Nehemiah: Time to rebuild

 

Neh 2:17 Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach

 

Writer : Nehemiah, cupbearer to King Artaxerxes

 

Literature : Historical narrative.

 

Dates: Spanning a period of approximately 13 years 446-433BC, during the reign of King Artaxerxes

 

Main Purpose & Historical Background:

Nehemiah was a contemporary of Ezra and held a position of high regard, Cupbearer to the king. After the Babylonian exile, he leads the last return to Jerusalem. He successfully encourages his people to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, which is done in 52 days, this incredible feat points to a great God and Nehemiah rightly gives Him the credit and the glory.

Nehemiah, a man of prayer, then dedicates his life to the task of pointing the people back to God and spiritual restoration, a task which takes considerably longer.

The return to Jerusalem is broken into three parts, the first being led by Zerubbabel and the rebuilding of the temple, at 536 BC, the second being led by Ezra and spiritual rebuilding at 457/8 BC and the third and final return led by Nehemiah at 444 BC and the rebuilding of the city walls.

 

 

Structure

 

Ch 1-2 Nehemiah’s concern for Jerusalem and his permission granted to go

Ch 3-7 The rebuilding of the wall and the opposition he faced

Ch 8-10 The renewal of the covenant

Ch 11-12 Dedication of the wall

Ch 13 Purity of God’s people

 

MAIN THEMES

  • God’s promises fulfilled
  • Physical and spiritual restoration
  • God’s grace

Ezra: God’s promise of the return fulfilled

Ezra 9:9 For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.

 

Writer : Ezra, a scribe and priest during the exile of the Jews in Babylon.

 

Literature : Historical narrative.

 

Dates: Set during the reign of King Artaxerxes (465-424BC)

 

Main Purpose & Historical Background:

We see God’s promise being fulfilled in Ezra; His people, after 70 years, returning to Jerusalem, (although some chose to stay in Babylon) ,the rebuilding of the temple and how it was accomplished.

Ezra’s prayer of confession is also of importance here, showing the need for having our sin dealt with.

The return to Jerusalem is broken into three parts, the first being led by Zerubbabel and the rebuilding of the temple, at 536 BC, the second being led by Ezra and spiritual rebuilding at 457/8 BC and the third and final return led by Nehemiah at 444 BC and the rebuilding of the city walls.

 

 

Structure

 

Ch 1-2 Jews return to the Promised Land after 70 years in captivity in Babylon

Ch3-6 The building of the temple, the opposition met and the perfecting of it

Ch 7-8 Ezra comes to Jerusalem

Ch 9-10 The crisis of intermarriage, Ezra’s prayer for the people and their return to God.

 

MAIN THEMES

  • God’s faithfulness
  • The need for prayer and forgiveness
  • Re building – physical and spiritual
  • God gives us free will

Daniel: God is Sovereign – Application

Daniel 4:3

How great are His signs, and how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation.”

 

Israel was at an all time low. Both kingdoms of the divided people of God lay in ruin; and the chosen people are now both scattered throughout the world and striped of all resemblance of God’s promise, or removed from their homes and forced into exile, a defeated nation.

How could this have happened? How could this be? Israel was chosen to be God’s people, the champions of the world, and now here they toil; defeated, disgraced, and destroyed.

Nonetheless, there is a remnant, a faith few that trusted in God, and understood his sovereignty.

God was speaking to that remnant; advising them to hold fast, stay true, they will return. He has not forgotten them, and he has a plan. This exile is apart of this plan: there will be nations, and kingdoms rising and failing, and ultimately salvation and a saviour.

God was speaking to his people of his sovereignty, and of this love for the people.

 

The world around is crumbling, morally corrupt and in disarray. There are wars, and rumours. Our leaders are crooked and a disgrace. And yet, God is still speaking to us today of his sovereignty. He is shouting out in the crowd, and whispering into our ears of his love and his plan of salvation. HE conquered sin and death by his sacrifice and resurrection, and his plan is still not finished. There is an end game at foot. Jesus IS going to return, and this world WILL fade away.

You see; God is in control. HE is good and just, and HE has the FINAL victory. HE is calling us to trust in him, believe in his Word, and to go into this world and awaking the people around us to the truth of Jesus.

APPLICATION Esther - God appoints a deliverer

Esther 4:14

14 For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

 

Esther was chosen to deliver Gods people, she had to have Faith and trust her God but God had given her abilities, attributes and character that made her perfect for her job. Ultimately she had the choice to obey God and follow his path for her life and in doing that she changed the course of history.

 

We all have a God given job to do, we have the choice to walk in the path God lays out before us or to not. God gives us all the abilities, attributes and character that make us perfect for our job, we can be history makers if we walk in Gods ways.

Daniel: God is Completely Sovereign

Daniel 4:3

How great are His signs, and how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation.”

Writer:

The author of the book is traditionally viewed as Daniel, a prophet from whom the book is entitled, and primarily about. Daniel was exiled into Babylon during the first Judean deportation to Babylon around 597BC.

Literature:

Historical narrative, Hebrew poetry, prophecy and apocalyptic literature

Dates:

This book was written about 520BC, and it pertains to the seventy years period of Judean exile from 596BC-536BC. Though some of the prophecies and the apocalyptic narratives refer to times to come as well as being messianic.

Main Purpose & Historical Background:

The core focus of Daniel is God’s sovereignty: His sovereignty over nations, circumstances and history.

We are introduced into Daniel at the first of the three of Judea’s deportations into exile to Babylon in 597BC. This exile came about due to the Israelite people falling into sin, and thus broke the suzerainty (Mosaic) covenant by worshipping foreign gods and totally compromising themselves just as the northern kingdom of Israel had.

However, we can see that God is fully sovereign, and that his plan is still to bring man’s restoration through Judea, and the line of David.

Structure:

Four Stories:

  1. Captivity 1:1-21
  2. Accounts of Nebuchadnezzar 2:1-4:37
  3. Belshazzar and the Writing on the Wall 5:1-31
  4. Schemes against Daniel 6:1- 28

Four Visions:

  1. The Four Beasts 7:1-28
  2. The Ram and the Goat 8:1-27
  3. Daniels Prayer 9:1-27
  4. Visions of the End 10:1-12:13

Main Themes:

God’s Sovereignty is the main and overarching theme throughout the book. However other ideas are evident. One other theme was to encourage and inspire the Jewish people as they live under control and exile in Babylon. As well to show the remnant of Israel that God had not forsaken them, and that His plan is still to be fulfilled through the line of David.

We are also introduced into apocalyptic literature, which is a prophetic narrative that is hyperbolic and cannot be taken literal, and yet refers to future events. In this case it refers to historical events that are due to happen in the world at large, about the Messiah, and the end of time.

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