Bible Study - Nehemiah

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A Bible Study on Nehemiah. We encourage you to pray before you begin reading that the Lord would open your heart and mind to be receptive and responsive to God’s message contained within this study. There may be times when you find it difficult to reconcile God’s truth to your own opinion or worldview, God’s truth is eternal, it does not change, our understanding of the truth does change as we allow God to work in our hearts and minds.

NEHEMIAH Nehemiah’s place in history

Nehemiah was a Jew whose people had been exiled to Persia some 70 years earlier. He would have been born in Persia and he had an important position in the King’s court. At the time of his story, Jews had already started to return home to Jerusalem. 537B.C Sheshbazzar was made Governor of Judah. He returned to Judah (Southern Israel) with the first group of exiles. All of the Temple Treasure was also returned to him, to take back to Jerusalem. 525B.C Zerrubbabel (grandson of the last Jewish King) and Joshua, a priest, led another group home. Nehemiah, during the reign of Persian King, Artaxerxes 1, was sent to Jerusalem to repair the 445B.C city walls. 428B.C Ezra led a further group of exiles home to Jerusalem. Note: Israel still remained a puppet state in the Persian Empire, followed by others, and it was not an independent state for nearly two and a half thousand years! But, in May 1948, Israel was officially declared an independent state with David Ben-Gurion, as the prime minister, preparing the way for End Times prophecies to be fulfilled.

CHAPTER 1 – Read the whole chapter ASK (v1&2) Although he had never lived there Nehemiah, had a heart for Jerusalem – the City of God. He was aware of the importance of Jerusalem as far as Bible prophecy is concerned. He was aware that King Cyrus had made provision for the Jewish exiles to return (see above) and wanted to know if Jerusalem, that had lain desolate for 70 years, had been rebuilt. And so, he asked some men from Judah for the news. Q. How often do we take stock of how the work of God is going? Is it important to us? Do we just leave it up to the leaders? LISTEN (v3&4) There was some good news (not mentioned here). The Temple in Jerusalem had been rebuilt by the exiles who had returned. But the bad news was that 2 generations on, the city walls were still all in ruins, there was no defence around Jerusalem. No one thought this obstacle could be overcome and the city was disgraced. An unfortified city is no city at all. Q. What was Nehemiah’s reaction to this news? PRAY (v5-7) Nehemiah took his pain and stress to God in prayer. And it actually appears that he prayed for months before he did anything (check out the dates at the beginning of chapter 1 and chapter 2). Let’s examine Nehemiah’s prayer: · He begins by recognising God’s sovereignty (v5) and acknowledging God’s greatness, his love and his covenant. · He asks God to hear his continual prayer (v6) · He confesses the sins of the Israelites including himself (v6) · In humility he aligns himself with the sins of his people (v7) Q. To pray effectively, do we need to be able to empathise and identify with those we are praying for? CLAIM (v8-11) Nehemiah comes to God asking him to remember his promises (v8&9). Pleading the promises of God is an effective way of gaining power in prayer. Nehemiah knew he was keeping God’s word and so he claimed help on behalf of the nation. Nehemiah prayed for favour in the presence of the King. His prayer to God was, “Use me”. Q. Do we want to get involved in the answer to our prayers?

Nehemiah - chapters 2&3 Having heard about the state of the walls around Jerusalem and prayed about it, Nehemiah now looks to find a solution, and how to be part of the answer. Note: Chapter one begins in the month of Kislev and chapter 2 begins in the month of Nisan. Neremiah has been praying for 4 months and has not had an opportunity to speak to the king. OPPORTUNITY – Read verses 1-4 Nehemiah was in a special position in the presence of the king - Artaxerxes 1. His job was to be the king’s cupbearer with the responsibility of selecting his wine and tasting it before it was given to the king to drink. He was in a position of great trust. It was not acceptable for him to look sad in the king’s presence, nor was it acceptable to speak unless he was spoken to. Everything had to be perfect for the king. But his sadness was for a good reason, and the king realised there was something amiss. When the king asked him why he was so sad it was Nehemiah’s one opportunity to speak on behalf of his people in Jerusalem whose city was in ruins and without gates or walls. Miraculously the king’s reply is, “What do you want?” Q. How often do we seize an opportunity, or worse still we miss it, and regret it afterwards?

