Brave Hearts Ministry


Nehemiah

Memory Verse:

  “So the wall was  completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty two days.  When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of God.” Nehemiah 6:15, 16

Facts about Nehemiah
        
Purpose:  Nehemiah is the last of the Old Testament Historical books.  It records the history of the third return to Jerusalem after captivity, telling how the walls were rebuilt and the people were renewed in their faith

Author:  Much of the book is written in the first person, suggesting Nehemiah as the author.  Nehemiah probably wrote the book with Ezra serving as editor.

Original Audience:  The exiles who returned from captivity.

Date Written:  approximately 445-432 B.C.

Setting: Zerubbabel led the first return to Jerusalem in 538 B.C.  In 458, Ezra led the second return.  Finally, in 445 Nehemiah returned with the third group of exiles to rebuild the city walls.

Special Feature:  The book shows the fulfillment of the prophecies of Zechariah and Daniel concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls.

Summary of Lessons

Lesson 1:  Rebuilding the Wall
Lesson 2:  Artaxerxes Sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem
Lesson 3:  Builders of the Wall
Lesson 4:  Opposition to the Rebuilding
Lesson 5:  Dedication of the Wall of Jerusalem

Lesson 1: Rebuilding the Wall

Nehemiah 1:1-11  “In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani on of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.  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.’
    When I heard these things, I sat down and wept.  For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.  Then I said; “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel.  I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you.  We have acted very wickedly toward you.  We have  not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.      
    Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.
They are your servants and you people whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand.  O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and  the prayer of your servants who delight in revering our name.’”   

Questions:

1.  What had happened to the wall of Jerusalem and its gates?  The gates had been broken down and the wall burned.
2.  When Nehemiah heard this what did he do?  He wept, mourned, fasted and prayed.
3.  How did Nehemiah start his prayer?  O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands.
4.  What was so important for the people to do?  Love God and obey his commands.
5.  What did Nehemiah include in his prayer?  He asked for forgiveness for himself and his father’s house.
6. What specific did Nehemiah name as the sins they had committed?  Acted wickedly toward God, did not obey his commands, decrees and laws Moses had given them from God.
7.  God did make a promise to these people.  What was it?  If you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them and bring them to the place I have given them as a dwelling place for my name.
8.  We still need to confess ours sins to God and ask for forgiveness.  He will forgive us and watch over us.  We have Jesus as our savior who died for our sins.  What an awesome God we have.  Discuss ways you pray and ask for forgiveness.

Summary:

Although the Jews completed the temple in 516 B.C. the city walls remained in shambles for the next 70 years.  These walls represented power, protection, and beauty to the city of Jerusalem.  They were also desperately needed to protect the temple from attack and to ensure the continuity of worship.  God put the desire to rebuild the walls in Nehemiah’s heart, giving him a vision for the work.  


Lesson 2:  Artaxerxes Sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem

Nehemiah 2:1-9  “In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king.  I had not been sad in his presence before; so the king asked me, ‘Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill?  This can be nothing but sadness of heart.’
    I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, ‘May the king live forever!  Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire.’
    The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?’  Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, ‘If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.’
    Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him asked me, ‘How long will your journey take and when will you get back’  It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.  I also said to him, “’f it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah?  May I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?
    Because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests.  So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters.  The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.
 
Nehemiah 2:11-18  “I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few men.  I  had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem.  There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding.  By night  I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates which had been destroyed by fire.  Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through, so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall.  Finally I turned back  and reentered through the Valley Gate.  The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or  others who would be doing the work.  
    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.  I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me.’  They replied ‘Let us start rebuilding.  So they began this good work.’”


Questions:

1.  Nehemiah was sad when he went in to bring the king his wine.  Why did
    the king notice this and what did he say?  The king noticed the sad face of
    Nehemiah and said this can be nothing but sadness of the heart.
2.  Why was Nehemiah’s heart sad?  The city where his fathers are buried lies
     in ruins.  
3.  What desire did God place in Nehemiah’s heart?  The desire to rebuild the  
     walls and gates to the city of Jerusalem.
4.  What is the first thing Nehemiah did when he got to Jerusalem?  Pray and
     go into the night to see the damage that had been done.
5.  Who was he going to get to help rebuild the wall?  Jews, priests, nobles,
     officials, or any other that might want to help.  
6.  Who did Nehemiah give the credit to for getting him started on this
     Project?  The gracious hand of my God that was upon me and what the
     King had said to me.

