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October 8, 2019

Please read today’s Scriptures and use the comment section on this page to share your insights from today’s reading. You can also just mention a verse that impacted you or post a question!

Read (and Hear) the Bible in One Year
Christian Standard Bible for 2019

Text: Matthew 15-17
Audio: Matthew 15-17

Nehemiah 1 (ESV)

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.

Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

Now I was cupbearer to the king.

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Next: Nehemiah 2

Back: Ezra 10

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Jehovah Comforts

    Today we begin the book of Nehemiah (whose name means "Jehovah comforts"). The Reformation Study Bible provides the following overview of this book:

    Author: Ezra and Nehemiah were originally a single book composed from a variety of historical sources, including the personal memoirs of Ezra and Nehemiah. According to Jewish tradition, Ezra was responsible for compiling these sources into their current form (see “Introduction to Ezra: Author”).

    Date and Occasion: Assuming the traditional view of authorship, these narratives were written during the period 430–400 B.C. to encourage the Judeans who had returned from exile in Babylon and were reestablishing their community in and around Jerusalem (see “Introduction to Ezra: Date and Occasion”).

    Characteristics and Themes: The major theme of Ezra and Nehemiah is that God works sovereignly through responsible human agents to accomplish His redemptive purpose. The author develops this theme in Nehemiah with particular attention to the rebuilding and dedication of the defensive walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:1–7:3; Nehemiah 12:27–43) and the reconstitution of the whole people called “Israel” in their covenant relationship with God (Nehemiah 7:4–13:31). See “Introduction to Ezra: Characteristics and Themes” for further discussion of the themes of Ezra and Nehemiah as a whole.

    Whitlock, L. G., Sproul, R. C., Waltke, B. K., & Silva, M. (1995). The Reformation study Bible: bringing the light of the Reformation to Scripture: New King James Version (Ne 1:1). Nashville: T. Nelson.

    I love the closing of Nehemiah's prayer at the end of this chapter:

    "O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man" (Nehemiah 1:11). 

    Regarding this verse, Charles Spurgeon writes:

    "In this one respect I like Nehemiah better than Elijah. Both were noble men, greatly concerned for the highest welfare of their fellow countrymen; but, at one time at least, Elijah did not have a true or a fair estimate of things as they really were. He even presumed to say to God, “I alone am left” (1Kg 19:10). Nehemiah, however, acted on another and a more hopeful principle. When he had presented his own personal supplication, he felt certain there were others who were also praying to the Lord, so he said, “And to that of your servants who delight to revere your name.” There are other good people elsewhere in the world, and there are other people who are as earnest in prayer as we are. If we begin to suppose that we are the only ones left who hold sound doctrine, we will become bigots. And if we think we are the only praying persons on the earth, we will most likely prove to be self-righteous. If we fancy we are the only ones who have a deep spiritual experience, probably we will be doing a great wrong to the Lord’s other servants and speaking evil of those he has accepted. It is far better to believe with Nehemiah that our prayerful voice is not a solitary one and that there are many who, like ourselves, cry day and night to God. If we take a hopeful view of things, we will more likely be near the mark than if we judge others severely and imagine ourselves to be the Lord’s only faithful servants."

    Spurgeon. (2017). The Spurgeon Study Bible: Notes (p. 610). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

    Another important thing to mention is Nehemiah prayed and fasted – just as Ezra did at the close of the previous book). As we will see through the book of Nehemiah, he was a man of prayer. 

  2. Wow! Mind blown … again! I thought I was all caught up, but I see that I'm a day behind – and I thank God for that! 

    This chapter really hit home for me. As I was reading Nehemiah's prayer, I saw a lot of similarities to how I prayed this morning. God just continues to teach me and to bless me, and my heart is so full. 

    I found what Charles Spurgeon said to be so valuable – a warning and a reminder – we are not the only ones who pray and are saved, and I need to remember not to judge others severely and make it an "us and them" situation. Judgement is not my job, and LLCC are not the Lord's only faithful servants. 

    I cried when I prayed this morning, and I ask for a miracle. I also thanked God for this new day and His new mercies, and I praised Him that I have another new day to serve Him.  

  3. I wanted to refresh my memory as to how Nehemiah and Ezra are connected in the timeline of the exile and the rebuilding of Jerusalem, so it was wonderful to see Scott had shared the background in his comment. It's important to my own understanding of Scripture to have both historical and cultural context when I'm reading. It makes the word of God come alive for me, to place myself in it. (See https://www.gotquestions.org/Artaxerxes-in-the-Bible.html for more!)

    What strikes me in this chapter is Nehemiah's proximity to King Artaxerxes as his cupbearer. This same king held the power (but not over God's power) to allow Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the holy city. Remembering in the book of Ezra, when King Artaxerxes stopped the rebuilding project (Ezra 4:17-23), but later had a wonderful change of heart, I wonder how Nehemiah's access to the king, and his relationship with him, was sovereignly designed by God for "such a time as this" and was tied to the king's change of heart? 

    I'm reminded of the book of Esther, which also took place during the Diaspora. No one could have imagined how her relationship with King Ahasueras (the son of King Darius in Ezra) would place her in such a unique position to help God's people. It's an amazing story! 

    We must never lose hope and believe God has somehow forgotten us, no matter how difficult the circumstances we find ourselves in. God never forgets His people. Never. But we have a responsibility as well — to pray, to fast, to trust Him, and to obey Him. 

    Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

    I need to remember this!!
     

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