Nehemiah: Rebuilding A Community, The Penitence. Nehemiah 9:1-38

July 31st, 2017

Nehemiah: Rebuilding A Community
The Penitence

Nehemiah 9:1-38

 

The Penitence (v. 1- 5)                     

  • Another gathering after the Feast of the Tabernacles.

    • This takes place 2 days after the feast
    • Transition from time of rejoicing to repentance
  • As in chapter 8, this is led by the people
    • Fasting
    • Wearing sackcloth *
    • Dust on their heads
  • Separated themselves from foreigners
    • Covenant between God and Israel
    • Group confession and acknowledged sins of their forefathers.
  • Stood and read from the Book of the Law
    • 3 hours of reading
    • 3 hours of confession and worshiping

 

The Retelling (v. 6-31)

  • The prayer begins with recognizing who God Is

    • He is the everlasting
    • He is the author of creation
  • They recount the story of the Israelites
    • God chose Abram/Abraham
    • God made a covenant and kept his word
    • Heard the cry of the people in Egypt
      • Exodus: Theme of the Old Testament
    • God gives the people the law (v. 13)
      • They recognize them as just and right
      • Not negative but “how to” for Godly living
    • God meets their physical need
    • But, they turn their backs on God
      • Arrogant and stiff necked
      • Appoint their own leader
      • Made idols to worship instead of God
    • God never left them: Compassion

The Response (v. 32-38)

  • They understood why they were where they were

    • It was their sin that got them in captivity
    • It was their rejection of God
    • He always took them back according to his covenant with them
  • They took an oath

 

So What?

  • Do we recognize that it is our choices and behavior that separates us from God?
  • He never leaves us
  • Does the past give us reason to give him praise or and excuse to blame him for the tough spots?
  • In a hurting community desperate for hope, what should this mean to the church?

Meditation Verse: Nehemiah 9:33

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Nehemiah: Rebuilding A Community: The Celebration. Nehemiah 8:1-18

July 24th, 2017

Nehemiah: Rebuilding A Community
The Celebration

Nehemiah 8:1-18

 

A Return to the Word (v. 1-8)

  • After the work on the walls had been completed

    • The community turns to God in worship
    • The call to worship God comes from the ‘people
  • This worship centered on refocusing on God’s truth revealed in His word
    • The book that Ezra read was probably Deuteronomy
    • The reading was 6 hours long (v. 3)
  • The whole community was involved
    • Men & women
    • Young & old
    • The learned & unlearned
    • Lay leaders (v. 4) & Levites (v. 7)
      • The latter explaining what the text meant to the crowd as it was read (v. 8)
    • The people responded by (v. 6):
      • Lifting their hands in worship = showing a sense of need
      • Saying, “Amen! Amen!” = affirming their submission to the authority of Scripture
      • Bowing down to the ground = a sense of humility and submission before God

 

A Day to Celebrate (v. 9-12)

  • As the people heard God’s word read, they wept and mourned

    • Realizing that they had failed to keep it
  • But Nehemiah, Ezra, and the leaders call them to rejoice instead
    • Because God had shown His goodness to them despite their sin
  • This also involved fellowship offerings and sharing in a communal meal (v. 10-11)
    • With the wealthy sharing with the poor

 

A Time to Remember (v. 13-18)

  • On the 2nd day of celebration, the heads of each family gathered to study God’s word
  • This led them to realize that the Feast of Booths was approaching (15th day of the 7th month)
    • Though it had not been celebrated properly* since the time of Joshua (v. 17)
  • The Feast of Booths (see Lev. 23:33–43, Deut. 16)
    • A harvest festival celebrating God’s provision

      • This aspect was celebrated throughout the reign of faithful kings (2 Chron. 8:13; 31:3; 35:18)
    • A time to reflect on God’s guidance of His people through the 40 years in the wilderness
      • Living in tents like their ancestors had
      • This had been neglected, but now had new meaning as the Israelites returned from the Exile

 

So What?

  • As God focused His people on His work

    • They celebrated
    • They refocused on His word
    • They remembered His goodness
  • Are we doing the same?

