Nehemiah – Chapter 13

Nehemiah chapter 13

Nehemiah’s Final Reforms

Verse 3 – “All who were of foreign descent” refers to the Moabites and Ammonites, the two nations who were bitter enemies of Israel.

They had blocked the path that Moses wanted to take during the time when he was leading the Israelites into the promised land. This had nothing to do with racial prejudice. The relationships that had been formed in the past with these two nations had caused the Jews their captivity in the first place.

Verses 6, 7 – Twelve years after Nehemiah had been in Jerusalem, he returned to Babylon. He was fulfilling an agreement to Artaxerxes, the king. It is not known how long he stayed there, but when he returned to Jerusalem, he found that Tobiah, one of his major opponents in rebuilding the walls, had been given his own room in the “temple!” Tobiah was an Ammonite, which was forbidden, by God, to even enter the temple. Eliashib, the priest, had married Tobiah’s daughter. (chapters 2, 4, and 6 tell about Tobiah.)

Verse 10 – Too much had changed in the time that Nehemiah had been in Babylon to the point of, even the priests were no longer being supported. They had left the temple and returned to their farms to support themselves, neglecting their temple duties and spiritual welfare of the people.

Verse 17 – God had commanded Israel not to work on the Sabbath but to rest in remembrance of creation and the exodus (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5;12-15). Jerusalem’s busy Sabbath trade directly violated God’s law, so Nehemiah ordered the city gates to be shut from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.

Verse 25 – Here again, in Nehemiah’s absence, the Israelites started marrying pagans. Nehemiah’s severe treatment of the people showed how serious this commandment from God was.

Verse 26 – Nehemiah used the example of Solomon’s mistake of marrying foreign women to teach his people. If one of the greatest kings of Israel could fall into sin because of being united with unbelievers, others could too. Although Solomon was a great king, his marriages to pagan foreign women brought tragedy to the entire kingdom.

Conclusion

Nehemiah’s life story provides many principles of effective leadership that can still be applied today. (1) Had a clear purpose that alines with God’s will. (2) Being straightforward and honest made Nehemiah clear in what he wanted to accomplish for God. (3) Live above reproach. The accusations against Nehemiah were empty and false. (4) Everything Nehemiah did, glorified God. Nehemiah was able to accomplish a huge task against incredible odds because he knew there would be no success without the risk of failure. This book is about rebuilding a great city wall but also showed a great spiritual reward, rebuilding a peoples dependance on God. When we take our eyes off the savior, our lives will begin to crumble.

Nehemiah – Chapter 12

Nehemiah chapter 12

The dedication of the city wall was characterized with joy and praise. King David had instituted music as a part of worship. Nehemiah repeatedly mentions David.

Scripture says Nehemiah assigned two large choirs to give thanks to God in this dedication. They were placed in opposite directions so they could be heard far off. With trumpets, tambourines, and stringed instruments they gave praises to God.

Can you imagine the celebration that took place? They were all thankful for having their city, own homes to live in, and of course the temple of God again. I think our celebrations of what God has done in each of our lives is way too small sometimes. Deliverance today should be a time of praise and worship to the All Mighty King, just like it was done in the Old Testament. I’m not talking about the animal sacrifices, because there was only one true sacrifice-Jesus. I’m talking about filling up with such a joy and thankfulness of what Jesus has done for us that it overflows into and onto others around us. God had turned their curse into a blessing.

Nehemiah – Chapter 11

Nehemiah chapter 11

Summery of Chapter 11

Jerusalem was underpopulated and consisted largely of the leaders. The solution to the problem was to have a tenth of the population to move and live inside the walls of Jerusalem. Evidently Nehemiah couldn’t get enough volunteers so he cast lots. Not wanting to move into the city could have been because: (1) non-Jews attached a stigma to Jerusalem residents, often excluding them from trade because of their religious beliefs; (2) moving into the city meant rebuilding their homes and reestablishing their business; (3) living within the walls required stricter obedience to God’s Word.

