Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Nehemiah - "Rebuilding Jerusalem"|
Chapter: Nehemiah 8
Passage: Nehemiah 8:1-8
A. Find Out:
1. Who came to where, and when? v.1a
2. What did they tell who to do? v.1b
3. So what did he do? v.2,3
4. How did he speak? v.4,5
5. And what happened? v.6
6. Who else joined in and how? v.7,8
1. How would you summarise what took place in these verses?
2. How do you think the timing was significant?
3. What do you think was the point of it all?
This is now probably October-November, 445 B.C. The wall has been completed as we've seen and the people are settled back in their towns around the neighbouring area (7:73c). We are not told why but the people all gather in one of the main squares of the city (v.1) and they call upon Ezra to read the Law to them. This appears to be the first time Ezra is mentioned since he first came some years before (see Ezra 7:1-6 etc.) with a call to take and teach the Law to the people settling back there. He has obviously been there ever since but now there is this call for him, as an appointed scribe, to read the Law to them.
This he does (v.2) reading it throughout the morning (v.3) while everyone, men and women, stood and listened attentively. To achieve this he stood on a large high platform (v.4a) built for the occasion which suggests that this was all pre-planned. On the platform are named thirteen men, presumably to help him and maybe to take turnS in reading. There were also Levites, (v.7) again thirteen of them apparently instructing them (v.8). Perhaps one group read, then paused while the other group taught and applied it. Within the procedure came a moment of worship (v.5,6) but the main emphasis was on bringing the Law the decreed will of God for His people. This isn't just a city with walls, it is the people of God and thus they remember this.
1. We are God's people because He has called us.
2. He knows best how He has designed us that is His will.
Chapter: Nehemiah 8
Passage: Nehemiah 8:9-15
A. Find Out:
1. Who were together leading the people? v.9a
2. What did they tell them not to do? v.9b
3. What did Nehemiah and the Levites tell them to do? v.10,11
4. So what happened? v.12
5. So who got together next? v.13
6. What did they find? v.14,15
1. Why do you think the people were anxious to start with?
2. Why were Nehemiah and the others able to reassure them?
3. How are these verses seen as a process?
It is interesting to note that Nehemiah and Ezra were ministering together (v.9a) assisted by the Levites. For some reason and we are not told why the people had been weeping when they heard the Law being read (v.9b). Whether it was at the wonder of the Law coming back into the heart of their community life, or whether they were fearful that they had failed God, is unclear. But the instruction to them by the leaders is not to weep because it's God's day, a special day, a gift from God, if you like, and was therefore to be received with rejoicing.
Thus Nehemiah tells the people to go and celebrate (v.10) because it is God's day and not a day for mourning. The Levites join in, (v.11) presumably scattered around the crowd, reassuring the people not to grieve for, by implication, there is no reason to. The pattern appears to be, listening to the Law in the morning and then celebrating for the rest of the day.
The next day, family leaders, together with priests and Levites, gather to Ezra to listen to the Law again (v.13) and in it they come to the point where it speaks of feasts and specifically that of Booths (v.14), the news of which should be spread throughout the land so that all may come (v.15a). They see the practical instruction to go out and bring back branches to makes these booths or shelters (v.15b)
1. When you start to read God's word, it starts speaking to you.
2. When the word speaks, obey.
Chapter: Nehemiah 8
Passage: Nehemiah 8:16 -9:3
A. Find Out:
1. So what did everyone do? v.16
2. How extensive was this celebration? v.17
3. How long did it continue? v.18
4. What happened on the 24 th of the month? v.1
5. Who did and said what? v.2
6. How did they spend the day? v.3
1. Read 8:2 and then Lev 23:39-43
2. What was the Feast being celebrated?
3. Read Lev 16:29-34 What followed the Feast in these verses?
According to the Law, the 10 th day of the 7 th month was to be the Day of Atonement, a day of confessing sins. On the 15 th day was the start of the seven day Feast of Tabernacles or Booths (see Lev 23:33-43). It seems that this came as a discovery to these Jews for, as the Law was being read, they came across the instructions in respect of the feast of Tabernacles or Booths (v.14,15) and it so happened that this was taking place in the seventh month. Nehemiah had already told them to have a spirit of rejoicing when they started hearing the Law being read (v.10) and so now, coming across this reference to the fifteenth day Feast, they determine to follow the instructions and hold the Feast (v.15) which they then do (v.16) with a greater sense of joy than had ever been experienced in the nation before (v.17) while the Law was continuing to be read (v.18).
