Sermons

Wed, Aug 29, 2018

Nehemiah 6-7

52 Days to rebuild the wall is an amazing feat any way you look at it. But as we will find out. Now is not the time to rest on our past performance. The real work is just about to begin. As I read these next chapters in Nehemiah I am reminded of the apostle Paul’s words in Colossians 1.
Series:Nehemiah
Duration:53 mins 17 secs

52 Days to rebuild the wall is an amazing feat any way you look at it. But as we will find out. Now is not the time to rest on our past performance. The real work is just about to begin.

 

As I read these next chapters in Nehemiah I am reminded of the apostle Paul’s words in Colossians 1.

 

Colossians 1:28-29, “28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.”



Nehemiah 6

 

1  Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates),

2  that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, "Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono." But they thought to do me harm.

 

You have to love the name of this village, Ono.

 

The enemy moves from the many to the one. If the enemy take the leaders out, the rest will be vulnerable to defeat. The devil understands this very well…

 

 

If Nehemiah went to this meeting he would have lost valuable time. The city of Ono was hostile towards Israel so it wouldn’t be a good place for a peace treaty. If they were serious they would have just come to Jerusalem. This is an assassination attempt.

 

3  So I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?"

 

I am busy doing what God has called me to do. “I’m doing a great work”… Whatever you do in the name of the Lord know you have been called to a great work!

 

Whatever God calls you there is a great work to be done!

 

If you don’t believe God has called you to a great work, you will be distracted by lesser things. You will be susceptible to the enemies schemes. Stay busy in the things of God and you will be safe.

 

The safest place to be is the center of God’s will. Any other place is dangerous.

 

We need to keep our focus on the ministry God has called us too. Who will share the gospel? Who will advance the kingdom and the cause of Christ?

 

4  But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner.

 

The devil doesn’t give up. Four times…

 

Opportunity knocks, temptation really does lean on the doorbell.

 

5  Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand.

 

The accusation they were bringing against Nehemiah are distributing among the people.

 

6  In it was written: It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king.

 

It is reported… The devil wants to get us to try to track down every accusation that is made against us. He knows if you get caught up in this you will stop the work of God.

 

Wikipedia says, “In Internet slang, a troll (/troʊl, trɒl/) is a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers …”

 

Geshem is a sworn enemy of the Jews. This is a bold face lie they are spreading.



7  And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, "There is a king in Judah!" Now these matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together.

8  Then I sent to him, saying, "No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart."

 

If you lead anything in the body of Christ you are going to be lied about at some point. You will be deliberately taken out of content, you will be slandered.

 

The temptation the time we spend defending ourselves is time that is not spent building the wall.

 

Stay focused… Ephesians 6:11 (NKJV)

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”




9  For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, "Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done." Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.

10  Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, "Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you."

 

The devil uses fear… He wants us to live in fear and to do something disobedient to the Word of God.

 

The devil seeks to get us to walk by sight and not by faith.  

 

Nehemiah knows this is not of God as we will see by his response.

 

God doesn’t use carnal fear nor greed to motivate us to do His work. God uses His Spirit and His peace to lead us.

 

11  And I said, "Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!"

 

Nehemiah knows the way to walk in victory is to flee temptation.

 

12  Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.

13  For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me.

14  My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.

 

He gives it all to God…

 

15  So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days.

 

52 days! The walls will get finished even though there is opposition to the work of God. When God is about to do something great the enemy amps up his attacks and opposition.

 

 

 

16  And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.

 

We can rejoice tonight knowing that the devil never has a good day! The greatest revenge on the enemy is to finish the work God has called us to. Quitting is easy and people do it every day.

 

17  Also in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them.

 

Tobiah is opposing the work. The nobles of Judah are playing all sides not knowing who would prevail.

 

18  For many in Judah were pledged to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.

19  Also they reported his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.

 

They aligned themselves with Tobiah who had married into their families… this was a violation of God’s law. They put human relationships and alliances above the Word of God, above the work of God.  

