- Chapter 1: Nehemiah is caught in the tension of two worlds: cup bearer to the king and brother to the exiles.
- Chapter 2: Nehemiah faces three moments where he must rely on the word of God and speak out boldly.
- Chapter 3: paints a picture of community, including the main point that we should begin serving the body by working on “the broken wall in front of our own house.”
- Chapter 4: details the opposition the builders faced, including primarily their own internal ridicule, defeat and shattered faith. Nehemiah provides an example of a godly leader by speaking God about the people and to the people about God. He taught both to trust and to fight.
- Chapter 5: records the problems the community was having internally. Nehemiah rebukes them for their actions and calls them back to fearing God.
- Chapter 6: Nehemiah faces 3 tests of his character, as his enemies seek to kill him by appealing to his desire to be appreciated, his ambitions and his fears. In each case he resists because he knows that God is fighting for him and he does not have to put himself first or place too much importance on himself.
- Chapter 7-8: We learn that the city is has been rebuilt, but is not alive. Having been used by God, the people now long to know God. Then ask Ezra to teach them the Bible, so that they might know and understand their God. Understanding the word of God produces a great grief over their sin, but also a tremendous joy over their salvation. They end the section by celebrating the feast of tabernacles and realizing that this earthly city is not their home.
- Chapter 9: records the people’s prayer. It recounts the history of God dealing with Israel and confesses their sins. The people were faithless, but God was faithful.
- Chapter 10: The people make a vow involving 3 areas designed to keep God the center of their lives.
- Chapter 11: The city is repopulated.
How should the story end? “And they all lived happily ever after.”
The history told in Nehemiah is a historic witness to the restoring work of God in people’s lives. Now in chapter 12, at the what should be the end of the story, Nehemiah is once again going to make a circuit of the city. But this time instead of a single rider on a single horse as we saw in chapter 2, he is part of a parade circling the city on top of the rebuilt walls, singing the praises of God.
Compare Chapter 2 with Chapter 12.
2:11So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. 13I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass. 15Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. – Nehemiah 2:11-15
- The Levites were the tribe that was given responsibility for spiritual leadership for the nation.
- They didn’t just rehearse; they determined to celebrate God. They were performing to thank God and to celebrate what He had done.
- In 12:31-40 the group is divided into 2 large choirs. One group, led by Ezra, starts on top of the wall to the right. The other group, led by Nehemiah, starts on the top of the wall going left until they meet at the temple square.
- The sound of the joy in their voices could be heard not just in Jerusalem but far away in the regions all around.
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.
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