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#995

We, as Christians, are called to live on the margin of culture. That is, we are not, and cannot be, a part of the cultural mainstream, because of the blessed fact that our minds have been renewed in Christ.

Nehemiah 1

The second of the 5 books describing the time after a little group of about 50,000 or less (Judah and Benjamin) have returned to Jerusalem. Ezra has told us about the rebuilding of the temple, today we start to read about the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. Just as they needed a wall to protect them from the subtlety and violence of the enemy, so we need to keep separated, (not isolated) from the world. 2 Tim. 2:20-21 and 2 Cor. 6:14.
This book was about 12 years after Ezra's time. It gives us the last historical view of the people of God in the Old Testament. We believe we are living in the last days of God's people in this "day of grace". May we be as sensitive as to what God is saying to us today. But probably the greatest lesson for us to learn today is that Nehemiah (means Comfort of Jehovah), throughout his book shows that he constantly realized the ruined condition of God's people.

Neh 1:1 Shushan was in the land of their captivity. It is what is now Iran. Nehemiah lived in a palace, and yet we shall find that he left that palace and suffered a great deal of trouble because he loved the people of God.

Neh 1:2-3 Nehemiah inquired about his brethren the Jews who had gone back to their land, and he learns they are having a very hard time.

Neh 1:4-11 In this prayer, Nehemiah shows his deep love for his people, and his great grief because of their troubles.

Neh 1:6 He admits that these troubles have come because of sin and disobedience, but he does not blame others for it, but says... "I and my father's house have sinned". Nehemiah is aware of the sad ruin of his own people, the Jews, and he is also aware of the faithfulness of the Lord to whom he turns in prayer.

Neh 1:11 Nehemiah had a very honoured position there, but he wept and prayed because the people of the Lord were in distress and trouble. Notice the great king was only "this man" before God.

#996

A little boy said, "I know why flowers grow. They want to hurry and get out of the dirt." (Romans 12:9)

Nehemiah 2

Neh 2:2 The king notices that Nehemiah looks sad, and asks the reason. To appear sad in the presence of the king might mean death.

Neh 2:4-5 Between the question and the answer, there was a quick silent prayer to the Lord. What a good habit for any of us!

Neh 2:5-8 The king hears his request and it is promptly granted.

Neh 2:10 Signs of trouble ahead. Two men, Sanballat and Tobiah hear about Nehemiah's visit and they are very upset. (Sanballat was of Moab - Tobiah was of Ammon. Their wicked beginning is told in Genesis 19:32-38).

Neh 2:12-18 Nehemiah makes a tour of inspection and finds the conditions to be very bad. But in verse 18, he speaks with confidence of the hand of God. We too are living in a similar day of indifference, but we can also count on the Lord to be with us, and we can also rise up and build up (encourage) one another.

Neh 2:19 Those 2 enemies again, and one more join together to laugh and to mock.

#997

Unless there is within us that which is above us, we will soon succumb to that which is around us. (Colossians 3:1-3).

Nehemiah 3, Verses 1-13

The building of the wall around the city of Jerusalem. It was to keep those within the city safe and separate from their enemies outside. We ought to love those who are still outside, lost and guilty, but we ought not to mix with them.

Neh 3:1 Eliashib, the high priest does some building. But read 13:4 and 28. He was connected to the enemies. Then look at verses 20 & 21 of our chapter; he didn't build in front of his own house. These men build the sheep gate - the first gate mentioned, for it is as lost sheep that we are found and redeemed and brought inside.

Neh 3:3 The fish gate. (Now we are saved, and one of His sheep, we can be "fishers of men", to win others for the Lord).

Neh 3:5 How some did their work.

Neh 3:6 The "old gate". (Today when everything that is old is considered out of date, it is good to remember that the truth of God never goes out of date).

Neh 3:12 (Perhaps there are some daughters who don't like it too well when their fathers build a wall, and restrain them from worldly friends and amusements). These faithful daughters helped their father to build the wall!

#998

The worst of all chastening is that He should leave us to follow our own ways.

Nehemiah 3, Verses 14-32

Neh 3:14 The dung gate! (Paul said "I count all things but loss... and do count them but dung that I may win Christ". All that seems so valuable is only dung and worthless compared with Christ). Malchiah put locks and bars on that gate.

Neh 3:23 Here two men repaired "over against their house". (It is one thing to tell someone else that they ought to be faithful and separate, but it is another thing to apply it to our own family).

