These small group studies of Nehemiah contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Nehemiah 11-12 Inductive Bible Study With Discussion Questions for Personal Meditation or Small Groups
People volunteer to live in Jerusalem (Chapter 11)
The list of priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel (12:1-26)
The wall is dedicated (12:27-47)
I. People volunteer to live in Jerusalem (Chapter 11)
- Why did they want more people living in Jerusalem?
- What method did they use to decide it?
- In addition to those chosen through lots, who else lived in Jerusalem?
- What can we learn from them about volunteering?
Verse by Verse Commentary
The city had just been completed. But there was a problem. There weren’t enough people to live in it. A lack of people meant that the city was still vulnerable. By creating a strong capital city, this could help unite the people and create a common meeting point to celebrate festivals, offer sacrifices, hold assemblies, etc.
Some were chosen by lots – Casting lots was popular in the Old Testament. They believed that God would divinely ordain the results to bring about His will.
Others volunteered – We see in verse 2 that many people volunteered for this. For some that meant making sacrifices. They would be leaving their homes, their farms, and their neighbors to settle in a city. Not everyone likes living in a big capital city. Sometimes serving God and others requires sacrifice. Application: We don’t need to wait to be chosen to do a task. Instead we can take initiative and volunteer to do what needs to be done. Let us all learn from them and have a “Here am I, send me” attitude.
II. The list of priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel (12:1-26)
This is the same list found in Ezra.
III. The wall is dedicated (12:27-47)
- What was the purpose of dedicating the wall?
- Who joined the dedication?
- What did they do at the dedication?
- Why did the Levites need to purify themselves?
- How can we purify ourselves today?
- What was the purpose of the choirs? What can we learn from this about worship?
- What is happening in verses 31-39? (A praise walk) Can we do similar things today? Like what?
- Where did the praise walk end?
- What happened at the conclusion of the day?
- What was the attitude of the people? Why were they so joyful? Where did this joy come from? How did they express their joy?
- What can we learn from this?
- Why did men need to be appointed for this task (44)?
- What was their job?
- What was the job of the priests and Levites?
- What do we learn from verse 46 about the importance of thanksgiving and praise?
- What can we learn from this passage about what unity is (does it mean everyone is doing the same thing?) What positive effects can we see in these verses from unity?
Verses on Joy
- Romans 15:13 – May the God of all hope fill you with all joy.
- 1 Peter 1:8 – Rejoice with joy that is inexpressible.
- Romans 14:17 – The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
- Proverbs 10:28 – The hope of the righteous brings joy.
- Psalms 16:11 – In your presence is fullness of joy.
- Psalm 4:7 – You have put more joy in my heart than they when their grain and wine abound.
Verses on Praise
- Hebrews 13:15 – Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise.
- Psalm 147:1-20 – It is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
- Psalm 109:30 – I will praise Him in the midst of a throng.
- Psalm 69:30 – I will praise the name of God with a song.
- Isaiah 43:21 – The people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.
Verses on Unity
- 1 Corinthians 1:10 – That there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and judgment.
- Colossians 3:14 – Love binds all together in harmony.
- Romans 15:6 – Together with one voice you may glorify God.
- Psalm 133:1 – How good and how pleasant when brothers dwell together in unity.
Verse by Verse Commentary
The wall was dedicated – When they finished the task of building the wall, they decided to hold a dedication for the wall. What is a dedication? When you dedicate something you commit this person or thing to God’s service and make a commitment to use it for God’s glory rather than your own. Dedicating a child means making a commitment that you will do your best to raise this child up to serve the Lord rather than for your own selfish reasons. Dedicating a house means that you plan to use this house as a place to serve the Lord. You pray that it will be a place of hospitality, a place of blessings for those who visit. Dedicating the wall was their way of saying that the newly built Jerusalem belonged to God. He could do with it and with them what He wanted. They were committing to serving God in this place. They were also praising God for His favor in finishing this task.
