They read distinctly from the book In the law of God, they gave the sense and helped them to understand the reading This is what we as pastors do, and anyone who teaches the Bible is we take the word of God and let the word of God direct us, and we just exposit it, we exegete it, which means we pull out of the text what's there, not read into the text what's not there. And we let the word of God change the people of God for the glory of God until we look more and more like the son of God. That's what we need to do. And that's the call that we see in Nehemiah
Hello and welcome to the You Can Learn the Bible podcast where we summarize complete Bible books and single episodes. I am Bodie Quirk from YouCanLearntheBible.com here as always with Joey Rozek, Lead Pastor of Living Springs Fellowship in New Jersey, who, Joey, if I'm looking at the calendar correct. We are coming up on a year of podcasting together, which is kind of awesome, man. It's pretty cool. How you doing today?
Absolutely, Bodie. I can't believe a whole year has almost gone by doing this, but I'm loving it, Bodie. What a great thing to be able to share together in just giving verbal commentaries on every book of the Bible,
and to think we're on episode 22, we're on Nehemiah Explained. I'm loving doing this with you, I believe, for our listeners and anybody who's joined in at any given time, we pray it is stirring up a passion for the Bible, the way we love the Bible, the way God has revealed himself to us through the pages of scripture.
I love it. Yeah. So good. Yeah. This is a journey. So we had said last time in Ezra explained that this is part two of a two part set as many of these old Testament historical books have done,
and so we want to equip you so that you can read this book with as much success as possible. To do that, we have a seven part framework that we apply to every book of the Bible. What are the essentials? Where does the book fall in the storyline? What are some of the major themes and ideas? What's the structure of the book?
What does it teach us about God? What can we apply to our Christian life? And what are some of those little nuggets and little favorite things that we love about each and every book of the Bible?
So as Joey said, we are on episode 22. This is Nehemiah Explained, a seven part framework to equip and to inspire your Bible study. And so I'm going to give it to Joey. Just to take us into number one, what are the essentials of the book in a second,
but a couple of reminders before we get into that. First off, there's a video and an audio version. So the audio is on Spotify and Apple podcasts, the video version is on YouTube. We also offer a one page PDF summary for download on, all of the ideas that we are going to give for this episode. And if you'd like that, there will be a link at the end of the episode, for you on that.
We want to give as much as we can to help you succeed with each and every book of the Bible. Don't we, Joe?
So let's get going into Nehemiah explained again. We like imagining that we sit down with somebody, we got a short time and we want to give them only the best stuff. So on number one, the essentials, what do we need to know first to study Nehemiah well?
Well, Bodie, if we were reading the Hebrew Bible, we would be at the very end of what we call the Old Testament and then what they would call their Hebrew Bible. Ezra and Nehemiah is the last of the historical writings, and was placed right at the end of the Jewish scriptures.
And one of the things I love about Nehemiah, and we were going to see a lot of parallels with its first part, Ezra, but the thing about Nehemiah is. The uniqueness of this particular man in the context by which God called him to go back to Jerusalem to do the work of rebuilding the wall there.
Nehemiah's name in Hebrew means comfort or consolation of the Lord. you really see how much change would take place through this man. So let me go through the essentials that you would need to know as you approach this book. We're looking at the date of about 445 to 430. This is in the midst of the Persian empire.
You might remember after Babylon came the Medo Persian empire. What is Nehemiah doing? He's a cup bearer. He's the guy who actually hands the cup to the King after he first tastes it and make sure that the King is not going to be poisoned. The genre of this book is historical. We're talking about the rebuilding of Jerusalem, but namely the walls around The city to fortify it.
Now we know Nehemiah is the author of at least parts of this book, but Ezra or any of the scribes could have contributed. We know this was a very common thing for the scribes to put together all of the key things, of course, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Now the setting takes place right in the heart of Jerusalem. The people of Judah are rebuilding and the purpose of this book is spiritual renewal.
The covenant of God has been restored and the audience is the people of Judah. And of course, all of God's true remnant throughout the generations. One more thing I want to say, Bodhi, before I turn it over to you is that, do you remember that game we used to play as kids called 52 pickup, where you just take all the cards and you throw them on the ground and somebody picks them up?
Well, this is a 52 day pickup. Of 52 days of a project whereby Nehemiah leads God's people to restore and pick up the morale and to restore the wall around the city. So this is an incredible book to go through, and we're going to have so many great insights and things to get you excited to explore this book yourself.
Awesome. Thank you. Yeah, this is why, as we said in the previous episode, because Ezra Nehemiah was one book in the Hebrew Bible, a lot of the essentials from Ezra apply here as well,
and that goes for number two as well, but we are not at the exact same part in the storyline, but we are in the same era. So when we go to now, number two, where does Nehemiah fit in the story of the Bible? It's number two of our framework storyline.
We are still in what is called the second temple period. So we know that Ezra led the first group of exiles back from Babylon or Babylonia, now controlled by the Persian empire because Cyrus freed them. So we have the people of Judah have returned from exile, but in Nehemiah, we are about 15 years after the end of the book of Ezra, where Ezra instituted a number of much needed reforms.