Neh 3:30 "Over against his chamber". This is the most personal of all... (Not telling others what to do, nor even this time his own house or family, but his own chamber - right where he lived).

Neh 3:32 Right where we started. The wall is completed, and now the people of God are inside and the enemy is outside.

#999

If the film of this world has been drawn over our spiritual vision, hiding Christ from us, He alone can remove it.

Nehemiah 4

Neh 4:1-6 These same two enemies were very angry; they mocked about the work. But Nehemiah says "so we built the wall". Don't let mockery or anger stop you from living for the glory of the Lord. There may even be other Christians who will mock you and tell you that you are too separate - but just go on building your wall.

Neh 4:14 Nehemiah encourages the workers and says "remember the Lord..."

Neh 4:16-23 From that day on, there was watching and diligence and a readiness to defend this work of the Lord. In Ephesians chapter 6, we read of the whole armour of God, and we need all of it, for there are many mighty and watchful enemies.

#1000

Alliance with the world prevents our overcoming the world.

Nehemiah 5

Neh 5:1-5 Trouble among these very workers. Greed is a terrible sin.

Neh 5:6-13 Nehemiah is angry about this, and speaks very sharply, and makes them promise to restore and set right, that which they had taken wrongfully. His words of rebuke had their effect, and the guilty ones promise to restore all.

Neh 5:14-16 Nehemiah himself sets a good example of faithfulness and unselfishness. If we wish to encourage others to please the Lord, it will not have much result unless we ourselves are living as we should. Nehemiah says "because of the fear of the Lord".

Neh 5:17-19 Nehemiah cared for his people and even for the heathen! Selfishness is hateful to the Lord. If we really love the people of God, there are plenty of opportunities to show it.

#1001

The Word of God will not be simple without subjection to Him.

Nehemiah 6

Neh 6:1-4 The same enemies have not given up their hatred, but this time they try another method. They suggest to Nehemiah that he should "come and let us meet together..." How harmless that sounded. Nehemiah said "no" four times. Today the "Ecumenical Movement" is a great effort to try to unite all the religious groups together to form one great church. We have a picture of it here. May our answer be "no" also.

Neh 6:5-8 The enemy tries again, with false accusations, and says "Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together". Again Nehemiah refused to be tricked.

Neh 6:9 He turns to God for strength.

Neh 6:10-14 Further attempts to hinder this servant of God. Nehemiah takes it all to the Lord and goes quietly on with his work.

Neh 6:15 The work is finished. The wall and all of its gates were now completed.

Neh 6:17-19 Instead of mocking or threatening, the enemy tries to make friends with some inside the wall. We even find marriage between those enemies outside and God's people inside, for Meshullam was one of the builders of the wall.

#1002

Where there is spiritual discernment, things get simple and clear as daylight. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.

Nehemiah 7

Neh 7:2 Hanani was given charge over Jerusalem. It does not say that he was rich or wise, or skillful. But he was faithful and he feared God.

Neh 7:3 Watchfulness - the gates were not to be opened till the sun was hot. This would be when there was plenty of light, so that no enemy would get in by pretending that he was a real citizen of the city. If that wall was built to shelter God's people, and to keep them in separation, then there must be faithfulness in keeping out those who have no heart for the Lord.

Neh 7:5-66 A long list of the names of those who lived in the city, altogether 42,360. God knew the name of every one of them.

Neh 7:64 Here were some whose names were not found. But in Phil. 4:3 we find those that had their names in the "book of life"!

#1003

The nearer a man walks with God through grace, the more tender he becomes to the faults of others.

Nehemiah 8

Neh 8:1-8 Men and women gathered at the water gate, and listened from morning till noon while Ezra read to them from the Word of God. How important it is for us to follow the call of the Lord, to come out from the religious confusion that is pictured by Babylon, and then, to hear His Word.

Neh 8:8 So important to read the scriptures distinctly, and explain them so that they can be understood. This brings joy, see verse 11.

Neh 8:9-12 The Lord Himself found joy in seeing His people gathered back to His centre.

Neh 8:13-18 They kept the "feast of tabernacles" (a picture of the coming millennium). Let it also be our daily habit to read the Word of the Lord.

#1004

Submission to the divine will is the softest pillow on which to recline.

