Nehemiah, Sarah Barry
Passage: Nehemiah 1:1~11
Key verse: 11
The kingdoms of Israel and Judah had been overrun and the people taken into captivity or scattered by the Assyrians (721 B.C.) and the Babylonians (586 B.C.), respectively. The people of Judah had God's promise that they would return to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon after 70 years (2Ch 36:21-22; Jer 25:8-11), and this time had come. The return of the exiles began under Cyrus, king of Persia, who conquered Babylon. The first group were led back by Zerubbabel (536 B.C.). The temple was restored in 516 B.C. under his leadership. The second group of returnees were led by Ezra (457 B.C.). He was a Bible teacher. Nehemiah led the third group back in 444 B.C. The book of Ezra is also about the returned exiles. Nehemiah's name means 'The Lord comforts.' He lived as an exile during the Babylonian captivity and rose to a privileged position in the government as the king's cupbearer. He was broken-hearted when he heard that the broken wall in Jerusalem had never been repaired. So he prayed about it until God showed him what to do. He returned and built the walls, overcoming great opposition (chapters 1-6). The walls had been rubble for nearly 150 years, but he rebuilt them in less than two months. It was possible with God's help and Nehemiah's zeal and leadership. Once people's spirits are crushed, it takes a shepherd to restore their faith, courage and strength to restore. As he rebuilds the wall, famine strikes and brings out underlying social problems. In chapters 7-13, he records how he organized the residents and promoted Bible study and practical reforms according to the teachings of the Bible. Chapter 9 records a beautiful prayer of the nation's repentance and restoration.
1. I sat down and wept (1-4)
Nehemiah was a Jewish exile living in Susa in Babylon. He had a high position in the court of King Artaxerxes; he was the king's cupbearer. Some of the Jewish exiles had returned to Jerusalem and had rebuilt the temple. One day some men-including Nehemiah's brother-came from Judah bringing news of Jerusalem and the people living there. When Nehemiah heard that the city wall of Jerusalem was broken down, leaving her helpless and disgraced, he sat down and wept. He fasted and prayed.
2. Nehemiah's decision (5-11)
Nehemiah decided to risk his job, and even his life, and speak to the king. But first, he prayed. He confessed the sins of his people, and he included himself. The people were living in exile because they had not lived according to God's word. God had kept his promise to scatter his disobedient people; he was keeping his promise to restore repentant people.
Prayer: Lord, help me to see my nation's problems as my own, pray with a repentant heart, and act by faith.
One Word: Pray to the Lord for his help and success