• Abraham and sacrifice of Isaac on Mt. Moriah (Genesis 22)
• David’s city and buying plot of land on Mt. Moriah (1 Chronicles 21:18-22:1)
• Temple built on plot of land on Mt. Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1)
Take Away Point #1
There are great threads holding history together.
1. Assyrians deport 10 tribes of Israel in 722 B.C.
2. Babylonians sack and depopulate Judah in 586 B.C.
3. 70 years of captivity
4. Cyrus the Great decrees to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem
5. Zerubbabel leads first return with exiles in 539 B.C. (Ezra 1-6)
6. Esther protects the Jews from genocide in 483-473 B.C.
7. Ezra leads second return in 458 B.C. (Ezra 7-10)
THE SETTING (1:1-11)
• Reign of Artaxerxes (464-423 B.C.)
• 20th year of his reign – 446 B.C.
• Step-mother was Esther – she may have influenced Artaxerxes’ view of Jerusalem and of Nehemiah’s position.
• Opposition to the rebuilding of Jerusalem was somewhat successful since Ezra returned 13 years earlier. The walls were broken down and the gates were burned with fire. In addition, the people were in great distress.
• Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the king.
> Genesis 40:1 – ‘butler’ was the cupbearer.
> ‘purer of hands’
> confidants and had the royal ear
Take Away Point #2
It is a mistake to think that only Christians will do the right thing.
THE JOURNEY (2:1-20)
• Permission granted
• Letters provided for safe passage, to acquire timber, and a house in which to live.
Viewing the Walls
• 3 days of contemplating strategy
• Night viewing of the walls
• Gathering of Jewish officials, nobles, and priests to tell them the plan. They agreed.
• Sanballat the Horonite (governor of Samaria – probably a Moabite – Horonaim was a city in Moab)
• Tobiah the Ammonite (district magistrate – region east of the Jordan)
• Geshem the Arab (district magistrate south of Jerusalem)
THE REBUILDING OF THE WALLS (3:1-7:73)
• The work was administrated by breaking it down into bit-size chunks and having families work together.
Seven Attempts to Stop the Work
2:19 Sanballat, Tobiah, and Gerem mocked Nenemiah
4:1-3 Sanballat and Tobiah mocked Nehemiah
4:7-23 The enemy threatened a military attack
6:1-4 Sanballat and Geshem attempted to lure Nehemiah outside of Jerusalem to Ono.
6:10-14 Shemaiah, Noadiah, and others were paid to prophesy falsely and discredit Nehemiah.
6:17-19 Tobiah had spies in Jerusalem and wrote Nehemiah letters in order to frighten him.
Take Away Point #3
Discouragement comes in many forms.
• 25th day of Elul (445 B.C.)
• 52 days after beginning the work
• All the enemies were disheartened in their own eyes and they perceived that the work was done by God.
Take Away Point #4
Can we think of a work which, if done, will demonstrate God’s existence?
• Nehemiah found this register of those who returned with Zerubbabel.
• There are some minor discrepancies between this list and the one in Ezra 2:1-70. This is possibly due to Ezra listing those who intended to return and Nehemiah finding the list of those who actually arrived.
THE REBUILDING OF THE PEOPLE (8:1-13:30)
8:2-3 Reading from morning until midday
8:8 There were certain men who were helping the people to understand the reading
9:3 Listened to Law 1/4th of the day.
Confession of Sin
8:9-10 Weeping was a sign of remorse and repentance. Regret was important, but Nehemiah wanted them to move towards forgiveness and the joy of the Lord.
9:2 Confession of their sins and the sins of their fathers.
8:13-18 The Celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles
9:3 Confessed and worshipped 1/4th of the day.
Covenants / Oaths – 10:29-39
• Not to intermarry
• Honor Sabbath
• Gifts to Temple / Tithe
• Obey Commandments
Take Away Point #5
It takes more than walls to make the city of God.
