Lesson 10 – Nehemiah

February 24, 2009


•    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)
The Request
•    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.

Enemies Identified
•    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 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?

The Register
•    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.


Reading Law
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.


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.


To download the above map on a separate page, click here.


To download the above map on a separate page, click here.


Lesson 10 – Ezra

February 24, 2009


Three Deportations into Babylonian Captivity
1.  605 B.C. – Nebuchanezzar, Jehoiakim deported to Babylon
2.  597 B.C. – Nebuchanezzar, Zedekiah put as vassal king
3.  586 B.C. – Nebuchadnezzar takes Jerusalem, temple destroyed, and city is leveled.

Length of Captivity (70 years)  Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10
•    Jeremiah’s dates of prophesying are 627 B.C – 586 B.C.
•    Temple destroyed 586 B.C. / Temple finished 516 B.C.

Three Returns from Babylonian Captivity
1.    538 B.C. – led by Sheshbazzar / Ez 1:1 [1st year of Cyrus]
2.    458 B.C. – led by Ezra / Ez. 7:7 [7th year of Artaxerxes]
3.    444 B.C. – led by Nehemiah / Neh. 2:1 [20th year of Artaxerxes]

A.    Why so early in his reign? (1:1)
•    Josephus has Daniel, serving as Prime Minister, reading the prophecy of Isaiah to     Cyrus / Is. 44:24-28; 45:11-13
•    Isaiah ministered to Judah from 739-686 B.C. (Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah)  Cyrus’ proclamation was in 538 B.C. – 150 years later.

B.    Details of Cyrus’ Edit (Ezra 1:2-4; 6:3-5)
•    Personal order for the rebuild.
•    Cost defrayed from King’s account.
•    Certain specifications to be met in the rebuilding.
•    All Jews could return if they wished.
•    Those Jews who remained in Babylon were urged to assist financially.
•    Original temple articles, taken by Nebuchadnezzar, were to be returned.

C.    Zerubbabel and Jeshua as their leaders
•    Zerubbabel was of the lineage of David through Jehoiakin (1 Ch. 3:17)
•    Jesus was Zerubbabel’s descendant (Matt. 1:12-13)
•    Jeshua served as the High Priest in the lineage of Aaron.  His father, Jozadak was exiled under Nebuchadnezzar (1 Chr. 6:15)

D.    Relatively Few Return (2:1-70)
•    42,360 (besides 7,337 servants and 200 singers)
•    Probably 2-3 million in exile

E.    Altar and Festival of Booths (3:1-6)
•    Zerubbabel and Jeshua put the altar in place
•    The Feast of Tabernacles (v. 4)  Sept-Oct 537 B.C.
•    Reminiscent of the Exodus out of Egypt (Lev. 23)

F.    Building Temple and Opposition (3:8-4:5)
•    When foundation was laid, praise began (3:10-11)
•    Tears were shed by those who knew the original temple (3:12-13)
•    Outsiders trying to sabotage the work (probably these where Assyrians and Babylonians who were placed in this land just as the Israelites were placed in other lands.)

G.    Discrepancy in Text and Time (Insert 4:6-23)
•    This is an insert by Ezra to show how there was opposition to all that the Hebrews were doing in the land regarding the temple and the rebuilding of the walls.
•    It is not sequential.  This is a literary technique.

H.    Prophets Exhortation to Build (5:1-2)
•    Haggai
•    Zechariah
a)    1:1     8th month of 2nd year of Darius.
b)    1:3-6    The Lord exhorts the exiles to not be like their fathers who pass away with time, but to take heed of His statues which stand forever.
c)    6:9-15   Joshua will finish the temple and be the priest.  However, this is a prophetic illustration of the Messiah (Joshua = Jesus) who will build the Temple of the Lord and bear the glory, rule on the throne, etc.

I.    King Darius gets involved (5:3-6:11)
•    The Governor of the land questions the rebuilding
•    The Jews keep building as a letter is sent to King Darius
•    King Darius finds Cyrus’ Edict in the annuals of the Persian kings.  This was found in Achmetha, in the province of Media.

J.    Dedication of Temple (6:13-22)
•    Temple finish on Feb/Mar of 516 B.C. – 6th year of Darius’ reign
•    The people reestablished the Passover and The Feast of Unleavened Bread

1)    Ezra description (7:1-10)
•    Lineage to Aaron the High Priest
•    Skilled Scribe in Law of Moses
•    Prepared heart to seek the Law of the Lord, to do it, and to teach it.

2)    Ezra leaves Persia (8:1-36)
•    Assemble at the River Ahava
•    Prepared fast and prayer
•    No help from King Artaxerxes desired – only wanted the Lord to receive credit

3)    Sins of the people (9:1-5)
•    Intermarriages
•    The Holy Seed was mixed
•    Deuteronomy 7:2, 3

4)    Ezra’s Prayer (9:6-15)
•    Shame at the guilt of the people
•    Admits guilt of all people (past and present)
•    Recognizes God’s grace by producing a remnant and giving a place back in Jerusalem
•    Speechless after discovering the intermarriages
•    Sense God punished rebellion before, God will probably do so again and wipe out the remnant
•    Leave themselves at the mercy of God

5)    People’s response (10:1-44)
•    Repentance
•    Willing to put off intermarriages
•    Listing of those involved in intermarriage

Ezra – Take Away Points

#1  Spiritual leaders are to lead.
Our leaders are under God’s commission to confront, hold up the standard, do the hard work of moving us to the image of Christ.  How they go about it is still in a human body.  They are broken, frail, and, at times, sinful.  This does not negate their authority nor their responsibility in our lives.

