Nehemiah – Lesson Four
Once Nehemiah was certain of his call to go to Jerusalem, he then requested of the king adequate supplies to reconstruct the wall and the residence he would occupy.
The walls served to protect the residents of the city from aggressors who sought to destroy the Jewish people. Without walls, Jerusalem was a dangerous place to live. Without residents, the newly rebuilt temple with its daily worship ritual would not be maintained. Consequently, the testimony of the Jews as to the nature and greatness of God would be silenced. Without temple worship, God’s purpose to establish His name in Jerusalem would not be realized (Deuteronomy 12:5). Thus the task was given to Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls for God’s glory and the continued testimony of the Jewish people.
Jerusalem and its protective walls is a portrait of Christian churches today and the families who make up those churches. Sadly, many of the churches in the western part of the world are in as bad a state as Jerusalem during Nehemiah’s time. Churches are comprised of families. Families are built on the foundation of marriage between a man and a woman. Regrettably, the enemy has been successful in destroying the strength, influence, and testimony of the western church by breaking up families through demolishing marriages. In many cases the building blocks that protect a marriage have been neglected, falling into disrepair and leaving the marriage vulnerable to attack.
The application of the second chapter of Nehemiah to the building of strong churches through building strong marriages is vitally important. The significance is seen in that Jesus chose to illustrate His relationship to His bride through marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33). The first institution after creation was marriage which stresses the immense importance God places on the ordinance. Not surprisingly, the enemy still prowls around seeking to destroy that which represents God, His kingdom and eternal glory. And sadly, he has made significant inroads due to the apathy of so many Christians.
As we turn to the second and third chapters of Nehemiah, we will focus on the ways in which God would have us personally build the walls of our lives, our families, and most importantly, our marriages. We need to be reminded of the significance of our home life as it relates to the strengthening of our churches. And like Nehemiah, we need to feel the weight of responsibility for the testimony of our homes and churches in our communities and beyond.
DAY ONE: Nehemiah retires alone upon arrival in Jerusalem. (2:10-11)
A. Imagine how excited Nehemiah must have been to finally arrive in Jerusalem. He
knew he had been called to this particular work because it had been confirmed in so many ways. The tremendous burden that he felt for Jerusalem, the wall, and the disgrace of the people who lived there was about to be realized. However, his arrival is marked by a pause.
1. How long did he wait before he did anything (2:11)?
a. Why do you suppose he did that?
b. What do you think he was doing during that period of time?
2. How might the phrase “…I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do
at Jerusalem” (2:12), relate to Nehemiah’s waiting before working?
3. Read the following passages and note the numerous references to waiting:
Psalms 37:7; 40:1; 130:5-6; Isaiah 26:8; Acts 1:4.
a. From the above passages, what advantage is there in waiting upon the
b. What further insight do you gain from Luke 14:28-30?
c. In what way do you find it hard to wait, especially when you think you
know what you need to be doing?
d. What difference would it make if God’s name and renown were the foremost motivation in those tasks to which we have been assigned (Isaiah 26:8)?
B. Principle: Solitude sharpens the mind, soothes the heart, and secures the confidence of others. The time spent in solitude before the throne of grace is an important component of spiritual leadership. Here one waits upon God in prayer and in searching the Scriptures for the clarity of mind with which to propose solutions. The practice of solitude will soothe the heart, revealing any anxiety or sin that needs to be confessed. In addition, time spent alone before the Lord will cause one to gain the respect of those to whom they have been sent when the time comes. Why? Because it is only as we wait on the Lord in this way that wisdom is imparted.
C. When it comes to family issues it is extremely hard to wait on God for what He
will do. Often we are emotionally upset and tempted to take matters into our own hands. To do so usually results in disastrous consequences. However, it is precisely through these trials that God trains us for public arenas of spiritual leadership. The ability to control one’s emotions and intentionally act in appropriate ways is developed through the numerous testing’s of family life. If we would be wise in the public arena it is because we have learned the secret of wisdom in the privacy of home life first.
DAY TWO: Nehemiah reviews the condition of the walls. (2:12-16)
A. One cannot count the cost to build a structure without first investigating to determine what must be done. An essential of spiritual leadership is the willingness to know the full scope of what one is dealing with.
