Nehemiah : Lessons In Building (Part 3)

Note: These are the study notes for the full series in Nehemiah so far (not just part three).

I.  Believers have a ministry of building.

 A.  They are commanded to build themselves up on their most holy faith. 

            JUDE 1:20.

 B.  To edify means to build up.

  1.  Ministers are to edify the body of Christ. EPH 4:11-12.

  2.  Church members are to edify one another. 1TH 5:11.

  3.  The church is to edify itself in love. EPH 4:16.

  4.  The church itself is a building. 1PE 2:5; EPH 2:20-22; 1CO 3:9.

II.  The present age of the gospel was prophesied of as a time of rebuilding old wastes.   ISA 61:1-4; ACT 15:15-16.

III.  Christians can learn lessons from Nehemiah for the building that they engage in  under the gospel.

 A.  All Scripture is profitable for instruction. 2TI 3:16; ACT 20:32.

 B.  The O.T. was written for our learning that we might have hope. ROM 15:4.

 C.  The O.T. service foreshadowed what Christ brought in. HEB 10:1.

IV.  This book reveals the devices of the devil to hinder the work of God and is  therefore worth our time. 2CO 2:11.

Nehemiah 1

vs.1-2. Nehemiah did not allow his duties in the palace to crowd out a concern for the  house of God. c/w PSA 132:4-5.

      A. It is a perilous circumstance when we are consumed with our own concerns

            to the abrogation of God's concerns. LUK 14:15-24.

      B. The kingdom of God should always figure in our doings. MAT 6:33. 

v.3.  There was a need for upbuilding.

      A. This need for upbuilding was generated by disrepair brought on by sin.

            2CH 36:14-18.

      B. A parallel may be drawn to the church of Jesus Christ and to individual saints

            when sin leaves them in ruins. 

v.4.  Upbuilding began with a man being burdened about the situation and praying about  it. 

      A. The building up of one's wisdom and knowledge of God is facilitated by a

            similar burden of deficiency and by prayer. PRO 18:1 c/w JAM 1:5-7.

      B. The building up of one's faith is likewise facilitated. MAR 9:24; LUK 17:5.

      C. The building up of the church's number is likewise facilitated. 

            2CO 2:15-16 c/w EPH 6:19-20; COL 4:3-4; 2TH 3:1.

            1. Prayer is especially needed here because of the expectation of trouble.

                  2TH 3:2 c/w 1CO 16:9.

            2. It has been sagely observed that we do well to go to God about men

                  before we go to men about God. 

vs.5-11. Note the substance of Nehemiah's prayer.

 A.  v.5. He plead God's faithfulness; God's character must ever be the ground of   our appeal to Him. c/w 1JO 1:9.

 B.  v.6a. He prayed continually, day and night. 

            EPH 6:18-19; LUK 11:5-13; LUK 18:1.

 C. vs.6b-7. He confessed sin identifying himself with the sinning nation.     ISA 64:6 c/w PRO 28:13.

 D.  vs.8-9. He plead God's word of promise to restore the nation upon     repentance. c/w LEV 26:40-42.

            1. The prayers of faithful men plead God's words, not men's.

            2. Faith is not trusting God to give what you want; it is trusting God to

                  do as He has promised. c/w ROM 4:20-21.

 E.  v.10. He plead God's grace already bestowed upon the people. 

            ROM 10:1-3 c/w ROM 11:25-29.

            1. Prayers for conversions ought to presuppose an advance work of grace.

                  1CO 1:18.

            2. Prevenient grace is the basis for improvement of grace. 2PE 1:1-2.

 F.  v.11. He resolved to do more than pity if he had opportunity. JAM 2:15-17.

 G.  v.11. Some people desire to fear God. But some do not. PRO 1:29.

            1. The fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil. PRO 8:13.

            2. God is attentive to the prayer of the humble and God-fearing.

                  2CH 7:14.

            3. The same cannot be said of the proud and the unrighteous.

                  1PE 5:5-6; 1PE 3:12.

Nehemiah 2

vs.1-8. Prayer demands actions in harmony with its desires. JAM 1:6-7; JAM 4:3.

 A. Having sought the help of God, Nehemiah frankly confronted the king when   the opportunity came. 2CH 20:12-24.

 B.  Having had an audience with God, Nehemiah could be courageous with the    king. His fear (v.2) did not forbid him from saying what needed to be said.

