Category: Book of Nehemiah

  Ezra and Nehemiah were  contemporaries, and they both wrote about the rebuilding of Jerusalem, which  occurred many years after its destruction by the Babylonians, led by  Nebuchadnezzar. Ezra wrote about the rebuilding of the temple under Zerubbabel,  while Nehemiah wrote concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. From  ancient times, the cities located in the Middle East were surrounded by stone  walls with gates that were guarded for the protection of the citizens. The  important men of each city would gather at the gate where they would conduct the  business of the city, share important information, or just pass the time of day.

Nehemiah’s account begins in 445 B.C., and this date is important  because the prophet Daniel, a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah, wrote the “70  weeks of years” prophecy (Daniel  9:24-27) based on a very specific date—March 15, 445 B.C. This date is  crucial to the beginning of the prophecy; it kicks off the start of the  timeframe, which ends with the second coming of Jesus Christ. This prophecy was  written long before Jesus came the first time, but it continues through those  years leading up to His being “cut off.” It gives details about the antichrist,  how he will come onto the world scene, and how he will move against Israel in  his final assault on God and His people.

Daniel’s prophecy is found in  Daniel 9:25: “Know and  understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem  until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and  sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times  of trouble.” Little did Nehemiah know that he was fulfilling the prophecy  written by Daniel, but this faithful servant, who was also captive in Babylon at  the time, begins his writings with intercessory prayer for his people, Israel,  just as Daniel constantly prayed on their behalf, beseeching God to have mercy  on them and return them to their homeland. Nehemiah listed specific dates, under  the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in order that there might be a written  record as to the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem.

Before he  asked the king’s permission to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, Nehemiah prayed, and  God granted his request. As he was leaving Babylon, he met some Arab men who  mocked him for what he was about to do. Nehemiah  2:20 records his statement, which stands even today as a testament to who  has the right to the city known as Jerusalem: “I answered them by saying, ‘The  God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but  as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to  it.’”

Nehemiah continued in his quest to rebuild Jerusalem. God  provided all the necessary workers, and the building began. However, they were  not without enemies, those who desired to stop the rebuilding. But God  intervened as He had done with Moses (Exodus  14:14). Nehemiah  4:20 records, “Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there.  Our God will fight for us!” This was God’s pre-ordained plan to bring His people  out of bondage and back into their land to worship in the temple once again.

We can learn from the life of Nehemiah valuable lessons in restoring  and maintaining a relationship with God. As the people returned to the rebuilt  city, the first order of business was to make certain that they understood the  Law of Moses. So Ezra, a priest, spent many hours reading the Law before the  assembly, making sure they understood what God desired. Nehemiah 8:18 records what  should be part of every believer’s life, the daily reading of God’s Word: “Day  after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of  God. They celebrated the feast for seven days, and on the eighth day, in  accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly.”

Nehemiah stands  as a testament to faithfulness and perseverance. He lived far away from his  home, yet he never gave up hope that someday he would return to it. He spent  most of his life in exile in a pagan land, yet he never wavered in his faith and  trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was a prayer warrior, putting  everything before the Lord in prayer, interceding on behalf of his people, and  he was rewarded for his diligence and perseverance. Nehemiah cared so much for  his people that he never gave up the hope of their restoration, not only to  their homeland, but to the God that first called their forefather, Abraham, out  of the same area and made a covenant with him, one which Nehemiah believed would  stand forever.

Author: The Book of Nehemiah does not specifically name its  author, but both Jewish and Christian traditions recognize Ezra as the author.  This is based on the fact that the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah were originally  one.

Date of Writing: The Book of Nehemiah was likely  written between 445 and 420 B.C.

Purpose of Writing: The  Book of Nehemiah, one of the history books of the Bible, continues the story of  Israel’s return from the Babylonian captivity and the rebuilding of the temple  in Jerusalem.

Key Verses: Nehemiah  1:3, “They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the  province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken  down, and its gates have been burned with fire.'”

Nehemiah 1:11, “O Lord,  let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer  of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success  today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”

Nehemiah 6:15-16, “So  the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all  our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost  their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with  the help of our God.”

Brief Summary: Nehemiah was a  Hebrew in Persia when the word reached him that the Temple in Jerusalem was  being reconstructed. He grew anxious knowing there was no wall to protect the  city. Nehemiah invited God to use him to save the city. God answered his prayer  by softening the heart of the Persian king, Artaxerxes, who gave not only his  blessing, but also supplies to be used in the project. Nehemiah is given  permission by the king to return to Jerusalem, where he is made governor.

In spite of opposition and accusations the wall was built and the  enemies silenced. The people, inspired by Nehemiah, give tithes of much money,  supplies and manpower to complete the wall in a remarkable 52 days, despite much  opposition. This united effort is short-lived, however, because Jerusalem falls  back into apostasy when Nehemiah leaves for a while. After 12 years he returned  to find the walls strong but the people weak. He set about the task of teaching  the people morality and he didn’t mince words. “I argued with those people, put  curses on them, hit some of them and pulled out their hair” (13:25). He  reestablishes true worship through prayer and by encouraging the people to  revival by reading and adhering to the Word of  God.

Foreshadowings: Nehemiah was a man of prayer and  he prayed passionately for his people (Nehemiah 1). His zealous intercession for  God’s people foreshadows our great Intercessor, Jesus Christ, who prayed  fervently for His people in His high-priestly prayer in John 17. Both Nehemiah  and Jesus had a burning love for God’s people which they poured out in prayer to  God, interceding for them before the throne.

Practical  Application: Nehemiah led the Israelites into a respect and love for  the text of Scripture. Nehemiah, because of his love for God and his desire to  see God honored and glorified, led the Israelites towards the faith and  obedience God had desired for them for so long. In the same way, Christians are  to love and revere the truths of Scripture, commit them to memory, meditate on  them day and night, and turn to them for the fulfillment of every spiritual  need. Second  Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is  profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in  righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all  good works.” If we expect to experience the spiritual revival of the Israelites  (Nehemiah  8:1-8), we must begin with God’s Word.

Each of us ought to have  genuine compassion for others who have spiritual or physical hurts. To feel  compassion, yet do nothing to help, is unfounded biblically. At times we may  have to give up our own comfort in order to minister properly to others. We must  totally believe in a cause before we will give our time or money to it with the  right heart. When we allow God to minister through us, even unbelievers will  know it is God’s work.