The Return of Nehemiah

Scripture Passage: 
Nehemiah 1:1-11; Nehemiah 2:1-20
Attached audio files: 

Introduction: A need broke the heart of Nehemiah. Others saw the problem, but he sought a solution from God with all his heart. Because of his broken heart and because of his willingness to be a part of the solution, the Lord sent him to bring about the solution. We have much to learn from this lesson.

  1. NEHEMIAH’S CONFESSION OF SIN (Nehemiah 1:1-11)
    1. The Report from Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:1-3)
      1. While in Shushan the palace (Nehemiah 1:1)
        1. Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah [Nothing further is said of his family line. Nehemiah is known for the work he did, not for his genealogy.]
        2. In the month called Chisleu – the ninth month (Zechariah 7:1)
          1. The month Haggai promised blessing to the returned Jews because they had renewed work on the temple (Haggai 2:18-19)
          2. The month the returned Jews gathered and renewed their commitment to the Lord under Ezra (Ezra 10:9)
          3. This matches the idea that nine is a number of blessing and fruitfulness (consider the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23).
        3. In the twentieth year – evidently the twentieth year of the reign of the Persian king Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 2:1)
      2. From some men of Judah (Nehemiah 1:2)
        1. The men he met
          1. Hanani, one of his brethren
          2. Certain men of Judah
        2. The questions he asked
          1. About the Jews who had escaped to return to Israel
          2. About the city of Jerusalem itself
          3. Note: we need to ask questions about needs
      3. Of the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:3)
        1. The remnant
          1. In great affliction
          2. In reproach
        2. The city (Psalm 48:11-13)
          1. The wall is broken down (Psalm 51:18; Psalm 122:7)
          2. The gates are burned with fire (Psalm 87:2; Psalm 122:2)
    2. The Prayer of Confession (Nehemiah 1:4-7)
      1. His grief over the news from Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:4)
        1. He sat down
        2. He wept
        3. He mourned certain days
        4. He fasted
        5. He prayed
      2. His praise of God (Nehemiah 1:5; Psalm 34:1-3; compare Acts 4:24)
        1. The Lord God of heaven
        2. The great and terrible God – His greatness
        3. The keeper of covenant and mercy – His goodness
          1. For them that love Him
          2. For them that keep His commandments
      3. His confession of sin (Nehemiah 1:6-7; Psalm 51:1-4)
        1. He requested his prayer to be heard (Nehemiah 1:6)
          1. The prayer he is praying now
          2. The prayer he is praying day and night
          3. The prayer he is praying for the children of Israel
        2. He generally confessed their sins (Nehemiah 1:6)
          1. The sins of Nehemiah
          2. The sins of his people
        3. They specifically confessed their sins (Nehemiah 1:7)
          1. They have dealt very corruptly against God
          2. They have not kept the commandments of the Lord
    3. The Request for Blessing (Nehemiah 1:8-11)
      1. For God to remember His word (Nehemiah 1:8-9; Deuteronomy 4:25-31)
        1. The punishment for disobedience (Nehemiah 1:8)
          1. To be scattered among the nations
          2. A punishment that was fulfilled
        2. The promise for returning to the Lord (Nehemiah 1:9)
          1. To be gathered from the nations
          2. To be returned to the place where God chose to put His name (Deuteronomy 12:5, 11-14)
      2. For God to hear His servants (Nehemiah 1:10-11; Isaiah 26:8-9; Hebrews 13:18)
        1. Thy servants and thy people (Nehemiah 1:10)
          1. Redeemed by thy great power
          2. Redeemed by thy strong hand
        2. Their need to be heard (Nehemiah 1:11)
          1. Be attentive to the prayer of thy servant and servants
          2. Be attentive to those who “desire to fear thy name” (Isaiah 26:8)
        3. The request of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:11)
          1. To be prospered in his purpose
          2. To receive mercy in the sight of the king
      3. The king’s cupbearer: the officer of the household who tasted the king’s beverage to check it for poisoning. A position of trust, honor, and confidential access to the king. Few men were constantly close to the king like the cupbearer (1 Kings 10:5). Above all, he had to be one who could be trusted.
  2. NEHEMIAH’S COMMISSION TO REBUILD (Nehemiah 2:1-8)
    1. His Admission to the King (Nehemiah 2:1-3)
      1. The inquiry of the king (Nehemiah 2:1-2; Proverbs 15:13)
        1. His appearance before the king (Nehemiah 2:1)