            EXO 3:11-12 c/w EXO 5:1 c/w HEB 11:27; 2TI 1:7-8.

 C.  v.4. He prayed while he was confronting the king. 

            1. Here is a short, silent prayer of the heart. c/w GEN 24:44-45.

            2. Effectual prayer is not necessarily measured by length or loudness.

                  1KI 18:26-28; 1KI 18:36-37 c/w MAT 6:7.

            3.  The King of kings (REV 1:5, 19:16) is well able to turn the heart of     earthly kings. PRO 21:1.

 D.  v.8. He gave God the glory for the answer to prayer. 1TH 5:18.

      E. Prayer before, during and after any challenge of faith is a good pattern to    follow.

v.10. There were enemies of the work. 1CO 16:9; 2TH 3:1-2.

      A. Few things perturb the wicked more than righteous men seeking the

            welfare of the people of God. c/w 1TH 2:15-16.

      B. The building of the gospel church will be attended with MUCH contention.

            1TH 2:2.

      C.  The building up of grace and faith in the soul will meet with a conspiracy of

            resistance from the world, the flesh and the devil; "...we must through    MUCH tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (ACT 14:22).

vs.12-16. Sometimes, it's wise to not reveal everything. PRO 12:23; PRO 29:11.

 A.  Nehemiah wisely assessed the work that was before him, a principle of

            Christian discipleship. LUK 14:28-30.

 B.  v.12. God put it in his heart to do this work. c/w 2 Co.8:16.

            1. Gospel building is best accomplished when done out of desire of heart.

                  2CO 9:7; 1TI 3:1.

            2. Our obedience ought ever to be from the heart (ROM 6:17) lest we

                  build nothing more than a form of godliness. 2TI 3:5.

vs.17-20. Nehemiah did not let the magnitude of the problem nor the ridicule of enemies  deter him from tackling the work. 

      A. v.17. The broken down condition of Jerusalem was a reproach in the eyes of

            the world. c/w PSA 79:1-5.

            1. Similar is the case of the believer or church whose eyes are no longer     upon God and true religion. ROM 2:23-24; 2PE 2:1-2; REV 3:17.

            2. The "rebuilding" that best suits such cases is "repenting"

                  (REV 3:18-19) and to no longer give "occasion to the adversary to

                  speak reproachfully" (1TI 5:14). 

 B. v.18. He encouraged the people by pointing them to the good hand of God    upon him.

            1. The account of Divine blessing and accomplishment is an edifying     (building) encouragement to the believers. 

                  ACT 9:27-31; ACT 15:3-4.

            2. Expect prosperous building when the hand of God is in the work and

                  upon the workmen. ACT 11:21.

  3. Nehemiah was assured by God's promise that God would prosper the     work.

                  a. The building of the gospel church is backed by similar promise.

                        MAT 16:18; MAT 28:18-20.

                  b. The building of a believer's knowledge and faith is backed also

                        by such promise. JOH 7:17; PHIL 3:14-15; HEB 11:6.

 C. vs.19-20. The enemies of God and His people again ridiculed the project and   despised the builders.

            1. We should expect no different treatment from the world. 

                  JOH 15:18-20.

            2. Nehemiah did not mince words in marking the enemy. 

                  ROM 16:17-18.

            3. Nehemiah boldly declared that these enemies of God and His building

                  program had no portion with the covenant people's inheritance.

                  c/w GAL 4:21-31; 1JO 2:19-23.

            4. Neither the building of the church nor the building of the soul is aided    by the input of those whom God says have no part nor lot in His work.

                  GAL 2:4-5; 1CO 5:6; 1CO 15:33.

Nehemiah 3

      A. The rulers had just resolved, "Let us rise up and build..." (NEH 2:18).

            1. They then promptly set to doing as they had resolved.

            2. Talk is cheap, meaningless and condemning when it is not      demonstrated by appropriate works. MAT 21:30-31; MAT 23:3.

            3. Consider the bitterness of Peter's noble, unkept resolution.

                  MAR 14:29, 72.

      B.  The chapter begins at the sheep gate and ends up at the sheep gate thus    setting forth the rebuilding of the entire wall.