Nehemiah 9

A change from gladness to fasting! There was gladness because they kept the feast that spoke of future blessing. We too can rejoice as we look forward to the time when the Lord Himself shall come and take us all home. But when we think of how we often fail, it is good for us to be humbled. What a picture of serious confession!

Neh 9:2-3 Important steps - separation from all strangers - confessing their sins - reading in the book of the law, and worshipping the Lord. There would be more worship if we remembered these other important things.

Neh 9:4-38 A wonderful record of the faithful ways of God from the days of Abraham.

Neh 9:16-17 Their guilt and unfaithfulness are remembered - but so is the kindness of God.

Neh 9:18-19 Israel's failure and God's faithfulness. (We have failed so much, but the Lord has been so faithful to us. We are thankful for His faithfulness.)

Neh 9:33 What a beautiful confession! Let us ever be ready to admit fully our own failure.

#1005

Satan gets entrance for his full power in the soul the moment there is a shade of distrust in God.

Nehemiah 10

The names of those that sealed that covenant - beginning with Nehemiah. In addition to all those who signed the covenant, in verse 28 we read "and the rest of the people..." Your life is either a help or a hindrance to every other believer.

Neh 10:32-39 We find a happy readiness to bring to the Lord all that could be used in His service.

Neh 10:34 What is this "wood offering?" No offering made by fire could ever be made, if there was no wood. Perhaps the Israelite who brought a few armfuls of wood to the priest, thought his work was of no value. But the Lord called it a "wood offering", and valued it.
See how often "the house of God" or "the house of the Lord" is named.

#1006

Liberty of the will is just slavery to the devil.

Nehemiah 11

The people were settled in different parts of the land. We find many names, for God has an individual interest in each one of His own.

Neh 11:2 Connect this verse with Psalm 137:5,6.

Neh 11:19 The porters, or gatekeepers. Some people were kept out who felt they ought to be let in. But faithful men were chosen for this work.

Neh 11:22 Singers. What joy it must bring to the heart of God when He looks down and sees His people singing for joy of heart.

#1007

The difference between the Bible and all other textbooks is this: in order to understand the Bible you must know the Author.

Nehemiah 12

Each one known by name to the Lord.

Neh 12:24-25 Three times in this chapter, singers and porters are mentioned. Singers, to praise the Lord. Porters to guard the doors. Notice in verse 25 - porters keeping the ward at the threshold of the gates. Right at the very threshold these faithful men stood.

Neh 12:29 Notice where the singers lived. They wanted to be near Jerusalem.

Neh 12:36 Notice who is leading his brethren... Ezra, the faithful scribe.

Neh 12:43 What wonderful singing, and what praise. "God had made them rejoice with great joy".

Neh 12:45 "According to the commandment of David", they went back to the original time.

#1008

Our Textbook is the Word of God, our Teacher is the Holy Spirit, and our classroom is life. Our Lord may teach us at home, or in the assembly, or in the everyday life. But the goal is always the same - righteousness! - conformity to Christ.

Nehemiah 13

Neh 13:1-3 When the Word of the Lord was read, it was found that no Ammonite or Moabite was ever to come into the congregation of the Lord. As soon as they heard this, they acted on it, and separated themselves from the "mixed multitude". This wasn't the first time they did this separating. About 11 years before, in chapter 9:2, they had realized they had been mixing in with the world around them. (Satan's most successful trap is to lead us back into friendship with unbelievers). We've mentioned the wall of separation in this book often. May we realize what it means for us today.

Neh 13:4-9 Hard to believe this would happen. Eliashib was the very first one to build when the wall was commenced in chapter 3. He, a priest, had actually given that room to Tobiah; one of those active enemies! Nehemiah was very upset so he cast out everything that belonged to Tobiah and cleaned out that room and restored it to its proper use. Thank God for faithful men!

Neh 13:17 Nehemiah speaks to the nobles, because they had no regard for the Sabbath.

Neh 13:21 Now he speaks to the merchants because they also failed to honour the Sabbath.

Neh 13:25 Again he speaks to some of the Jews, who had taken heathen wives, and reminds them that this was one of the very things which caused king Solomon to fail so badly. Was it right for Nehemiah to reprove so much? It was. He was contending for that which was right in the sight of the Lord. Let us remember that the Word of God is given to us to read and to obey. Read Jude V.3. Four times Nehemiah prays, "remember me, O my God"... they are his last words.

 

by Norman Berry - 1911-2001
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