11. Nehemiah: An Awesome Leader 2: Building More Than a Wall
Day One Study
Setting The Stage…
Use a Bible handbook, Bible text notes, or other sources to find out more information about these:
· Scrolls & writing in Nehemiah’s time—
· The Levites—
Think About It: Nehemiah not only led the people of Judah to rebuild the walls of their city; he had led them to renewed commitment to God and to His revealed will…Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem had given the people a new sense of their identity as God’s people. Success despite opposition had helped them realize that their God was truly among them, as small as their people and land had become. (The Teacher’s Commentary, p. 308, 310)
1. As we ended the last lesson, we read Nehemiah 6:15,16. Read those verses again for review, and then, as the story continues, read Nehemiah 7:1-5. What choices and actions do you observe Nehemiah taking now that the wall is built?
2. Read Nehemiah 8:1-12. One indication of an effective leader is the willingness and the ability to turn the responsibility over, or to share the job of leading with other qualified people. That is what happens as Nehemiah shares the stage (literally) with Ezra and then Ezra helps lead the people further spiritually. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are actually one book in the Hebrew Bible. (See any introduction material you may have in your Bible at the beginning of the book of Ezra.) What do you learn about Ezra from this passage?
3. How do the people respond to the word of God at this time? Start at the beginning of chapter 8 and trace the people’s responses through verse 12.
Scriptural Insight: Notice that this seems to be a spontaneous gathering. These people come “as one man.” No invitations were sent out. No public notice was given. People were hungry for answers to their problems, for guidelines from the word of God, and with one accord they gathered in this great square before the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the priest to bring the book of the Law of the Lord and to read it to them. This would undoubtedly be the entire Pentateuch—the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. This indicates the tremendous desire of these people for the truth. They listened, while standing, from daybreak until noon! Certainly this long attention indicates how deeply they were aware of their ignorance about life and how much they needed answers from God. (Ray Stedman, Sermon Notes, January 1989)
4. Your Life’s Journey: Recall the problems and challenges of Nehemiah 1-6 covered in the last lesson. God’s people went through hard times, yet there was a time for celebration and joy. What do you celebrate? What brings you joy? List the three things that come first to your mind in each of these areas. Use any creative means to illustrate your joy.
5. Read Nehemiah chapter 9. Nehemiah 9:5-38 is the longest recorded prayer in the Bible, and it recalls the highlights of Israel’s history. Some of us are inclined to be indifferent to history, but as you read this prayer, observe the very personal involvement of God in the history of the Jewish people, and remember that God does not change. God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
· Write out as many of the actions of God as you can in the space below.
· What jumps out at you the most?
· Write our own prayer recalling God’s faithfulness through the years to you.
Day Two Study
So the city of Jerusalem grew. Chapters 11 and 12 of Nehemiah detail this growth.” Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem, but the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while nine-tenths remained in other cities. And the people blessed the men who volunteered to remain in Jerusalem.” (Nehemiah 11:1,2)
6. The wall has been built, the gates are hung, the city is now well defended and filled with people. The time for dedication and celebration has come. Read Nehemiah 12:27-47. Describe the celebration in your own words.
7. Read Nehemiah 10:28-39. Before the celebration in chapter 10, the people made some covenant agreements with God. What are the major elements of the agreement?
8. Read Nehemiah 13:1-31. These events occurred ten years later. What were some of the ways in which the people fell back into disobedience?
9. What did Nehemiah do about these situations?
Think About It: Nehemiah’s actions were extreme. Chuck Swindoll offers the following comments on what he calls “taking problems by the throat.” Nehemiah faced the wrong head-on. He dealt with the wrong severely. Nehemiah worked toward a permanent correction and always followed up with prayer…The final scene in Nehemiah’s book portrays him on his knees asking God for grace. He fought hard for the right, but he had kept his heart soft before the Lord. What a magnificent model of leadership. He was a man of honesty, conviction and devotion. (Chuck Swindoll, Hand Me Another Brick, p. 179)
Nehemiah was a leader of a great many people. Yet, God has given each of us people whose lives are intertwined with ours as well. Some of those people (younger, older, or the same age) follow us.
10. Your Life’s Journey: Think about the ones who are following you. What kind of a leader do you think you are to them? Specifically, as we are examining dealing with sin, how do you normally react to wrong in the lives of those who follow you, or those people whose lives are closely linked to your own?
11. Your Life’s Journey: What in Nehemiah’s life encourages you to persevere?