            1. Christ is the door of the sheep. JOH 10:7.

                  a. Door in JOH 10:7 translates thura (SRN #2374) which is      translated as gate in ACT 3:2 which speaks of the temple gate

                        which is called Beautiful.

                  b. All that the church is begins and ends with Jesus Christ, the

                        beautiful Branch of the LORD (ISA 4:2 c/w ISA 11:1), the Alpha

                        and Omega / beginning and ending (REV 1:8) by Whom His      sheep enter. 

            2. The rebuilding was not of wall only, but also gates.

            3. The wall speaks of forbidding entry; the gates speak of permitting it.

            4. So is the work of the gospel in the building of the local church.

                  a. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth. 1TI 3:15.

                  b. Truth accords with light. PSA 43:3; PSA 119:105.

                  c. Light both draws the righteous and repels the wicked.

                        JOH 3:19-21.

                  d.  The gospel is a savour of both life and death. 2CO 2:15-16.

                  e. Wall and gates: there is at least as much "go away" as there is     "come in" in the building of disciples. Remember, even the      gates had locks. JOH 6:63-67; LUK 9:61-62; LUK 14:26-27

                  f. Let none presume to take the teeth out of the gospel by

                        altering its truth to accommodate those who would otherwise

                        reject it. Christ's gate is a strait one. MAT 7:13-14. 

                  g. If "fishers of men" bait their hooks with what appeals to the      flesh, what kind of person do they expect to catch?

                  h.  Consider the prophetic figure of the church in ISA 60:18. 

                        (1) The wall which restricts access also restricts falling out and

                              so is a salvation.

                        (2) True worshippers give Christ all the praise for salvation.

                              PHIL 3:3 c/w ROM 2:29; 1PE 1:5.

            5. A parallel may be found in the work of faith in the building up of the     saint.

                  a. Saints do well to heed the warnings against allowing harmful

                        influences to enter ("the wall"). Examples:

                        (1) "...make not provision for the flesh,..." (ROM 13:14).

                        (2) "...evil communications corrupt good manners"

                              (1CO 15:33).

                        (3) " that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the

                              law?" (GAL 4:21).

                        (4) "...have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of

                              darkness..." (EPH 5:11).

                        (5) " not drunk with wine, wherein is excess..."

                              (EPH 5:18).

                        (6) "...let no man beguile you..." (COL 2:18).

                        (7) "...[not] giving heed to seducing spirits..." (1TI 4:1).

                        (8) "Neither give place to the devil" (EPH 4:27).

                  b. Saints under the N.T. have great liberty in Christ from the Law      Covenant and great liberty to do or partake of certain things      ("the gates"). Examples:

                        (1) "One man esteemeth one day above another: another

                              esteemeth every day alike..." (ROM 14:5).

                        (2) "...neither circumcision availeth anything, nor        uncircumcision..." (GAL 5:6).

                        (3) "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in     respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the       sabbath days:" (COL 2:16). 

                        (4) "...every creature of God is good, and nothing to be

                              refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:" (1TI 4:4).

                        (5) "...where no law is, there is no transgression"

                              (ROM 4:15).

                  c. But gates of liberty also have locks. 1CO 8:9; GAL 5:13.

                        (1) N.T. Christianity is not unrestrained liberty.

                        (2) Liberty must be subordinate to edification (building).

                              ROM 14:14-19.

 C.  Mind the expressions "next unto him," "after him," "next unto them," and    "after them."

  1.  The work was systematically divided, forming a picture of unified     diversity.

  2. All the workers, each doing his part, had the same unifying purpose,     namely, the building of the wall.

  3.  The church is fitly joined together and compacted (firmly pressed     together) by that which each member supplies, by each doing his own    part. EPH 4:16.

                  a. There are diversities of gifts, administrations and operations but

                        the body is one, working together so as to prevent breaches or      schisms. 1CO 12:4-6, 12, 25.

                  b. Elements that promote schisms are to be discouraged and (when

                        necessary) discarded. 1TI 1:3; TIT 3:10.

            4. The individual is similarly built of many members. 1CO 12:14.

                  a. The various aspects of our person must be working together to

                        build us up in Christ.

                  b. Outward service without heart service is only hypocrisy.

                        MAR 7:6.

                  c. One counterproductive member can destroy the whole building.

