Nehemiah (Neh)

Book 16 of the OT, having 13 chapters. Nehemiah was the author of this history book covering events following on from the time of Ezra. It was written about 450 to 432 BC, telling how the walls were rebuilt (fulfilling specific prophesies of Zechariah and Daniel) and the Jew’s renewal of their faith. Time to read: 55 mins.

The key people are: Nehemiah, Ezra, Sanballat and Tobiah. These last two opposed the rebuilding.

Outline.  The temple was completed in 516 BC but for 70 years the city walls lay in ruins leaving the temple and the people vulnerable to attack.  Nehemiah gave up his comfortable position under the King of Persia and with his permission led a small, third group of exiles back to the homeland of their ancestors.  When he arrived at Jerusalem, he assessed the situation then shared his vision with the people who enthusiastically said, “Let’s begin”.  Each family rebuilt a section near their home, and shared in the overall protection of the city from opposition, thus creating a sense of personal accomplishment and shared security as the wall steadily grew.  Together they were achieving the goal.  Fatigue, ridicule, opposition and discouragement could have brought the work to a standstill but a new strategy of always having armed guards on duty, working long hours, and everybody living inside the city, together with a renewed focused on God  ensured the strenuous job continued to completion under Nehemiah’s capable and wise leadership.  Then Nehemiah (the political leader) gathered the people together and Ezra (the religious leader) read God’s laws to them.  Following this was a time of confession and commitment to go God’s way (does God’s Word have this effect on me?).

Main lesson.  Seemingly impossible tasks can be accomplished when there is strong motivation, unity of effort, and the project is honouring to God.

Key verses and thoughts: * Nehemiah inquired about Jerusalem and heard that the wall was still in ruins (Neh 1:1-3). The Jews’ Holy City and temple were without protection, defenceless against any opposition. This distressed him to the extent that he relinquished his secure palace position to oversee the rebuilding of the wall and gates – he was concerned enough to become involved in the plight of others. We need to build spiritual defences of self-control, be grounded in the Word, have a close relationship with Christ, and be obedient to His leading as well as develop strong and accountable friendships so we can call upon others to help us in our times of attack.

* Nehemiah provided leadership and encouragement (Neh 2:17, 4:14). Good leadership provides direction and stability in times of pressure, with wise strategies to rebuff opposition, while keeping people focused and working together to accomplish specific goals. In the church, all members should be actively engaged as a team, each doing their part in God’s Kingdom. Co-operation and uniting in a common cause builds strong relationships and achieves more than isolated individual efforts.

* “We worked long hard days...and the job was finished” (Neh 4:20,21, 6:15). The strenuous effort that had been put in was worth it, the goal was reached, benefiting all those involved. One day our service for Christ will come to an end as we enter heaven. The sacrifices and efforts we make to help accomplish God’s purposes while we were on earth will be rewarded.

See also: Ezra, leaders/leadership, Nehemiah, opposition, protection, walls.