So Ezra led the first group back and they rebuilt the temple. Nehemiah is about 15 years later, and we're going to focus on the walls. We'll talk about that in a second. So, Judaism is getting reborn in Jerusalem.
The temple is now rebuilt. The feasts are reinstituted, but what we're now working on as the people of the land, because There is intermarriage that is a major problem in the land. Idolatry, as has been throughout the entire history of Israel, is still a rampant problem, but really what's happening now, Joey, is something new.
Judah is experiencing national repentance. They are really returning to the Lord. It's. It's not a clean and easy process like us, cleaning our lives up, there's always parts that need to be cleansed and it doesn't happen overnight. But what we are seeing is a very positive sign in the hearts of people as they return to Yahweh.
And so as we look at kind of d a zoomed in view of the timeline, these are some of the key dates where we talked about in Ezra. We had in 538, that's where the original group came back around 520 to 516, that was the building of the second temple, but then remember we had said there's a 60 year gap between the building of the temple and when Ezra shows up in the second part of the book of Ezra.
As we start Nehemiah, we're about 15 years after that, about 445 to 430 BC. So we're about 15 years beyond that. As we start this storyline and we now go into the book of Nehemiah. So Joey, I want to hand it over to you to talk about the themes and ideas, but anything you want to add on number two storyline before we do that.
I think that we just want our listeners to understand that when you're faced with challenges and you're in times where things just seem to be an upheaval or in disarray, know that God is a God of order, and this is a book of really God putting back things together again, right? It's, this is the piecing together of not only God's people, but the "peace-ing" together within God's people.
He's giving peace within God's people. He is imparting a great blessing during this time period. And maybe this is the right book for you, if you're going through something right now that just needs to be restored in your life and you need to start seeing how to work together with God's people for a great purpose.
I love it. There is so much reclaiming and rebuilding and in the city and in the people that we're going to see as we go through this book. Awesome.
All right, Joey, number three, what are the major biblical concepts? So what are those themes or ideas that they're going to trace all through the book that we need to know about before we start walking through the parts and structure of the book?
Well, as we survey the 13 chapters,
we're going to see a common theme of prayer. I want to just start with that because there's 13 times where you see a prayer specifically mentioned a complete reliance on God in prayer, and that began, in chapter one where God begins to give a call to Nehemiah, he gets a burden from God to go back to Jerusalem, and it came in a time of being with the Lord and just sitting before his feet and the message that was given to him during that time.
Another theme is at the end of chapter 2, and chapter three onwards is this united effort of God's people working together in different parts of the wall, restoring in different places, much like in the church life today, we know God gives different gifts to different people for the building up of the whole. Beautiful illustration here in the story of Nehemiah.
Another thing we see is that opposition comes because we're building something up for God, the enemy always seems to want to pull it back down, and so we're going to see great opposition from the foreigners, that are surrounding Jerusalem, these are things that continue to go on even to our present time. We see a mutual call for building and battling them. This is two sides of one coin, which is that there's building and battling always taking place. I think this has always been the heritage of God's people. As we build things up spiritually. We're going to have to stand our ground, right, Bodie? We're going to have to be defensive as well from the attacks of the enemy.
Because. There's always the reality of our own failures and flaws. I love how chapter nine takes us into a national confession of repentance and the powerful prayer that's presented there. We're going to see recommitment to God's word and his ways and Ezra's role as a scribe reading out the law and Nehemiah supporting that. And then finally, community dedication and reforms. I mean, everybody's impacted by the spiritual revival that takes place under the leadership of Nehemiah. So these are the key things we're gonna be looking at as we explore the 13 chapters of Nehemiah.
Awesome. I love Joey, how you called on some of these themes. These are the ingredients of revival. And I think today in America, our picture of revival is just a lot of people getting really excited about God emotionally, but really, which is part of it. That's part of it, obviously, but what really makes a change, what really makes lasting difference is humility, repentance, and then really putting in the hard work, to see a long term change rather than just a short term emotional experience.
So this is a great book, and these ideas that Joey just walked us through, we're going to now see as we walk through the book, because Judah and Jerusalem are different permanently, after Nehemiah shows up, and friends, that's one of the greatest things that we're going to see is the difference one person can make who is committed the Lord and willing to walk in his ways.
And I think that's so good. So these, we're going to come back to these themes and ideas. throughout this next section,
because now Joey, we're going to need to go through the parts of the book. And so, our seven part framework, we've looked at the essentials. We've looked at where it falls on the storyline. Joey just gave us the themes and ideas. And now number four is the structure. So we want to ask, what are those major sections of Nehemiah? What are those? section breaks we need to know about. For each one, as we walk through the book, we're really going to examine it in the light of the next two questions, number five and number six, which is what does it teach us about God?
And what does it offer our Christian life? That is why you're listening to this episode, because we want to see how the word of God can transform us as we learn more about who God is. So let's walk through. The structure of this book and Joey, we wrestled with this quite a bit, didn't we? Because there's a lot of different ways to break up this book.