Nehemiah – Chapter 10

Nehemiah chapter 10

Verse 28 – The walls were complete and the agreement God made with His people in the day of Moses restored (Deuteronomy 8). Our relationship with God should go far beyond church attendance and a 20 minute devotion time. It should affect our relationships, our time, and our natural resources. The truth is, though, it is hard to find people today who are totally devoted to God and His ways.

Verse 30 – God’s chosen people were to be a witness to the pagan world. However, time after time, marrying foreigners led God’s people into idolatry (1 Kings 11:1-11). Whenever the nation turned its back on God it lost its prosperity and influence for good.

Verse 31 – God recognized that the lure of money would conflict with the need for a day of rest, so trade was forbidden inside the city on the Sabbath. Forgoing all debts every seventh year was a part of the law (Exodus 23:10 and Deuteronomy 15:1, 2).

Verse 32 – The temple had been rebuilt under Ezra’s leadership about 70 years earlier, so the temple tax, offerings, and feasts had been restored.

Verse 36 – Although this principle of giving the first-fruits was not carried over into the New Testament times, the concept of giving God the best is still there.

Verses 37-39 – The principle at work here, was to ensure the support of the house of God and His workers, as it should be today.

Nehemiah – Chapter 9

Nehemiah chapter 9

Verse 1 – In the Old Testament era, there was a close connection between repentance and mourning. Just as mourners wore sackcloth and put dust on their heads when someone died, so did those who mourned their sins and their spiritual conditions.

Verses 2, 3 – The Hebrews practiced open confession (verse 8:18). Honest confession should come before worshiping God. When we do this, we worship with a clear conscious–not condemnation.

Verses 9-38 – Many of the prayers and speeches in the Bible included a long summary of Israels history because individuals did not have their own copies of scripture. This summary reminded the people of God’s faithfulness of His promises.

Verses 16-21 – Seeing how God continued to be with His people, shows that His patience is amazing. In spite of our own failings, pride, and stubbornness, He is always ready to forgive. Realizing how much God is willing to forgive us, should make it easier to forgive others of their trespasses. We forgive because we are forgiven.

Verses 28-31 – Israel was always devastated in times of rebellion and sin. Yet when the people repented and returned to God, He delivered them. God’s mercy is abundant and when we come to Him to ask for help in areas of our lives, we should do so with a humble heart.

Verse 35 – Sometimes the answered prayer or blessing that God gives us, makes us forget Him (verse 9:28). We are often tempted to rely on self-effort such as getting wealth and security rather than God. Just as a crisis should draw us even closer to God, so should His blessings on our life.

Verse 36 – How sad that God had given the Israelites the land they were living in, but now had to turn part of their resources and prosperity over to a foreign king. The land belonged and still does to this day, to Israel!

Verse 38 – The people once again, agreed to take their responsibility seriously to follow God and keep His laws.

Nehemiah – Chapter 8

Nehmiah chapter 8

Verses 1-5 – Ezra gathered the people, the Bible says, who had understanding. It’s understandable that many couldn’t read, in those times, but in today’s age, there is no excuse for not being able to read. People hear the scripture quoted so often today, often wrongly, that people have become dull to its words and immune to its teaching–understanding.

Verse 6 – When the Word of God was read, the people showed reverence by standing, lifting hands, and kneeling in humility.

Verse 9, 10 – Ezra, not Nehemiah, was the official religious leader. Nehemiah was a layman not a prophet. Nehemiah was motivated by his relationship with God, and he devoted his life to doing God’s will. No matter what your work or role is in life, view it as God’s special calling to serve Him. The people wept openly when they realized how far from God they had become. But Ezra told them not grieve because the day was holy. It was time to celebrate and give gifts to the needy. Ezra connected celebrating with giving. This gave those in need a reason to celebrate also.