 

(This is a classic example of trusting in and walking in the flesh)

 

Tobiah was family you could say. So the point of all this is to know and be aware that the most dangerous person we face in our lives in our service to the Lord isn’t the attack from the obvious enemies, the greatest attack we face is the so called brother or sister who has sold out to the world, to money and power.

 

If what you teach and what you preach stands between what the so called brother or sister desires you can count on being stabbed in the back.  People will oppose any work of God that doesn’t support their desire and lifestyle. They will seek to silence both the message and the messenger.

 

James 1:2-8 (NKJV)

2  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

4  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

6  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

7  For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;

8  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

 

Don’t live in fear! The wall will get built. God will see to it. We must decide if we want to be part of it.

 

Nehemiah 7

 

1  Then it was, when the wall was built and I had hung the doors, when the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed,

2  that I gave the charge of Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the leader of the citadel, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many.

 

One of the many marks of a great leader is the art of delegation. Nehemiah begins delegating responsibility. Its interesting that Hananiah is described here as being both faithful and fearful.

 

Isn’t that the case for us too. Not much middle ground. I’m either living in the fear of God and being courageous or I’m living in the fear of man which causes me to cower instead of being bold.

 

Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”

Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

 

To live in the fear of the Lord is to live our lives in such a way that we grieve Him. The benefit of living in the fear of the Lord us wisdom and understanding.

 

Nehemiah appoints two assistants to help manage Jerusalem... Hanani and Hananiah.

 

And what Nehemiah says about these two men illustrates three characteristics of a good leader...

1. He shows grace.

2. He fears God.

3. He is faithful.

 

Both the names “Hanani” and “Hananiah” come from the same root word. It means grace. “Hanani” is “graciousness”. “Hananiah” means “grace of God”.

 

When you have truly tasted of God’s grace you cant help but become a gracious person.



3  And I said to them, "Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard, let them shut and bar the doors; and appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, one at his watch station and another in front of his own house."

4  Now the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few, and the houses were not rebuilt.

 

Nehemiah, living in the fear of the Lord exercised wisdom in knowing the attacks would continue.

 

If you are seeking to serve God you will be under attack. The devil will continually attack us with the desire to get us to cease serving the Lord, to give up and quit.

 

The sad thing for those that do quit. The attacks of the enemy don’t cease when we give up, he merely switches ammunition. He switches to condemnation.



5  Then my God put it into my heart to gather the nobles, the rulers, and the people, that they might be registered by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of those who had come up in the first return, and found written in it:

 

It took Nehemiah and the builders just 52 days to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. An amazing feat such a short period of time.

 

Up to this point Nehemiah has focused his attention on the wall, and yet he came to know the people needed rebuilding too. Yes, it took less than two months for Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of the city. But it will take the rest of his life to rebuild the people who will live and work and worship within those walls.



6  These are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his city.

 

The genealogy beginning in verse 7 to verse 59 is the same as the list in the Book of Ezra (2:2). Why would God repeat the names here again? I think the obvious answer is a reminder that God knows our name, He knows those who have sacrificed all for the sake of His kingdom, those who have dedicated their lives to advancing the Lord’s agenda in the world. We can be encouraged tonight knowing God does not forget our labor of love and as Jesus said in Matthew 19:27-29, “Then Peter answered and said to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?" So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.” And if you are a believer here tonight, if your name is recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life, Jesus says the same thing about you.

 

Another point Nehemiah makes, If those who came with Nehemiah to rebuild the wall could move some 1000 miles from Babylon back to Jerusalem – couldn’t the current Jews move from the burbs back into town?

It’s interesting how Nehemiah uses these names to give the Jews reasons to move back into the heart of Jerusalem…To summarize the rest of the chapter…

 

Verses 8-38 talk about family groups - “the sons of” or a relational connection.

Verses 39-60 mention positions of service – or a vocational connection.