And I think this structure that you and I have come up with together by the grace of God, I hope is really helpful for giving people a framework for this particular book.
So I want to give you the five part structure, and then once we do that, Joey, I want you to start us on number one. So what is the structure of Nehemiah?
Notice how this goes. Chapters one and two is Nehemiah's burden for his nation. Chapters three through six is construction and conflict in Jerusalem. So you're going to see the themes we just talked about present throughout this structure. So one and two, Nehemiah's burden for his nation. Three through six, construction and conflict in Jerusalem.
Seven through nine, covenant renewed and holiness reclaimed. Ten through twelve, People Resettled and Wall Dedicated. And then chapter 13 are Nehemiah's final reforms in Judah. So some books, we've had two sections. Most of them have three. This one has five sections. Joey, why did we break up the book this way? And let's get started into section one.
Yeah. You know, as we mentioned, there's a lot of ways to break this book down and, we could have just looked at the reconstruction of the wall and then of course the reinstitution of God's covenant to his people, but some of these key words construction conflict covenant consecration These things could have been the ways we broke this down, but we wanted to spell it out for you in a very practical way, so you could just see it plainly.
And I think there's something that you don't want to miss about each of these five sections Because it really walks somebody through a plan on how God might use you and the people in your local church, or a group of Christians that just say, let's come together in Jesus' name and bring about a restoration for the works that are in need in your cities, and in your local areas.
So as we look at Nehemiah in chapter one, and chapter two, what we get is a burden for his nation. We see that the burden that he receives here is something that came in prayer. It came by the words of Nehemiah, the son of Hakeliah. Now this is 15 years after Ezra. So, we're seeing it's very close as was a contemporary by the way Malachi the prophet is also a contemporary at this time, this is a moment where as the survivors of the city left captivity and and word is able to get to Nehemiah as a special prominent person in the royal palace of Artaxerxes, right?
As he's in this particular palace of King Artaxerxes, we see that Nehemiah is starting to get so spiritually burdened that he laments in a heartfelt prayer, he actually starts to pour out his heart of just saying, God, we have sinned against you, Lord. We have, broken your commandments, God, please.
He begins to say, come back and restore and he's asking God for this work of revival in his own heart and a restoration in Jerusalem. And then he has, this burden so transparently shown on his face the king actually notices. Bodie. Can you imagine that of the Lord is constantly in Nehemiah's life clearly.
But there comes a day where the king looks at this man and says, something's different about you, Nehemiah, what is it? And Nehemiah has the courage to say to the king what he's been experiencing spiritually with God. This is a great lesson that many times before we ever want to do something practically, it needs to be birthed spiritually.
And God will begin to show you his timing and the open door. And so he gets permission to go back to Jerusalem and he stirs up the people, but before he stirs up the people, he actually sits with it. And the Bible tells us that in chapter two, when he came to Jerusalem for three days, he arose in the night and just with a few men, he told no one about what he was going to do.
He surveyed the land. He assessed the situation. He let God's burden turn into a practical plan. And then the spiritual leadership kicks in and the people of God will soon be called to action.
Yes. Yeah. You see this deep lament in his heart, that's that he can't ignore and that he acts on, and the lament is Godward is that the people have displeased the Lord. And he so badly wants to see the people restored back,
and we see in Nehemiah chapter two, verses 17 and 18. It says, then I said to them, see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. This is what he's lamenting. He's lamenting that the fact that the city of David is in a desolate state. it says, come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem that we may no longer suffer derision. This is Nehemiah 2, 17 and 18. And I told them of the hand of God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the King had spoken to me. And they said, let. Let us rise up and build. And so they, I love this verse, they strengthened their hands for the good work.
See, every good work starts with God's spirit coming upon an individual and that individual taking action. This is what revival looks like. It's not just emotion. It is spiritual burden for the glory of God that weighs on somebody so strong that they can't not do something about it.
And that's what Nehemiah gives us in this first section. This burden is not just a feeling, it is a conviction that is the deepest part of his soul and he rises to action and people follow. So at the end of chapter two, the whole city is being stirred up because of this one person's burden. And one of the great things about this book is that anybody can lead in this way, if they have a deep conviction to follow and obey the Lord.
Yeah. Well said Bodie. Well said brother. You know, when you think about the progression here in this transition out of the Persian empire back to Jerusalem, one of the things that really hits my heart is Nehemiah is depending on God every step of the way. I mean, even when the king asks him, the Bible even wants to tell us that, he prayed to the God of heaven really quick before he actually gave the response to the king.
Sometimes we only have a moment to just be able to say, Lord, help. Lord, I need you. Lord, give me the words, right, , and God, by his spirit, as you rightly said, Bodie begins to flow through us. It begins to give us words that we know are not coming from us, and he begins to give us the grace. It's always God's grace given.
And, as we look at that progression, we see, Nehemiah received the burden. He believed a blessing from God. He perceived a battle because we'll see there's an immediate opposition, but then he eventually achieved the building. And it's like, you look at that beautiful flow and you think these are things that a common person can relate to because life is filled with challenges and opportunities, but it must start with a burden from God and a dependency upon him in prayer.