It was a celebration – The people were happy. God had favored them in allowing them to get this far. He had favored them in causing their return to the Promised Land, in allowing the rebuilding of the temple, and the rebuilding of the city walls. This was a time for gladness, rejoicing, and thanksgiving. Application: What kind of things can you celebrate with other believers? When we are following God’s will, there are a lot of reasons to celebrate. In the past couple of years I have been able to witness several weddings between brothers and sisters. I remember as I was sitting and watching one of these weddings (Paul and Mimi), that I was simply very happy. It was a time of celebration. Two believers had obeyed God and sought His will. They had put Him first in their relationships. They had rejected worldly standards and the world’s culture and stood on God’s Word. I could join in with their celebration with a big smile on my face, happy to witness what God had done in their lives. When we do well, there is a reason to celebrate. I have also heard of marriages by believers performed in secret. I remember one case many years ago, the couple had gotten pregnant. So they held a quick wedding. Few people were invited. The couple likely felt some guilt and shame. It wasn’t a 100% pure joyous celebration. See Genesis 4:7. Let us live our lives in the light. Let us have a pure conscience in front of God and man so that we can celebrate God’s blessings in our lives together. We can celebrate when people come to the Lord. We can celebrate marriages. We can celebrate birth. We can celebrate the beginning of new fellowships and new churches. Are you living your life in a way that you want to celebrate or in a way that you want to hide?
The priests and Levites purified themselves – Leading God’s people is an important responsibility. One doesn’t have to be perfect. We can’t be anyway. But leaders must be an example to the people. They must take their role seriously. This includes hating sin. It means that they should be quick to confess their sins so that there will be no wall between themselves and God or themselves and the people they are serving. Application: How can we purify ourselves? (See 1 John 1:9. We can’t actually take away our sins. Only God can truly cleanse us.) For me, one clear application is to confess my sins prior to teaching others God’s Word. I should confess my sins before preaching a sermon, leading a Bible study, or even teaching my children the Word.
They also purified the people – Before the people could really come to God in celebration they had to deal with their sins. In the Old Testament washing with water was an external picture of the work that only can do in washing away sins and that would be perfectly done by Christ on the cross. It’s a picture of washing away our spiritual dirt much like taking a shower is washing away physical dirt. This ritual would serve to remind the people about their own dirtiness in God’s sight. See Isaiah 64:6. The sacrifices and washings of the Old Testament were a constant reminder that the people needed help. It was a constant reminder of the seriousness of sin. And it was an ever present picture of what Christ would ultimately do on the cross to once and for all take the punishment for our sins.
31-39 – In these verses we see a “praise walk.” Some of you might be familiar with “prayer walks.” Have you ever been part of one? A prayer walk is when a believer or group of believers walk through an area and pray for the people or problems there as they go. The praise walk here in Nehemiah is similar. The group starts together on one section of the wall. One group goes right and the other group goes left. As they go they sing songs of praise to God. It was so loud that verse 43 tells us the sound was heard far away. They continue walking in a circle around the wall until presumably they meet on the other side and then together go to the temple to finish the praise walk together there. Why walk on the wall? Why not just praise God individually from the comfort of their own homes or perhaps as a group from the comfort of their normal meeting place? What was the benefit of actually walking on the wall and doing it as a group? What ideas can you get from this about how to improve your own prayer/praise life? See verses on praise above.
They offered great sacrifices – Worshiping God leads to sacrifice. When you worship God you realize how great He is. Naturally you will want to serve Him. You will want to offer Him what you can. What link do you see between worship and sacrifice in Romans 12:1?
They rejoiced because God had given them great joy – Where does joy come from? How can one get it? Why did they have it? Why do some believers now have joy and others do not? What should you do if you want to have joy? Here are just a few things that will bring us joy. Perhaps you can think of more. See also cross-references.
- Obeying God. We saw that in Genesis 4:7.
- Praying with the right attitude – John 16:24.
- Witnessing God changing people’s lives – Luke 15:7.
- Looking forward to what God has in store for us – Hebrews 12:2.
- Giving to others – Acts 20:35
- Trusting in God’s promises – Matthew 6.
- Sin will rob us of joy.
- Joy can be infectious – Your joy can be contagious. Don’t be a spreader of doom and gloom. Let the joy of Christ reign in your hearts. As others see that, they will want it too. Your smiling, laughing, and singing can spread.
- Verses 44-47 – In these verses we see a real picture of unity. Unity does not equal everybody doing the same thing. Instead unity occurs when each person faithfully fulfills the role/function God has given him with a common goal. What different roles do you see being performed in these verses? What is the common goal of the people? What is the result of the unity we see here? Discuss together. See also the above cross-references on unity.
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