Nehemiah’s Reforms as Second Term as Governor – 13:6
13:7-9 Removed Tobiah’s room from the courts of the house of God
13:10-14 Restored the law of Tithing.
• The Priests had to perform duties and then go out in the field and work.
13:15-22 Restored the Sabbath
• Stopped the selling of provisions
• Stopped Gentiles from selling to the Jews on the Sabbath
• Closed the gates on the Sabbath and removed the merchants at the gates
• Posted Levites to protect the Sabbath.
13:23-29 Restored pure marriages
• The Jews had intermarried with Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. Some of the children could not even speak Hebrew.
• Nehemiah contended with them, cursed them, pulled out their hair, and made them swear to be holy.
13:31 Nehemiah ends by praying for himself to be remembered as one who brought goodness to God’s people.
Take Away Point #6
Nehemiah’s holiness seemed to be motivated by fear of judgment.
TIME LINE OF NEHEMIAH
1:1, 4 Nov./Dec. 446 B.C. (Kislev) Nehemiah hears of problems and prays.
2:1,5 Mar./Apr. 445 B.C. (Nisan) Nehemiah is dispatched to Jerusalem.
3:1; 6:15 July/Aug. 445 B.C. (Ab) Nehemiah starts the wall.
6:15 Aug/Sept. 445 B.C. (Elul) Nehemiah completes the wall
7:73 Sept./Oct. 445 B.C. (Tishri) Day of Trumpets celebrated (implied).
8:13-15 Sept./Oct. 445 B.C. (Tishri) Feast of Tabernacles Celebrated.
9:1 Sept./Oct. 445 B.C. (Tishri) Time of confession.
12:27 Sept./Oct. 445 B.C. (Tishri) Wall dedicated.
13:6 445-433 B.C. Nehemiah’s 1st term as governor (Neh. 1-12)
13:6 433-424 B.C. (?) Nehemiah returns to Persia.
433-? B.C. Malachi prophesies in Jerusalem
13:1,4,7 424 B.C. Nehemiah returns for second term as governor
Take Away Points
#1 There are great threads holding history together.
Just as there are light, sound, radio, and microwaves travelling through the air without our seeing them, so there are spiritual threads woven throughout history and holding it together. We are contained within a movement of God’s thought, actions, and purposes.
#2 It is a mistake to think that only Christians will do the right thing.
Even though someone is not regenerated with the Spirit of God, they can receive counsel to do the right thing. Christian have historically changed the course of communities, states, and nations by speaking truth into a situation. Though their motives are not always biblical, an unredeemed leader may receive biblical counsel with the attitude of, “This is good advice. Why didn’t I think of that?”
#3 Discouragement comes in many forms.
Nehemiah was bombarded by discouraging words and deeds at least 7 times. Calling, prayer, and a sense of rightness – along with the work of the Holy Spirit – are the weapons used to fight the enemy of discouragement.
#4 Can we think of a work which, if done, will demonstrate God existence?
In the 50’s Francis and Edith Schaeffer left a pastorate in St. Louis and ended up on the side of a mountain in French speaking Switzerland. They sensed that what the post-war Europe needed was a demonstration of God’s existence. They began to live their lives based off of principles which would do just that–demonstrate God’s existence to a watching world. What would people say if our lives were watched? “They live differently” or “They do not live alone . . . it appears as if God really is there!”
#5 It takes more than walls to make the city of God.
After the walls went up (in a relatively short period of time) God used Nehemiah to bring about reforms with the people. A home is more than a house, a life is more than a body, and a biblical mind is more than memorized doctrines or scriptures. There must be a transformation and restoration of the fabric of our heart, soul, and mind..
#6 Nehemiah’s holiness seemed to be motivated by fear of judgment.
13:8; 13:26 – God had judged people in the past for certain sins. Nehemiah believed He would do so again. Why would we think otherwise? Nehemiah asked God to remember him several times (13:14, 22, 30). There seemed to be a sense of community and God’s communal judgment. Nehemiah wanted to be distinguished out in God’s eyes . . . especially when it came to judgment.
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