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Bible studies

Bible study: Being an advocate

Stories about Nehemiah and Moses show that there are various stages and approaches to learn from, when acting as an advocate

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Footsteps magazine issues on a wooden desk.

From: Advocacy – Footsteps 45

How to speak out and take action to change situations and bring about justice

Being an advocate

Read Nehemiah 1-2 and Exodus 2-5

These stories about Nehemiah and Moses show that there are various stages and approaches to learn from, when acting as an advocate.


Firstly, to be an advocate we need to be aware of the situations of others and to feel compassion for them (Nehemiah 1:1-4 and Exodus 2:11).

  • How can we make time to be good listeners and observers?
  • Who might God be prompting you to help?

The right preparation

Once aware of the needs, it may be tempting to rush straight in and try to help people (Exodus 2:11-15). But it is not until years later that Moses is called by God to go to Pharaoh and bring God’s people, the Israelites, out of Egypt (Exodus 3:7-14). Moses has many questions, but in the end he returns to Egypt.

Nehemiah’s approach is first to seek the counsel of God with many days of prayer and fasting (Nehemiah 1:4-6). On arrival at Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:11-16), Nehemiah takes stock of the situation before the work begins.

  • Do you decide your actions through prayer or do you simply do what you think is best?
  • Are you prepared to wait for God’s timing?
  • Do you believe that if God has called you, he will equip you despite your inadequacies?
  • Do you take the time to be sure you know the real situation on the ground?

Counting the cost

Both Moses and Nehemiah could have remained in their comfortable positions, isolated from the difficulties of the people – Moses as Pharaoh’s daughter’s son (Exodus 2:10) and Nehemiah as cupbearer to the King in the citadel of Susa (Nehemiah 1:1,11). Both gave up their own security and privileged positions to defend and help those whose needs were brought to their notice.

  • Have you counted the cost of coming to the aid of others?
  • Are you willing to make any sacrifices involved?

Working with others

God also prepares others to be part of the process. Nehemiah is looked on with favour by the King in his mission and provided with the assistance he requests (Nehemiah 2:1-9). Once the building of the walls begins (Nehemiah 3), each group is responsible for building or repairing one section. Moses is given the help of Aaron and the support of the Israelite leaders (Exodus 4:27-31).

  • Have you identified others to work alongside?
  • Are you using all the available resources? •Have you divided the tasks clearly so that each person can play their part?

Dealing with resistance

Nehemiah and Moses face considerable resistance as they try to change the situation of the people (Nehemiah 2:10, 19-20; Exodus 5 onwards) They handle those who have doubts or needs with sensitivity. They react to hard-heartedness and disdain with firmness. Everything is constantly referred back to God in prayer.

  • How are you handling any opposition you face?
  • How do you deal with the doubts and concerns of those you are trying to help?

Expectations and faith

If what we are doing is God’s plan, it will succeed, however daunting the task seems and despite our own weaknesses – in fact God seems to prefer working in impossible situations so that the glory goes to him! (Exodus 12:50-51, 14:29-31 and Nehemiah 6:15-16). The Lord will fulfil his purposes. Do you believe this?

All glory to his name!

Rose Robinson is a former Tearfund International Personnel Worker with MOPAWI in Honduras.

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