#2   Satan is an accuser.
We are dressed in filthy rags as we stand alone before God.  We are accused and wretched.  The Lord rebuked Satan and did the following:
•    Reminded Satan and Joshua that He chose Jerusalem.
•    Removed filthy garment and clothed with rich robes.
•    The Angel of the Lord stood by.  We stand clothed in righteousness before God only with Christ standing by.
•    An admonishment to walk in ‘My ways and keep My commands.’

#3  The Glory of the Lord is not recorded as Dwelling in the Temple. Tabernacle (Ex. 40:34-38) and Solomon’s temple (I Kgs. 8:10-11), but not Zerubbabel’s temple.  Why?  Ezekial saw the Spirit depart before the Babylonian Captivity (Ez. 10:18) and saw that He would return to The Temple and Mountain of the Lord (43:1-5).  John the Apostle saw a vision of the New Jerusalem and there was no Temple–The Lamb was the Temple! (Rev. 21:1 ff, 22)

#4  Who is going to break the chains of the past?
Zechariah mentions breaking away from the sins of the fathers.  Many of us are fighting our fathers sins which we have confirmed in our own lives.  Now is the time to break them.  Now is the time to fight, in the Spirit, the enemies of the past.

#5  When there is sin, repent.
Repentance over intermarriages–There was a great fear over being punished like their ancestors by the hand of God.
•    The lineage was at risk with intermarriage.
•    Repentance happened through divorce.  How could this be?  It seems they chose the lesser of two evil.

#6  To follow the Lord you probably will not be alone, but you won’t be in the majority.


Click here to download the above chart on a separate page.

Lesson 7 Video

February 9, 2009

CLICK HERE to watch the video of Rob Genin teaching Lesson #7 of the Old Testament Survey Class, Eastwood Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, AL on Feb. 1, 2009.

Lesson 2 Handouts

January 12, 2009

Old Testament Survey Class

Here are the handouts for Lesson 2:

Genesis – Visual Aid For Chapter Breakdown

Genesis – A Quick Glance At Early Events, By Chapter

Lesson 2

January 12, 2009

Old Testament Survey
Lesson 2
Genesis, Creation, and The Fall

Brief Review of OT Book Sections
The Pentateuch & The Situation of the Israelites – 2nd Generation in the wilderness, on the verge of conquest and entry into the land.  They needed to know their history  so that they could shape their future according to God’s design.

The first book of the Old Testament is Genesis.
What does Genesis mean? Beginning.

What begins in Genesis? (See handout)
Two crucial keys in the Israelites understanding
A.)     Creation – Genesis 1,2 : Man was made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27)
B.)     The Fall – Genesis 3: Man has sinned and received God’s curse

Despite incredibly long lives, Genesis 5 reveals the truth of Genesis 2:17 – man separated from God begins to die.

However, mingled with the curse is the promise of redemption (Genesis 3:15)
“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Two lines: Abel / Seth and Cain

The unrighteous: Cain’s line
Genesis 4:23-24
Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy – sevenfold.”
Growing corruption – Lamech as an indication of the growing lawlessness of men

The righteous: Seth’s Line
Genesis 4:25 – 26
“And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore him a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.”  To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh.  At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.”

The contrast here indicates that Cain’s line did not call upon God for help, but made their own law and notions of justice.  It was through Seth and his righteous line that men sought God.

Judgment of the Flood (Genesis 6 – 8 )
Because of the wickedness of men, but not the cure to the wickedness of men.  (Compare Genesis 6:5-7 with 8:20-22)

Genesis 6:5-7:   “5(A) The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every(B) intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And(C) the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it(D) grieved him to his heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

Genesis 8:20-22:   “20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.  21 And when the LORD smelled(A) the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again(B) curse[a] the ground because of man, for(C) the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.(D) Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 (E) While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter,(F) day and night, shall not cease.”

Proof that the Flood did not fix the problem: (Genesis 9-11)
Even if all but one family of men are wiped out, sin resurfaces.  Additionally, for the Israelites, the first passage explains the curse upon the Canaanites and the second diversity of languages and nations.

A) Genesis 9:18-27 – The sin of Ham, the Father of Canaan
18The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were(A) Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19These three were the sons of Noah, and(B) from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.[a]

20Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard.[b] 21He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24When Noah awoke from his wine(C) and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25he said,

(D) “Cursed be Canaan;
(E) a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”

26He also said,

“Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem;
and let Canaan be his servant.
27May God enlarge Japheth,[c]
and let him dwell in the tents of Shem,
and let Canaan be his servant.”

B) Genesis 11 – The Tower of Babel – Men reject the basic command of God to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it.  God confuses them so as to force their scattering, and to keep them from fully organizing their rebellion against him.  This provides the time God needs to work His plan.

So what is the answer? (Genesis 12 and beyond)
God is going to start with one man, Abraham, from the righteous line of Seth and of Noah.  We may not know God is going to crush the head of the serpent yet, but that is the hope men live with.  The Israelites would know that God had made them, that mankind had sinned and fallen, and that through a faithful line of people God was working to restore the world.  We will see this begin to shape next time.

Take away points
1.  The dignity of man as the image of God, and the fall of man are crucial to understanding the puzzling mix of good and evil we see in people and in the world.
2.  The flood was the judgment of God on evil, but is was not the cure to that evil.
3.  God is preserving for himself a righteous line in mankind, from Adam to Seth to Noah and beyond.

Click here for Lesson 2 Handouts.