By now, you probably know the drill. If you are new, this series, as you may have deciphered, is an outline of the entire Bible, book by good ol’ book. If you want to truly know your King, you can follow this link to read all of the current portions to date!
Previously in Nehemiah… Nehemiah was called by the Lord to return to Jerusalem, and he returned with the full force of the Persian empire behind him. He quickly began work evaluating, organizing, and eventually putting to task many to rebuild the walls around the city. Despite continued opposition, the walls were built in record time, and Nehemiah continued his reform throughout the nation. He stopped much oppression and abuse of power; he appointed trustworthy rulers, Hanani and Hananiah, over the city; and the people were able to return to their respective homes after all was said and done.
BEFORE READING MORE – It would be ideal if you read the chapters to be discussed prior to looking through the outline! This week we are covering Nehemiah 8-12.
NEHEMIAH – The cupbearer to the Persian King Artaxerxes was called by the Lord to go back to Jerusalem and restore a seemingly wayward and discouraged nation of captives who had returned under the time of Zerubbabel and Ezra. Most notably, the city and freshly rebuilt temple was open to enemies since the surrounding walls had not been rebuilt. So he worked hard to organize the Israelites to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in record time (only about 52 days!), and as governor, he worked in conjunction with the priest, Ezra, to renew the nations understanding and passion for the book of the law of Moses.
- Nehemiah 8 | Ezra reads from he book of the Law of God – Nehemiah and the Levites encourage the people of Israel – The people keep the feast in the seventh month according to the Law: After all was settled with the walls of the city, Ezra stood before the congregation and reads the Book of the Law of Moses.
And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. | Nehemiah 8:5-6
Nehemiah presents a challenging image of complete humility, and I question why I’ve yet to respond to such a great God in a similar fashion.
Lord help my unbelief! So Ezra read with many men who stood beside him and helped the people understand. The Lord blessed them with ability to give the word plainly, much like the teachers/speakers/preachers of today.
They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. | Nehemiah 8:8
Naturally, the people were led to tears as they heard the words of the Law, most likely convicted of their own sin, but Ezra and Nehemiah emboldened them to rejoice in such a holy day! So they did, and as they learned from the law, they found the command for the feast of booths that was to take place at that time exactly. So the people celebrated the Feast and followed His command showing their love for Him once again.
And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. | Nehemiah 8:17
For reference the time span between Joshua who ushered in the period of the Judges before the Kings and Ezra was a span of roughly 500 years!
- Nehemiah 9-10 | A Summary of Israel’s History from a Godly perspective – A new covenant made with the Lord: Chapter 9 of Nehemiah is a beautiful compilation of Israels tumultuous history from a Godly perspective. We read of the struggles, failures, repentance, and redemption of the nation, and the people bless the Lord for his persistent faithfulness. We are reminded of Abraham; Egypt and the Red Sea; the Mount Zion; the 40 years in the wilderness; the promised land; the Judges; the Kings; and we see a desire to establish a covenant as the nation of Judah chose to press on! This new covenant was signed by Nehemiah (the governor), the leaders, the Levites, and the priests. They recommitted their lives to walk according to the commandments of the Lord:
The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who have separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding, join with their brothers, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law that was given to Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord and his rules and his statutes. | Nehemiah 10:28-29
- Nehemiah 11-12 | The leaders and a portion of each nation lived in Jerusalem – The priests and Levites documented – The people rejoice – Of the remnant of the people of Israel, 1 out of 10 were chosen by casting lots to live in the rebuilt city of Jerusalem. The chosen were recorded in detail in Nehemiah 8 from the people of Judah, Benjamin, the Levites, the priests, which included the gatekeepers and the temple. These men and their families lived within the walls of the great city. The men that were chosen totaled 2,222. The rest of the people of Judah and Benjamin lived in many villages in the land surrounding the city. In chapter 12, Ezra documents the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubabbel. After all of this, the people rejoiced at the rebuilding of the wall and the reorganization of the nation:
And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away. | Nehemiah 12:43Finally, men are appointed to minister to the Temple as commanded by David and Solomon, which had not been done in centuries. The time of Zerubabbel (the king), the descendant of David, Nehemiah (the prophet), and Ezra (the priest) was clearly marked by a powerful work of the Spirit as documented in Ezra and Nehemiah. They were but a glimpse of the one who was to be Prophet, Priest, and King!