The Genesis To Revelation Bible Course
By WILLIAM M. GROOM, Th.M., D.D.
Lesson No. 15 – Nehemiah
COPYRIGHT, 1921 BY THE BIBLE STUDY PUBLISHING CO.
The Book of Nehemiah
* KEY VERSE–Ne 6:3
* KEY PHRASE–“THE REBUILDING OF JERUSALEM,”
Read this lesson then the whole book of Nehemiah, or:–
* Sunday–Nehemiah’s Prayer.–Ne 1:5-11.
* Monday–Nehemiah Views the Walls.–Ne 2:11-20.
* Tuesday–Opposition.–Ne 4:1-9.
* Wednesday–The law read.–Ne 8:9-18.
* Thursday–Confession of the people.–Ne 9:7-15.
* Friday–The covenant.–Ne 9:32-38.
* Saturday–Fidelity encouraged.–Ne 13:1-22.
NAME–This book was named for its author, Nehemiah, who held the honorable office of cup-bearer to the king of Persia. He was a worthy member of the old line of Hebrew believers, one whose character was cast in the same mold as that of Moses, Joshua, and David of other days. He was sent to Judah as Persian governor of the province.
TIME OF WRITING–About 431 B. C. Events cover a period of eleven years, 445 B. C. to 434 B. C.
PURPOSE–To describe the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, the renewing of the covenant, and the temple and Sabbath reforms.
Great Fact I Rebuilding the Walls
Ne 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6.
Thirteen years after Ezra arrived in Jerusalem, Nehemiah paid the city a visit. He viewed the ruined walls of the city and realized that no national life or security would be possible until they were protected from their enemies. With great faith and enterprise, he succeeded in getting the Jews to rebuild the walls in the short period of 52 days. The Samaritans did everything in their power to frustrate the plans and work of the people, by ridicule, by craft and by conspiracy but without avail. Under the protection of God, they continued the work, and Nehemiah’s unselfishness was so great that all the time he acted as governor, he drew no salary from the state. After twelve years he returned to the court of the king of Persia, according to the promise he had previously made.
LESSON–The success achieved in building the wall was due to the fact that the people “had a mind to work, to wait and to pray.”
The great tasks of the world are accomplished, not so much through genius as through labor. Many have a mind only to think and dream. In theory, they can solve any problem, but more difficulties are removed by working than by thinking. “Labour and prayer overcome all things!” Enthusiastic work is the way that opens the treasuries of contentment and advancement, “Know what you can work at and work at it like a Hercules.”
The people had also a mind to wait. Just when they desired to build at full speed, they had to divide their forces and give attention to defense. Progress of the best kind is usually slow; we must be satisfied to advance in life as we walk, step by step. To know how to wait is a rare quality, but a most valuable one.
The people also had a mind to pray. Nehemiah said, “I prayed the God of Heaven.” Everybody prays when they get into trouble, but if we pray in time we would not get into trouble. Mr. Spurgeon was once asked the question, “How do you pray?” “I go to the Bible and find a promise applicable to my need, then I reverently plead that promise before the Lord, asking Him to keep it for Jesus’ sake; and I believe God will, and He does.”
Great Fact II. Renewing the Covenant
Ne 8; 9; 10; 11.
While the events of the early chapters of Nehemiah were transpiring, Ezra had probably been recalled to Persia, hence Nehemiah found in Jerusalem, the oppression of the poor by the rich, desecration of the Sabbath, negligence with respect to the tithes and offerings, and many marriages of Jews with Gentiles or heathen women.
As soon as Ezra returned he resumed the work of instructing the people of the Law. This stirred them up to repentance, and the Feast of Tabernacles (commemorating God’s goodness to them during the forty years they were in the wilderness in the time of Moses), was solemnly observed. After the feast a great fast was kept, sackcloth was worn, and dust was sprinkled on the head. In the temple court, the vast assembly listened to the words of the Law and confessed their own sins. Then the Levites brought forward a written bond of the covenant, pledging them to walk in God’s law and to make lasting provision for the priest and temple service.
LESSON–Revivals of religion have always been associated with a revival of Bible-reading. This is infinitely precious to the devout believer and infinitely powerful in changing lives.
The covenant with God that the Jews entered into, helped them to keep true to Him. It is a good thing for the individual Christian to make a definite and sacred covenant with the God of his salvation. To vow to forsake all besetting sins, to practice every virtue, and seek to possess every fruit of the Spirit.
Christmas Evans, after being sorely tried, was led to enter afresh into a personal covenant with God, and such was the joy which followed, that he said of it “After forming the covenant, I felt great calmness and peace. I had the feeling of a poor man who had just come under the protection of a great king, and obtained a pension for life, the fear of poverty and want left me forever, I felt the safety which the little chicken feels under the wings of the hen.” With Levi Persons, let us subscribe our hands to be forever the Lord’s, to go anywhere, do anything, to endure any hardship, to live and die for the Lord.
Great Fact III. Reforming Through Religion
Ne 12; 13.
After the walls of the city had been finished twelve years, a solemn dedication of the same took place. The long interval between is accounted for by the absent of Nehemiah from Jerusalem. The very act of dedication shows that the people relied not upon mere walls for safety, but upon divine protection.
During Nehemiah’s absence, the old evil practices had come in again, such as mixed marriages, trade on the Sabbath, irregularity in paying tithes, and the debasing of the temple. Part of the temple had been used as a dwelling house of a heathen! (By Tobiah, the Ammonite.)
Nehemiah encouraged the Jews to lead a separate life again, the temple was cleansed, the Sabbath made sacred, and purity of worship restored.
LESSON–Nehemiah would make no compromise with foes within the temple, or within the city, or without. He rebuked priests and nobles alike when they violated the teachings of the scriptures. He feared God so much that he feared man so little. He had faith to act with God and for God. He did not simply believe in right principles, and then do nothing for them. So when we believe that men will be forever lost unless saved by having faith in Christ, then we should be willing to put blood and sweat into the business of saving men. Are our lives bravely bearing witness to the truth that there is a hell to shun and a heaven to win? Are we soul-winners, or soul-losers? We need more aroused Nehemiahs. Only so will our homes and cities be changed by redemption grace.
It is said that in a Scotch village on a stormy night all the peat fires went out and the next morning, the villages having no matches in those days, had to climb the hills where the fires still burned, and bring back some precious embers of fire. So let us climb the hills of God, and renew the fires of holy enthusiasm.
Questions on the Lesson
1. What are the keyword and key verse?
2. How much have you read in Nehemiah?
3. For whom was this book named and what office did he hold?
4. When was the book written and how many years does it cover?
5. Give the purpose.
6. Name the great facts.
7. Of what help were city walls?
8. Who hindered the building and how?
9. What was the success in building due?
10. How are the great tasks of the world accomplished?
11. How should we pray if we use Spurgeon’s method?
12. What covenant did the Jews make?
13. What sort of covenant ought we to make with God?
14. What reforms did Nehemiah encourage?
15. Is compromise right for Christians?
16. How can we back our principles with effort?
17. How can we renew holy enthusiasm?