And so I love this first section Bodie but let's keep going because the story progresses into a community effort as we get to chapters three through six as they begin the construction
and One of the things I'd like to just point out as we jump into chapter three Is there are 10 gates really that we see surrounding the wall. That's probably helpful for you to know. Now we know that there are 10 commandments and God's people have broken all of them really at this point, and, and so that the wall is almost like a spiritual picture of the law of God broken down
and, and only Jesus can fulfill the law perfectly and restore all that's been broken and lost, but one of the beautiful things you see is that God's people in Nehemiah chapters three onwards is like the hands and feet of the Lord. I love how you pointed out Bodie, this isn't all theoretical. This is practical. They are putting their hands to the work. And one of the ways they do it is by spreading out and getting everybody to participate.
So you got different groups, rebuilding different parts of the wall. Now, simultaneously while they're doing this, there are all kinds of foreigners coming against them that are starting to challenge them. Rebuke them.
Distract them. Yeah, and so this opposition reminds us that while we build, we've got a battle. We've got to have a tool in one hand, as you'll see, and a weapon in the other. the Christian is in the same boat today. We're needing to remember that every act we do, that's a good work for God is going to come under attack or opposition by our enemy who roams this earth like a lion seeking who he may devour.
And so, Nehemiah's spiritual leadership is so important, it? Bodie in this, why don't you take it from there? What do you see in this, in these chapters?
So you already mentioned the distribution of work everybody's working on this together, Nehemiah has lit the candle of revival in the people
So in this section, in this chapter three through six, this is our part two construction and conflict in Jerusalem. Joey already mentioned how different groups have been tasked and are simultaneously working together to rebuild the wall. I love that connection to the 10 commandments. I'd never heard that, that's great.
There's opposition from foreigners, but there's also poison inside the hearts of the people, because what's happening is that the top tier people are not taking care of poorer brothers and sisters. So poorer Jews are being taken advantage of. Nehemiah goes in completely reforms this injustice toward their poor brothers and sisters.
Because what happened was their land got taken from them during the exile, so they had no way to grow crops, to make money, and they were being taken advantage of by those who had control of the land. Nehemiah goes in and says, uh, no more. And he cleans house in this way, as he's going to do again later.
And what's so cool is that despite the, all the opposition. The wall, the united effort, everybody working together led by a leader with conviction makes a major, major moment happen. The wall gets rebuilt. Jerusalem now has a functioning temple, a functioning temple system, and now they have a rebuilt wall at the end of chapter six.
There is a lot of really positive momentum happening here, Joey, but the heart of the book is the next section. So if you have anything to add on three through six, go for it. But I really want to make sure our listeners know that the heart and soul of Nehemiah is chapter seven through nine. Anything you want to add on section two?
Well, I would just add that, Bible says that they had a mind to work and I think so much of the battle were facing today is in our thoughts. The Bible tells us to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ in our New Testament. But as these people are getting hit with so much opposition and even testing their own will, will they continue and persevere?
Because maybe some of you out there are just in a heated time in your life and you're having a hard time persevering. The battle starts with the mind. We have to set our minds on things above. We have to remember what's most important.
And there's some beautiful statements in these chapters that are for. Those of you who are going through trials and hardships, I love how, for example, one of the things that Nehemiah says as he continues to pray and, the people are doing the work is
they made their prayer to God, and they set a watch at day and night, but one of the things he encourages them with is found in Nehemiah chapter four, verse 14, where he says, do not be afraid of them.
Remember the Lord great and awesome and fight for your brethren, your sons and your daughters, your wives. And your houses. I mean, I just love this. I read it from the new King James version. And one of the beautiful things about this, um, passage of scripture is Bodhi. This is a call for everyone, no matter where you live in the world today.
If you're a follower of. Jesus, if you are a true believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, it starts with your heart, and it continues into your home and then it's expressed out into your community and your local church, , wherever you are.
For these Jewish people, their temples been destroyed, their wall has been broken down, but everything is being built back up. And the wall is the last part that fortifies it all. And we must fortify our hearts, as the Bible says in Proverbs 4, 23, keep your heart with all diligence for out of its spring, the issues of life. Can you imagine if we had a fortified wall around our hearts and we let nothing come in that's going to turn our hearts away from God?
This is the kind of resilience we need. This is the kind of resolve. And this is the kind of renewal of the mind. We must let our minds be renewed so that it's not conformed to this world. That that's what we see here in this passage.
And it's not just the fact the challenges are there, but we are always being tempted and pulled to leave the mission and go on to something sideways.
We even see this in Nehemiah 6, 3, where they call him and say, Hey, can you come over here and handle this? And Nehemiah giving us another great spiritual leadership lesson in verse 3 of chapter 6 says, and I said, I am doing a great work, I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come to you?
And one of the great things that we can learn from this book and this man is a sense of purpose and priority. And so Nehemiah knows what is the most important and he keeps the main thing, the main thing that is such an important part of spiritual leadership.
It's not just knowing what it needs to be done, but knowing what order of priority and when to say no, and when to keep pressing forward. And that is one of the great things that we learn in this particular second section.