Now of course they had missed the Day of Atonement on the 10 th day and so a couple of days later they hold another day in the spirit of that day, fasting and confessing sin and worshipping the Lord (v.1). As the impact of the Law hits them, the Jews separate themselves out from the foreigners in the city (v.2) and make confession as the people of God. Part of the day was spent reading the Law, and part in confession (v.3)
1. Understanding God's will often bring a sense of need to repent.
2. Don't hesitate to confess and say sorry for your failures.
Chapter: Nehemiah 9
Passage: Nehemiah 9:4-8
A. Find Out:
1. What two things did the Levites do? v.4,5
2. How do they start their declaration? v.5c,6a
3. How do they first acclaim the Lord? v.6b,c
4. On whom do they then focus in acclaiming the Lord? v.7
5. What had the Lord done with him? v.8a,b
6. What had the Lord done because of what? v.8c
1. What is the purpose of what is now happening?
2. How do they start doing that in a general way?
3. How does it then become specific?
We are about to see a most remarkable record of Israel 's awareness of the Lord and of their failures as a nation, as the Levites proclaim the truth in the verses that are coming. It seems like it is a team effort (v.4,5) calling the people to praise the Lord. Confession within praise is what is coming here.
They start by acclaiming the Lord in very general terms, seeking to exalt and praise His name (v.5c). But praise has to have content for it to be meaningful and so they declare the Lord's uniqueness (v.6a) and the fact that the Lord is the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth, the bringer of all life (v.6b,c)
Starting from His greatness they then move on to His history with mankind which will be their history and it starts with Abram (v.7) who the Lord took from Ur , spoke to over many years and blessed and whose name He changed.
In the course of that the Lord had promised Abraham that He would give his descendants the land of Canaan and made a covenant with him (v.8). As they now look back on their history, they see that the Lord fulfilled that promise perfectly and they recognise the Lord's righteousness, which simply means that everything the Lord says and does is right and He never does wrong. He fulfils His promises.
1. We are what we are because of God's activity in our lives.
2. Think on what He has done and praise Him.
Chapter: Nehemiah 9
Passage: Nehemiah 9:9-27
A. Find Out:
1. What did the Lord do? List the 8 things. v.9-12
2. What had the Lord done? List the 7 you' things v.13-15
3. But how had Israel responded? List their sins. v.16-18
4. But how had the Lord responded? v.17b,19-21
5. What had the Lord then enabled them to do? v.22-25
6. Yet how that they responded? v.26-27
1. How would you summarise this passage?
2. How had Israel failed the Lord?
3. Yet how had the Lord blessed them?
This is one of those accounts of the history of Israel found in the Bible which is always very honest and which shows the Lord's goodness and Israel 's foolishness.
Moving on from the call of Abram and God's promise to give his descendants a land of their own (v.7,8) the account moves on the speak of how that happened. The Lord came to Israel in Egypt and delivered them from the hands of Pharaoh through miraculous means (v.9-12). He had then met with them at Sinai and gave them His Law and along the way had provided all they needed (v.13-15) But then came the shameful incident of the Golden Calf showing their folly (v.16-18). Their grumblings along the way to Sinai are forgotten; they are only held accountable once the covenant has been established and after they have encountered the Lord at Sinai.
Yet despite this folly the Lord did not abandon them and although He consigned them to forty years wandering, He provided for them all that time until the next generation were ready to enter the Land (v.19-21). Mercy and grace prevailed! Then He gave them the Promised Land (v.22-25) but even their in their folly again and again in different ways they ignored or rejected the Lord and throughout Judges we see the Lord saving them, and them turning away and then the Lord saving them. It is an ongoing picture of God's Grace and Israel 's stupidity.
1. Israel had no excuses. We have no excuses for our sin.
2. History is the story of God's mercy and grace.
Chapter: Nehemiah 9
Passage: Nehemiah 9:28-35
A. Find Out:
1. What had Israel done time after time? v.28
2. What had they done over the years? v.29
3. How had God responded? v.30,31
4. How do they look back on their years? v.32
5. Yet how do they view the Lord? v.33
6. What do they recognise about themselves? v.34,35
1. What are Israel very much aware of about themselves?
2. Of what are they aware about the Lord?
3. How is this a very healthy awareness, do you think?
The history of Israel is a history of stubbornness and rebellion, a history of turning away from God and suffering the consequences. Israel are very much aware of the folly revealed in their history. Already they had acknowledged that from the outset, from their conception at Sinai, they had failed (v.18), and even after they had received the Land they still turned away from Him (v.26).
And so now they continue to remember those times of failure, those times when they did wrong (v.28) and disobeyed and rejected the Law (v.29) and even their kings and leaders had turned away and disobeyed the Law (v.34). In all this they honestly face their sins over the centuries.
