Who was Nehemiah in the bible? What was his story and why is it important to us today? What is the book Nehemiah about in the bible? How can we learn about criticism and how we can deal with it as a believer? Let’s take a look at these questions and see if we can answer them.
Nehemiah in the Bible tells us about the man Nehemiah whose name means Yah Comforts or God Comforts. He was the son of Hacalia who we do not know anything about in the Bible. Nehemiah was not a priest or a king but an ordinary man. He was a captive Israelite that worked in a rather prestigious job for a slave. He was the royal cupbearer for the King, Artaxerxes of Persia.
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What is Nehemiah in the Bible known for?
Well, he is known for his leadership, his faithfulness to God, and his leadership of the Israelites. Nehemiah in The Bible is known for, against all odds leading his people in God’s vision for the restoration of the city of Israel.
Who Wrote The Book Of Nehemiah In The Bible?
Old Testament scholars and Jewish tradition believe that Nehemiah wrote the book of Nehemiah in the bible, a first-person narrative that begins in the year 444 BC in Babylon in the city of Susa. The Israelites had been taken into captivity and it is written about in the book of Ezra and had been so for seventy years. The story of Esther comes in the middle of the book of Ezra if you were reading this story chronologically.
Two groups of captives have been released to go back to Jerusalem but for some reason Nehemiah has decided to remain working for the King. He must love his job, care for the king and think that this is where God would have him be.
Nehemiah In The Bible Repents For The Sins Of Israel
Travelers come through Susa, one of Nehemiah’s brothers is with them and he comes to him. Nehemiah asks about home and the news is not good and it breaks Nehemiah’s heart. His city is in ruin, the walls are down and the gates to the city have been burned and destroyed.
Nehemiah in the Bible breaks down and mourns for his people, for his city. He cries out to God night and day repenting for himself and his people. He knows why God has allowed his people to be taken into captivity and recites God’s words to Moses back to Him in his prayers and repents to the Lord for it.
‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations,but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ Nehemiah 1:8 AMP
Nehemiah In The Bible – When God is Leading
He feels God’s leading him to do something about the problems before him and he asks for God’s favor with the king as he plans to go before him and asks to return home again and lead his people in the restoration.
Risking his life, Nehemiah in the Bible goes before the king with a broken heart and a downcast spirit. Something that could mean death. You were not allowed to show emotion or depression in front of him.
The king notices and asks Nehemiah what is bothering him. With a prayer on his heart, Nehemiah in the bible tells the king of his heartbreak for his city and how he longs to return to her and repair her into all she once was.
The king shows Nehemiah in The Bible favor. He not only gives permission to him to return but further gives travel passes for safe passage and a message for the royal forester to receive lumber for the repair of Jerusalem but also sends troops to protect him as he goes. This is the third and final exit from Persia and Nehemiah is leading it.
Nehemiah In The Bible Builds The Wall
Nehemiah in the Bible tells us that he had a plan, he had a purpose, he had permission, he had lumber, and a troop to protect them as they traveled. He was ready to start the job. He left behind everyone and toured the city to see the extent of the damage and what all needed to be done and to make a plan for the work. It was worse than he thought but he still had a purpose.
He went to the priests, the people, the nobles to share God’s vision and told them the plan to restore the city. He instructs the men and their sons of the city to start construction on the wall, each in their own area of Jerusalem.
Then comes Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite full of anger that someone dares come to help Israel and burst the bubble. Have you been there?
Nehemiah In The Bible Deals With Criticism
You’re on top of the world! Doing BIG things for God. You can feel his hand on what you’re doing, and then it happens.
Criticism comes knocking at your door and punches the air right from your lungs. Suddenly, as if the magic bubble has been burst; the rose-colored glasses you were wearing are now broken and thrown to the ground. It all seems small, insignificant, useless. A drop in the ocean. All because of criticism.
Nehemiah in the Bible got to Jerusalem ready to do big things, the people were on fire! They were going to do great things, rebuild the walls. And then the big Kahunas around them, surrounding them found out and didn’t like it. So they criticized their work. Told them it was a joke, pathetic and impossible. Who do you think you are they shouted. If a fox jumped on it, it would crumble, they laughed.
What do you think Nehemiah in the Bible did? Throw his hands in the air shouting “you know what? You’re right. It’s hot, it’s too hard, we’re tired,” No, he fell on his knees before God (V.4-5) and poured out his heart to God. Then he got up, brushed himself off, and went back to work.
Nehemiah Deals With Intimidation
When that didn’t work they tried intimidation. “We’re going to come up and we’re going to kill you, and you know what? You won’t even see us coming!” The intimidation worked, the people got worried, and the work stopped as they worried and fretted. They’re on all sides! We don’t have a chance! There are too many of them! The wall is only half what it should be. What are we going to do?
Nehemiah in the Bible looked over the walls and then armed the workers placing them to work on the wall near their homes. Then he turned to the quivering people begging him for answers and reminded them that they serve an awesome God, and the work continued.
“Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” Nehemiah 4:14 ESV
Then the internal bickering started, we’re hungry! They’re growing rich on us! We can’t afford to feed our families.
At the meeting, I said to them, “We are doing all we can to redeem our Jewish relatives who have had to sell themselves to pagan foreigners, but you are selling them back into slavery again. How often must we redeem them?” And they had nothing to say in their defense. Nehemiah 5:8 NIV
Then Nehemiah in the Bible’s enemies showed up again, they’d finished the walls but the gates weren’t up yet. So they took a little more roundabout way of attacking him this time. So maybe we were wrong, why don’t you come down and meet us and we’ll talk about it.
But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer. Nehemiah 6:3-4 NIV
They held out a hand, “come on why don’t you join us” they say. So we were wrong, the walls are up. Nehemiah knew they were scheming so instead of saying, “Oh, well you finally noticed!” “You’re going to let me sit with you guys on at the big kid table, Oh, well fine!”
He looked at them and said, “Sorry, I’m doing a great work (you know that one that you said was small, unimportant, and impossible? Yeah, that one). Why should I stop to come down to meet you?”
“Oh, come on! Are you supposed to forgive and forget right? Just come meet us.”
When this didn’t work they decided to blacken his name, Oh well there’s a rumor going around that you guys are just building the wall so you can rebel and become king, we’d hate for these reports to get back to the king. So come and meet us.
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9 (NIV)
When this didn’t work they sent people to intimidate Nehemiah. To prophesy against him, and make him fear for his life. To make him stumble, and give them something to bring him down with. But the next verse is the best…
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. Nehemiah 6:15 KJV
Despite all the lies, the intimidation tactics, the threats, the criticism the wall was completed. That project that was impossible? Was finished. Those people who had no right to try something so big did it. The. Wall. Was. Completed.
When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. Nehemiah 6:16 (NIV)
They realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. How big is that? Those same people who mocked said, “Whoa! God. Is. With. Them.”
Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)
Criticism hurts- especially when it comes from those who you thought would support you. But when you are chasing the dream God put in your heart. When you are blooming where he planted you it doesn’t matter what the world says. It doesn’t matter what they think- keep your eyes on Him and keep building. You can only fear one, to follow one. God or man. I choose God, what about you?
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by
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Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible (AMP), Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org”
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