Promise — Abraham
Slavery — Egypt
Exodus/Wilderness — Moses
Conquest/Judges — Joshua, Judges, Ruth
United Kingdom — Saul, David, Solomon
Divided Kingdom — Israel(North) - Assyria / Judah(South) - Babylon
Exile — Esther/David
Return from Exile — Ezra(Priest) followed by Nehemiah(Governor)
Prophets are scattered out among timeline
Nehemiah loved God. He was grieved over the nation’s sin and disobedience, and rejection of God, but He had hope for the future. He had hope because he held to God’s promises.
1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: During the month of Chislev in the twentieth year, when I was in the fortress city of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, arrived with men from Judah, and I questioned them about Jerusalem and the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile. 3 They said to me, “The remnant in the province, who survived the exile, are in great trouble and disgrace. Jerusalem’s wall has been broken down, and its gates have been burned.” 4 When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of the heavens. 5 I said, Lord, the God of the heavens, the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps his gracious covenant with those who love him and keep his commands, 6 let your eyes be open and your ears be attentive to hear your servant’s prayer that I now pray to you day and night for your servants, the Israelites. I confess the sins we have committed against you. Both I and my father’s family have sinned. 7 We have acted corruptly toward you and have not kept the commands, statutes, and ordinances you gave your servant Moses. 8 Please remember what you commanded your servant Moses: “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples. 9 But if you return to me and carefully observe my commands, even though your exiles were banished to the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place where I chose to have my name dwell.” 10 They are your servants and your people. You redeemed them by your great power and strong hand. 11 Please, Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and to that of your servants who delight to revere your name. Give your servant success today, and grant him compassion in the presence of this man. At the time, I was the king’s cupbearer.
Nehemiah believed God’s promise that if they would return to Him and carefully observe His commands God would bring them back from the farthest horizon and restore their kingdom back to them. So Nehemiah stepped out in faith
1 During the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was set before him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had never been sad in his presence, 2 so the king said to me, “Why are you sad, when you aren’t sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.” I was overwhelmed with fear 3 and replied to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should I not be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4 Then the king asked me, “What is your request?” So I prayed to the God of the heavens 5 and answered the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah and to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I may rebuild it.” 6 The king, with the queen seated beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you return?” So I gave him a definite time, and it pleased the king to send me. 7 I also said to the king: “If it pleases the king, let me have letters written to the governors of the region west of the Euphrates River, so that they will grant me safe passage until I reach Judah. 8 And let me have a letter written to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so that he will give me timber to rebuild the gates of the temple’s fortress, the city wall, and the home where I will live.” The king granted my requests, for the gracious hand of my God was on me. 9 I went to the governors of the region west of the Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent officers of the infantry and cavalry with me. 10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard that someone had come to pursue the prosperity of the Israelites, they were greatly displeased.
Nehemiah risked his life and asked for a great and seemingly impossible responsibility to be placed on him, because he had a hope and a vision for the future, and he believed it was what God wanted as well, and if it is what God wants, then who would be able to stop him. He realized it was what God wanted when king Artaxerxes granted him his request. That was his confirmation. So now let’s get to it.
11 After I arrived in Jerusalem and had been there three days, 12 I got up at night and took a few men with me. I didn’t tell anyone what my God had laid on my heart to do for Jerusalem. The only animal I took was the one I was riding. 13 I went out at night through the Valley Gate toward the Serpent’s Well and the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that had been broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14 I went on to the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but farther down it became too narrow for my animal to go through. 15 So I went up at night by way of the valley and inspected the wall. Then heading back, I entered through the Valley Gate and returned. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, for I had not yet told the Jews, priests, nobles, officials, or the rest of those who would be doing the work. 17 So I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned. Come, let’s rebuild Jerusalem’s wall, so that we will no longer be a disgrace.” 18 I told them how the gracious hand of my God had been on me, and what the king had said to me. They said, “Let’s start rebuilding,” and their hands were strengthened to do this good work.
