Explore the Bible Series
December 31, 2006
Background Passage: Nehemiah 1:1-3:32
Lesson Passage: Nehemiah 1:1-4, 11; 2:4-5. 8b, 17-18; 3:1-2
Many years after the initial return to
In the Persian winter palace in
God often interrupts the comfortable routines of his people
to call them to high and holy tasks.
Like Nehemiah, Christians may tremble at the magnitude of the duty at
hand; yet, the Lord moves their hearts to undertake seemingly impossible
assignments, simply because God has burdened their souls. Nehemiah held a position of honor in the
court of Artaxerxes; indeed, this remarkable man was the most trusted servant
in the king’s household. No doubt,
Nehemiah lived in comfort, luxury, and honor.
The last thing he wanted was a difficult and demanding responsibility
like leading an expedition to rebuild the walls of
Perhaps many of you stand at some crossroad today. The specter of “ruined walls” and unfinished tasks troubles you day and night. God has made clear that some great need exists and the Holy Spirit has stirred your heart to engage in the work. However, you now enjoy some ease and comfort in your present circumstances, and the demands of a new assignment and additional responsibilities cause to recoil from thoughts of undertaking the work. What shall you do in this decisive hour? Well, begin your considerations by making a careful study of the Book of Nehemiah.
Outline of Background Passage:
I. Learn of the Needs the Situation Demands (1:1-3):
sad conditions in
II. Turn to Prayer as Your First Resort (1:4-11): Often, God’s servants must resist the temptation to rely on human ingenuity and plans. Nehemiah avoided that pitfall, and he turned to prayer as his first recourse. Note some of the main features of Nehemiah’s prayer.
A. He worshipped the Lord (vv. 4-5): Too often, the Lord’s people fail to cleanse their hearts of self-serving motives before they begin a new work. Perhaps many of us have begun a new enterprise because secretly we entertain notions of our own advancement and renown. Nehemiah began his prayer with a confession of God’s holiness, grandeur power, and faithfulness. All true kingdom work begins with our focus centered on the glory of God.
B. He repented of his sins and the transgressions of the people (vv. 6-7): Nehemiah understood that, in some sense, he shared in the infidelity of the Hebrew people; that is, he felt some solidarity with this unfaithful and disobedient people.
C. He took consolation in God’s faithfulness (vv. 8-11): Nehemiah’s familiarity with the promises of God brought him great encouragement to petition the Lord for a renewal of the covenant people. He did not plead the innocence of the people; rather, he called on God to keep his glorious promises. All true work of God begins with this rock-ribbed confidence in a covenant-keeping God.
III. Set Your Heart and Hands to Do the Work (2:1-3:32)
sought the aid of King Artaxerxes (2:1-10):
Nehemiah respected the authority of the civil leaders, and he sought to
enlist their help and approval for the work. He shared his vision with
Artaxerxes, and the Lord gave his servant favor with the king (See v. 10). Furthermore, Nehemiah asked for letters of
authorization to complete the building of the walls and for the king’s
provision for the building materials to complete the walls of
observation of the devastation to
C. Nehemiah’s communication of his vision to the people (2:17-20): After surveying the magnitude of the assignment, Nehemiah enlisted the support and aid of the people. He assured them of the Lord’s promise, and they energetically volunteered to help. Verse eighteen reveals that the Jews did not make some idle pledge. They had a heart for the work, and they put their hands to the worthy task. God’s promises and blessings must be attended with diligent labor for the Kingdom. Note that Sanballet and Tobiah immediately opposed the rebilding of the walls, but Nehemiah, for all practical purposes, ignored them and continued with his plans.
D. Nehemiah assigned each family a certain section of the wall to rebuild (3:1-32): This chapter reveals some very important principles of the Lord’s work. No one family or group shouldered the sole responsibility for building. Each family had a stake in the work; therefore, these people depended on each other. If one family failed to complete their assignment, all of the people suffered. Leaders, like Nehemiah, understand the principle of enlisting trustworthy people to help with God’s work.
Questions for Consideration:
Brethren, “wall-building” is seldom glamorous work. These folks devoted themselves to dirty, back-braking labor. Most Kingdom work is like that. It will not bring applause of worldly approval. However, when the work is completed, it brings glory to God and safety and satisfaction to God’s people.