THE LIFE AND TIMES OF NEHEMIAH #1

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE TIMES

INTRODUCTION

A judge may sentence a man to five years in prison for a crime committed – he may give a second man committing the same crime an even stiffer sentence

  1. We can only understand the actions of the judge if we know that one man was a first-time offender, and the other a habitual criminal
  2. So it would be very difficult for us to understand the heart, actions, and reactions of Nehemiah without knowing something of the hearts of the people with whom he had to deal.

Why would Nehemiah react to violently in Chapter 13?

  1. Throwing furniture in the street…clubbed and pulled the hair out of certain ones
  2. The answer lies in the heart of Israel

DISCUSSION

A REBELLIOUS HOUSE

The historical books of the Old Testament give us a commentary of the fickle nature of Israel

  1. The prophets exposed their hearts, and laid them bare for all to see
  2. Notice how Ezekiel labeled them… Ezekiel 3:4-8

As early as 755 BC, notice how Amos saw Israel

  1. Amos 2:6-7
  2. Amos 3:10
  3. Amos 5:12
  4. Notice the moral erosion of Israel… Amos 2:7
  5. Amos 5:21-27

A short time later (750-725 BC), Hosea took up where Amos left off

  1. Hosea 6:7
  2. Hosea 4:2
  3. Hosea 7:8-9
  4. d.Hosea 11:7

Notice the scathing rebukes of Isaiah (740-700 BC)

  1. Isaiah 1:4, 6
  2. Isaiah 3:15
  3. Isaiah 10:2
  4. They mislabeled the evil as good… Isaiah 5:20-21
  5. They even attempted to gag the prophets… Isaiah 30:8-10

We could go on four hours listening to prophets’ rebuke of Israel…

  1. Plain preaching had little effect on them
  2. They were bent on doing evil
  3. As a result the went into captivity

A SHORT-LIVED REFORMATION

Seventy years in captivity caused Israel to do some soul searching

  1. Ezra 9:6-7  
  2. Daniel 9:8, 11  
  3. Psalm 137:1  
  4. Daniel 9:15-19

In 538 BC King Cyrus issued a decree of freedom, and despite dangers and hardships, Zerubbabel lead a faithful remnant back to Israel.

  1. They rebuilt the altar of burnt offering, and the foundations of the Lord’s house was laid (Ezra 3:2, 10)
  2. But almost as quickly, lethargy crept in, revealing the undergrowth of an old problem – hearts bent on backsliding
  3. Haggai addressed the problem… Haggai 1:2-6
  4. The people rallied behind Zerubbabel and the temple was completed and much of the ancient way of worship was restored (Ezra 6:14-22)

By the time Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in 465 BC, he found a shocking state of affairs.

  1. Ezra 9:1-3
  2. Ezra corrected the situation and made the people take an oath… Ezra 10:5
  3. But when Nehemiah assumed the governorship of the land thirteen years later – he found them backsliding again
  4. Nehemiah 13:23-25
  5. Her old patterns of disobedience were being repeated

However, let us not lose our perspective as we see the heart of Israel exposed

  1. There was always a remnant in Israel who would not bow the knee to Baal – the Elijahs, the Josiahs, the Jeremiahs, and the Nehemiahs
  2. Note Romans 11:1-5
  3. Hebrews 11:32-38
  4. Let us be careful that we not look at the Israel of old with pious hypocrisy… Romans 7:14-24

JERUSALEM DURING THE TIME OF NEHEMIAH

As we have already seen, the restoration, so often anticipated, and which set sail with such high hopes, soon floundered in lethargy and heathen abominations

  1. Even further than this, that precious remnant of the faithful was in desperate straits
  2. The Samaritans apparently had gained both a political and physical advantage over Jerusalem
  3. Evidence also indicates that they had brought to a standstill any attempts to rebuild and fortify the wall of the city

Commercialization had replaced religious dedication

  1. Nehemiah 13:15-16
  2. The holy lineage had been so polluted that it was in danger of becoming extinct…Nehemiah 13:23-24
  3. Even their own wealthy brethren oppressed the returning exiles, taking mortgages on grain needed for livelihood, and collecting such absorbent interest that the poor were having to sell their children into bondage just to survive (Neh. 5:1-5)

The situation in Jerusalem in the days of Nehemiah are aptly described in…Nehemiah 1:3-4

Nehemiah could not help but weep as he was apprised of the condition of his people and Holy City.

A very important principle is seen in Nehemiah

CONCLUSION

THE RESTORATION PRINCIPLE

Restore: “To return to a former state or condition.”

  1. Our object is always to bring people back to the former condition – the perfect standard of the New Testament.
  2. Consider the following concerning restoration…

There must be a Divine Standard

  1. There was for Cain and Abel (Heb. 11:4; Rom. 10:17)
  2. There was for Noah (Gen. 6:22)
  3. There was the Law of Moses (Deut. 30:11-20)
  4. Now there is the Gospel of Christ (Jam. 1:25)

When the standard is departed from, God is not pleased

  1. Previously from the Law of Moses (Deut. 31:29)
  2. Today from the gospel (1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 4:1-4)

God desires restoration

  1. Previously for Israel (Eze. 36:22-25; Neh. 1:8-9)
  2. Today for the church (Eph. 2:4-5, 15-16, 19-22)
  3. Today for the individual (Lk. 15:11-32; Acts 8:18-23)

The present apostasy foretold (2 The. 2:1-12)

  1. To precede the day of Christ’s return (vs. 1-3).
  2. To happen to the church (v. 4)
  3. To continue until Jesus returns (v. 8)
  4. Do not be deceived! (vs. 9-10)

Restoration is: Valid, Needed, Possible and Approved by the Lord!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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About from the Preachers PC

Gospel Preacher for the Park Heights church of Christ in Hamilton, TX. I stand for and defend the truth of God's word. All other degrees and diplomas mean very little in comparison.
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