He took his vision, assessed the situation, created a plan, and then he cast that vision and his passion to the people.
7 When Sanballat, Tobiah, and the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites heard that the repair to the walls of Jerusalem was progressing and that the gaps were being closed, they became furious. 8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and throw it into confusion. 9 So we prayed to our God and stationed a guard because of them day and night. 10 In Judah, it was said: The strength of the laborer fails, since there is so much rubble. We will never be able to rebuild the wall. 11 And our enemies said, “They won’t realize it until we’re among them and can kill them and stop the work.” 12 When the Jews who lived nearby arrived, they said to us time and again, “Everywhere you turn, they attack us.” 13 So I stationed people behind the lowest sections of the wall, at the vulnerable areas. I stationed them by families with their swords, spears, and bows. 14 After I made an inspection, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the great and awe-inspiring Lord, and fight for your countrymen, your sons and daughters, your wives and homes.”
They put their lives on the line to accomplish this rebuilding of the city, knowing that if they didn’t their lives were at risk anyway. They were willing to step up and put their own lives on the line in order to take care of the next generation, instead of putting off what they knew they should do to let the next generation deal with it.
15 When our enemies heard that we knew their scheme and that God had frustrated it, every one of us returned to his own work on the wall. 16 From that day on, half of my men did the work while the other half held spears, shields, bows, and armor. The officers supported all the people of Judah, 17 who were rebuilding the wall. The laborers who carried the loads worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other. 18 Each of the builders had his sword strapped around his waist while he was building, and the trumpeter was beside me. 19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people: “The work is enormous and spread out, and we are separated far from one another along the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the trumpet sound, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us!” 21 So we continued the work, while half of the men were holding spears from daybreak until the stars came out. 22 At that time, I also said to the people, “Let everyone and his servant spend the night inside Jerusalem, so that they can stand guard by night and work by day.” 23 And I, my brothers, my servants, and the men of the guard with me never took off our clothes. Each carried his weapon, even when washing.
Here are the people of God, living in real danger of their lives in order to rebuild the kingdom of God that had been decimated because of their own abandoning of what God had called them to do in previous generations. The previous generations had failed to “walk with God.” Enoch/Noah/Abraham
And the results were disastrous. What about us? What has the previous generations of God’s people left undone. What are we going to leave undone for the next generation? Are we going to be the ones to rebuild the walls that have been torn down for our countrymen? For our sons and daughters? for our wives and homes?
1 When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that no gap was left in it—though at that time I had not installed the doors in the city gates—2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me a message: “Come, let’s meet together in the villages of the Ono Valley.” They were planning to harm me. 3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing important work and cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” 4 Four times they sent me the same proposal, and I gave them the same reply. 5 Sanballat sent me this same message a fifth time by his aide, who had an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written: It is reported among the nations—and Geshem agrees—that you and the Jews plan to rebel. This is the reason you are building the wall. According to these reports, you are to become their king 7 and have even set up the prophets in Jerusalem to proclaim on your behalf: “There is a king in Judah.” These rumors will be heard by the king. So come, let’s confer together. 8 Then I replied to him, “There is nothing to these rumors you are spreading; you are inventing them in your own mind.” 9 For they were all trying to intimidate us, saying, “They will drop their hands from the work, and it will never be finished.” But now, my God, strengthen my hands.
Nehemiah never stopped praying from the very beginning to the very end. He knew that if God’s kingdom was going to move forward, it was going to have to be by God’s strength.
20 I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
And so what happened?
15 The wall was completed in fifty-two days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul. 16 When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.
Now Nehemiah knew that he was doing an important work.
3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing important work and cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” 4 Four times they sent me the same proposal, and I gave them the same reply.
So the question is what is the work that we are supposed to be doing?
What is the work that God wants us to do now?
18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We are to make disciples. We are to be disciples, that make disciples. We have an important work to do, and we can not come down. We can not get distracted. We can not leave it to focus on less important work. We need God to strengthen our hands.