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Bible

Understanding

Made Easy

Nehemiah

(I) INTRODUCTION

  • Nehemiah was the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia. 

  • Bible  scholars believe that Nehemiah left Babylon in 544 B.C. which was thirteen years after Ezra. 

  • Nehemiah came to Jerusalem as the civil governor with authority from King Artaxerxes to rebuild the city walls and fortify Jerusalem.

  • Under Ezra, the Temple was rebuilt, but not much was done to fortify (i.e. protect) the city against enemies

(II) THE BAD REPORT OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE IN ISRAEL

  • Before Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, he was still in Babylon.

  • Some men brought some bad news to him in Babylon.

  • They said that the people back in Jerusalem were not doing well.

  • The city walls, which kept out enemies, were broken down and the gates leading into the city were burned down.

  • Thus, the people had no real protection from invaders (Nehemiah 1:1-3).

  • This really made Nehemiah feel bad.

  • So much so that he sat down, cried, fasted, and prayed before God (Nehemiah 1:4-11).

  • He prayed to God that He would help the children of Israel.

  • He confessed the sins of the people to the Lord in His prayer.

  • He asked God to help Him win the favor of the King of Persia to be granted the opportunity to go to Jerusalem to help the people.

(III) NEHEMIAH ASKS FOR THE FAVOR OF THE PERSIAN KING IN ORDER TO RETURN TO JERUSALEM

  • God answered the prayer of Nehemiah as He moved the king’s heart to grant Nehemiah permission to go to Jerusalem.

  • What do we learn so far from Nehemiah and other stories we have discussed regarding what we must do when we sin in order to regain a peaceful relationship with God?

  • In order to be forgiven by God, we must repent.

  • This means that we must decide in our minds that we are going to change our behavior to righteous living and not evil doings anymore.

  • We also must confess our sins to God in prayer and ask for forgiveness as Nehemiah did for himself and the people (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:7-10).

(IV) THE JEWISH PEOPLE KEEP REBUILDING DESPITE THEIR ENEMIES

  • When Nehemiah saw the city, upon returning from Babylonian to Jerusalem, it was in ruins (Nehemiah 2:17). 

  • However, Nehemiah was determined to rebuild the walls of the city (Nehemiah 2:17). 

  • As with any work of God, the devil will send enemies to us.

  • Nehemiah’s enemies spoke evil about the Jewish people and doubted that their work would succeed (Nehemiah 4:1-3).

  • These enemies even threatened to kill them (Nehemiah 4:11).

  • The Jewish people armed themselves for defense while they worked on the wall (Nehemiah 4:13-14).

  • The enemies did not attack, because the Jewish people were ready for them.

  • This teaches us that Christians, in general, we must have a tough skin, because the criticism will come when we are working to do the things God wants for us.  

  • However, we cannot and will not allow criticism to stop us from doing the work of the Lord, because even Jesus went through much criticism in His life as an example for us (Matthew 5:44; John 15:20).

  • Words do hurt us, but we cannot let people making fun of us or saying nasty things stop us from doing the right things in life!

  • Also, our weapons against the devil are resisting him, prayer, and obeying the Bible (James 4:7; Matthew 4:1-11; 26:41).

(V) NEHEMIAH HELPS THE POOR BY CLEANING UP CORRUPTION

  • Nehemiah found out that some of the Jewish leaders were taking advantage of the people (Nehemiah 5:1-13).

  • They were loaning money to the poor people of the land and charging them interest when God told them not to charge interest one to another.

  • So, these leaders were getting money out of the people they were not supposed to have.

  • They were causing the poor to suffer.

  • When the people could not pay, they were taking their land, houses, and farms from them.

  • So, Nehemiah rescued the people by making the leaders return the poor peoples’ land, houses, and farms to them.

  • He even made them pay back the interest they took from the poor.

  • We learn from this that we are not to take advantage of other people.

  • We are to treat others with love (James 2:8).

  • In fact, we are to give to those in need instead of trying to take from them (Ephesians 4:28).

(VI) THE FINISHING OF THE WALL

  • In Nehemiah 6-7, by the grace of God, the wall around the city was finished.

  • After the wall was completed Nehemiah and Ezra gathered the people to read the Word of God. 

  • This brought about repentance (i.e. change to righteous living), confession of the sins of the people, and revival of faith among the Jews of the time (Nehemiah 8-13).

  • Remember, always read your Bible every day!

  • That is how you learn how to please God in your life (2 Peter 1:5-8).

  • The Word of God also comforts you, which means that it calms you down when you are upset because it builds faith in you that God will help you (Hebrews 13:5).

  • Laziness regarding your studying the Bible makes you a weak Christian and you start to forget the things you already were taught (Hebrews 5:12-13).

  • One of the things Nehemiah stopped the people from doing was selling food on the Sabbath Day (Nehemiah 13).

  • In Nehemiah’s day, God did not want the people to do any work at all on the Sabbath Day, because it was a day of worship of God.

  • Remember, God wants to be the focus of our worship today, which is on Sundays and not Saturdays (Acts 20:7; John 4:24).

  • The Jewish people worshiped on the Sabbath Day in the Old Testament times, but today, Christians worship on Sunday.

  • So in order to keep the Sabbath Day holy, Nehemiah started locking the gates to Jerusalem so the food merchants could not get in and sell their food.

  • Keep this in mind.

  • The lesson learned is that we are never to put anything ahead of worshipping God on today’s holy day, which is Sunday.

  • There are a lot of things we want to do on Sunday, but the most important thing is to come to worship service so we can please God instead of being selfish doing other things (Hebrews 10:25).

  • One of the last things the Bible talks about in the book of Nehemiah is his making the Jewish men divorce their non-Jewish wives (Nehemiah 13).

  • Remember, God did not want the children of Israel marrying non-Jewish people, because the non-Jewish wives would influence them into becoming idol worshipers.

  • The Jewish men did the right thing and divorced these non-Jewish wives.

  • Remember, when you are old enough to marry, God wants you to marry other Christians (1 Corinthians 7).


 

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