bad news around you but remember to pray to the God of Heaven and earth to intervene, in your circumstances, in the family life, in the Church and among the nations.


Dear Lord Jesus, I am grateful to you for how far you have brought me. Your grace has been sufficient to me in this world of trouble and tribulation. I am asking that the prayer you taught us would be my portion, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Please be with us and keep us safe in this world of trouble. Help us to turn to you, and cling to you in all that comes and all that goes.

For your dear Name’s sake, Amen.



The phrase "broken down" in the context of our Key verse for today's devotional is translated from the Hebrew words:

(Parutz) "פָּרוּץ": This word conveys the idea of being breached, broken through, or demolished. It's used to describe a wall or defence that has been forcefully broken down. הוּא" (Hu): This word is a pronoun in Hebrew that means "he," "it," or "that." In this context, it is used to indicate that the wall is the subject of the action described by "parutz."

In the context of scripture, the term "parutz" carries dual meanings:

  • Physical Destruction: The term "parutz" is often used in a physical sense, describing the breaking down or breaching of walls, defences, or structures (e.g., Ezekiel 26:9).

  • Symbolic of Vulnerability: The phrase "broken down" symbolically represents a state of vulnerability and lack of protection. It signifies the loss of a crucial barrier or defence.

In Nehemiah 1:3, the combination of "parutz" and "hu" emphasizes not only the physical destruction of the wall but also the ongoing state of vulnerability. The use of "hu" reinforces that it is indeed the wall itself that is in a broken-down state.

From the explanation given, we can learn that the phrase represents:

  1. Loss of Security: The combination of "parutz" and "hu" collectively represents the loss of security and protection. In a spiritual sense, it can symbolize a breach in our defences against spiritual challenges.

  2. Call to Action: Nehemiah's response to the news of the broken-down wall was to take action. The awareness of a broken-down spiritual or physical barrier should prompt us to seek restoration and rebuilding.

  3. Metaphor for Spiritual State: The broken-down wall serves as a metaphor for the spiritual state of individuals or communities. It prompts reflection on areas of vulnerability and the need for God's restoration.

This is a call to assess our spiritual defences, acknowledge areas of vulnerability, and respond with a commitment to restoration and rebuilding under the guidance of God.

Reflections: How can you actively participate in the restoration and rebuilding process?

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