Nehemiah   445-433, and 425(approx) BC      

A Bible Study  

Ezra teaches Law at Tabernacles. People rejoice Neh 8.
    And confess Neh 9. And promise Neh 938 - 1039
Nehemiah went back to Artaxerxes in 433.
He returned to Jerusalem before Artaxerxes died in 422.
They had quickly compromised with regard to tithes, marriage and the Sabbath. Neh 13
    How easily wickedness grows - like weeds.

While Ezra was the chief priest, Nehemiah was the governor. He tells of:
    the rebuilding of the walls and city of Jerusalem
    setting up a righteous priesthood
    a new civil administration.

Neh 1
Deeply moved by news of Jerusalem walls broken down - God dishonoured.
Wept and Prayed: God faithful to his covenant and word.
Confessed his and their sin. see also Dan 94-6 Lev 26 2 Ch 2620,21
    Pleaded to God faithful in punishment and faithful in mercy. Deut 429 302

Neh 2
5 months after news and prayer, Artaxerxes sees Nehemiah sad.
    He had successfully hidden his sadness all that time.
    Enquires why and what does he want?
    His concern reveals a good and rare relationship for a king.
'Arrow' prayer. c.f. disciplined prayer, casual prayer and special prayer.
Asks to go to Jerusalem. Request granted. (Went for 14 years, 445-431)
    Also asks for letters for safe-conduct and timber.
    Nehemiah had thought through detail. Not a sloppy man.
God ensures that king grants his requests.
Sanballat and Tobiah were very much disturbed. And we are told why.
    It would promote the welfare of the Israelites. Times don't change much!
    Sanballat was Governor of Samaria.
    True motives for war or peace are difficult to ascertain in any age.
Carries out discrete survey of Jerusalem's walls on a moonlit night.
Reveals his plan to rebuild walls. They agree and work begins.
Sanballat ridicules them, and asks if they are rebelling against the king.
Neh. replies, "The God of heaven will give us success."
    The adds, "You have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it."
    Neither have the Palestinians today.
         Pretence at being the indigenous people only began in 1964.
         Arafat was born and brought up in Egypt!
         He is a crafty liar like Satan, who hates God and any who he has chosen.

Neh 3
A detailed catalogue of who built each section of the wall.
    Good idea to give each family responsibility for a suitable part.

Neh 4
Sanballat and Tobiah now get angry - like their mentor. They ridicule the Jews.
    If even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones.
Nehemiah leads them in prayer, "Hear us, O our God, for we are despised ..."
    And so was their God.
The people worked with all their heart. And God prospered their zeal.
Sanballat and the Arabs now get very angry.
    They plotted an attack.
    The Jews prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night.
Don't be afraid of them.
    Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight ...
    Exd 1413 2 Ch 2017 1 Sam 1710,11, 41-47
The enemy saw that their plot was known and God had frustrated it.
The Jews did not become presumptuous each builder wore his sword at his side.
    Instructed to rally to the trumpet. Reminded Our God will fight for us.
They worked from dawn to after dusk.

Neh 5
Taxation, Usury and Justice.
Kings and Governments always take.  1 Sam 89-18
    But the old problem is, who pays? The rich or the poor?
    What is it spent on, or to whom given - the powerful, the sick or the lazy?
Jewish law forbade usury for own people.  Exd 2225  Deut 2319,20
    Also 50 year 'Jubilee'.
Neh. insists on upholding the law. Angry because poor were being fleeced.
    He did not 'acquire' any land, not did he eat the food allotted to the governor.
    He set a good example for leaders in any age.

Neh 6 and 71-3
More evil schemes by Sanballat and co.
    Meet in remote village (x4), then open letter inciting revolt against Persian king.
    Gershem the Arab lied. (like Arafat and co.)  Jn 844b
    Satan never rests from his hatred, lying and enticement.
Neh. prays, trusts in the Lord and resists intimidation. James 47
    He refuses to compromise, to meet enemies or spies in the Temple.
With the help of our God the walls were completed in just 52 days!
    Confidence of enemy shattered.
Gates built and set. Godly men put in charge of the guards.

