Showing posts with label Nehemiah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nehemiah. Show all posts

Monday, October 7, 2013

Nehemiah 13

Rebuilding a city with Love

Nehemiah’s Final Reforms
Due to Balaam trying to utter curses upon the Israelites, they separated themselves from the multitude.
Nehemiah 13:1 On that day the Book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people and there it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God 
The storeroom of the House of LORD was cleaned out, which were being used by the enemies of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 13:9 I gave orders to purify the rooms, and then I put back into them the equipment of the house of God, with the grain offerings and the incense.
Nehemiah recovered and secured the portions for the priests, Levites and the musicians.

Strict orders were given to purify and observe Sabbath.
Nehemiah 13:17 I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day?
Nehemiah was tough with those who married women from outside. He did not want to repeat the same mistake that King Solomon made.
Nehemiah 13:25 I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God’s name and said: “You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves. 
Finally, Nehemiah purified everything in Jerusalem and made provisions for the LORD.


Nehemiah 12

Dedication of the wall
Priests and Levites
It was necessary to document who the priests and Levites were, during the days of:
- Zerubbabel, the high priest,
- Joiakim,
- Darius.

The Dedication Ceremony
All Levites were brought out to Jerusalem for the dedication ceremony. Along with them, were the singers to worship LORD through singing. 

Purification of people, gates, and the wall followed.
Nehemiah 12:30 When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall.
Two choir led Jerusalem in cheerful praises.
Nehemiah 12:43 And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.
On the same day, there were other aspects of celebration and leaders were appointed over them to 
- take care of rooms of the storehouse for the offerings, 
- gather the firstfruits, tithes, etc., 

Holy things for Levites were consecrated as well. 

Nehemiah 11

Nehemiah now narrates about the walls. Note that Nehemiah's story is not necessarily in chronological order.

The New Residents of Jerusalem
In order to get the Jews to live in the city, faith in the LORD was required. Lots were cast and one in ten were moved into the city.
Nehemiah 11:2 The people commended all who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.
This section also provides a roster of those who moved in, as well as those cities and villages populated by the rest. 

Nehemiah 10

The Agreement of the People (Contd...)
The section gives the roster of those who sealed the covenant.
- Nehemiah,
- Levites,
- Leaders,
- Priests,
- Gatekeepers,
- Musicians,
- Temple servants

They bound themselves with a curse and and an oath to follow the Law of the LORD.
- Not to have inter-marriages,
- To observe the Sabbath,
- To provide offerings to the Temple,
- To bring firstfruits of crops to the temple,
- To dedicate their firstborns to the house of God,
- To tithe,

and finally, not to neglect the house of God.

Image Credits:

Nehemiah 9

People repent their sins

The Israelites Confess Their Sins
On the twenty fourth (24th) day, the Jews gathered and repented their sins. There were Levites standing on the stairs and saying, “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.”

Their miraculous journey of deliverance from Egypt, how the LORD came down and spoke to their ancestors on Mount Sinai, and their journey through the wilderness to the land of Canaan was remembered.

They thanked the LORD for delivering them from their enemies. They also recalled how their forefathers rebelled against the LORD. They appreciated the patience of the LORD, even though their ancestors paid no attention to the word of LORD. The people repented and cried out in distress saying,
Nehemiah 9:33 In all that has happened to us, you have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly.
The Agreement of the People
The people then sealed a covenant with the LORD.


Nehemiah 8

Chapters 8 - 13 describes the spiritual growth of the Jews who returned from exile.

Ezra Reads the Law
The Jews gathered in the square before the Water Gate, Ezra read out the book of the Law of Moses. People had an appetite for the word of God.
Nehemiah 8:5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 
For many hours, Ezra read the books of Law, as the time coincided with the Feast of the Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and the Feast of the Tabernacle.

When people heard the word of the LORD, they wept, with grief of their sins. Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Levites calmed the people saying not to grieve and to rejoice instead.

The next day the leaders and heads of families met up with Ezra to discuss about those temporary shelters described in Leviticus 23:37-40.

Ezra continued reading the Book of the Law of God.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Nehemiah 7

Construction in progress

Nehemiah set doors in place after the wall was rebuilt. He appointed Hanani, a man of integrity and who feared LORD more than most people. He also appointed guards and gatekeepers and gave them instructions when to open the gates and when to shut it.

The List of Exiles who Returned
The city was deserted and Nehemiah set out to rebuild the city. He met the nobles, city officials and common people.

The list of those returned families is given in this section. The list was about 2% of those people who were taken away into exile.
Nehemiah 7:73 The priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the musicians and the temple servants, along with certain of the people and the rest of the Israelites, settled in their own towns.
Some claimed to be priests, but their lineage could not be identified, and were asked to wait till it was clarified.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Nehemiah 6

Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem
Further opposition to the building
This chapter continues on those oppositions. When people went back to work, so did the enemies of Jerusalem. The attacks were aimed on the leader - Nehemiah.