Verses 14-17 – During the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles or Festival of Booths, the people lived in booths made of branches. This practice was to remind them of their rescue from Egypt and the time spent in shelters in the desert (Leviticus 23:43). This was a time to remember where they came from and the protection and guidance God gave them. We need to do this too. Think back to the time when you started following the Lord and look how far He has brought you. Think  of all the times He has guided, protected and provided for you.

Nehemiah – Chapter 7

Nehemiah chapter 7

Verses 1-3 – The wall was complete. Then Nehemiah assigned each family the task of protecting the section of wall next to their home.

City gates were usually opened at Sunrise, enabling merchants to enter and set up their tent-stores. Nehemiah didn’t want Jerusalem to be caught off guard by an enemy attack, so he ordered the gates to remain closed to well after the sunrise, when the people would be fully alert.

Verses 4, 5 – During the previous 80 years, thousands had returned from Babylon, but the city’s population was still small. The solution of protecting Jerusalem with such a small number of people came to Nehemiah when God placed in his heart the idea of an accurate census. Nehemiah found the genealogical records in the temple. They were identical to what Ezra had written.

Verse 61 – Genealogies were valued because they meant proof that the Jew was a descendant of Abraham. A lost genealogy put one’s status as a Jew at risk.

Nehemiah – Chapter 6

nehemiah chapter 6

Verses 1, 2 – The wall was almost finished and Sanballat and Tobiah were desperate to stop its construction so they made up lies about Nehemiah. They attacked him personally with rumors, deceit, and false reports. Personal attacks hurt, especially when the criticism is unjustified. Sanballat and Tobiah were planning an ambush.

Verses 6, 7 – On the fifth try, they used blackmail to get Nehemiah to stop work. The accused Nehemiah  of treason against the king. It had worked once before in Jerusalem (Ezra 4:7-16)  by sending an open letter. Sanballat wanted to make sure the public would see it. (during these days, prophets such as Malachi proclaimed the coming of the Messiah, Malachi 3:1-3).

Verse 9 – When opposition and tremendous pressure occurs, we are tempted to beg God to get us out of the situation, but that’s not what Nehemiah did. He prayed for God to strengthen his hands. He stayed steadfast in his responsibility. We are to stand on God’s Word and by faith, He is able, to give us victory!

Verse 10 – Shemaiah tried a religious approach to trap Nehemiah, urging him to flee to the temple to save himself from assassination. People will misuse God’s name to say they know God’s will, but have arterial motives. Be careful to test what they say with God’s Word.

Verse 10-13 – When Nehemiah was attacked personally, he refused to give into fear. He wasn’t going into the temple to flee because he wasn’t a priest (Numbers 18:22). We need courage that comes from God in time of these kind of attacks.

Verses 15, 16 – In spite of these attacks, the wall was finished in 52 days. Daniel, who predicted the rebuilding of the city in Daniel 9:25, here the prophecy comes true. We shouldn’t let the size of the task or amount of time to do it stop us from doing God’s work. When we come together with God, it can be done.

Verse 17 – The nobles tried to convince Nehemiah of Tobiah’s good deeds, but the letters that were sent showed otherwise!

Nehemiah – Chapter 2

Nehemiah chapter 2

Verses 1-3 – It’s not clear why Nehemiah waited four months before he brought his request to the king. It could have been fear or maybe the king wasn’t there. It is also possible that Nehemiah waited for the Persian feast in which the king would often grant requests. When Nehemiah made his request, he was careful not to mention Jerusalem. He said the city where his ancestors tombs are buried, instead. The Persian rulers went to great expense building tombs for their ancestors, so the king might be sympathetic.

Verse 4 – Notice what verse 4 says; Then the king asked me, “What is your request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven and answered the king. Nehemiah never left the presence of the king. He prayed right in front of him. Eight times we read in this book that he prayed spontaneously. Nehemiah prayed at any time, even while talking to others. He knew that God was in charge; He is always present, and hears and answers every prayer. As we also should have, Nehemiah had an intimate relationship with God during times of extended prayer. We need to cultivate a strong relationship with God, instead of approaching Him on just an emergency bases.

