Summary: 1 of 4 messages on Nehemiah. We are in a building campaign and we need to make sure we are building for the right reasons.
Building the Right Way
Building for the Right Reasons
February 18, 2007
Building for the Right Reasons
How the Walls were Ruined…
About 1,000 years before Jesus was born, David became king of Israel.
After David, his son, Solomon was king,
and after Solomon, the kingdom was split in half:
the southern half became known as Judah
and the northern half was still called Israel.
Well, both these kingdoms had bad king after bad king. Both kingdoms were worshipping other gods and living immoral lives but the northern kingdom was a little bit worse than the southern kingdom, so God allowed the Assyrians to conquer the northern kingdom, but not the southern kingdom.
But even after the northern kingdom was disciplined by God, the southern kingdom still didn’t learn their lesson, so God allowed them to be conquered as well — about 130 years later.
Nehemiah: Cupbearer to the king
But by that time, the Assyrians had been conquered by the Babylonians. So it was King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon who carried the southern kingdom away into exile.
Well, 47 years later, the Babylonian Empire was conquered by the Persian Empire under King Cyrus.
So the Jews, who had been the slaves of the Babylonians, now became the slaves of the Persians.
Cyrus is the king that we read about in the book of Ezra who allowed the Jews to begin returning home again.
51 years after Cyrus, the king of Persia was a man named Xerxes, who we read about in the book of Esther.
His son, Artaxerxes, is the one we’re going to be reading about in the book of Nehemiah.
So the events of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther took place during the same period in Jewish history.
Actually, in the Hebrew Bible, Ezra and Nehemiah are the same book because they’re basically telling the same story: Ezra tells the beginning, Nehemiah tells the end, and the story of Esther takes place in between.
In fact, if you remember the story of Esther, she was Queen of Persia and king Xerxes was her husband.
In the book of Nehemiah, the king of Persia is king Artaxerxes, who was the son of king Xerxes and quite possibly the son of Queen Esther as well,
which would account for his kindness to the Jews that we’re going to see in the book of Nehemiah.
So, just so we’re clear, the Jews were carried away into captivity by the Babylonians, but were allowed to return by the Persians.
And they returned home in three waves or groups:
The FIRST GROUP of Jews to return to their homeland was led by SHESHBAZZAR.
The SECOND GROUP was led by ZERUBBABEL, who rebuilt the Temple.
(Haggai and Zechariah were both prophets during this time)
The THIRD GROUP was led by EZRA,
but when they encountered difficulty in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah came to help.
Whew… I hope you got it all! Now we are up to our story of Nehemiah.
Report from his brother Hanani about the repatriation of Jerusalem and how things were going. The report was not good. In fact it was pretty bad. The city was being rebuilt but it wasn’t safe. There was no security.
This is the story of how Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in just 52 days. Not in 52 years. Not in 52 months – 52 days. No cranes, no backhoes, bull dozers or land crawlers. There was nothing yellow like a caterpillar or green like a Deere in sight – this was done all by hand and animal power. And all of it was done with the constant threat of attack by those who did not want the wall built.
But before we get to how Nehemiah completed this wall we need to start with why.
Why did Nehemiah build the walls and by extension I want to have lingering in your mind the question why are we wanting to build the walls at 2600 Bennett Avenue?
Broken Walls and Burned Out Gates
3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
Nehemiah immediately identifies two serious and troubling problems.
First, those who have survived the exile and are now back in the promised land are in serious trouble.
misery, suffering, i.e., a feeling or attitude of anxiety or distress
What is that serious trouble? There city was not safe and secure. There were no walls to keep out the marauders and those who would rob and intimidate the people. Walls were a way to protect their families and their lives.
The second was that the fact that their walls were broken and gates were burned was a matter of great disgrace.