And I think Joey there, we're now ready to go into a part three, we had the wall is back. Nehemiah has made an unbelievable difference, both him and Ezra. We now have , the temple system, and the wall has been rebuilt despite efforts, despite distractions, and so what happens next?
Well, seven through nine is some of the most beautiful parts of the entire old Testament. I love this section, Joey, so much, cause what happens in section three? Remember just to review one and two was Nehemiah's burden. Three through six was construction and conflict, but all of this is now leading up to seven through nine,
covenant renewed and holiness reclaimed. So the first thing we see that the list of the exiles is recalled. These are the people, the very ones that God is using and calling to reclaim the covenant and to reclaim the holy lifestyle that goes with being God's covenant people. So I just love it. Some key highlights from this section. is first Ezra, the scribe, the priest gets up and he reads the law and everyone is gathered together.
Imagine the entire city gathered together in one place and you have the reading of the law. People repent. There is this beautiful recollection of who they are. They are becoming who God created them to be in a second wave, now they are, they're reclaiming, these elements of their national identity.
The Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated. There's this marvelous prayer of national repentance in chapter nine. That's one of my very favorite chapters in the whole Bible because it recounts the entire story, but it does so with a heart of prayer and repentance and reclaiming what they have lost. And then we see this ceremony, Joey, at the end of chapter nine, this covenant renewal.
They don't just remember who they are. They are claiming who they are going to be from this point forward as well. So there's. So much more happening in here. There's some verses we want to share from chapter nine from Nehemiah's prayer. What other pieces are super important in this third section, covenant renewed and holiness reclaimed.
Yeah. I would encourage our listeners, to really take these chapters to your own personal walk with the Lord and see where you need to apply this covenant renewal in your life. Because when you get into chapter seven, the wall has been built up. So that happened in chapter six, verse 15, the wall is finished.
It took 52 days, as we said, but when you really get into chapter seven and you begin to see everybody's return back, you got this list of names of those who are mentioned here. You are also mentioned in God's libraries in heaven of what he's doing through your life . And, uh, when you get to chapter eight, one of the things that I just want to just point out right from the beginning of chapter eight, it says, now all the people gathered together as one man. This is a beautiful phraseology, Bodie, because when we go into the new Testament, we see that the writers of the epistles will use things, especially like Paul, the apostle, that we are a new man created in Christ Jesus, one new man united together as one. And although there's many members. There's one body.
And one of the ways we are joined together is we have a common faith. We're called to contend earnestly for the faith. The book of Jude says we're called to remember the faith that has been handed down to us, and the scriptures is where we find all of our understanding for life and godliness, the power of the Spirit, working with the written revealed word of God in our lives is what produces the works that God has called us to do.
And something else that I always remind people of is you should always know why you believe what you believe. And , when you go to a service on a Sunday morning at your church and you see a pastor standing at a pulpit and you say, where is the biblical basis for that?
Well, I'll tell you it's Nehemiah chapter eight. Nehemiah chapter eight is where you see a wooden platform where Ezra stands up on and the word of God is being proclaimed to the people. Now, the good thing about that is that the Bible is elevated. We know that the reformers called it sola scriptura, that only the scriptures are our authority.
But, want to point out that as Ezra read the word, everybody's attention was on God and how the word was impacting their lives. The danger that can come with a pulpit is that sometimes we put too much attention on the man, or the messenger. But what you really see Nehemiah 8 modeling so well is the Word of God was central, not the messenger.
And so, as Ezra spoke the Word of God and opened the book, it says that he was standing above all the people. Not because he was better than the people, but because the Word was meant to be above all the people. And as the people stood up in response to all of this, they began to cry out, Amen! Amen.
Another biblical thing to say. Amen. When we hear truth and they lifted up their hands, they bowed their heads and they worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground. What do you see here, Bodie? Reverence as Isaiah 66 verse two says, this is the one that God looks upon. He who is of a poor and contrite spirit and who trembles at his Word.
And this is what you see happening here and there's an explanation of the word. We see that the priests we're making sense to the people they I love verse 8 chapter 8 verse 8 says
they read distinctly from the book In the law of God, they gave the sense and helped them to understand the reading This is what we as pastors do, and anyone who teaches the Bible is we take the word of God and let the word of God direct us, and we just exposit it, we exegete it, which means we pull out of the text what's there, not read into the text what's not there. And we let the word of God change the people of God for the glory of God until we look more and more like the son of God. That's what we need to do. And that's the call that we see in Nehemiah
in these chapters. What an awesome, awesome chapter, chapter eight is. And then chapter nine. Is a prayer of repentance. So we cry out to God for him to do that sanctifying work, why don't you read
Yeah. Well, don't miss what's happening in this book. One of the reasons we were so particular about the structure is it's a crescendo toward the center. This is the highest point of the book, first, the burden, then the reconstruction, all of that has been building to this very moment for all of this covenant renewal ceremony.