1. Read the account of Nehemiah’s inspection of the wall.
2. Why did Nehemiah do this at night? Would it not have been easier to survey
damages during daylight hours?
3. What do you suppose he was thinking as he inspected the wall?
B. The term “inspect” in the Hebrew means “to look into something very
carefully” or to dig out and explore. It is similar to what a doctor might do in exploring a wound to determine what needs to be done. In dealing with marriage and family issues, sometimes we don’t really want to know the extent of the problem because it’s too painful. If we are to lead well in our homes and influence our family for Christ, we must be willing to probe deeply into the problems. Only as we are willing to face the worst are we able to determine with wisdom how to rebuild.
1. What are some areas of your home life that may need a careful inspection?
2. In what way are you grieved over the conditions observed? It may be helpful
to take some time to observe the situation by evaluating these problems in your journal.
3. At times, facing the facts can be overwhelming and depressing. At such times it is important to remember that God’s grace is sufficient for every need, no matter how great. In your journal record II Corinthians 12:9-10 along with any comfort or encouragement you receive from this promise.
DAY THREE: Nehemiah recruits the work force. (2:17-18)
A. Having made a thorough investigation of the wall, Nehemiah was now ready to present the plan to the leaders and others who would do the work.
1. In verse 17, circle the pronouns “we” and “us”. Imagine yourself as one of
the residents of Jerusalem. How was Nehemiah able to motivate this group of very discouraged people through his show of solidarity?
2. How did Nehemiah’s testimony (v.18) help to motivate the people?
3. How did the people respond?
B. In building a family or a church, a ministry or a program, it is absolutely essential to motivate people and enlist their help. The effectiveness of such an endeavor is multiplied when two or more cooperate. This is especially true in a family where husband and wife are working together to instill Christian values in their children. In what other ways have you observed the multiplied effectiveness of Christians who cooperate with one another?
C. On the other hand, the New Testament repeatedly warns about the dangers of divisiveness in the family or Christian community.
1. What do you learn from the following texts about divisions: Luke 11:17; Romans 16:17-19; I Corinthians 1:10, 3:3, 11:18?
2. How would others characterize your conduct? Are you known as a
supportive team player in your church or Christian community? Or do your associates find you critical, negative, and difficult to deal with?
3. Within the family, how do you teach leadership by showing respect and
support to your husband who is the head of the family?
It is important to remember that as Christians we are one body in Christ;
this means we all share the same life. We’re on the same team! We are all involved in one magnificent project – the building of God’s kingdom. All of us have a part in that work using the gifts and abilities that God has given. Cooperation is essential. If you are to lead in this work you must first be one who cooperates. And then you must be able to motivate and enlist the cooperation of others.
DAY FOUR: Nehemiah refutes the opposition. (2:19-20)
A. As soon as we determine to rise up and build within our families or
churches, you can be sure there will be opposition.
1. Who formed the opposition in verses 10 and in verse 19?
2. How do you see an escalation in the conflict?
3. Nehemiah confronts the problem by refusing to give credibility to their false
accusation? How did he focus attention on the truth rather than the lies? How does his response exemplify good leadership?
4. The apostle Paul warns believers in Ephesians 6:10-17 concerning spiritual
a. Who does Paul say is the ultimate source of our opposition?
b. If we are to stand up and fight, we must have the full armor of God in place. One of those pieces mentioned is the belt of truth (v.14). How does focusing on what is true in a conflict silence the opposition?
c. The next time you are drawn into an argument, ask the Lord to show you what is absolutely true in the situation. Often we cave in to the temptation to argue based on our feelings and/or what we suppose to be the opposition’s motive. Remember, you cannot know another’s motive unless they tell you; otherwise you can only surmise. To base an argument on what you suspect another’s motive to be is always a mistake because it places you in a judgmental position. And the Lord is very clear about judging others in Matthew 7:1-5.
5. Nehemiah spoke the truth about God before he said anything else. What did
he say concerning God? What was his logical-truthful conclusion? What truth did voice about the opposition?
B. If you are dealing with a conflict at the present time, record in your journal what you know to be absolutely true concerning God, the people involved, and the situation. How does this help clarify what your response should be?
