- Nehemiah organizes after the wall is finished (7:1-5)
- Genealogies of the the people who returned in the first wave (6-69)
- People donate to the work (70-73)
- Ezra reads the Word to all the people (8:1-8)
I. Nehemiah organizes after the wall is finished (7:1-5)
- What did Nehemiah do after the wall had been finished?
- How did he start to take them forward from pre-wall life to post-wall life?
- What do we learn about Nehemiah from this?
- What type of people did he put in charge? Why is this important?
- What is the point of Nehemiah’s plans in verse 3?
- What did Nehemiah plan to do in verse 5? How did he get this idea? How does this relate to chapter 8?
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Verse 1 – Rebuilding the wall wasn’t the end. It was the beginning. There was still work to be done. Nehemiah wanted to make sure that things would run smoothly. He wanted to make sure that things wouldn’t regress. There are times to build and there are times to preserve what has been built. Imagine how foolish it would be if after all of that work rebuilding the wall a tactical mistake allowed the enemy to come in to the city and defeat them. Nehemiah continues to organize and delegate and make sure that every detail is attended to.
2. He puts wise leaders in charge – He appoints leaders that he knows and trusts. He appoints leaders who fear God and are men of integrity (this is what Paul also commanded in 1 Timothy and Titus about appointing elders.) He
3. He sets rules for the opening and closing of the gates and appoints guards – If one gate was left open at the wrong time or if one spot was unguarded all of their work may have been done for nothing. Nehemiah understood that their achievements and past victories would not guarantee that the enemy would stop trying to destroy them. He understood that his enemy would persevere. He surveyed the wall to find the weakness to fix it before. Now his enemy would survey the wall to find the weakness to attack.
Application: We should be alert and aware. We should understand our weaknesses and take appropriate measures to protect ourselves from temptation in those areas. For example?
4. Nehemiah called the people together – God put this idea in his heart. We will see the result of this idea in chapter 8. Worshiping God is a community affair. Both in the Old Testament and now we need to fellowship with other believers. This is the public side of our faith. We can both receive and give encouragement to others. We can challenge each other. We can both receive teaching and teach others. Two are stronger than one. Together we are stronger than we are by ourselves. Be sure you regularly fellowship with and serve God together with other believers.
II. Genealogies of the the people who returned in the first wave (6-69)
- How many people returned in the first wave?
- Who led them?
- Are there any lessons we can learn from their return?
Verse by Verse Commentary:
- Many of the families made the decision to go back to Jerusalem. This could not have been an easy decision. Most of them were born and raised in the Babylonian Empire. This was “home” to them in a sense. The people they knew were there. Their houses were there. They had friends there. They had careers and jobs and possessions. They had security. Back in Jerusalem they wouldn’t know what to expect. Certainly there would be dangers both on the way and when they arrived back. They would have to start their lives completely from scratch. They would face difficulties and opposition. But they made the choices to go because God stirred their hearts. God put this desire in their hearts and they responded. They realized that Babylon wasn’t really their home. It wasn’t the land God had promised to them. Judah was their home. This is similar to the concept that we are also aliens in a foreign land and our citizenship is in heaven.
Application: These people obeyed God’s will for them much like their ancestor Abraham had done so long before. We must be willing to obey Christ no matter how much it costs. That is what it means to be His disciple.
The list in Nehemiah the 7 is the same as the list in Ezra 2.
1.The people each returned to his own city. Although 70 years had passed they continued keeping track of family lines and property ownership.
2. Ezra numbers all the people meticulously. I get the impression of a very organized return. It is not chaos. Everything is done in order. The leaders taking them back know exactly who is going back and where they will go and who they are with. This gives a certain amount of safety and accountability. You can imagine they also likely did some periodic counts to make sure that everyone who left Babylon was still safe and in the caravan.
3. We see some people from all of the key groups returning including: Benjamin, Judah, Levites, Priests, and Temple Servants.
4. If you add up all the numbers given in the first part of the chapter, it is actually around 10,000 short of the number given in verse 64. This is explained by the fact that Ezra doesn’t list out everyone by family, probably not including the numbers for non-Judah and Benjamin tribes.
5. We also see that there are a couple of groups who could not find records of their ancestry. They were therefore excluded from serving as a priest until a priest could ascertain God’s will for them from the Urim and Thummim. What is that?
6. Upon returning to the land, one of the first things they did was give a contribution to the temple to build the foundation. This appears to be by a volunteer basis. The people freely give of what they received when they left Babylon. This gets the temple construction project off to a good start.
7. I notice that the number of people returning seems very few. There are only 42,360. Contrast that with the likely 2 million people leaving Egypt at the Exodus. We can see Israel has been humbled. It’s position is very low. They have no standing, status, or power in world affairs. Later we will see that Jerusalem is a pitiful sight with no walls. The few things they have were mostly given to them by charity. They only have the right to be there because the leader of the empire they now serve gave them permission. No more are they a strong, proud, independent nation. They are lowly servants dependant on the crumbs falling from their masters’ table. What can we learn from this? God certainly blessed them and showed them His grace to allow them to return. But sin doesn’t come without consequences. God eventually forgave them and restored them. But what they were restored to was much less than what they lost before. In our own lives, God will always be willing to forgive us and accept us back again, but it doesn’t mean that we can get everything we had before we sinned. Therefore by far the best choice is to never stray from or disobey God.
III. People donate to the work (70-73)
Who donated? What kind of things did they donate? What can we learn from them?
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