And so I would so highly encourage you to read all of chapter nine, and one of the things I said that I love so much about prayers in the Bible is how historically based they are I love the ownership of sin, that they say that we have fallen short
Look at what it says in Nehemiah 9, 16 and 17. If we had time, we'd read this entire prayer. We want you to really hear verses 16 and 17. It says, but they are, and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey, your commandments talking about the generations previous, those who committed sin and idolatry before the Lord who broke their end of the covenant. He goes on and says, they refuse to obey. They were not mindful. Notice the heart. Nehemiah is describing. They weren't mindful of the wonders that you performed among them. They stiffened their neck and they appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. Joey, finish it. If you would.
but look at the transition, but you are a God ready to forgive gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and did not forsake them. What a beautiful way to pray. Such honest confession before God and then a profession of faith of how faithful God is even when we are faithless
And this is the way all of us as the people of God have to reorientate our hearts when we get disoriented from God because we get distracted And we get attracted to all these other things that are idols in this world. Bodie, our heart is prone to wonder but let us wonder why God doesn't move away from us Let us see that God is for us not against us. He is with us. He's on our side And this prayer has so many beautiful transitions like that where you just really see that God is going to be true to his covenant, because he cannot deny himself. Right. He cannot deny himself.
Yeah, I think for the first time, there is a real sense of national ownership. of their sinfulness and a real desire to return to the covenant that defined them as a people in the first place, the Mosaic Covenant. Remember, God said he will be faithful and he has been faithful every single time.
Now we really see this beautiful moment where the people together as a nation, as one man are saying, we are recommitting ourselves to our end of the covenant, and it's just one of those beautiful moments. And everything from here is in light of this. central section. This is really the heart of the book, and so, Joey, what else do we need to make sure that people don't miss before we transition into part four, chapters 10 through 12?
Well, I want to read one more verse from this prayer. And I think this will highlight one more aspect of, of something that will take us into the next section. In verse 32 of the prayer, it says, now, therefore our God, our God. So don't miss this. This is not just a personal prayer of Nehemiah. This is a national prayer. This is a covenant community prayer where everyone can be joined in on this, so he says, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty and the awesome God who keeps covenant and mercy. Do not let all the trouble seem small before you that has come upon us, our kings and our princes, our priests and our prophets, our fathers and all your people from the days of the king, the kings of Assyria until this day.
Do you see that? Mhm. Just like when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, we're to pray our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name, right? And you see how it's not just give me this day my daily bread, but it's give us this day our daily bread. I think one of the calls of any hour in a nation that's struggling is to get back to the our that we represent as the people of God.
And we have to come before God and say, God, Our Father, forgive us. We are the ones who God is looking to, to be the spiritual catalyst for change and transformation where we live. And so let's not miss that call of community in this unity within the community. And and I just love the call at the end of the prayer.
Here we are servants today. Here we are servants in it. And the last part of the prayer says we make a sure covenant and write it. Our leaders are Levites and they're our priests, seal it and Bodie.
That is a beautiful transition into our next section because our next section chapters 10 through 12 is what it's a people who have resettled the priests and the Levites. They settle in around Jerusalem and the wall is going to be rededicated. And you see, chapter 10 begins, doesn't it? With a long list of the names of the people who seal this
And, Bodie, this is the kind of thing you want your name on,
Yeah. That's why these names matter so much. I think we skipped the, any lists of names or genealogies we skip because it doesn't apply to us. But if your name was in there, you would show people you would pause because what this is doing, it's saying that we, it's not just a big, we as a nation, it's your family name that you are writing on the document. That's a whole different thing. Isn't it, Joey?
So everything now from here to the end of the book is in light of what has now just happened. Okay. So you mentioned that individual names have are on this sealed document. They have put their names to this commitment to this confession, but then what also comes from that?
Well, in this. section 10 through 12, here's a couple of things. Now we're talking about how this covenant works its way out through the people and through their lives. So we have these terms for priests and for people outlined. We also see that both the priests and the people now begin to resettle around Jerusalem in this beautiful sense.
They haven't just claimed the land. Now that the temple is rebuilt, the wall is rebuilt. Now their lives are going to be resettled back in the land. God promised way back to Abraham. It's a beautiful. It's just a sense of reclaiming what was lost that we see in this book.
In fact, even we see that the priests and the Levites get their homes around Jerusalem. And even in the New Testament, Zechariah, John the Baptist's father, was a priest and was called to work in Jerusalem, had to travel from his home Judea back into the city of Jerusalem. This is where this originally started.
And then this section ends with this marvelous dedication and just this joyous celebration of the wall rebuilt. There is Levites, there is There is singing. There is rejoicing. Because we, as the people of God, when we return to the Lord, the joy of the Lord becomes our strength. So good. This section is so, so good.
It sets up the last one, which is just chapter 13, which we'll get to in a second. Joey, what else in chapter 10 through 12?
Well, chapter 10 through 12, because it's focusing on the people of God and the wall is being rededicated, it makes me think of a passage in Ephesians chapter two. If you read that section between 19 and 22, it talks about how everything is a spiritual house now. This is the old physical house, but we're a spiritual house today.