DAY FIVE: Nehemiah’s record of those who worked (3:1-32)
A. Chapter 3 is a record of those who worked on the wall.
a. Read through chapter 3 and make note of how many groups were involved in the project. As you read look for those people who receive special mention and note what is said about them.
b. Who were the first to begin building? What significance do you see in that these people led the work?
c. In any rebuilding effort within our families, marriages, or churches, those who are more spiritually mature will be the first to begin the process. It takes determination and perseverance to see it through. And that only comes as one seeks the wisdom that God gives according to James 1:2-6. In what way might the Lord be asking you to begin the hard work of rebuilding that which the enemy has destroyed?
B. I Cor. 3:10-15 and write a brief statement as to the importance of building God’s kingdom with quality materials.
C. What do the people mentioned in verses 10, 23, 28-29 and 30 have in common? Why do you think Nehemiah found it important to mention this aspect of the building assignments?
D. Throughout the Bible we see the principle of building or working close to home before moving into wider spheres of influence. An example of this principle is found in Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The disciples were to begin their ministry in Jerusalem and then advance to Judea, Samaria, and beyond to “the uttermost part of the earth.” Ministry should first begin at home (Jerusalem); then advance to church and community (Judea and Samaria) and then to the end of the earth as God calls. Alan Redpath has said, “The witness of Christian people is no more effective anywhere in public than it is at home. Here, then, is the starting place for all of us. A church is no stronger than its homes, for a church is made up of families.”1
E. One application of this truth is in the realm of marriage. The importance of building and maintaining that wall cannot be overstated. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all called to build and uphold the sanctity of every marriage including our own. Sadly today the building blocks of many Christian marriages are fallen, damaged, or buried under piles of rubble. The enemy has successfully spoiled or ruined the testimony of so many Christian marriages that there is hardly a difference between the divorce rate within and outside the church. Worse still, the enemy has effectively used other Christians to do the tearing down. Let us not be taken unawares. If there is the least rising of disloyalty towards one’s mate; if we find that we are beginning to think that someone else understands us so much better; if we find that we desire the company of another more than our spouse – take heed. Those thoughts and emotions need to be immediately checked.
Let us apply what we have learned thus far in our study. Like Nehemiah, the place to begin is to weep over the ruins in our own marriages and those around us. We need to let that fact grip our hearts and move us. Secondly, we need to survey the damage by taking an honest inventory of the situation with a willingness to know the worst. Next, we need to pray and ask God to give us wisdom as to how to rebuild. And then we need to begin rebuilding.
- What great stones do you need to reset in your wall? Have the building blocks of love and respect been buried under the rubble of countless arguments? Did the block called ‘affection’ loosen and tumble down as well? How about communication; how did that block fall away without notice? What about loyalty, integrity honesty: how deeply buried are those stones?
- What will it take to unearth these precious stones and begin the work of putting them back where they belong? As you look at this, the ruin may seem much too overwhelming. Perhaps the place to begin is to simply ask the Lord to help you dig these blocks out. You must persist in this work until you see that the wall is being joined and serving its purpose of protection.
- Just the other day the Lord reminded me that this wall is not just my wall, it is “our” wall; they are not just my stones, but that they are “our” stones (mine, my husband’s, and the Lord’s). “We” are in a mess, “we” are vulnerable to attack, and “we” need to put them back where they belong.
Remember the solidarity that Nehemiah exemplified with the people who had returned to the city. He stood with them – not over against them, accusing them of their failure. When we accuse, we stand with the enemy because he is the accuser of our souls (Revelation 12:9-10). No, we must see ourselves as God does. In marriage He has made the two, one (Genesis 2:24). We stand together. And it is up to “us” to refurbish, repair and rebuild the wall of our marriage that we might be kept safe from the enemy. If there are only two who are willing (you and the Lord), that’s all you need to begin this good work. Will you choose to put your shoulder to the work today (Nehemiah 3:5)?
About the author
Donna Jeffries has been involved in Women’s Ministries for thirty-four years. Her ministry responsibilities have included Bible Study Fellowship Teaching Leader, Director of Women’s Ministries and Bible Study teacher at Calvary Bible Church. Most recently, she serves with Campus Crusade for Christ and travels as a volunteer with the International School Project. She has also traveled with Women of the Harvest to several counties as a Retreat Volunteer and has served on the Board of Directors. Donna and her husband Don have been married 40 years and have three married children and seven grandchildren. They are business owners and reside in Bakersfield, Calif., USA.View all articles by: Donna Jeffries
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