A Return to God
Introduction – Importance of pray
1. Nehemiah 1
a. Nehemiah hears about the plight of the exiles in Jerusalem.
b. He begins by praying.
2. Nehemiah 2
a. He faces the king with a sad face.
b. He does a prayer prior to speaking up.
c. He explains the problem and gets permission to journey to Jerusalem.
d. He gets supplies and supplies for the trip.
e. He arrives in Jerusalem and inspects the walls of the city.
3. Nehemiah 3
a. Everybody is involved with the rebuilding process
4. Nehemiah 4-6
a. Satan stepping up his game
i. Work was ridiculed but the discouragement was overcome after much prayer
ii. Usury of the people was assessed and addressed by Nehemiah by living as an example and praying.
iii. The enemy tries to pull Nehemiah away from the work but he prays for strength from God and stands his ground.
iv. The completion of the walls is finished in 52 days.
1. All the enemies became discouraged and lost their confidence because they recognized that the work had been accomplished with the help of God.
5. Nehemiah 7
a. Census of the returned exiles and their gifts
6. Nehemiah 8
a. Ezra reads the law.
i. He tells the people that this is not the time for mourning or weeping.
b. The big campout – Festival of Booths
Looking Inward (vs 1-2ff)
1. …assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt on them.
a. These were traditional signs of mourning.
b. They were preparing for the confession of their sins.
2. …separated themselves from all foreigners
a. They isolated themselves from outside influences so as to concentrate on God’s Word.
b. This is not to say that we are to live in isolation but in order for us to fully hear God in our presence, we need to take away all distractions.
c. For these people this involved going to the extreme of even divorcing their unlawful wives.
i. Initially attempted by Ezra as we can read about in Ezra 10
3. George Santayana (1905) “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
a. It is that last line that many of us have heard throughout the years.
b. If we don’t recognize, as a society, our past failures, we will do nothing to improve on these failures.
4. 1 John 1:8-9
a. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
b. God wants us to confess our sins so as to restore the relationship with Him.
c. Remember that He has already forgiven all our sins by His death on Calvary
d. This confession is our means to agree with God’s Word instead of offering excuses or rationalizing our actions. It is calling what we are doing exacting what it is: SIN.
Looking upward (vs 3, 5-15)
1. This chapter is sometimes called the Revival Chapter
a. When we begin to praise and exalt the holy name of God, it will bring revival.
2. Phil 2:9-11
a. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
b. If God exalted His Son above all other names, shouldn’t we do at least the same?
3. God’s greatness – this section focused solely on Him
a. Creator (vs 6)
i. He is God alone who made everything in it.
b. Deal Maker (vs 7-8)
i. It was the basis for all that God did through Abraham and all his descendants.
ii. This was the start of it all for His people
iii. It was God’s purpose that the world would be blessed through Israel
c. Protector (vs 9-12)
i. God heard the cries of His people while under the control of Egypt
ii. He delivered them from the bondage of this enemy
iii. What is our bondage?
iv. Heb 13:5
1. “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”
2. God’s promise to never leave or forsake us
3. He made the same promise to Joshua (Joshua 1:5) at the beginning of his journey with God
a. He is to cross over the Jordan River and take possession of the promised land
b. The Book of the Law is not to depart from his mouth
c. He is reminded that the Lord will be with him wherever he goes
v. Guided them in their time of need
1. Pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night
d. Provider (vs 13-15)
1. Just ordinances
2. True laws
3. Good statutes and commandments
ii. Food and clothing
1. Manna and water
2. Clothing did not wear out (vs 21)
Looking backward (vs 16-37)
a. God’s way of giving us a do-over
i. Not to make the same mistakes
ii. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
a. Contrasts of their actions and God’s reactions
b. Proverbs 8:13
i. “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.”
ii. Each one of these will be the downfall of a person
iii. 2 Chronicles 26:16 (p373)
1. Pride was the undoing of King Uzziah
Looking forward (vs 38)
1. Making a covenant
a. This was a group effort
b. Leaders placed their seals on it to confirm their agreement
i. Esther 8:8
1. “Now you write to the Jews as you see fit, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for a decree which is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s signet ring may not be revoked.”
2. This is soon after Haman has tried to conspire against Mordecai and have him killed.
3. Haman is, instead, hanged himself and Mordecai is promoted.
4. The king expressed concern for the Jews and told Mordecai to write what he felt was right.
c. This does not take the place of God’s covenant with Abraham
d. What men put their name to; they will tend to defend it with all their might.