Neh 8 and 9 (445 BC)
Ezra reads the Law from daybreak till noon ... All the people listened attentively.
What did he read? Gen, Exd, Lev, Num, Deut  (5852 verses @ 5 sec/v = 8 hours)
They praised the Lord, bowed down and worshipped.
How many today read the books of the Law and praise God?!
Further, the Levites gave instruction, making it clear and giving the meaning.
    The people wept. Their hearts were convicted for failing to keep God's Law.
    Like the fervent Jews at Pentecost who cried, "What shall we do?" Act 237
        Note this was at Tabernacles - nearly 500 years earlier. 81,14-17
Nehemiah tells the people that this day is sacred to our Lord.
    Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. 810
    What gives the Lord and all heaven joy? Real repentance. Lu 157,10
    Yom Kippur on the 10th day follows 9 days of 'Trumpets' and repentance.
         Then the Jews collected branches to build booths - and celebrated.
         The Israelites had not celebrated it like this, and their joy was very great. 817
         Just as in Acts 2, and as it will be at the final ingathering.                   
The 8th day of Tabernacles is Shimchath Torah (22nd day of the 7th month). 818
    The day of rejoicing over the Law.
But 2 days later the people were again weeping and confessing their sins. 92,3
    Like Bunyan's Christian, they could not get the burden of sin off their backs.
    So the Levites told them again to stand up and praise your God. 95a
    Then they gave the reason for such praise.  Read 95b - 937
         You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens ... and the earth.
         You gave life to everything.
         You are the Lord God who chose Abraham and made a covenant with him.
         You have kept your promise because you are righteous.
         You saw the suffering of our forefathers in Egypt.
         You divided the sea before them.
         By day you led them ... and by night.
         On Sinai ... you gave them regulations and laws that are just and right.
         You gave them bread from heaven ... and water from the rock.
         You told them to go in and take possession of the land.
         But our forefathers became arrogant and stiff-necked and did not obey.
         Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert.
         You gave them kingdoms ... you subdued the Canaanites.
         They ate to the full ... they revelled ... but they were disobedient.
         They put your law behind their backs. They killed your prophets.
         You warned them to return to your Law, but they became arrogant.
         By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets.
              Yet they paid no attention, so you handed them over.
         But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them.
         In all that has happened to us, you have been just.
         But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our forefathers.
Therefore, we promise:
    Not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us.  1030
    Not to buy on the Sabbath. 1031a
    Every 7th year we will forego working the land and will cancel all debts. 1031b
    We will pay all our tithes. We will not neglect the house of our God. 1032-39

Nehemiah left Jerusalem for approx 8 years 433 to 425? BC
    By the time he returned they had broken all their promises. 136-30
         Tobiah had been given an office in the Temple
         Tithes to the Levites had ceased so they had to go back to the fields
         They trod their wine presses and loaded donkeys to trade on the Sabbath
         Judah had married women from Ammon and Moab.
He once more enforced the law. But as in the days of the Judges,
    the people soon forgot the law when the righteous judge died.
Sins grows easily and quickly, like weeds.
    Constant vigilance and effort is needed to overcome temptation.
Thank God for men like Nehemiah.

Nehemiah an outstanding leader; a godly and just administrator. A man of :
    prayer 14 24 44 49 69 519 1314,22, 29,31
    no compromise 220b 137-9,28
    courage 22 220 414 69
    action 217 49,13 1325
    anticipation 27 418 938
    discernment 612,13 89,10
    sensitivity 14 22 56
    hard work 410 421,23 615
    inspiration  46,15 512 816,17
    history 18,9 97-32 131-3 1326
    wisdom 212,16 417 57
    humility 515 937
    confession 16 217 44 933
    honesty and plain speaking 23 59 68 930 1311 1315,17,23-27
    justice and compassion 57,11,14
    trust  220a 414,20
    and above all a man of God who saw him as the Almighty.
Such a man deserves to be the subject of many sermons as an example to follow.

Evil men can quickly degrade Israel; or any nation. 210,19  41-3,8  62,9,13