Verses 61-65 deal with the priests who couldn’t prove their pedigree... God is called in to provide supernatural confirmation. A spiritual connection forms.

Verses 66-72 list folks who gave financially – forming a sacrificial connection.

 

This is also how you can get connected to us here at Calvary Chapel... or any church for that matter.

There’re 4 ways...

1. You sense you belong.

2. You see where you can serve.

3. You know that you’re called.

4. You invest financially.

4 Ways you can get connected.

 

 

7  Those who came with Zerubbabel were Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel:

8  the sons of Parosh, two thousand one hundred and seventy-two;

9  the sons of Shephatiah, three hundred and seventy-two;

10  the sons of Arah, six hundred and fifty-two;

11  the sons of Pahath-Moab, of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and eighteen;

12  the sons of Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four;

13  the sons of Zattu, eight hundred and forty-five;

14  the sons of Zaccai, seven hundred and sixty;

15  the sons of Binnui, six hundred and forty-eight;

16  the sons of Bebai, six hundred and twenty-eight;

17  the sons of Azgad, two thousand three hundred and twenty-two;

18  the sons of Adonikam, six hundred and sixty-seven;

19  the sons of Bigvai, two thousand and sixty-seven;

20  the sons of Adin, six hundred and fifty-five;

21  the sons of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety-eight;

22  the sons of Hashum, three hundred and twenty-eight;

23  the sons of Bezai, three hundred and twenty-four;

24  the sons of Hariph, one hundred and twelve;

25  the sons of Gibeon, ninety-five;

26  the men of Bethlehem and Netophah, one hundred and eighty-eight;

27  the men of Anathoth, one hundred and twenty-eight;

28  the men of Beth Azmaveth, forty-two;

29  the men of Kirjath Jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty-three;

30  the men of Ramah and Geba, six hundred and twenty-one;

31  the men of Michmas, one hundred and twenty-two;

32  the men of Bethel and Ai, one hundred and twenty-three;

33  the men of the other Nebo, fifty-two;

34  the sons of the other Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four;

35  the sons of Harim, three hundred and twenty;

36  the sons of Jericho, three hundred and forty-five;

37  the sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred and twenty-one;

38  the sons of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred and thirty.

39  The priests: the sons of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred and seventy-three;

40  the sons of Immer, one thousand and fifty-two;

41  the sons of Pashhur, one thousand two hundred and forty-seven;

42  the sons of Harim, one thousand and seventeen.

43  The Levites: the sons of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, and of the sons of Hodevah, seventy-four.

44  The singers: the sons of Asaph, one hundred and forty-eight.

45  The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai, one hundred and thirty-eight.

46  The Nethinim: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth,

47  the sons of Keros, the sons of Sia, the sons of Padon,

48  the sons of Lebana, the sons of Hagaba, the sons of Salmai,

49  the sons of Hanan, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar,

50  the sons of Reaiah, the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda,

51  the sons of Gazzam, the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah,

52  the sons of Besai, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephishesim,

53  the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur,

54  the sons of Bazlith, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha,

55  the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Tamah,

56  the sons of Neziah, and the sons of Hatipha.

57  The sons of Solomon's servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Sophereth, the sons of Perida,

58  the sons of Jaala, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel,

59  the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth of Zebaim, and the sons of Amon.

60  All the Nethinim, and the sons of Solomon's servants, were three hundred and ninety-two.

61  And these were the ones who came up from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not identify their father's house nor their lineage, whether they were of Israel:

62  the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, six hundred and forty-two;

63  and of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Koz, the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name.

64  These sought their listing among those who were registered by genealogy, but it was not found; therefore they were excluded from the priesthood as defiled.

65  And the governor said to them that they should not eat of the most holy things till a priest could consult with the Urim and Thummim.

66  Altogether the whole assembly was forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty,

67  besides their male and female servants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven; and they had two hundred and forty-five men and women singers.

68  Their horses were seven hundred and thirty-six, their mules two hundred and forty-five,

69  their camels four hundred and thirty-five, and donkeys six thousand seven hundred and twenty.