COURAGE – Read verses 5-10 Seizing the opportunity requires courage, although not foolhardiness. Nehemiah did wait and pray for the right moment when God made the king look upon him with favour. Nehemiah sends up a “thought prayer” to God (“Help me O Lord!”), before asking the king for permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls. Amazingly the king acquiesced and Nehemiah boldly “went for it”. He asked for a certain amount of time, letters to provide protection while travelling the 800 miles and a requisition letter for timber to build with! Miraculously the king agreed and volunteered army officers to go with him! These were the answer to his 4 months of prayer. But not everyone welcomed the rebuilding… Sanballat and Tobiah (v10, and Geshem v19) were regional governors serving under the king of Persia. Sanballat, called a Horonite, was probably from a city of Moab. Tobiah the Ammonite was governing an area east of the Jordan River. Geshem the Arab was most likely from the region south of Judah. Generations after Israel had first possessed the Promised Land, some of their old enemies were back, seeking to keep Jerusalem in ruins. EXAMINATION – Read verses 11-16 After 3 days in Jerusalem, Nehemiah decided to do an examination of the entire wall around the City to see the extent of the damage. He didn’t want to rely on the opinion of others; and he took time to count the cost before beginning the work. He went by horse, during the night and he did not let the officials know what he was doing, ‘playing his cards close to his chest’. He knew he would need a carefully planned program for rebuilding, but he was aware of the opposition. FOR AND AGAINST – Read verses 17-20 Verses 17&18: Nehemiah spoke to the exiles who had already returned to Jerusalem. They must no longer be in disgrace – a city without walls was laughable and undefendable. Nehemiah gave his testimony to the people to encourage them and they were all FOR starting on the rebuilding. But … (v19) … Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, the ‘flies in the ointment’ mocked them. They set themselves AGAINST all that Nehemiah stood for. Spiritual opposition to God’s work is a reality we must all be aware of. So that we should not give up at the first hurdle. Sometimes the opposition will come from people who we think should be with us. These three men were actually Jews but they valued the esteem of the King of Persia, and they valued their own positions of authority, more than they valued the work of God. And because they opposed God’s work, they were told they would have no right to an inheritance in Jerusalem. They didn’t listen though, they put up an opposition right to the end. Nehemiah stands as an encouragement to any leader who is beginning a new work for the Lord as he says the words, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding”.

Chapter 3 Suffice to say, this chapter is full of long, difficult to pronounce words! However, it is worth reading. And as you read you will see how Nehemiah involved the men from every tribe and family in the rebuilding of every section of the wall. Everyone was involved and all took responsibility for their allotted section. As the saying goes, “Many hands make light work”! Where once, the people could see no way forward, now, the reconstruction of the wall became an achievable task. Nehemiah’s understanding of God’s heart and his clear leadership had made it possible.

Chapter 4 – Opposition Q. How do you deal with opposition and conflict? Take heed – when you want to do something for the Lord, especially when it comes to building his kingdom, you will meet opposition. The Devil doesn’t mind us having a meal together, but he will do his utmost to stop the preaching of the gospel.

