Walking Thru The Bible

Old Testament -- Nehemiah

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          Walking Thru The Bible

               AUTHOR: The author of the book is Nehemiah himself.  Much
          of the book is a first-person account of the circumstance surrounding
          his return to Jerusalem.  Nothing is known about Nehemiah's early
          years or family background except that his father's name was
          Hachaliah (1:1) and that he had a brother named Hanani (1: 2).
               Nehemiah lived in Persia and had risen to a position of
          prominence in his pagan environment.  He was serving King
          Artaxerxes as his personal cupbearer (1:11; 2:1).  This important
          position in the king's court gives insight into Nehemiah's life and
          character. A mighty monarch such as the king of Persia would select
          for that position a man who was wise and discreet, and consistently
          honest and trustworthy.  Nehemiah's position alone reveals much
          about his intellectual capabilities and emotional maturity. 
               DATE:  The book covers about a 12 year period of Nehemiah's
          first term as governor (ch. 1-12). Nehemiah returned to the King's
          service in Persia for an unknown number of years and then return for
          a second time as governor (ch.  13).  Nehemiah probably wrote his
          book name soon after all the events were completed. This means the
          book was written about 430 BC or shortly thereafter. 
               PURPOSE:  A great revival had taken place upon Ezra's arrival,
          but we again find the people in a very depressed condition.  The
          temple had been rebuilt by Zerubbabel,  beautified  by  Ezra,  but  the 
          people  are persecuted by their adversaries and unable to rebuild the
          wall of the city (Neh. 1:3).  They are in "great affliction and
          reproach."   Ezra is still present as a priest and teacher but now
          Nehemiah comes as governor with official instructions to rebuild the
          city (2:5).  The first step is to rebuild the wall (2:17).  The book tells
                    how, under Nehemiah, the walls are rebuilt and the people revived.  

          I.  Nehemiah Returns and Rebuilds the Wall--  ch. 1-6 
               Ch.1  Parts of the book are in the first person, being direct 
          quotations  from  Nehemiah's  official  reports. Nehemiah learns of
          the affliction of his people in Judah. 

               Note:  Nehemiah was a man of prayer, patriotism,
                         action, courage, and perseverance.  His first impulse
                         always was to pray  (1:4; 2:4; 4:4, 9; 6:9, 14).  He
                         spent 4 months in prayer before making his request to
                         the king (1:1, 2:1). 
               Ch. 2  Nehemiah is sent to Jerusalem and makes his plans. 

               Ch. 3  Building of the wall and gates. 

                Note:  "Stairs that go down from the city of David" (v. 15)
          "bend in the wall" (v.25) "tower that stands out" (v.26) are
          remains that may be clearly detected today. 

               Ch. 4  The old-time enemies of the Jews bitterly opposed the
          rebuilding of the wall.  They mobilized their armies and marched
          against Jerusalem.  But Nehemiah, with faith in God, skillfully arming
          and arranging his men drove straight ahead with the work day and

               Ch. 5  The work hindered by internal selfishness and greed that
          Nehemiah had to correct. 

               Ch. 6  The wall was finished in a remarkable 52 days and
          Jerusalem was again a fortified city. 
          II.  Spiritual Revival  (chapters 7-10) 
               Ch. 7 & 8  After the wall was built, Nehemiah and Ezra gathered
          the people together to organize their national life.  Ch. 7 is about the
          same as Ezra 2 giving a list of those who had returned to Jerusalem
          with Zerubbabel. 

              Then for seven days every day from early morning till midday Ezra
          and his helpers "opened the Book of the Law, and read in the Law of
          God, distinctly, and gave the sense, so that the people understood the
          reading."   This  public reading and exposition of God's Book brought
          a great wave of repentance among the people, a great "revival" and a
          solemn covenant to keep the Law, as noted in chapters 9 & 10. 

               Ch. 9 & 10  In deep penitence and great earnestness, they "made
          a sure covenant, and wrote it, and sealed it, and entered into an oath
          and curse, that they would walk in God's Law"  (9:38,  10:29). 

               Note the seven provisions of this covenant:  (1) not to marry
          heathens, v.30;   (2) to observe the Sabbath, v.31a; (3) to observe the
          Sabbatic year, v.31b;  (4) to pay temple tax; vv. 32,33.  (5) to supply
          wood for temple altar, v.34; (6) to give the priests and Levites their
          due,  vv. 35-38; (7) not to forsake God's house, v.39. 
          III.  Reforming the Nation  -- chapters 11 - 13 
               Ch. 11  Provision made to bring one-tenth of the population into
          the city to live. 

               Ch. 12  The dedication of the wall. 
              (Apparently after this Nehemiah returns to Shushan; then returns
          to Judah a second time as governor in chapter 13). 

               Ch. 13  Corrections of laxation about tithes, Sabbath, and
          marriages.  (Note:  The book of Malachi appears to be contemporary
          with Nehemiah's second term as governor.) 
               Nehemiah stands as perhaps the greatest book every written
          about leadership.  From the book we learn the principles that every
          leader must strive to emulate, whether it is concerning "leadership" in
          the home; the church; the community; or the nation! 
               1.   Nehemiah shows us how to plan-- 
               2.   Nehemiah teaches us how to organize-- 
               3.   Nehemiah teaches how to integrate the duties of various
               4.   Nehemiah shows the importance (and how) of motivating
               One dominating feature of the book is prayer and its factor in
          our daily life.  Not only does this book teach about prayer in a
          practical way, but the book contains the longest prayer in the Bible. 

- - - SERMON - - - 

                            When You Get Busy for God
                                Nehemiah 4:1-23
          1.   What should you do when trouble confronts you at every turn?
          2.   Committing our lives to God does not remove us from the reality
                         of problems in life.  
          3.   When one gets busy for God opposition will inevitably raise its
                         head.  Nehemiah discovered that truth.  Nehemiah 4.
               a.   Who was Nehemiah?   [See "Walk Thru Nehemiah."]
               b.   His name means "the comfort of the LORD."
          4.   Nehemiah had opposition from without, Vs. 1-6.  But even more
                         discouraging was the opposition from within, Vs. 11-14.
          5.   Nehemiah was confronted by obstacles as he sought to
                         accomplish the work God called him to do yet his is a  success
                         story  (6:15).   

                I. PRAYER

          1.   When you get busy for God and opposition comes, the first
                         ingredient that will lead to success is intercession  (v.9).

          2.   Nehemiah looked up before he launched out.  He prayed before
                         he proceeded.  Intercession preceded interaction.
            II. PERSPIRATION

          1.   When you get busy for God and opposition comes, the second
                         ingredient that will lead to success is work.  Notice Nehemiah's
                         initiative in verse 9.

          2.   Intercession is not a substitution for initiative, but only a prelude
                         to it, for the Bible says "the people had a mind to work" (verse

          3.   Our devotional life and practical life must always move together. 
                         They are like two hands on the clock. One person said, "I pray as
                         if everything depended on God.  Then I work as if everything
                         depended on me."  Prayer and perspiration go together.
               III. PRAISE

          1.   Nehemiah arose and spoke to the people about the power of God
                         ("remember the Lord who is great and awesome") and about the
                         purpose of their work (verse 14).

          2.   He motivated the people by positive affirmation.
          CONCLUSION:  When you get busy for God, trouble is going to
          come.  Expect it. Through prayer, perspiration, and praise you can
          turn those stumbling blocks into stepping stones.  Trouble can be
          transformed into triumph.

               How are you facing your troubles?

-- Windell Gann -- Walking Thru the Bible --

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