70  And some of the heads of the fathers' houses gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury one thousand gold drachmas, fifty basins, and five hundred and thirty priestly garments.

71  Some of the heads of the fathers' houses gave to the treasury of the work twenty thousand gold drachmas, and two thousand two hundred silver minas.

72  And that which the rest of the people gave was twenty thousand gold drachmas, two thousand silver minas, and sixty-seven priestly garments.

73  So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the Nethinim, and all Israel dwelt in their cities. When the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities.



Nehemiah 8:1-18

 

1  Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel.

 

Ezra the priest and scribe had returned to Jerusalem 13 years before Nehemiah back in 458 BC.

Now the 2 men team up to build up the people.

 

Jerusalem is now a walled city so gathering together publicly is possible. Ezra delivers a public reading of God’s Word.




2  So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month.

3  Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.

 

I so appreciate what Pastor Sandy Adams said regarding verses 2-3, “Notice that Ezra read the word to those who could understand. Those too young to grasp the message were dismissed to children’s ministry. Here’s a biblical basis for children’s ministry. It does no one any good to hear what you can’t understand. It’s a sin to bore kids with the Bible. The Scripture needs to be presented on a level - and in a way - that it can be understood.”

 

4  So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; and beside him, at his right hand, stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and at his left hand Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.

 

Ezra lists the men who stood beside him on both his right and left sides.

 

5  And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.

6  And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

7  Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place.

 

13 Priests and the “Levites helped the people to understand the Law and the people stood in their place.”



8  So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

 

I love verse 8 as that is exactly how we set out to teach God’s Word here at Calvary Chapel.

1. We read the book “distinctly.” We pay attention to each word in its context. After all, its God’s Word.

2. We give “the sense” of what the writer was saying. What did he mean when he said it.

3. We help them to understand the reading. We seek to help people apply what we’ve read to our lives today.

 

This is known as expository teaching. Expository teaching starts with a passage of Scripture - then uncovers its meaning in its context. In other words we let the Bible speak for itself.

Topical teaching starts with a premise - then uses the Bible to prove that premise.



9  And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep." For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.

 

The Word of God created a genuine sorrow and repentance.

 

Instead of mourning over their sin, Nehemiah knew the people needed to focus on God’s forgiveness.

 

Both Nehemiah and Ezra knew God had given them a new beginning. “At times we need to recall how far we’ve fallen. At other times we should recall how far we’ve come.”

 

If I focus on where I need to be, I can easily get depressed. It’s enough to make me cry!

 

I appreciate something I read today that said, “Though I’m not where I need to be, or want to be, I’m certainly not where I use to be!”

 

Nehemiah and Ezra sense that it is time to rejoice... not regret.



10  Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

 

Hebrews 12:2, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

 

Jesus experienced sorrow for a season, so you and I could rejoice forever.

 

11  So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, "Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved."

12  And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

 

Understanding of God’s Word brought joy!

 

13  Now on the second day the heads of the fathers' houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law.

14  And they found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month,

15  and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written."

 

As Ezra read the Law it dawned on the Jews the Feasts of Tabernacles was upon them. They built outdoor booths or huts to remind them of their journey through the wilderness, and God’s provision. It was a wonderful celebration.

 

16  Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim.

17  So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness.

18  Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.

 

The feast of Tabernacles lasted 8 days. And each day Ezra would read from the Word of God. God was establishing the daily reading of His Word in the lives of His people. God desires that the Bible become a daily habit.

 

Is daily reading of God’s Word the habit of my life? If so, praise the Lord! If not, lets determine to make it so!




Nehemiah 9:1-38

 

In Nehemiah chapter 9 the Jewish leaders are standing on the stairs of the Temple, and the Levites recount God’s faithfulness to Israel throughout the nation’s history.

 

Those who fail to remember the past are bound by its failures.

 

History not learned from tends to repeat itself.