RIDICULE – Read verses 1-3 Sanballat the governor and his mates have been used to ruling the Jews and are not too happy that the Persian king has sent Nehemiah along with permission to rebuild the city walls. In fact, they were angry and indignant. Who did Nehemiah think he was? Their response was to immediately pour scorn on the idea. They try to deter the Jews from their work by taunting them, “Even a fox could break down your walls”. Sarcastically, Sanballat called them ‘feeble’, but he hadn’t taken into account two things · When we work for the Lord it is God’s work not ours · When people come against God’s people, they are coming against God. Therefore it is the Lord’s battle and should be dealt with by prayer, not by argument. God, through the King, had already provided miraculously for the work. We have been set free by our King Jesus and have made that decision to serve him. We can expect the same kind of attack, but God is on our side so we should never be discouraged. He has already provided for us. Discouragement can kill faith and cause us to settle for second best. Q. What do you do when you get discouraged? What do you do when you feel you don’t have the support you hoped for? PRAYER – Read verses 4-6 Nehemiah knew that the answer was not for the Jews to stand and argue, or insult the governors. The answer wasn’t committee meetings and grumbling. The answer was prayer – let God deal with it. For Nehemiah, prayer was always a first resource. See Chapter 1 verse 4 and chapter 2 verses 4&5. “Turn their insults back on themselves” (v4) doesn’t sound very ‘Christian’. But, Nehemiah is asking God to deal with the opposition - he trusted that God would take care of it. And the result? Verse 6 tells us that, rather than hindering them, the incident spurred the people on, so that the whole wall reached to half its height. Q. Why do you think the church grows fastest in places where it experiences opposition and persecution? Example: Iran has a strategy of repression and persecution against Christians. Elam Ministries estimates that there are 360,000 believers in Iran today, compared to 500 in 1979. … Our conviction is that it is possible to see the nation transformed in this generation. Because Iran is a strategic nation, the growing church in Iran will affect … the Islamic world. (Excerpt from Protestante Digital) DISCOURAGEMENT – Read verses 6-12 Discouragement came from within. They expected it from Sanballat, but then their own kin joined in. “We don’t have much strength, and there is so much rubble to clear. Wherever we turn they will attack us”. Have you noticed that when people want to do something for God, it is actually fellow Christians that put them off!! Many pioneer missionaries have been women who have gone abroad without the blessing of their church, without any financial or prayer backing, simply because some church people thought it wasn’t what a single woman should be doing. Jackie Pullinger was an example of this. You can read her story in ‘Chasing the Dragon’. Discouragement came from without. Sanballat was very angry about the developments and conspired together with the surrounding peoples to plot against Nehemiah and God’s work. A conspiracy was formed to attack the Holy City of Jerusalem (v8). They used every tactic to demoralise the Jews, starting rumours of their intention to stop the rebuilding and even harm them (v11). And it worked! The builders began to lose heart. ENCOURAGEMENT – Read verses 13-15 Nehemiah was prepared and encouraged the people with two commands: · Some to stand with their swords in the gaps in the wall (v13) · Remember that God is greater than the problem (v14) · With God’s help they could continue – and they did (v15)

Q. Can you think of any Bible verses that remind you that God is greater than your problem? If not, read 1 John 4v4 ACTION – Read verses 16-23 This passage reminds me of Ephesians 6. The men did their work with one hand and held a weapon with the other (v17). They were prepared for work and they were prepared for battle. We are encouraged to “put on the whole armour of God” and to take our sword (Bible) in our hand in like manner. God will fight for us, but he expects us to be alert and prepared. The man with the trumpet stayed with Neremiah so that they could join together at the sound of a trumpet call when necessary. The trumpet is a bit like our call to prayer, our prayer meetings and our prayer chain. There are people ready to pray against the enemy as son as they get the text or email. God doesn’t want us to enter into physical fighting, but he does expect us to be ready to participate in spiritual warfare when attacks come. They were even expected to a night shift! – and to be ready wherever they were (v23 could mean eating and drinking, and using the bathroom!) So, we deal with conflict and opposition by being alert and by being prepared with the weapons God has given us. Read Ephesians chapter 6v10-18.