          1. In the first month of Nisan – three months after he first heard the news
          2. Still the twentieth year of Artaxerxes
          3. To present the wine to the king
          4. Never before having been sad in his presence
        2. The appearance of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:2)
          1. Why are you sad?
            1. You are not sick
            2. This is sorrow of heart
          2. Nehemiah is extremely fearful
            1. He is not to show his emotions before the king
            2. Now is the time of crises when his request will either be granted or denied
      2. The confession of his heart (Nehemiah 2:3; Psalm 137:4-6)
        1. His good wishes for the king
        2. His sorrow for the city of Jerusalem
          1. The place of his fathers’ sepulchres
          2. A place that lies waste
    2. His Request of the King (Nehemiah 2:4-5)
      1. The offer of the king (Nehemiah 2:4a) – What do you request? (1 Kings 3:5; Esther 5:3; Matthew 10:51)
      2. The prayer of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:4b; contrast Joshua 9:14-15)
        1. This is what he had been praying for (Nehemiah 1:11 – “grant him mercy in the sight of this man”)
        2. Perhaps Nehemiah also prayed another quick prayer under his breath for help and guidance
      3. The request of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:5)
        1. Send me unto Judah
        2. Allow me to build the city of Jerusalem
    3. The Letters from the King (Nehemiah 2:6-8)
      1. Concerning the journey (Nehemiah 2:6); a time was set for him to go and for him to return to Shushan
      2. Concerning safe conduct (Nehemiah 2:7)
        1. To the governors beyond the river
        2. To give him safe conveyance to Judah
      3. Concerning building supplies (Nehemiah 2:8)
        1. To the keeper of the king’s forest
        2. To give timber for the building projects
      4. The blessings on Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:8)
        1. The king granted him his requests
        2. The good hand of God was on him
  3. NEHEMIAH’S CHALLENGE TO THE ISRAELITES (Nehemiah 2:9-20)
    1. The Opposition of the Enemy (Nehemiah 2:9-10)
      1. The arrival of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:9)
        1. To the governors beyond the river
        2. With army captains and horsemen
      2. The hatred against the Jews (Nehemiah 2:10; Ezekiel 25:6-7; compare Proverbs 4:16; Isaiah 5:20; John 16:2)
        1. The enemies
          1. Sanballat the Horonite
          2. Tobiah the servant
        2. The hatred – grieved that one would seek the welfare of the Israelites
    2. The Survey of the Walls (Nehemiah 2:11-16)
      1. The ride in the night (Nehemiah 2:11-12)
        1. After three days in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:11)
        2. With a few of the men with him (Nehemiah 2:12)
        3. Without telling anyone what God had put in his heart (Nehemiah 2:12)  sometimes it is best not to tell our dreams, even the godly ones, to others too soon. They will not understand and will often discourage us.
      2. The condition of the walls (Nehemiah 2:13-15)
      3. The ignorance of the men (Nehemiah 2:16; 1 Samuel 3:1; Psalm 74:9; Lamentations 2:9)
    3. The Call to Build the Walls (Nehemiah 2:17-20)
      1. The decision to build the walls (Nehemiah 2:17-18; Ecclesiastes 9:10)
        1. The condition of the city (Nehemiah 2:17) – “lieth waste”
        2. The call to action (Nehemiah 2:17) – “let us build”
        3. The confidence of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:18)
          1. The hand of the Lord upon him
          2. The words of the king
        4. The choice of the people (Nehemiah 2:18)
          1. To rise and build
          2. To strengthen their hands for the work
      2. The opposition of their enemies (Nehemiah 2:19-20)
        1. Their attack (Nehemiah 2:19)
          1. They mock the goal of the people
          2. They accuse the people of rebellion
        2. Nehemiah’s response (Nehemiah 2:20)
          1. The Lord will prosper us
          2. You will have no portion in Jerusalem

Conclusion: What a blessing to see a great need and to have God burden our heart with that need; then, to have God lead us to seek a solution for that need. The burden the Lord gives you may not seem as large as that given to Nehemiah, but any burden given by the Lord is great. Give you heart to the Lord and find the work He would have you do.

Memory Verses:

Colossians 3:23 – And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Psalm 51:18 – Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 2:4 – Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.
David Reagan

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 3:15

She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.