 

Sadly for many, “If there is anything we have leaned from history is that we have learned nothing from history.

 

Look back and recount the blessings of God. It serves to make us humble and grateful.

 

1 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads.

 

“Sackcloth” was a coarse fiber, a stiff burlap, and when worn it irritated the skin. Looking back the children of Israel became painfully aware of their forefather’s mistakes, and they realized they were more than capable of repeating them...

 

2 Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

 

Sins can and do get passed down… so they confessed them all to cut them off…

 

3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God.

 

If a day was from sunrise to sunset, roughly 12 hours that means the people read, confessed and worshipped God for 6 hours. A 6 hour church service! Never again do I want to hear we went too long. Ha!



4 Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the stairs of the Levites and cried out with a loud voice to the LORD their God.

5 And the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said: "Stand up and bless the LORD your God Forever and ever! "Blessed be Your glorious name, Which is exalted above all blessing and praise!

6 You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.

 

God made the heavens in 3 layers.

1. The earth’s atmosphere is the first heaven.

2. What we call “space” is the second heaven.

3. The spiritual dimension where angels reside – is what Paul called the third heaven.

 

7 "You are the LORD God, Who chose Abram, And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, And gave him the name Abraham;

 

“Abram” meant “father”. “Abraham” meant “father of many nations”. Abram’s name change to Abraham reflects the blessing God bestowed on Abraham and his descendants.

 

8 You found his heart faithful before You, And made a covenant with him To give the land of the Canaanites, The Hittites, the Amorites, The Perizzites, the Jebusites, And the Girgashites--

 

Notice what the Levites say about God’s promise of the land to Israel.

 

To give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, For You are righteous.

 

Its important to note that God ties His righteousness, His very character and reputation to His promise to give the land to Israel. The Palestinians are fighting a losing battle today over the land. We must not forget that before the land belonged to the Arabs, even before the land belonged to the Hebrews, to Israel and even before it belonged to the Canaanites the land belonged to God.

 

And guess what? God in His sovereignty chose to give it to Abraham and as well, to “his descendants.”



9 "You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, And heard their cry by the Red Sea.

10 You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, Against all his servants, And against all the people of his land. For You knew that they acted proudly against them. So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day.

11 And You divided the sea before them, So that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; And their persecutors You threw into the deep, As a stone into the mighty waters.

12 Moreover You led them by day with a cloudy pillar, And by night with a pillar of fire, To give them light on the road Which they should travel.

13 "You came down also on Mount Sinai, And spoke with them from heaven, And gave them just ordinances and true laws, Good statutes and commandments.

14 You made known to them Your holy Sabbath, And commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, By the hand of Moses Your servant.

15 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger, And brought them water out of the rock for their thirst, And told them to go in to possess the land Which You had sworn to give them.

16 "But they and our fathers acted proudly, Hardened their necks, And did not heed Your commandments.

 

Let me ask you a question? Did the nation of Israel give God ample reasons to cast them off forever?

 

Have you and I given Him reason enough to cast us off too? I know I have and yet we read…

 

17 They refused to obey, And they were not mindful of Your wonders That You did among them. But they hardened their necks, And in their rebellion They appointed a leader To return to their bondage. But You are God, Ready to pardon, Gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, Abundant in kindness, And did not forsake them.

 

What an amazing God we serve! What grace, what mercy, what love!



18 "Even when they made a molded calf for themselves, And said, 'This is your god That brought you up out of Egypt,' And worked great provocations,

19 Yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, To lead them on the road; Nor the pillar of fire by night, To show them light, And the way they should go.

 

Despite His people’s failure God remained faithful to them.



20 You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, And did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, And gave them water for their thirst.

21 Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness, They lacked nothing; Their clothes did not wear out And their feet did not swell.

 

What we wouldn’t give for some of those heavenly Birkenstocks!

 

22 "Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations, And divided them into districts. So they took possession of the land of Sihon, The land of the king of Heshbon, And the land of Og king of Bashan.