                        JAM 3:6; 1:26; 1CO 9:27 c/w COL 3:5-6.

      D. The Spirit recorded that the priests first rose up to build. NEH 3:1.

            1. The priests were the ministers of the word. MAL 2:7.

            2. The building of the gospel church is by Christ's ministers of the word.

                  a. Teaching and baptizing are ministerial ordinances by which the

                        church's number is built. MAT 28:19 c/w ACT 2:41.

                  b. Ministerial teaching of the word edifies (builds up) the faith of

                        the church. EPH 4:11-12.

            3. The priests' actions set the tone and set an example for the rest.

                  c/w 1PE 5:3; 1TI 4:12.

                  a. Christ's ministers lead by teaching and example. 

                        ACT 20:31, 34-35.

                  b. The labors and rigors of Christ's ministers should inspire the

                        rest. 2TI 2:15 c/w 1TI 4:15; PHIL 1:14.

            4. Appropriately, the priests built the sheepgate. c/w 1PE 5:1-3.

      E. The people obviously had a mind to work. 

            EXO 35:21, 29; 36:2 c/w 1CO 9:17-18.

      F. Consider some observations about the workers.

            1. Baruch "...earnestly repaired..." (v.20), i.e., he was ardent, fervent, on     fire in his efforts. 

                  a. Saints are to be thus-minded about gospel contention, that the

                        church might be fortified against false brethren. JUDE 1:3-4.

                  b. The zeal of God's house consumed Christ. JOH 2:17.

            2. Some built "another piece;" their zeal moved them to extra duty.

                  v.4 c/w v.21; v.5 c/w v.27.

                  a. The Macedonian saints in giving went "beyond their power..."

                        (2CO 8:3).

                  b. "And let us not be weary in well doing..." (GAL 6:9).

            3. The Tekoite nobles "put not their necks to the work of their Lord"     (v.5). 

                  a. In His wisdom, God has ordained for His church that "...not      many noble, are called" (1CO 1:26).

                  b. Godly, earnest, everyday saints can build without the approval,

                        input or influence of the "nobles." JAM 2:5-6.

            4. The Spirit was faithful to acknowledge that faithful women had played    a role in building. v.12 c/w PHIL 4:3; ACT 18:26-28; ROM 16:3;     2TI 1:5 c/w 2TI 3:15.

Nehemiah 4

vs.1-5. Persecution was turned over to God in prayer.

 A. Frustrated by the determination and success of God's people, the     enemy tried to stir up trouble. c/w ACT 4:16-17; 13:49-50; 14:1-2, 19.

            1.  Where the antichrist Jews left off, pagan Rome set in, then papal Rome    and her daughters and now secular humanism.

            2. The perpetuity of the church of Jesus Christ is not owing to a lack of     troublers but to a sovereign determination by its Founder. MAT 16:18.

 B.  Sanballat is curiously echoed by Dr. C.I. Scofield in his footnote preceding    the book of Ezra.

            1. "The post-captivity books deal with that feeble remnant which alone     had a heart for God." (Scofield Reference Bible, p. 529)

            2. To better advance Dr. Scofield's notion of a future restoration and     rebuilding program, the rebuilders here are given light regard.

            3. Dr. Scofield is at odds with God as to the greatness of the rebuilding     program in Nehemiah's day. HAG 2:9.

            4. It should come as no surprise if a true church of Jesus Christ is

                  accounted a feeble effort worthy of derision. But fear not.

                  LUK 12:32.

      C.  Mocking the righteous who are doing God's work is standard fare. 

            1. The Jews mocked their prophets. 2CH 36:16.

            2. Jews and Gentiles mocked Christ. MAT 27:29, 39-44.

            3. The pagans mocked Paul's resurrection message. ACT 17:32.

            4. Satan's tactic of mockery intends to discourage the building of the     church which is the pillar and ground of the truth (1TI 3:15) and which    is the obstacle to his desire of world rule.

            5. Mockery is also used against the individual striving to build himself up    in faith.

                  a. "You're just a big hypocrite."

                  b. "No child of God would ever commit that error."

                  c. "I suppose Paul used a KJV too."

      D. vs.4-5.  Nehemiah turned the matter over to God for it was really God that    they were mocking. God's honor, not Israel's dignity was most at stake. 

