The Book of Nehemiah addresses 2 major problems:
1) God’s Work Needs Revival / Rebuilding (chaps. 1-7)
“and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.”
2) God’s People Need Revival / Rebuilding (chaps. 8-13)
“The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach”
Nehemiah teaches us lessons of spiritual leadership as God’s servant leads a revival of both God’s Work and God’s People.
GOD’S LEADERS MOBILIZE GOD’S TROOPS TO ACCOMPLISH GOD’S WORK ACCORDING TO GOD’S WORD DESPITE GOD’S ENEMIES
Nehemiah 2:20 “The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build”
I. (1:1 – 7:73) REVIVAL / REBUILDING OF GOD’S WORK
A. (1:1-11) REVIVAL (REBUILDING) STARTS WITH CONCERNED CONFESSIONAL PRAYER —
GRIEF OVER THE SHAMEFUL STATE OF GOD’S KINGDOM PROGRAM MOTIVATES SPIRITUAL LEADERS TO PETITION GOD FOR REVIVAL WITH CONFESSIONAL PRAYER
B. (2:1-10) TRUSTING GOD FOR PROVIDENTIAL FAVORS —
PUTTING THE PRIORITY ON THE SUCCESS OF GOD’S KINGDOM PROGRAM REQUIRES BOLD FAITH THAT COUNTS ON PROVIDENTIAL FAVORS
C. (2:11-20) VISION MUST TRANSLATE INTO COMMITMENT –
STRATEGIC VISION BASED ON REALISTIC ASSESSMENTS MUST TRANSLATE INTO COMMITMENT TO HARD WORK IN DEPENDENCE ON GOD’S GRACE DESPITE AGGRESSIVE OPPOSITION
D. (3:1-32) PARTNERSHIP IN MUTUAL MINISTRY – GOD’S HONOR ROLL OF DEDICATED WORKERS —
EVERYONE MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR SHARE OF GOD’S WORK – PARTNERSHIP IN MUTUAL MINISTRY GETS THE JOB DONE
E. (4:1-8) DEFENDING AGAINST DISCOURAGEMENT – BOASTING IN WEAKNESS –
THE GREAT AND AWESOME GOD CAN PROTECT AND PROSPER A FEEBLE FEW WHO DON’T QUIT PRAYING AND DON’T QUIT WORKING DESPITE ANGRY OPPOSITION
F. (4:9-23) KEEP YOUR GUARD UP – KEEP PRAYING . . . KEEP TRUSTING . . . KEEP GUARDING . . KEEP WORKING —
ANGRY OPPOSITION REQUIRES A CONSTANT STATE OF GUARDED READINESS WHILE MAINTAINING FOCUS ON THE WORK AT HAND
G. (5:1-19) FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION VS SACRIFICIAL MINISTRY — THE THREAT FROM WITHIN —
GOD’S LEADERS MUST PROHIBIT ANY TYPE OF FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION AND SET THE EXAMPLE FOR SACRIFICIAL MINISTRY
H. (6:1-19) GOD’S WORK PREVAILS DESPITE SATAN’S DEVIOUS TACTICS —
THE SCHEMING TACTICS OF GOD’S ENEMIES CAN NEVER THWART GOD’S PURPOSES
I. (7:1-73) THE IMPORTANCE OF GODLY WORSHIP –
REBUILDING THE INFRASTRUCTURE (THE OUTER SHELL) PREPARES THE WAY FOR REVIVING THE PEOPLE INWARDLY TO FULFILL THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF GODLY WORSHIP
II. (8:1 – 13:31) REVIVAL / REBUILDING OF GOD’S PEOPLE
A. (8:1-18) THE CELEBRATION OF TRUTH — PEOPLE OF THE BOOK —
REVIVAL STARTS WITH JOYFULLY SUBMITTING TO THE VOICE OF TRUTH
B. (9:1-38) HISTORICAL REVIEW OF GOD’S COVENANT LOYALTY —
C. (10:1-39) REDEDICATION TO COVENANT OBLIGATIONS –
REDEDICATION TO OBEYING GOD’S WORD SHOWS ITSELF IN SPECIFIC REFORMS
D. (11:1 – 12:26) MIGHTY MEN OF VALOR — RE-SETTLEMENT OF JERUSALEM —
GOD’S KINGDOM ADVANCES WHEN MIGHTY MEN OF VALOR FORSAKE PERSONAL COMFORT TO VOLUNTEER FOR FRONT LINE DUTY IN THE FAITHFUL FULFILLMENT OF THEIR GOD APPOINTED ROLES
E. (12:27-47) CELEBRATION OF SUCCESSFUL REVIVAL / REBUILDING —
THE DEDICATION OF THE REBUILT WALL INVOLVED AN ELABORATE CELEBRATION BEFITTING THE CULMINATION OF SUCH A SUCCESSFUL REVIVAL
F. (13:1-31) DEALING WITH SPIRITUAL SLIPPAGE REQUIRES CONSTANT VIGILANCE AND GODLY LEADERSHIP TO PURIFY AND RESTORE PRACTICES TO BIBLICAL NORMS
WHY STUDY THIS BOOK?