Nehemiah chapter 5 After Israel’s confident resolve of chapter 4, we now see the opposition trying a different attack to stop the building of the wall. FAMINE AND EXPLOITATION – Read verses 1-5 The people were in rebellion against their fellow Jews because: · The famine meant they did not have enough to eat. Spending time on the wall instead of attending to their fields may also have been a factor. · Property owners had to borrow against their land to buy food. The law said that Jews could lend money, but they were not allowed to charge interest. But these Jews were usurers. · Taxes were high. Many had sold their children into slavery and were being exploited. · Perhaps the worst thing was that their unity was crumbling. Q. How do you think this made the people feel? How do you think it made Nehemiah feel? ANGER AND REBUKE – Read verses 6-13 Like the episode in the Temple when Jesus was angry with the Jews for exploiting the poor, Nehemiah also makes his anger clear to the Jews. Nehemiah had been called by God to fix the wall, not sort out the economic problems, but the first wouldn’t get sorted out unless unity prevailed again. So, once again Nehemiah had to confront the problem. Notice in verse 7, first Nehemiah listened to the grievances, then he thought carefully (and very likely prayed) before he made accusations. Usury is the practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loans that unfairly enrich the lender. Originally, usury meant interest of any kind. A loan may be considered usury because of excessive or abusive interest rates or other factors. The Law of Moses was there to protect the people of Israel. The Law said that money could be loaned out, but no interest was to be charged. Nehemiah included himself in those who lent money to the poor (v10), but he was not charging interest. The Law actually provided for widows and orphans to be given food rather than the lending of money. Q. When Nehemiah confronted them how do you think they felt? (See verse 8, then verse 12) The people made an oath to do the specific things Nehemiah had suggested and then Nehemiah ratified their agreement by “shaking out his robe” (signifying shaking off anyone not in agreement). They all said, “Amen” and praised the Lord – unity was restored.

INTEGRITY – Read verses 14-19 The earlier governors of Israel (appointed by the King of Persia) had taken taxes from the poor people in the form of silver, food and wine. BUT, Nehemiah (fulfilling the role of governor on behalf of the king) says that he: · Never took food for himself from the hands of the workers · He worked with the people to rebuild the walls · Fed 150 Jews and officials at his own table, so that they had no reason to take from the poor. He more than provided for them (see verse 16) but he never took his due as governor. Nehemiah was a man who led by example.

Chapter 6 – More opposition LIES AND FAKE NEWS – Read verses 1-9 The wall and the gates were completed, they were waiting for the gates to be fitted (v1), but Sanballat and his followers were still planning to harm Nehemiah and the work. So .. they sent a letter to him containing fake news, suggesting that Nehemiah was about to install himself as King in Jerusalem and become a danger to Persia. Q. How did Nehemiah deal with this (in verses 8&9) FAKE PROPHECY – Read verses 10-14 Nehemiah’s wily opponents tried to trap him in the Temple by sending a false prophet. But again, Nehemiah was wise enough to see the deceit and avoid the trap. Take care over prophecy. False prophets have their own agenda (wanting to please self or other people) and we need to pray about what we hear and how we should interpret it. A prophecy given in church may only be for one person. We will feel a witness in our spirit if it is meant for us, in the same way that a Bible verse often leaps out at us when the Holy Spirit is speaking to us. Verse 15: The wall was completed on 25th of Elul, in 52 days. Praise the Lord. When he commissions a work, he enables and provides so that it can be finished.

Chapter 7 - A CENSUS They were now a city with a wall and could establish citizenship. From genealogical records Nehemiah was able to list the rightful citizens according to people groups: leaders (v7), families (v8-25), villages (v27-38), priests (v39-42), Levites (v43), temple singers (v44), gatekeepers (v45) and temple servants (v46-60). These people were the remnant of Israel who had survived – the link between the Old and New Testaments – they were the spiritual heart of Israel who would become the stem of a new people of God through Jesus Christ. They were a vital and necessary link in Bible history and the story of God’s grace to all mankind. The survival of God’s people was possible because of the work and obedience of Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah.

