Nehemiah Intro – His name means “Yahweh comforts.” The years of history the book covers are 445-431 B.C. and maybe a bit more. Even though the book spans about 15 years, most of the activity Nehemiah recorded took place in 445-444 B.C. (chapters 1—12) and in 432-431 B.C.(ch. 13). Nehemiah was also a governor of Judah under Persian rule and was mainly responsible for the rebuilding of the city walls of Jerusalem for the Jews who had been released from Babylonian captivity and allowed to settle into their original land.

Nehemiah 1 – He reveals that he was a cup bearer for the king (probably a food-tester as well). When he heard the news that Jews had returned to their land but had no protection in Jerusalem due to the destroyed walls and gates, he wept and mourned for days. He then fasted before the Lord and repented of his sin and the sin of his household and of the Jews in general, and prayed an intercessory prayer on their behalf. He cited God’s promise of gathering together his people if they turn to Him and obey. The stage had now been set for God to rebuild the strength of His chosen people (“chosen” in the sense of bearing the responsibility of how to He keep God’s Word so other nations could be blessed and saved as well).

Application for Today: Humbling ourselves before God and praying and fasting always sets the stage for God’s Spirit to move favorably.

Nehemiah 2 – Nehemiah secures permission from the king of Persia to actually travel to Jerusalem to rebuild it. However, a Moabite official in Samaria named Sanballat along with an Ammonite named Tobiah opposed Nehemiah immediately with mockery and disdain. Nehemiah responded with faith by saying that the work will be done and completed but that those two men would have no portion, right, or memorial in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 3 – This contains a list of specific names who began to build various sections.

Nehemiah 4 – As word reached the enemies of the Hebrews, tension mounted. Verbal attacks and mockery were hurled at the builders. When the walls were completely joined, although only at half height, the enemies got so angry that they prepared for a physical battle and a surprise attack plan. But Nehemiah was told this by his people who happened to live near the enemies. So he organized a great defense plan by arming every builder with a sword while they worked and had many armed men standing guard while workers kept working from sunrise to sundown. Families were ordered to now remain inside Jerusalem for added protection. They were all very determined to finish the security for Jerusalem. They didn’t even change clothes during this busy, tense time.

Application for Today: When we move in God’s direction, especially when it is a very important direction, opposition will rise up. While Nehemiah responded with physical weaponry, we need to respond with spiritual weaponry. The true source of all opposition to godly works or godliness stems from the demonic realm, not the humans who are the pawns of God’s enemy. While Nehemiah’s attack came from outside so far, the next attack would be from internal sources. This may also be our fate when moving forward in the Spirit, so be on guard and expect it, but DO NOT FEAR IT.

Nehemiah 5 – Internal struggles begin. Rich Jews were lending money at a very high interest rate to other Hebrews and that became too oppressive financially. It was causing some to sell their daughters into slavery trying to make ends meet, and in many cases even that was not enough. When Nehemiah found out what was happening, he was furious and called an assembly meeting. He loudly condemned the rich Jews for doing such a thing to their brothers while emphasizing that they had powerful enemies surrounding them and want to take away their inheritance. Why should they make all matters worse?! He demanded that they return all property and crops and to cancel the mortgages, and they agreed. Nehemiah’s ability to change the greedy hearts to obey a giving spirit indicates that he had a great anointing from God. Also, internal Christian squabbling inhibits the focus of outreach and maintaining a strong guard against outside evil forces that scheme against God’s churches

Nehemiah 6 – When the rebuilding was almost completed, Nehemiah’s enemy, Sanballat, wanted a meeting with him, but Nehemiah refused because he discerned his enemy would kill him. Four more times Sanballat tried to get a meeting with him, but he refused each time. Finally, Sanballat threatened to send a letter to the Persian king claiming that Nehemiah was rebelling against him and was going to be a rival king. But Nehemiah knew that was a lie and would not be intimidated as he prayed to God for strength. Then a man within the walls counseled him to hide in the Temple because Sanballat was coming to kill him that night. But Nehemiah knew that it would be a sin for a non-priest to go there, so he realized that this counsel was not from God. The truth was that Sanballat had hired this guy to say that so that an evil report would result from Nehemiah’s sinful action thus ruining his reputation with all the people. Then Nehemiah prayed that God would not forget what Sanballat and Tobiah had been doing against him. The walls and gates were finished in only 52 days which is quite remarkable even without opposition! The enemies became more afraid because they now realized that God had helped Nehemiah succeed. They would not stop trying to discredit Nehemiah, however. Tobiah was writing many letters to those rich Jews within the walls because he had the power of influence over them due to intermarriages among the Moabites, Ammonites and Jews. The letters were all bragging about Tobiah’s supposed good deeds (but all the while he was sending letters to Nehemiah to scare him). These people had hatred for the Jews. The current Middle East conflict goes way back in Biblical history and is deeply rooted in the hatred and jealousy which started with Isaac and Ishmael.