But this isn't just about them; it is about the Lord for in His responses to them throughout those centuries He revealed much about Himself. They had already recognised Him as a forgiving, gracious and compassionate God (v.17) who had not given up on them when they sinned (v.17,19). Now they recognise that the Lord had chastised them by handing them over to their enemies (v.27,28) yet never giving up on them. Instead He sent His prophets but they rejected them as well (v.26,30). Time and time again this had happened and even their kings or leaders had been as bad (v.34). It was a terrible story!
1. Salvation starts with recognising and accepting our failure.
2. Salvation recognises and calls on the grace and mercy of God.
Chapter: Nehemiah 9/10
Passage: Nehemiah 9:36 -10:29
A. Find Out:
1. How did they see themselves? v.36a
2. Why were they? v.36b,37
3. So what were they now doing? v.38
4. Who signed it? v.1-27
5. What did the rest of the people do? v28
6. To do what? v.29
1. Of what were Israel aware in their present time?
2. So how did they want to change that?
The declarations that fill up most of chapter 9 have run through the failings of Israel down through history as well as the goodness and grace of God and that is concluded with a recognition that in their present state they are actually slaves (v.36) under the control of the king who allowed Nehemiah to come and rebuilt the wall, but they have no sense of grumbling about this because they recognise that they are in this state because of their own folly. Yes, the Lord gave them over to this state (v.37) and they feel in distress about that, but they know that it is because of their own behaviour down through history that has brought about this state of affairs.
But they don't want to leave it as it is; they want to make a fresh commitment, from their side at least (and trusting in the Lord) so they are going to put in writing (v.38). This is signed by the leaders, the priests and the Levites (v.1-27).
This has to be a wholehearted commitment and so it involves all the people and they show their commitment to it by gathering together for a public declaration of it (v.28), and this included all the people involved in the Temple worship and city administration as well as all those who had previously separated themselves out as true Jews (v.29). They commit themselves to following the Law of Moses and to being obedient to all God's rules.
1. Dedication has to start with leaders and be whole hearted.
2. For God's blessing to come all the people need to be committed.
Chapter: Nehemiah 10
Passage: Nehemiah 10:30-39
A. Find Out:
1. What was the first specific act of obedience declared? v.30
2. What was the second one? v.31a
3. What was the third one? v.31b
4. What was the fourth one? v.32,33
5. What was the fifth one? v.34
6. What was the sixth one? v.35-39
1. Generally speaking, what was happening here?
2. How might that act as an example for us?
3. What had preceded this to bring it about?
The Law had been read and had been received by open hearts, yearning to do all they can to be right with God. As the Law had been read they came to realise that there were a lot of things they were not doing that, as God's people under the Law they should have been doing.
The first thing was to remain a distinct people (v.30) not intermarrying with alien peoples (Deut 7:3).
The second thing was not to work on the Sabbath (v.31a) as laid down in the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:6-11).
The third thing was to ensure the 7 th year was a year of rest (v.31b) for the land (Lev 25:4).
The fourth thing (v.32) was to make arrangement to maintain the service of the temple which included providing the bread, and regular offerings (v.33).
Beyond this they then arranged a system of lots to provide wood for burning on the altar (v.34) and also for ensuring regular and right first-fruit offerings (v.35), including of their families (v.36), and their fruits (v.37) and it was all to be in the hands of the priests and Levites (v.38) and provide for their ministry (v.39). In all these ways they ensured that they would literally make sure they held to their relationship with the Lord.
1. Worship is not just words; it is also actions and life.
2. Harvest Thanksgiving means we take nothing for granted.
RECAP - "Law, repentance & Rededication" - Nehemiah 8-10
In this third group of 8 studies we have seen:
- Ezra & the Levites read the Law of Moses to the people 8:1-8
- Nehemiah and others exhort the people not to weep 8:9-11
- The people celebrate 8:12
- For a week they celebrate the Feast of Booths 8:13-18
- They hold a day of confession & repentance 9:1-4
- They declare the greatness of the Lord in their history 9:5-35
- They accept their sinfulness & consequences 9:36,37
- They make a binding covenant 9:38
- Those who sealed it 10:1-28
- They covenant to
Possibly nowhere else in Scripture is the impact of the word of God, the Law of Moses, seen so clearly. When it is read publicly they realise there are things they have not been doing they should be doing. This brings about a time of formal but real repentance which is then followed by a formal dedication to follow the Lord in the way they live and the way they uphold the Temple .
1. When God's word comes to hungry hearts it brings repentance.
2. Similarly it brings a desire for fresh dedication to follow the Lord.
3. God's way is best. He is our Creator-Designer.
Thank the Lord for His word and that He has a reason for everything He instructs in it, because it conforms to His design for us.
PART 4 : "People & Purification" Neh 11-13
In this final Part we will see the city repopulated and then the dedication of the rebuilt walls and finally Nehemiah's reforms to ensure the Temple was properly served by a holy priesthood and Levites.