            1.  God is not mocked! GAL 6:7 c/w PSA 2:4-5.

            2. Instead of saying to the Jews, "Hear, O Israel, their taunts...," he said,     "Hear, O our God..." 

                  a. Let Israel be deaf to the mockery of the wicked. PSA 38:12-15.

                  b. God hears the impassioned pleas of the oppressed. JAM 5:4.

   c.  Christians should take mocking for righteousness' sake

    joyfully. 1PE 4:14 ct/w LUK 6:26.

            3. Nehemiah's prayer was of an imprecatory nature. 

                  a. As Christians we do well to "bless them that curse you, do good     to them hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you,     and persecute you" (MAT 5:44).

                  b.  Yet our prayers our not without pleas for judgment against the      wicked or deliverance from them. 2TI 4:14-15; 2TH 3:1-2


v.6.  "So (under circumstances of persecution) we built the wall."

 A.  These souls were undaunted by persecution. PHIL 1:27-28; 1PE 3:14.

 B.  They had a mind to work; they were motivated! 2CO 5:9.

 C.  See 1CO 15:58.

vs.7-12. The enemies conspired to attack Jerusalem and hinder the work.

      A. People of diverse and sometimes opposing interests will nonetheless

            combine forces against the work of God. LUK 23:12 c/w ACT 4:27. 

      B. Believers must defend with constant vigilance against a conspiracy of the    world, the flesh and the devil if faith is to be built in the soul.

 C.  v.9. The people prayed AND watched (MAT 26:41; COL 4:2; LUK 21:36).    There was neither foolish independence of God nor foolish neglect of     responsibility. 

      D. v.10. Have you ever felt like Judah in the effort to build yourself up in    Christ: tired out and overwhelmed with rubbish?

            1.   God is able to make rubies rise from rubbish. Think of Paul.

            2. The lack of strength is well offset by grace.   2CO 12:9; PHIL 4:13. 

vs.12-20. Nehemiah established a defence strategy.

      A. v.12.  It seems the workers were "...troubled on every side..." (2CO 4:8).

      B. v.13.  Defenders were set in both the lower places and higher places.

            1. By this the foundation was secured against undermining, for "if the

                  foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (PSA 11:3).      Let not the church of Jesus Christ therefore neglect its foundation of     Jesus Christ, His apostles and their doctrine. EPH 2:20 c/w 1JO 4:6.

            2. Both the higher and lower elements of the building were active in     defence. Ministers and members both are responsible to "earnestly

                  contend for the faith..." (JUDE 1:3).

      C. v.14.  Nehemiah encourage them against the fear of man. c/w ISA 8:12-13.

            1. The fear of man brings a snare. PRO 29:25a.

            2. But faith runs by a different spirit. PRO 29:25b c/w 2TI 1:7

            3. Those who by faith see God as great and terrible will see His enemies

                  as small and pathetic. 

      D.  vs.16-20.  The people were ever ready to battle, constantly vigilant. 

            1PE 5:8-9; 3:15.

            1. They held, as it were, both the sword and the trowel: building while     defending. Gospel building includes gospel defending, which      underscores the importance of doctrine. 1TI 4:16 c/w TIT 1:9-11.

            2. God's word is our sword (EPH 6:17) and should be ever at hand and in    the heart (PSA 119:11) against a time of challenge.

            3. The importance of the trumpet should not be overlooked.

                  a. The trumpet served as an alarm when trouble arose so as to

                        coordinate a response.

                  b. "For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare

                        himself to the battle?" (1CO 14:8). 

                  c. This argues for authoritative teaching from an authoritative sure

                        word of prophecy, not namby-pamby gargling and multiple,

                        differing "scriptures." JOH 3:11; 2PE 1:19. 

            4. vs.19-20. Mark how that their separation did not stop them from     coming together to strive as one. c/w PHIL 1:27.   

vs.21-23. "So" we laboured in the work.

      A. They laboured in spite of reproaches.

      B. They laboured in spite of threats.

      C. They laboured unitedly.

      D. They were both ready builders and fighters.

      E. They were constantly vigilant.

      F. Nehemiah wisely guarded against the troubles that can happen during sleep.

            MAT 13:24-25; ROM 13:11.

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