And, if Jesus is the chief cornerstone and we see that the Apostles and prophets were the first foundation stones. It would be good for us to realize that when we build today spiritually, we're taking all the heritage that's before us, all the scriptures that have been revealed. And we're letting that be the spiritual, if you will, materials, we as God's people are the living stones being fit together.
To make a spiritual house for God today, and I just kind of love the parallel of that. I love letting the Old Testament and the New Testament always have this beautiful, harmony together where scripture is interpreting scripture. The old is in the new, the new is in the old. Let scripture interpret scripture and then read and behold, as I like to say, these are the things that allow us to make connections because the Bible gives us so much great illustration in the Old
Of what is in revelation in the new testament. And so this is just a great picture for us here, and, and it leads us to the final chapter, Bodie, doesn't it?
This final chapter of 13 is where Nehemiah, kind of takes his final leadership responsibility seriously, where he takes all that's already happened now with the temple and its wall, and now he looks at the people, which of course later on will become the true spiritual temple when Christ comes in and he's giving final reforms in Judah and he challenges the people, doesn't he?
When you get to chapter 13, I'll tell you this, Bodie, he gets serious. Chapter 13 is where Nehemiah not only starts like correcting all of the false things that are going on in the temple, he's dealing with like separate from the foreigners, all the marriages that were unholy.
He actually gets a little serious where I think when we get to chapter 13 in verse 25. It says he contended with them. He cursed them. He struck some of them. So he got a little overzealous and he even pulled out the hair of some of these men and he made them swear by God that they were going to never give their daughters as wives to these foreigners again, and so, Bodie, what do you think about this? I mean, this is, this is righteous anger, but do you think he went a little too far?
It's so, I think so. Well, I think that again, there's only one hero in the Bible and his name is Jesus of Nazareth. Right. And so Joey, I think what's interesting about this is that what we see here is that a couple key things, number one, is that even somebody who makes a marvelous difference for the things of the Lord is not impervious to the ways of the flesh.
And I think his motive and his goal was completely righteous. He didn't want them to go the ways of idolatry, but it's not just the motive that counts, friends, when we want to see others return to the Lord. It's our manner as well. His motive was great. But the way he went about it was so aggressive that it probably had a backfire approach and friends.
How many times have we seen or we ourselves had a burden that was true and good, but the way we went about it was counterproductive, to the transformation we wanted to see in somebody else, and that's friends where we want to be prayerful. We want to be honest, but the way we go about our leadership that we see here, less he has done in so many great ways before matters. So don't miss the fact that Nehemiah, despite having so much good that he's done, maybe pushed it a little bit too far. Maybe forgot the Lord, even though he was doing the works of the Lord. So that's one thing I see, Joey, what do you see in this?
Yeah. That's really well said, Bodie. I think when we examine ourselves and look at how God sees our actions, our attitudes, we should examine ourselves with not only our manner of speaking and our manner of service, but our manner of spirit. It reminds me of when the two sons of thunder, as they were called, James and John, when they wanted to call down fire from heaven because of their zeal for God,
Jesus said, you do not know what manner of spirit you are in. And although they were right, they knew that Samaria at that time was rejecting the Lord and they wanted to see judgment. Jesus had to remind them, the son of man came, not to destroy lives, but to save them. And one of the things that Nehemiah does do so well, and of course he is a godly leader, let's not miss this, throughout the whole pages of this book, Nehemiah is exemplary.
But if we were to just see his humanity here, if we were to pick apart some of these areas, it is possible that sometimes we can become so right, That we eventually become a little wrong, because we get our hearts maybe so caught up in the work, we forget why we're doing the work. And this is an important lesson for us, to make sure that we finish our ministries well, that we go back and correct ourselves if we ever misspeak or misact or overact or overreact, right?
But I think that one of the things that should be noted. Is that Nehemiah, he says his final few prayers in this chapter and one of the prayers he prays is in verse 14 where he says, remember me, Oh my God, concerning this and do not wipe out my good deeds. that I have done for the house of my God and for its services.
Nehemiah saying, Lord, I know I'm not a perfect man. I know that this has been a hard thing that we've had to go through, and God, you had to judge us for all of our sins. This is kind of like the thief on the cross who says, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Here you have Nehemiah saying, remember me, Oh my God, concerning this, and please don't wipe out the good that I've done. Just because we have all these additional sins that we've done, even after this, the wall's been rebuilt and the temple's there, but you still see that we're a people needing to be
Right. That's so good.
isn't this a gracious moment for us all, Bodie, that as Paul would say, not that I've already attained, nor am I already perfected, but one thing I do, I press forward to what lies ahead. I forget the things that are behind and I press toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. This is the spirit of a truly humble and honest man.
I love it. And we see, Joey, I love how you illustrated that both matter, the work and the heart. They both matter. And I think the way the book ends illustrates the kind of the coming together of both of these are the final words of the book of Nehemiah. As we wrap up, it's a prayer as there has been so many prayers throughout this time.