The enemies used guile and invited Nehemiah four times to meet with them. All four times Nehemiah said, “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”

The fifth time, Nehemiah received an open letter with slanderous accusations that he was plotting to attack them. At the end of the accusation, there was another invitation, "Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”
Nehemiah 6:8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”
Shemaiah, a false prophet was hiding inside his own house. When Nehemiah went to meet him, Shemaiah urged Nehemiah to go hide in the Temple. Nehemiah, apparaently was not afraid to point out that he was not going to the temple. Nehemiah also figured out that Shemaiah was a liar.

The construction of the wall was completed in fifty two (52) days.

Opposition to the Completed Wall
When news got out that the construction was completed, enemies were afraid. Several compromising nobles tried hard for Nehemiah to accept the enemy. He had a work to complete, and he did it.

--------------Additional Info 1
City Walls
Old City walls of Jerusalem

--------------Additional Info 2
If anyone ever decides to follow the LORD, be sure to meet the enemy - Satan. He steps in with his snares of temptation aimed at those spiritual leaders. Further, Satan uses slander terms such as, "It is reported," "They say," "I have heard," etc.

Finally, a word of caution - Satan is most dangerous, when he disguises himself and appears to us as one of our own friends!

Nehemiah 5

Nehemiah helps poor

Nehemiah Helps the Poor
Burning issues took center stage. Strife among the Jews caused a split between them. There was was a famine in the land, and people where low on cash. They had hardly anything to eat and construction work came to a grinding halt. The rich had lend the poor money on interest and this angered Nehemiah.
Nehemiah 5:6 When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry.
He then called for a large meeting and accused the rich of taking advantage of the situation, by charging interest. They agreed to the conditions set forth, and took an oath to honor it.

Being the governor, Nehemiah received lots of food from the King, which he used to feed the hungry.

Nehemiah 4

Nehemiah's crew fighting the opposition

Opposition to the Rebuilding
The enemies of Jerusalem were greatly incensed at the news of the city walls being rebuilt. Their first weapon of opposition was ridicule - a weapon used by those filled with jealousy. Nehemiah did not allow his men to fall into Satan's trap by picking up a fight against the enemies who were showering insults. He instead continued his prayers and carried on with the work.
Nehemiah 4:6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
The next step in discouragement was by using force. The enemies conspired and came to fight. To handle this threat, Nehemiah strengthened the prayers and also set a watch.
Nehemiah 4:9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
In the third step, enemy used the tactic of discouragement and complaining, which arose from within. The tactic that Nehemiah used was not to pay attention to these complaints. He continued construction, praying and watching.

Fourth step in opposition is inflicting fear. There was rumor that the enemies would come attack anytime. Nehemiah tacked this folly by handing his workers with weapon in one hand and tool in the other. Half his men were armed with weapons and on guard. He also encouraged them with the presence of the LORD and to fight for their families and homes. Orders were given to assemble at the sound of trumpet if required. Everyone stayed alert.

In a nutshell, Nehemiah prepared against the opposition by inspiring them to have:
- a focused mind,
- a praying heart,
- a watchful eye, and
- a listening ear.

Additional Reading
The best example of a mocker is the Satan himself - in Luke 22:63, 23:35-37. 

Nehemiah 3

Nehemiah building the wall

Builders of the Wall
This chapter lists those who worked on the project. Spiritual leaders took the lead in building the wall. There were a variety of workers such as:
- Priests,
- Rulers,
- Women,
- Craftsmen,
- Jews from other cities

Various gates that were repaired:
- The sheep gate,
- The fish gate,
- The old gate,
- The valley gate,
- The dung gate,
- The gate of fountain,
- The water gate,
- The horse gate,
- The east gate,
- The gate Miphkad

Nehemiah 2

Artaxerxes Sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem
Nobody was supposed to enter the King's presence with a sad face. When the king noticed Nehemiah being sad, he inquired the situation. Nehemiah confessed it was due to the sad state of his ancestor's city, which was burned down. With the King's permission and backing, Nehemiah set out to Jerusalem. The enemies of Jerusalem learned about this plan, and were disturbed.

Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls
Then Nehemiah made a secret trip to Jerusalem, which took him three months. In the night, he went and carefully examined the extend of damage which affected the gates and walls. Then, he estimated the effort required to rebuild it.

Nehemiah discussed this matter with the Jews and shared his motive of rebuilding the wall.
Nehemiah 2:17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.”

The enemies of Jerusalem came by, mocked and ridiculed them. Nehemiah told them they had no share in this reconstruction project and ignored their scorn.

Nehemiah 1

Nehemiah’s Prayer
The year was 445 BC and LORD was looking for someone to restore safety and order in Jerusalem. At the time when Nehemiah, the cup-bearer of the King of Persia, wrote this book, Jerusalem was in a deplorable condition.
Nehemiah 1:3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
Day and night, he wept and prayed for four months, confessing his sins as well as his people's sins. He also submitted himself for the work of the LORD.

------------------------Additional Reading
The following Psalms portray the picture of a shameful city:
Psalms 79
Psalms 122
Psalms 137