Verse 6 – When the king asked Nehemiah how long he would be gone, the Bible doesn’t record his answer, but he ended up staying in Jerusalem 12 years.

Verses 7, 8 – After Nehemiah’s prayer, he ask permission to go to Judah. As soon as he got this positive answer from the king, he began asking for additional help. God’s answer to our prayers may come through our asking help from others. Nehemiah recognized God’s gracious hand upon him. God is our power source and the giver of our gifts and talents.

Verses 9, 10, 19 – Nehemiah arrived in Judah and was greeted with opposition. This opposition came from those who had settled and lived in Jerusalem when the Jews had been taken in captivity. In every generation there are those who hate God’s people and try to block God’s purpose.

Verse 10 – Sanballat was governor over Samaria and Tobiah, under Persian. When Zerubbabel first returned with his group (Ezra 1;2), his refusal to accept help from the Samaritans had caused bad relations. Nehemiah was no ordinary exile. He was the king’s personal adviser and cup-bearer, arriving in Jerusalem with the kings approval to build and fortify the city. By rebuilding the city and walls, Jerusalem would become a threat to Samaritan officials who had been in charge of the land since Judah’s exile. The increasing number of people returning from captivity made Sanballat and Tobiah angry.

Verses 15, 16 – Nehemiah kept his mission a secret and surveyed the walls by moonlight. Only after planing carefully would he be ready to go public with his mission from God.

Verses 17, 18 – Spiritual renewal often begins with one person’s vision. Nehemiah had that vision, and he shared it with enthusiasm, inspiring Jerusalem’s leaders. Often people underestimate what they are capable of for God’s plans. When God plants ideas in our minds, there’s nothing wrong with sharing it with others. The Holy Spirit just might plant the same thoughts in their minds to help accomplish it. We’re not to think that we’re the only one God puts these ideas in. He has placed dreams and visions in all of us and someone may be waiting for you to encourage them.

Verse 19 – Sanballat and Tobiah labeled the rebuilding of Jerusalem  rebellion against the king . Nehemiah didn’t bother to tell them that he already had the king’s permission, he simply said, “God approved!”

Nehemiah – Chapter 1

Nehemiah chapter 1

Introduction:

Nehemiah’s name means “Yahweh has comforted.” Nehemiah leads the third and last return to Jerusalem after the Babylonians exile. He challenges his countrymen to arise and rebuild the shattered wall of Jerusalem in spite of opposition. The task is completed in 52 days.

As a cup-bearer to Artaxerxes I, Nehemiah holds a position of great responsibility. His role of tasting the king’s wine to prevent the king from being poisoned, places Nehemiah in a position of trust as one of the kings advisers.

As governor, Nehemiah also establishes firm civil authority. Ezra and Nehemiah work together to build the people spiritually and morally so that the restoration will be complete.

Verse 1 – When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, he saw a finished temple but the people were disorganized and the city was exposed with no walls around it. What the Jews lacked was leadership. There was no one to show them where to start and what direction to take in order to rebuild the city.

Verses 2-4 – Jerusalem was the Jews holy city. As Judah’s capital city, it represented Jewish national identity and it was blessed with God’s presence in the temple.

Nehemiah wept when he heard that Jerusalem’s walls had not been rebuilt. The walls were essential in his day for protection. These walls around the city offered safety from raids. Nehemiah didn’t just brood about this situation, he took the problem to God. He took specific action to determine what should be done–prayer and faith.

Verse 5, 6 – That specific action that Nehemiah took was: (1) praise to God, (2) thanksgiving, (3) repentance, (4) specific request, and (5) commitment. When Nehemiah finished praying, he knew what to do. Nehemiah also identified with the sin of his people, confessing that both “I and my father’s house have sinned.”

Verse 11 – Nehemiah prayed for success, not just for the strength to cope with his problems. The success he prayed for was not for personal advantage or position. He requested success for God’s work. When God’s purpose is what you are after, don’t hesitate to ask for victory.