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.
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"
A little boy said, "I know why flowers grow.
They want to hurry and get out of the dirt."
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
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.
Unless there is within us that which is above us,
we will soon succumb to that which is around us.
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!
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.
If the film of this world has been drawn over our
spiritual vision, hiding Christ from us, He alone
can remove it.
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
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.
Alliance with the world prevents our overcoming
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.
The Word of God will not be simple without
subjection to Him.
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.
Where there is spiritual discernment, things get
simple and clear as daylight. The secret of the
Lord is with them that fear Him.
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"!
The nearer a man walks with God through grace,
the more tender he becomes to the faults of
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
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.
Submission to the divine will is the softest
pillow on which to recline.
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.
Satan gets entrance for his full power in the
soul the moment there is a shade of distrust in
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
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
See how often "the house of God" or
"the house of the Lord" is named.
Liberty of the will is just slavery to the devil.
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
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.
The difference between the Bible and all other
textbooks is this: in order to understand the
Bible you must know the Author.
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.
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.
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.
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