 

These were the nations the Hebrews conquered east of the Jordan, before they crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land.

 

23 You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, And brought them into the land Which You had told their fathers To go in and possess.

24 So the people went in And possessed the land; You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, The Canaanites, And gave them into their hands, With their kings And the people of the land, That they might do with them as they wished.

25 And they took strong cities and a rich land, And possessed houses full of all goods, Cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves, And fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and grew fat, And delighted themselves in Your great goodness.

26 "Nevertheless they were disobedient And rebelled against You, Cast Your law behind their backs And killed Your prophets, who testified against them To turn them to Yourself; And they worked great provocations.

 

Prosperity can ruin a nation, a church, even an individual.

 

Its very easy for a person to become so attached to the blessings that we forgets the One who Blesses!

 

We can quickly turn God’s gifts into idols – and worship the gifts instead of the Giver.

 

27 Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies, Who oppressed them; And in the time of their trouble, When they cried to You, You heard from heaven; And according to Your abundant mercies You gave them deliverers who saved them From the hand of their enemies.

 

Gideon, Samson, Samuel, David, Elijah, and Hezekiah. All fought battles to liberate the Jews from their enemies.



28 "But after they had rest, They again did evil before You. Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies, So that they had dominion over them; Yet when they returned and cried out to You, You heard from heaven; And many times You delivered them according to Your mercies,

29 And testified against them, That You might bring them back to Your law. Yet they acted proudly, And did not heed Your commandments, But sinned against Your judgments, 'Which if a man does, he shall live by them.' And they shrugged their shoulders, Stiffened their necks, And would not hear.

30 Yet for many years You had patience with them, And testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen; Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.

 

For 850 years the people would sin and turn from God. To get their attention God would raise up an enemy to oppress them. They would cry out for mercy. Then God would respond with deliverance... Only to see them return to their sinful ways... For 850 years, almost a millennium, the cycle of sin was repeated.

 

Until… as we read in verse 30, “Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the land.”

 

Since they loved their idols so much God sent them to live among the idolaters. The Assyrians came into Israel and God’s people were scattered to the ends of the earth. Then years latter the Babylonians came and sacked Jerusalem and took the Jews captive.



31 Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; For You are God, gracious and merciful.

 

Verse 31 provides hope!

 

32 "Now therefore, our God, The great, the mighty, and awesome God, Who keeps covenant and mercy: Do not let all the trouble seem small before You That has come upon us, Our kings and our princes, Our priests and our prophets, Our fathers and on all Your people, From the days of the kings of Assyria until this day.

33 However You are just in all that has befallen us; For You have dealt faithfully, But we have done wickedly.

 

Verse 33 pretty much sums up the history of Israel. God is faithful, Israel has not been faithful.

 

They do the right thing! They repent.

 

The only sin God will not forgive is unrepentant sin.

 

1 John 1:9,  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 

34 Neither our kings nor our princes, Our priests nor our fathers, Have kept Your law, Nor heeded Your commandments and Your testimonies, With which You testified against them.

35 For they have not served You in their kingdom, Or in the many good things that You gave them, Or in the large and rich land which You set before them; Nor did they turn from their wicked works.

36 "Here we are, servants today! And the land that You gave to our fathers, To eat its fruit and its bounty, Here we are, servants in it!

37 And it yields much increase to the kings You have set over us, Because of our sins; Also they have dominion over our bodies and our cattle At their pleasure; And we are in great distress.

38 "And because of all this, We make a sure covenant, and write it; Our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it."

 

In chapter 10 we will learn that the Jews take an oath to walk in God’s ways, and the leaders will seal the oath with their signatures. They put their name on the line.



Nehemiah 10

 

Verses 1-27 list the men who signed the covenant on behalf of the people (9:38b).  