Applications for Today: There is much to learn about the schemes of our enemy.

1) 2 Corinthians says that “We are not ignorant of his devices (schemes). These chapters in Nehemiah reveal that Satan and his demons inspire attacks against righteousness both externally and internally. First, Nehemiah had to deal with external threats (armies that wanted to kill them all). Second, he had to deal with internal problems which were thwarted because of his reliance upon God to strengthen him. Often our internal struggles arise from within groups of believers and churches due to the actions of the spirit of error or some sin or some sinful attitude on someone’s part. The demonic strategy is basically to sneak in unnoticed and begin working its agenda. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the “distinguishing of spirits” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:10. It is a valuable one to have!
2) Nehemiah had to rely on discernment from God to survive and know how to handle dangerous situations. So do we.
3) When urges or counsel tells us to go against God’s Word, we know it is not from God. All advice MUST conform to His Holy Word. The better we know it, the better our discernment will be.
4) The Spirit of evil never stops trying to steal, kill, or destroy (John 10:10). Even after Satan was finished tempting Jesus three times, he left waiting for another opportunity to get at Him. We have an enemy seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8) and we therefore must always be on guard against him. He usually strikes hard at our weakest moment. Fortunately for us, Christ, at His weakest moment (dying on the cross), never gave in to Satan’s taunts. Therefore, when he strikes at us, we can turn the battle over to Jesus and be spared (1Corinthians 10:13). This power will never be known to this world and the people that belong to it (John 14:17).

Nehemiah 7 – Nehemiah now organized guards and other officials in a well protected Jerusalem. A long list of genealogies of the returning exiles was presented. Once organized, many of the people returned to their homes outside of Jerusalem, but when September came, they all returned.

Nehemiah 8 – When they all gathered back to Jerusalem, they were as one man and listened intently to Ezra who read from the Book of the Law of Moses from early morning to midday. They had so much reverence for the Word of God that when he opened up the Book, the people all stood up and bowed and worshiped the Lord. It was such an emotional time for them that they began to weep and mourn, but Ezra encouraged them to rejoice in God for the “joy of the Lord was their strength.” The people began to follow all of the ordinances of Moses, and Ezra read from the Book of the Law every day.

Applications for Today:

1) O that all Christians would have a reverence for God’s Holy Word as these people had.
2) The joy of the Lord is our strength. If we do not have His joy, we need to ask Him why because something is restraining it, and whatever it is, it is not of God. God will be happy to removed it for us. This joy is not a derivative of worldly circumstance, social status, or some cheap short-term physical thrill. It comes from knowing Him, having His love forever, and knowing that all evil will end. This world does not understand it nor will ever embrace it, yet it is one of the best attributes to emanate toward people who have little or no idea about why they exist. Some may think we are crazy, but if we have built a relationship with them, they will know that we have a sound mind and precious inner strength.

Nehemiah 9 – On the 24th day of September they all gathered with fasting and dressed in sackcloth with dirt on them in order to mourn and repent from past sin and especially their forefathers long history of sin and rebellion. Much of that history was once again proclaimed by the Levites to all the people so they would know the faithfulness of God and the unfaithfulness of man.

Nehemiah 10 – A formal document was officially signed and agreed upon by the people to serve and honor God according to the Laws of Moses and to take care of the house of the Lord.

Nehemiah 11 – Contains a list of people who lived in Jerusalem. One out of ten volunteered to live inside the city’s walls and the other people blessed them for that.

Nehemiah 12 – The walls of Jerusalem were dedicated with much joy and worship. The rejoicing was so intense that many heard about from afar.

Nehemiah 13 – Nehemiah had left Jerusalem to be with king of Persia and when he returned, the Hebrews were backsliding away from God and His Laws already. So he rebuked them and moved quickly to restore them to the correct way of life. He stopped the abuses and issued in reforms. At times he was very harsh, but he got the job done. Mixed marriages once again had to be condemned and banished from their land. This was not because of race, but due to the powerful influence of pagan worship. If it weren’t for God working through Ezra and Nehemiah, the Jewish faith, which produced the world’s Messiah, may have been wiped off the earth. The way they brought back the Word of God seemed to trigger the comeback from the years of exile. May we, today, also, have people wanting to know what God’s Word says.