Meditation Verse: Nehemiah 8:8

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Nehemiah: Rebuilding A Community. The People. Nehemiah 6:15-7:73

July 17th, 2017

Nehemiah: Rebuilding A Community
The People

Nehemiah 6: 15 – 7:73

 

The People (v. 15 – 19)

  • The walls were finished

    • 25th of Elul – End of Sept. / Beg. of Oct., 445 BC
    • 52 days after beginning the building process
    • 1 simple verse to acknowledge this
  • News traveled quickly to surrounding nations
    • They were afraid and lacked confidence
    • Not because of the determination of Nehemiah
    • They could see that this was accomplished by God through the people
  1. 17 shows that all was not well with all of the Jews

Many of the nobles had economic and political agreements with Tobiah

Tobiah stayed in contact with them through the whole building process

The nobles tried to influence Nehemiah and Tobiah tried to intimidate him to no avail

 

Life after building (v. 7: 1 – 5)

  • Walls were done but needed the gates

    • Gates were made of wood and were very heavy
    • This secured the city from the outside world
    • Gatekeepers, musicians and Levites appointed
  • First thing Nehemiah did was to delegate responsibility to others
    • First he gave authority to Hanani, his brother
    • Then to Hananiah, the commander of the citadel
    • “He was a man of integrity who feared God more than most do”
    • Wisdom in who he gave authority to:
    • Trustworthy
    • Integrity
    • Feared God
  • Gives clear direction about what should be done
    • Gates open a limited time
    • Appoint guards for the walls
    • By their houses
  • City is safe but underpopulated
  • God puts in Nehemiah’s heart the registration of the people
    • Genealogical record found (Ezra 2: 1 – 70)
  • The record varies slightly with that in Ezra Chapter 2
  • This helped to prove claims to citizenship as well as priestly claims
  • Tobiah had no proof and was told that
  • He recounts their giving for the rebuilding: (v. 70 – 72)
  • Three groups giving mentioned:
    • First is the governor
    • Second are the Heads of families
    • Third are the people
      • 41,000 drachmas of gold or roughly 1,133 lbs
      • 4,200 minas of silver or roughly 6,300 lbs
      • 597 garments for the priests

 

 

 

So What?

  • What is our view of success? Do we view things in the short term or have a long range view?
  • Is our desire to expand God’s Kingdom here on earth? If so, what are we willing to do about that?
  • What are the things in our life that come before doing the work of God? Family, comfort,

stuff?

 

 

 

 

 

Meditation Verse:

Philippians 2:4, ESV

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."

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Nehemiah Rebuilding A Community: The Poor: Nehemiah 5:1-19

July 3rd, 2017

Nehemiah: Rebuilding A Community
The Poor

Nehemiah 5:1-19

 

The Poor (v. 1-6)

  • Last week the problems were from the outside

    • This week, the problem is closer to home
  • Fellow Jews taking advantage of their own brothers and sisters
    • Inequality and Injustice
  • There was a great “outcry” from men and women (v. 1)
    • Because both were involved in this building process
    • The word “outcry” is the same word used in Ex. 3:9
  • It affected 3 different groups of people:
    • Workers with no land ownership (v. 2)

      • Large families needing to buy food
      • Prices increased during times of famine
      • Families were working on the wall and were not able to earn money through normal employment
    • Landowners forced to borrow for grain (v. 3)
      • The land was not producing enough because of a famine
      • Interest rate was adding to their financial problems
    • Those unable to pay the taxes due (v. 4)
      • King Artaxerxes was still getting his during this time
      • Forced to sell sons & daughters into slavery

 

Dealing with the Issue (v. 7-13)

  • Nehemiah takes time before speaking (v. 7)

    • Knows he needs to let his anger subside
    • Deals with the issue biblically
  • Usury: charging excess interest
  • Called a “large” meeting
    • All parties together to get this resolved
    • Work stopped on the wall
  • Jews in slavery were bought back only to have their brothers enslave them again
    • Nehemiah leaves them without words
    • And he explains why it is wrong (v. 9) (Deut. 10:12)
  • Nehemiah calls them to stop the usury and return what was gained off the backs of the poor
  • To their credit, they acknowledge their wrong and agree to correct them
    • Nehemiah calls the priests to bind the agreement
  • “Shook out the folds of my robe”= God will take away from those that disobey
  • They all praised the Lord!

 

Setting the Example (v. 14-19)

  • Nehemiah had been made the governor of Judah

    • He was able to take his share for the title but never did
  • He and his men focused on the work at hand and did not further tax the people
    • Instead, they opened up their house and resources to serve others
  • Ends with a statement about his right actions
    • Not that God needed reminding

 

So What?

  • External forces could not stop the progress, but internal strife brought things to a stand still
  • A story of Inequality and Injustice
    • Do we view ourselves as equals with those in our community or above those in need?
    • Does the injustice others face cause us concern or are we comfortable because it is their problem?
  • Unity allows God’s plans to move forward

Meditation Verse: Phil. 2:4

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