Verse 1: Nehemiah's name heads the list

Verses 2-8: followed by 22 priests

Verses 9-13: the Levites  

Verses 14-27: and the leaders of the people

 

Verses 1–28 record the names of the twenty-two priests, forty-four chiefs, and others who were so touched by the Lord that they signed on the dotted line of a new covenant with Him.




1  Now those who placed their seal on the document were: Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah, and Zedekiah,

2  Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah,

3  Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah,

4  Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch,

5  Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah,

6  Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch,

7  Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin,

8  Maaziah, Bilgai, and Shemaiah. These were the priests.

9  The Levites: Jeshua the son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, and Kadmiel.

10  Their brethren: Shebaniah, Hodijah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan,

11  Micha, Rehob, Hashabiah,

12  Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah,

13  Hodijah, Bani, and Beninu.

14  The leaders of the people: Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani,

15  Bunni, Azgad, Bebai,

16  Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin,

17  Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur,

18  Hodijah, Hashum, Bezai,

19  Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai,

20  Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir,

21  Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua,

22  Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah,

23  Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub,

24  Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek,

25  Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah,

26  Ahijah, Hanan, Anan,

27  Malluch, Harim, and Baanah.

 

Verses 28-29 are an introductory to the covenant stating the people agreed “to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes”



28  Now the rest of the people--the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding--

29  these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God's Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes:

 

The first result of revival is unity among the brethren. “By your love for one another, all men will know that you are My disciples,” Jesus said, John 13:35. Love is the proof of our love for the Lord.

 

Concern for their religious life was central in this covenant. With the exception of verses 30 and 31, the covenant deals exclusively with the maintenance of the temple and its servants.

 

The second result of true revival is a renewed dedication to the Word. This shouldn’t be surprising because when you’re in love, you want to know all you can about the object of your affection. And, because the Bible is God’s love letter, when we are in love with Him, we will find oursleves wanting to know His heart and His thoughts through His Word.

 

30  We would not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons; the Jews bound themselves to refrain from foreign marriages

 

The third result of true revival is separation from the world. No longer would God’s people marry the heathen people of the land.

 

If you’re spending time with people who don’t know Jesus and they’re doing better because you’re with them, great. But if you find yourself slowly but surely compromising, separate yourself.



31  if the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and we would forego the seventh year's produce and the exacting of every debt. to observe the Sabbath day and the sabbatical year

 

32  Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to exact from ourselves yearly one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God:

33  for the showbread, for the regular grain offering, for the regular burnt offering of the Sabbaths, the New Moons, and the set feasts; for the holy things, for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God. to make an annual contribution for the temple services

 

34  We cast lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for bringing the wood offering into the house of our God, according to our fathers' houses, at the appointed times year by year, to burn on the altar of the LORD our God as it is written in the Law. to provide wood for the altar of the LORD

 

35  And we made ordinances to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the LORD;

36  to bring the firstborn of our sons and our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks, to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God;

37  to bring the firstfruits of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oil, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God; and to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities.

38  And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes; and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the rooms of the storehouse.

39  For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the grain, of the new wine and the oil, to the storerooms where the articles of the sanctuary are, where the priests who minister and the gatekeepers and the singers are; and we will not neglect the house of our God. and to bring the redemption money for their firstborn and the firstfruits of their crops to the temple for the support of the priests and Levites—to restore the tithes.

 

The fourth result of true revival is seen in a renewed determination to worship. Here, in an act of worship, the people determined that the first of their crops, dough, and cattle would go to the work of the Lord.

 

Why does God want the first of our money, the first of our effort, the first of our time? For one simple reason. It’s not that He needs anything we can give. What He wants is our hearts and wherever our treasure is, there our heart is (Luke 12:34). If we treasure the things of God, we will be interested in the things of God. That’s why the Lord wants us to give Him the first of our money, the first of our energy, the first of our ability. If I don’t give, my treasure, and therefore my heart, will go somewhere else.



The results of Revival…

 

1. Unity among the brethren

2. Renewed desire for the Word

3. Separation from the world.

 

4. Worship God, keep Him first

 

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