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.

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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!”