Nehemiah (“Comforted of the Lord”) is the central figure of the book of Nehemiah, which describes his work rebuilding Jerusalem and reforming the Jewish community. He was probably of the tribe of Judah, and his career probably took place in the second half of the 5th century BC.
The book of Nehemiah is a excellent book on leadership!
I. The Report
– Learning about the Wall of Jerusalem… Neh. 1:1-3
– Lamenting over the Wall of Jerusalem… Neh. 1:4-11
II. The Request
– The Petition to the King… Neh. 2:1-5
In the 20th year of Artaxerxes, king of Persia (445/444BC), Nehemiah was cup-bearer to the king. Learning that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, he asked the king for permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild them.
– The Permission from the King… Neh. 2:6-10
Appearing in the queen’s presence (2:6) may indicate his being a eunuch, and, in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) he is described as a eunuch. If so, the later attempt by his enemy, Shemaiah, to trick him into entering the temple is intended to trick him into breaking the Law, rather than simply hiding from the assassins.
Artaxerxes sent him to Judah as governor of the province with a mission to rebuild the walls.
III. The Review
– Nehemiah’s Examination… Neh. 2:11-16
Nehemiah had probably never set foot in his homeland when he took it upon himself to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall. The city had been destroyed about 100yrs before his time.
But, Nehemiah was ideally suited to the task – driven, determined, and unafraid to confront any obstacle. He was a man who prayed… and then plotted a deliberate strategy.
– Nehemiah’s Exhortation… Neh. 2:17-20
IV. The Repairs (Neh. 3:1-32)
V. The Troubles (Neh. 4:1–6:14)
Nehemiah defied the opposition of Judah’s enemies on all sides – Samaritans, Ammonites, Arabs, and Philistines. Friends and foes… from inside and from outside.
He faced ridicule, conspiracy, discouragement, intimidation, internal strife, ruse, slander, and treachery.
VI. The Triumph… Neh. 6:15-19
When Nehemiah learned the city walls were still lying in ruins, leaving the city vulnerable to attack, he sprang into action. He surveyed the problem, prayed about it, and came up with a plan to rebuild Jerusalem’s defenses.
And they rebuilt the walls in 52 days!
But, Nehemiah knew it wasn’t about him! He knew the swiftness of the rebuilding would serve as a warning to Jerusalem’s enemies only if they made sure God got the credit!
Nehemiah gave credit where credit was due.
How was Nehemiah able to do what evidently no one else could? Some cite his leadership and organizational skills. Others point to his ability to motivate. But, the answer is probably found in Nehemiah’s prayer life:
* When Nehemiah felt discouraged and depressed, he prayed (1:4-11)
* When Nehemiah was under attack, he prayed (4:4,5,9)
* When Nehemiah felt powerless and weak, he prayed (6:9)
* When Nehemiah was happy, he prayed (12)
Even in the midst of his busy schedule, he carried on an ongoing conversation with God (2:4)
What about you? Is prayer a regular part of your life? Do you rely on God during tough times? Do you regularly thank Him and praise Him during the good times?
* The secret to a life filled with power is a life filled with prayer.
Nehemiah then took measures to repopulate the city and reform the Jewish community, enforcing the cancellation of debt, assisting Ezra with re-teaching the Law of Moses, and enforcing the divorce of Jewish men from their non-Jewish wives.
After 12years as governor, during which time he ruled with justice and righteousness, Nehemiah returned to the king in Susa. After some time in Susa, he retuned to Jerusalem… only to find that the people had slipped back into their old, evil ways. Non-Jews were allowed to conduct business inside Jerusalem on the Sabbath, and were permitted to keep rooms in the temple. Greatly angered, Nehemiah purified the temple and the priests and the Levites and enforced the observance of the law of Moses.
You can read Nehemiah’s story in the book of Nehemiah.