LESSONS REGARDING GOD’S LEADERS — INSIGHTS INTO SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP – FEEL THE BURDEN AND STAY ON TASK
Nehemiah was a strong leader – many admirable traits that we can follow;
Throughout he combined aggressive faith with practical responsibility
4:9 “We prayed . . . and set a guard against them day and night”
4:14 “Remember the Lord . . . and fight”
A man of vision, a man of prayer, a man of faith, a man of courage, a man of action, a man who could motivate and manage others
LESSONS REGARDING GOD’S TROOPS –IMPERATIVE OF ALL HANDS ON DECK – FELLOWSHIP IN THE GOSPEL MINISTRY
Lessons of Ephesians 4 and 1 Cor. 12-14 regarding the importance of the entire body of Christ; spiritual gifts must be exercised
LESSONS REGARDING GOD’S WORK – ISOLATE WHAT IS TOP PRIORITY FOR GOD’S KINGDOM PROGRAM – FOCUS ON THE TASK AT HAND
Many distractions; many other things could consume our time and ambition; easy to settle for something that is good rather than for God’s best
LESSONS REGARDING GOD’S WORD – IMPERATIVE OF REPENTANCE AND RENEWED OBEDIENCE –
FLEE SIN AND FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS – FAITH IN THE LORD IS THE KEY
We are living thousands of years later – and still the key to a successful life is the same – Trust and Obey, for there is no other way … that’s it
LESSONS REGARDING GOD’S ENEMIES (STRONG OPPOSITION) – INSIGHTS INTO SATAN’S TACTICS TO DISCOURAGE AND DISTRACT – FIGHT OFF ALL THE THREATS (BOTH INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL)
If you are attempting something significant for God … something that is high priority for His program for that point in time – you should expect strong opposition from the enemy.
Alan Redpath: Victorious Christian Service — There is no type of service any of us can undertake which is beset with so much potential as is the service of the Master. On the one hand, there is so much that is rewarding, and on the other hand, so much that is disappointing. Many are the obstacles to be overcome and many the pitfalls to be avoided. On how many occasions we have taken up a task in the name of the Lord only to withdraw, beaten, discouraged, and baffled, and yet, somehow, baffled to fight better. For every discouragement has been allowed to come to us in order that through it we may be cast in utter helplessness at the Saviour’s feet. Then we return to the battle again, no longer trusting in the false and insufficient human resources which so foolishly we had taken into the battle, but now trusting in the limitless resources of our risen Lord.
J. Sidlow Baxter: Nehemiah is a gem of a book in the spiritual lessons which it teaches us. It tells how, under the new leadership of Nehemiah, the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt by the returned Remnant, and how the people themselves were reinstructed in the Law which God had given to their nation, long before, through Moses. This rebuilding of the city wall is like a graphic object-lesson illustrating those truths which lie at the heart of all true service for God; and he who will give heed to the lessons here vividly pictured will be a wise and successful builder in spiritual things.
David Malick: Background for Ezra and Nehemiah:
The re-establishment of the exiles as God’s people in Jerusalem and Judea gradually developed as they returned in waves under the leadership of Sheshbazzar, Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah, as God providentially made provision for them through the Persian rulers, as the Lord enabled them to rebuild Jerusalem, and as the people continually repented of their evil in order to follow God’s law
Outline of Nehemiah:
I. (1:1 – 7:4) THIRD RETURN UNDER NEHEMIAH AND REBUILDING THE WALL:
The Nation is Physically Separated from the Gentiles: When Nehemiah learned about the distress of the Jews in Jerusalem he prayed to the Lord, sought permission from King Artaxerxes to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and managed to spur on the people in Jerusalem to accomplish the task in spite of opposition from the people surrounding the city and the problems within the city because he was a man who trusted God and was wise in leadership
II. (7:5 – 13:31) THE RELIGIOUS REFORMS OF EZRA AND NEHEMIAH:
The Nation is Spiritually Separated from the Gentiles: After the people became identified as a new society under the Law of God with the walls of their capital city established, Nehemiah restored them from their falls back into disobedience so that they might obey God’s Law
Mervin Breneman: One of the chief objectives of Ezra-Nehemiah was to show the Jews that they constituted the continuation of the preexilic Jewish community, the Israelite community that God had chosen. Thus, in this community they were to see a continuation of God’s redemptive activity. This community is emphasized by allusions to the exodus in recounting postexilic parallels. The returnees experienced a new exodus. As soon as the new temple, which took the place of the preexilic temple, was completed, they celebrated the Passover (Ezra 6:19-22). Later, after reading the Law, they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles (Neh 8). These feasts celebrate God’s great saving acts in the exodus. . .
The emphasis on continuity with the covenant people of God led to a strong emphasis on separation from any form of defilement or syncretism with the surrounding people. The postexilic community was a tiny island in a great sea of peoples and religious traditions. It was important that the covenant community remain pure in doctrine, customs, and ethical norms. . .
Derek Kidner: What we see in Ezra-Nehemiah is an Israel cut down almost to the roots, but drawing new vitality from its neglected source of nourishment in the Mosaic law and already showing signs, by its new concern for purity, of growing into the Judaism which we meet, both for better and for worse, in the New Testament.