CHAPTER 8 – CELEBRATION READING GOD’S WORD – Read verses 1-8 This was a great occasion – about 50,000 people (Chap 8:66&67) all came together as one and asked Ezra, the priest and scribe, to read from the Torah – the Book of the Law of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). He was reading for about 6 hours! (v3) and when he opened the scroll he praised God and a mighty “amen” came from the people (v6). The people, who had let things lapse and had been busy day and night building the wall, now had a great thirst for the Lord. Ezra had organised the Levites (from the

priestly clan) so that, as the Word of God was read, they could explain it and make it clear, so that the people understood. It is most likely that Ezra read passages that reminded them of their history and calling, and of the Covenant that God had made with his people. For the first time in over 100 years they had a walled city and could again come together. CELEBRATION – Read verses 9-12 In the Lord’s presence, at the reading of his Word, the people had begun to weep. They knew they were guilty of not following God and keeping his covenant as they should, they knew their forefathers had been guilty too. Guilt brought them to their knees. But God is a forgiving God when we are repentant. Nehemiah encouraged the people to move on and to rejoice. Guilt, repentance and weeping are necessary, but we should not stay in that place. When we recognise God’s grace in our lives it gives us great cause for rejoicing … and eating together! In verse 10 Nehemiah says: The joy of the Lord is your strength. Q. What do you think he meant by that? REMEMBRANCE – Read verses 13-18 There are three things we need to think about for a healthy life: · Where have I come from? · Where am I now? · Where am I going? Reviewing our situation is good. It’s good to remind ourselves what we have been saved from and what we used to be like. It should make us praise God for his grace and mercy. It’s good to see where we are now – are we following the Lord, are we in his will, or are we just drifting? It is also good to think about the future and that we have a certain destination in heaven because we are trusting the Lord. Nehemiah reinstituted the Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths) as it was the seventh month. THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES Remembering God’s Past Provision The most visible symbol of this feast is the small booth the Israelites are commanded to dwell in for the eight days of the Feast (v14). Jewish families build these makeshift huts on their patios and balconies, and decorate them with colourful fruit, ribbons and pictures. Some families eat their meals in them and even sleep there at night. These flimsy booths are a reminder to Israel that they once dwelled in temporary shelters during the forty years in the Wilderness, totally dependent on the Lord. Thinking about the present God is faithful and He continues to provide all we need to walk upright before Him still today. We should listen for God’s voice to us so that we can consider if he wants to change our direction. Looking to the Future Zechariah foretold of a time when all nations will ascend to Jerusalem each year to “worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (14:16). Therefore Messianic Jews also keep this feast now because of this future prophetic purpose. Throughout the Messianic Age, the entire world will celebrate this feast because it will mark the return of Jesus to the earth. But for now, Christians flocking to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles is a powerful statement of faith demonstrating that we believe the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus is coming. This chapter - Chapter 8 - reflects an amazing time for Israel. The whole week, as recorded, would have been like a week-long Bible Conference – a holiday, a time of spiritual refreshment, a time of celebrating and eating with friends. It is also significant in that it was a pivotal point in Jewish history. The remnant of Israel had reestablished themselves as citizens of Jerusalem, in a city with a wall. They had re-consecrated their lives to God. It would be another 400 years, but they could look forward to the coming of the Messiah.