Nehemiah knows he's not a perfect man, but these are the final words versus 29 through 31 saying, remember them. Oh my God, because they have desecrated the priesthood and the covenant of of the priesthood and the Levites. Thus, I cleansed them from everything foreign. Talking about all these final reforms that we see in chapter 13 here, and I established the duties of the prince. These are all about the works, right? The works, each in his work, I provided wood for the appointed times and for the first fruits.
And then we see a little bit of the heart and the final words. Remember me. Oh my God. Right. He's not a perfect man, but he wants to be remembered in a right and healthy way. And friends, that's, what's great, the Bible says that we are to give honor where honor is due, and I see a sense of him owning his flaws while at the same time trying to recapture some of beauty of what God through him made possible in Judah at this time. And so that really wraps up the book.
And so just to review on the structure of the book, one and two was Nehemiah's burden for his nation. Three through six was construction and Conflict in Jerusalem, Part Three, The Covenant Renewed and Holiness Reclaimed, Part Four, The People Resettled and the Wall Rededicated, and then Part Five, Nehemiah's Final Reforms in Judah. I love how this book, this structure really lays out the full book for people.
And so, Joey, as we wrap up, Anything that you would like to add on our number seven of our framework? What are any favorite things that you have as we close up our time together?
This is one of those books. That's hard to pick like one favorite thing, right? Cause there's so many things we've already highlighted and so many rich lessons in Nehemiah. I'd want to leave you with maybe two final thoughts. One is. If you are truly doing God's will in your life, we learn from Nehemiah that you must never cease from that work. Like going back to chapter 6, we see that he would not leave the work that God called him to.
Againand do not cater to accusations made against you just because people don't like you. You are doing God's will, and you are doing God's will in God's way, and you are doing God's will in God's way in God's time, then don't let anybody get in the way of you fulfilling the mission and ministry that God has called you to.
You must flee temptation, but you also must flee opposition. And I want to encourage you to learn these spiritual lessons because everyone out there listening has to be able to apply it. The truth that God has given to you, where to whom much is given, much is required. And also remember the attitude. The attitude matters so much.
This is a book of great spiritual renewal, and the Bible tells us, even as David sinned, restore unto me the joy of your salvation, David prayed in Psalm 51. And I love the verse in Nehemiah chapter 8 verse 10, where he says, do not sorrow for the joy of the Lord. is your strength. We know that joy comes from the Lord in his presence is the fullness of joy.
And while you do the things of God, you should be enjoying it. Don't let anybody rob your joy. Don't let anybody steal what God has given to you. Because as you do the work of the Lord, you can have the word of Christ dwelling in you richly. And the spirit of God who overflows out of us will show us a love and a joy for others to see, and this is where Nehemiah wonderfully models that right attitude with the right work. So that's what I want to encourage you with today.
It's so good. I love, if I were to pick one thing, Joey, that was really good by the way. It's so good. There's, there's always more than we can cover and I feel like we could go two or three hours on all of these books. But one of my favorite things is how Nehemiah was essentially a guy who just worked in the service of King Artaxerxes in Persia.
And it didn't matter. He didn't start with any advantage. All he had was a major burden that he could not ignore for God's glory being restored. And friends, if you have a burden, don't ignore it, while at the same time, remember that the way you go about seeing what you feel God has put on your heart is done with walking in the Spirit and being mindful and wise, because you can make a marvelous difference in your world, just like Nehemiah did in his. And so I just love that. I just love it.
Amen. And I'm going to leave you with one final thought after you just that, Bodie. Don't think of prayer. Don't think of prayer as preparation for the work. Prayer. is also the work. Prayer is a work of God's people and prayer is interwoven throughout the whole of this book. And so let us remember to always pray and not lose heart, and that is the greatest way where we can do our part in the greater works of God.
Amen. Joey, I have nothing else to add. This was such a joy. So we are going to wrap it up here. Episode 22, Nehemiah explained, a seven part framework to equip and inspire your Bible study. I think we've done both, this was just a joy. If you want all of the, summary ideas on a single page. You can go to, YouCanLearntheBible.com/notes. That is YouCanLearntheBible.com/notes to download a one page summary of this episode for your study of the book of Nehemiah,
if you are able to leave a comment on either YouTube or your podcast app, we appreciate that whenever. We receive them, we read each and every one, and we appreciate them so much. So thank you to those who have done that.
And so Joey, our next episode is another really interesting book of the Old Testament. The book of Esther is going to be episode 23, Esther Explained. What's one thing that our listeners can look forward to in our next episode?
Well, just like we heard about Nehemiah, where God can use any man for accomplishing a great work of God to stir up his people, the Bible tells us this is for men and women
Esther was a godly woman and we're going to see that she was placed right where she was supposed to be for such a time as this. So stay tuned for the next time where we're going to teach you all about the riches of that book of Esther and how God used her life for his purposes.
Amen. Friends, we are so blessed to be able to help you in your growth and love of God's word. We believe that you can learn the Bible and we are here to help you do that, and so in the meantime, until we meet again, stay in the word, stay faithful, stay prayerful and know that God loves you and that we are excited to see you in next episode, Esther Explained, episode 23. Until then, God bless you and grace and peace. See you later.