a Christian with a masterís degree in theology, I did not know that
there was a period of 148 years from the first return of the Jews from
Babylon until the completion of Jerusalemís wall.
King Cyrus issued a decree in 550 B.C. that the Jews
would be allowed to return to Judah; however, the first group under
Zerubbabel did not leave until 30 years later in 520 B.C. Ezra arrived
62 years later in 458 B.C. to set up the rabbinical system and teach the
people about the Torah. Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem yet another 74
years later in 384 B.C.
Nehemiah rose within the Persian army and became so
trusted that Artaxerxes II chose him to become his cupbearer. Nehemiah
was brokenhearted when he discovered the rebuilding of Jerusalemís wall
had come to a stop.
The king liked him so much that that he allowed Nehemiah
to take charge in Jerusalem and be accompanied by a Persian military
unit. This was a move by the Holy Spirit in similar fashion to when the
Holy Spirit placed Daniel in a top position of Nebuchadnezzarís
Arriving as the newly appointed governor of Judah with a
sizeable military attachment, Nehemiah took control and began
construction to repair the city wall that had been broken some 203 years
Nehemiah was a skilled military leader and he quickly
realized that the wall around Jerusalem stretched for miles. As a
result, he divided the work into 29 sections with an equal number of
crews and the wall destroyed by the Babylonians began to rise.
Three regional governors did not want to see Jerusalem
restored and they used their influence to try and stop the work, going
so far as to threaten the use of military force. Even though Nehemiah
was skilled in warfare, his primary weapon was prayer, and at the same
time, he armed his workers against their adversaries.
Then a new problem arose with the third generation of
Jews since they arrived in 520 B.C. The nobles had used the gold and
silver accumulated in Babylon to purchase farms and vineyards in Judea.
They began loaning money to the poor, but because of famines, they could
not repay the debt and the wealthy Jews took their land and cattle.
Nehemiah was in the midst of rebuilding the wall, fending
off the hostile governors, and now he had a revolt on his hands. Being
guided by the Holy Spirit, he called for a general assembly and publicly
rebuked the rich for their usury. He commanded them to restore the farms
and vineyards that had been confiscated and make compensation to those
who had been exploited and abused.
Print out the sermon outline and let's examine the
Scriptures together Sunday morning at 9:00 AM PST.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor John S. Torell