CHAPTER 9 – A SYNOPSYS OF ISRAEL’S HISTORY Verses 1-5 describe how Nehemiah and the Levites read from the Book of the Law and held a national day of repentance and confession – of their own sins and the sins of their ancestors. Following this the Israelites were reminded of their history: CREATION – Read verses 5&6 They acknowledged that God was creator of all things – from every tiny organism in the seas to the furthest star in the universe. God was blessed and worshipped as above all things in heaven and in earth. God had his people in mind (including us!) from the beginning of creation. ABRAHAM – Read verses 7&8 God made his plan for mankind known to Abraham and it would be worked out through Abraham’s offspring. God made a covenant with Abraham to give the Israelites (son’s and families of Israel/Jacob) the Promised Land of Canaan. It was an everlasting Covenant. Israel may turn away from God, but God would not abandon them. (Extra reading about God’s Covenant with Abraham and Israel: See Genesis 13v14-17; Genesis 15v18-21; Genesis 17v3-7 & 9-14) EGYPT – Read verses 9-12 Jacob’s (Israel’s) family went down to Egypt during the famine (Joseph was already there, having been sold as a slave.) They stayed for many generations and became treated badly by the Egyptian Pharaohs, having been reduced to slavery and bondage. But God used Moses and a succession of miracles (including the dividing of the sea, v11) to deliver them. They had started their journey back towards the Promised land. THE LAW GIVEN TO MOSES – Read verses 13-15 Through Moses, God renewed the covenant with his people. He gave them the 10 commandments and instituted the Sabbath. He provided for them and gave them food and water. If they obeyed the Lord they could be back in the Promised land within 40 days! How wonderful! And yet, in reality, we know it would be another 40 years before they entered the Land that God had prepared for them and promised to them. WHY? REBELLION – Read verses 16- 21 The people complained and rebelled and became arrogant. They made a graven image to worship and committed awful blasphemies. They heard about the giants and fighting men of Canaan and did not believe that God would prepare the way for them. In other words, they did not have the faith to claim God’s promise. Only Joshua and Caleb believed in the promise and the Covenant (which is why Joshua was ultimately given the privilege of leading the people into Canaan). Sadly, they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and never claimed their inheritance, even though they saw God’s provision daily. It would be their sons and daughters who were led into Canaan by Joshua. Q. How could this happen? It seems incredible. But, are we not the same sometimes? Do we always have the faith to claim which God has promised? THE PROMISED LAND – Read verses 22-25 Eventually they began to see the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham. God fought battles for them and, as they were obedient, they received their possession of the Land. Everything was already there for them: planted fields, cattle, wells – all they could need and they “revelled in God’s goodness” (v25). REBELLION AGAIN – Read verses 26-31 Each generation has to learn for themselves. Sadly, we never learn from history. And each person has to find God for him or herself. God only has sons and daughters – no grandchildren. Soon the people began to rebel again, turning their back on God’s Law and becoming disobedient – making alliances with other countries instead of trusting in God. God allowed the inevitable to happen. The nation of Israel became divided; world powers (Assyria, Babylon and Persia) held the people of Israel in exile, in far off lands. Jerusalem had been destroyed and the area of Judah was desolate and uncared for. The people may have stayed in their country of exile – but for God’s compassion and mercy (v31).

A NEW BEGINNING - Read verses 32-38 God changed the heart of the Persian King Cyrus and raised up men like Ezra and Nehemiah in order to bring his people back to their homeland. And yet, it was no longer theirs. It still belonged to Persia. They still payed taxes and sent food to Persia. They were back home but they still felt like slaves, and Nehemiah says in his prayer, “We are in great distress” (v37) And so he proposes that they renew their covenant with the Lord. God was still faithful – they must commit themselves to be faithful to Him if they want to know his blessing in the newly rebuilt Jerusalem. In a way, this chapter is like the Christian life. We have our ups and downs. There are times when we take “one step forward and two steps back”. There are times when we commit ourselves afresh to the Lord and later grow a bit cold or become disobedient to his Law. We should never take God’s grace for granted but, Praise the Lord – he is patient and faithful, and – if we repent- he is willing to give us another chance. Praise him for his everlasting covenant!

Chapter 10 – KEEPING PROMISES Q. Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution? Can you think of one you have kept or one (maybe many!) that you have not kept? A SIGNED AGREEMENT - Read chapter 9v38: At the end of their service of repentance and dedication to the Lord, some of the Israelites sealed their commitment to be separate from other nations by signing a document. SIGNATORIES Read Chapter 10v1-27: In these verses we see that it was Nehemiah and the priests (v1-8); the Levites (v9-13; and the leaders of the people (v14-27). They made a conscious and considered decision to be different from the other nations and to follow God’s Law. PROMISES Read verse 29. What did the people promise in each of the following verses? Verse 30 Verse 31 Verses 32&33 Verses 34-39 (concerning the House of God) Q. In the light of all that we have read so far in Nehemiah do you think these people kept their promise to God? We all know that trying hard to be good doesn’t work too well. We all need the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives to help us. The Israelites were called and chosen to be different. In our church this year, our theme is “Daring to be different” – set apart for God’s work, committed to his will for our lives. We will only be successful if we mean it and if we rely on the Holy Spirit to work out his will in each one of us.