Summary:

  After receiving the bad news about the state of Jerusalem’s walls Nehemiah prayed to God.  He recognized God’s holiness.  He asked God for specific help in approaching the king.  Nehemiah’s pray prepared his heart and gave God room to work.     
How often do you pour out your heart to God?  How often do you give him specific requests to answer?                   

Lesson 3:  Builders of the Wall

Nehemiah 3:1  “Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate.  They dedicated it and set its doors in place.”

Nehemiah 3:2  “The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zaccur built next to them.”  

Nehemiah 3:5-15  “The Fish Gate was rebuilt by sons of Hassenaah.  They laid
its beams and put its doors, bolts and bars in place.  Meremoth repaired the next section.  Next to him Meshullam made repairs , then Zadok also made repairs.  The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa.
    The Jerusalem Gate was next to be repaired.  It took beams and new doors and bolts and bars in place to make it usable.  Next to them repairs were made by the men from Gideon.  One of the goldsmiths repaired the next section.  One of the perfume makers repaired the next section. The many men repaired the wall from Broad wall to Towers of Ovens.  More men repaired the Valley Gate.  They rebuilt it and put its door and bolts and bars in place.
    


    This was followed by the Dung Gate.  The Fountain Gate was repaired by Shallun.  He rebuilt it, roofing it over and putting its doors, bolts and bars in place. Next to him the repairs were made by the Levites. This continued around the city until the wall and the gates were all repaired.”

Nehemiah 6:15-19 “So the wall was completed the twenty-fifth of Elul in fifty-two days.  When all our enemies heard about this all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.  Also in those days the nobles of Judah were under sending many letters to Tobiah , and replies from Tobiah kept coming to them.  Moreover, they kept reporting to me his good deeds and then telling him what I said. And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.”

Nehemiah 7:1-3 “ After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites were appointed.  I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani along with Hananiah  the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most men do.  I said to them, ‘The gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot.  While the gatekeepers are still on duty, have them shut the doors and bar them.  Also appoint residents of Jerusalem as guards, some at their posts and some near their own houses.’”

Questions:

1.  How did they get enough people to help rebuild the wall?  People were appointed to repair the wall by their homes.
2.  What did they use to rebuild the gates?  Beams, doors, bolts and bars.
3.  How long did it take to repair and wall and gates?  Fifty-two days.  Remember, this wall went all the way around the city.
4.  How did the enemies respond when they heard that the wall was being rebuilt?  They were afraid and lost self-confidence.
5.  Why did they feel this way?  They knew that this work had been done with the help of our God.
6.  Who was put in charge of Jerusalem and why?  Hanani and Hananiah.  These men were men of integrity and feared God more that most men.
7.  What were the hours that the gates would be opened?  Open when the sun was hot and closed while the gatekeepers are still on duty.
8.  Who were the guards?  Residents of Jerusalem as guards.
9.  It is amazing what we can accomplish when we work together.  Have you ever had a school project to do that you were able to do with others?  It is always more fun and less work. Remember pray first for an open heart to accept guidance and get the job done quicker.



Summary:

Nehemiah demonstrated excellent leadership.  He was spiritually ready to heed God’s call.  He used careful planning, teamwork, problem solving and courage to get the work done.  Although he had tremendous faith, he never avoided the extra work necessary for good leadership.

Lesson 4: Opposition to the Rebuilding
      
Nehemiah 4:1-15 
     “When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed.  He ridiculed the Jews, and in the

Presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing?  Will they restore their wall?  Will they offer sacrifices?  Will they finish in a day?  Can they bring the stones back to life from the heaps of rubble burned as they are?’
Tobiah the Ammorite, who was at his side said to me, ‘What they are building- if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!’
   
     Hear us, O our God, for we are despised.  Turn their insults back on their own heads.  Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity.  Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.

So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half  its height, for the people worked with all their heart.  But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry.  They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.  But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.   
   
     Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, ‘The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.’  Also our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us we will be right there among them and will kill them and put  an end to the work.’

   
     Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, ‘Wherever you turn, they will attack us.’ There I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed placers, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows.  After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome and fight for you brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.  When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.


Nehemiah 6:1-9 
     When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it- though up to that time I had not set the door in the gates.  Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message; “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”  

But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent this message to them with this reply; “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?”  Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave the them same answer.

     Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter in which was written:

    ‘It is reported among the nations and Geshem says it is true- that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall.  Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem:  There is a king in Judah! Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us confer together.’
   
     I sent this reply, ‘Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.  They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work and it will not be completed.’

But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.’”

Questions:

1.  Why do you think when Sanballat heard that the wall was being rebuilt he became angry and incensed? Answers will vary.
2.  Why would the Jews be ridiculed?  They were not liked and put down whenever possible.
3.  What did they say about the wall if even a fox climbed on it?  It would fall down.
4.  Nehemiah turned to God when they were being threatened.  What did he ask God to do?  Turn their insults back on their own head.  Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity.  Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight.
5.  Why did Sanballat and Geshem send a message to Nehemiah for a meeting?  To harm him.
6. How did Nehemiah answer his message?  He was too busy with a great project and cannot go down.  
7.  How many times was this message sent to Nehemiah?  Five times.
8.  What was different about the fifth time?  An unsealed letter was sent.  You and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall.  Moreover you are about to become their king.
 9.  How did Nehemiah respond to this letter?  Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of  your head.

When difficulties come, there is a tendency for conflict and discouragement to set in.  We must recognize that there are no triumphs without troubles.  When problems arise, we must face them squarely and press on to complete God’s work.  
   
Summary:  

After the work began, Nehemiah faced scorn, slander, and threats from enemies, as well as fear, conflict and discouragement from his own workers.  Although these problems were difficult they did not stop Nehemiah from finishing his work.



Lesson 5:  Dedication of the Wall of Jerusalem

Nehemiah 12:27-47 
     “At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with song of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres.  The singers also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem-from the villages of the Netophathites, from Beth Gilgal and from the area of Geba and Azmaveth, for the singers had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem.  When the priests and Levites  had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall.  

   
     I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall,.  I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks.  One was to proceed on top of the wall to the right toward the Dung Gate.  Hoshiah and half the leaders of Judah followed them, along with Azariah, Izra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah as well as some priests with trumpets, also others with more musical instruments, prescribed by David, the man of God.  Ezra, the scribe led the procession.  At the Fountain Gate they continued directly up the steps of the City of David on the ascent to the wall and passed above the house of David to the Water Gate on the east.

   
     The second choir proceeded in the opposite direction.  I followed them on top of the wall together with half the people-past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, over the Gate of Ephraim, the Jeshanah Gate, the Fish Gate, the tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate.  At the Gate of the Guard they stopped.  

   
     The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God; so did I, together with half the officials, as well as some of the priests with their trumpets.  The choirs sang under the direction of Jezrahiah.  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.

   
     At that time men were appointed to be in charge of the storerooms for the contributions, first fruits, and tithes.  From the fields around the towns they were to bring into the storerooms the portions required by the Law for the priests and the Levites, for Judah was pleased with their ministering priests and Levites.  They performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did also the singers and gatekeepers according to the commands of David and his son Soloman.  For long ago in the days of David and Asaph there had been directors for the singers and for the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.  In the days of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah all Israel contributed the daily portions for the singers and gatekeepers.”


Questions:

1.  As you read about the number of people that took part in the dedication of the wall, did it seem much different than some of today’s ceremonies?  Were you surprised at the number on people taking part?
2.  Did the kind of instruments surprise you?  Name them.  Cymbals, harps, lyres, and trumpets.
3.  What was unusual about the choirs living arrangements?  They lived in villages by themselves.
4.  What else was unusual about the choir and gatekeepers provisions?  Their food was provided for them.  

What a joyous celebration that must have been to have the wall and gates restored.  One very important part of the rebuilding of the wall was prayer.  Prayer is still God’s mighty force in solving problems today.  Prayer and action go hand in hand.  Through prayer, God guides our preparation, teamwork, and diligent efforts to carry out his will.

Summary:
 
The dedication of the city wall was characterized by joy, praise, and singing.  Nehemiah repeatedly mentioned David, who began the custom of using choirs in worship.  In David’s day, Israel was a vigorous, God-fearing nation.  These exiles who had returned wanted their rebuilt Jerusalem to be the hub or a renewed nation, strengthened; by God; therefore, they dedicated themselves and their city to God
 





















    
*The material for this study was from the Life Application Study Bible
NIV  Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois and Zondervan Publishing House Grand Rapids, Michigan

Posted 1.12.09