Chapter 11v1 – 12v26 Chapter 11 through to chapter 12v26 contains the list of all who became residents in the City of Jerusalem, whilst the rest of the population remained in their towns and villages and farmed the land. Why was a list of names important? These people were important because they wanted to complete the work God had called them to do. There would have been no point to finishing the wall and finishing the temple and then going home. A city does not run itself. The purpose of the city of Jerusalem was to glorify God amongst the nations.

So … amongst those who lived in the city were: · Those who volunteered to be leaders · Those who worked for the Lord in the Temple · Those who worked on the maintenance and upkeep · Those who prayed and those who sang · Those who upheld security/gatekeepers All kinds of people are needed to run a city and all kinds of people are needed to run a church. Nehemiah acknowledged all who were willing to be a part of the work. In the same way all sorts of people and giftings are needed to run a church. We should take time to recognise that for things to run smoothly a lot of people put in a lot of work. We may not get our name listed in the Bible, but we will surely be rewarded in Heaven.

Chapter 12v27-46

The dedication of the wall. This is the climax of Nehemiah’s book – singing and rejoicing and feasting at God’s goodness, with everyone willing to give.

Chapter 13 It would be nice if the Book of Nehemiah had ended at the end of chapter 12. But the Bible is about real people and real life. DISOBEDIENCE AND PERMISSIVENESS All the reforms and promises were short-lived. Nehemiah had been back in Persia serving the king (we don’t know for how long) and he was disappointed, upset and angry at what he found on his return. Nehemiah pointed out their sin. · Read verses 6-9 First, there was the disobedience of Eliashib. He had given room to Tobiah the Ammonite IN THE TEMPLE. Remember Tobiah – one of those who opposed the building, the same one to whom Nehemiah spoke a prophecy (see Nehemiah 2v20) saying that Tobiah would be barred from any claim in Jerusalem. The Temple had been defiles · Read verses 10-12 Secondly, not enough tithes were coming in, so the Levites (priestly tribe) had to go out to work in the fields to support their families, but ignoring their duties. · Read verses 15&16 Thirdly, they were not keeping the Sabbath. They were working and trading as on any other day. They had not obeyed Nehemiah’s order (v19) to close the Gates during the Sabbath. · Read verses 23&24 The people were once again intermarrying with people outside their faith. Nehemiah took action: He sent Tobiah packing and purified the Temple rooms (v8); he rebuked the Levites (v11); he rebuked the Sabbath breakers (v17); he took extreme action against some of those who had intermarried (v25)! Three times Nehemiah asked not to be judged for their sins (Read verses 14, 22b and 31b). Think about the reasons why. As a leader who identified himself with the people, Nehemiah carried the burden of responsibility for the rebuilding of the wall. That had been his commission from God. But Nehemiah also felt, very strongly, a burden of responsibility for their behaviour. He pleads with God for mercy because he feels he has failed in the latter. Because he had discharged his responsibility and had ensured the sacrifices for sin could continue, his one last plea was for God to show him favour and mercy.

The Estuary Elim Group of Churches are three Essex based Elim Pentecostal Churches in Ashingdon, Rayleigh and Southend on Sea with a shared Leadership team. We are a group of people responding to the love of God and the life changing message of Jesus Christ. Our services are lively with contemporary music, worship and preaching and teaching relevant to the 21st Century. To find out more about us visit Whether you are new to church, someone with questions or a committed Christian, we want to serve you and help you discover and fulfil God’s purpose for your life. If you would like an opportunity to email or talk to one of the team email your contact details to and we will get back to you. The Ashingdon, Rayleigh and Southend Elim Pentecostal Churches are branches of The Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance (Registered Charity No. 251549)

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