Aaron Messner: All of us, if we’re finding out the Bible and attempting to show the Bible, it’s as a result of we’re satisfied that the Bible is for us. If we didn’t imagine that, at some degree, we wouldn’t even be bothering to strive. Dick Lucas had this nice line that claims, “The Bible is for us, but it’s not always immediately about us.” So we wish to be very cautious about in a short time attempting to insert ourselves into Nehemiah’s state of affairs and flattening out all of the historic distinctive in order that we are able to form of spiritualize Nehemiah and make him as very similar to us as potential.
Nancy Guthrie: Welcome to “Help Me Teach the Bible.” I’m Nancy Guthrie. “Help Me Teach the Bible” is a manufacturing of the Gospel Coalition, sponsored by Crossway, a not-for-profit writer of the ESV Bible, Christian books and tracts. Study extra at crossway.org. Right now, I’m within the workplace of Reverend Aaron Messner, who’s senior pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Aaron, thanks for being keen to assist us educate the Bible.
Messner: Yeah. It’s nice to see you once more, Nancy, and an honor to be with you.
Guthrie: Properly, I noticed you a couple of months in the past. And we talked by way of the guide that precedes the guide we’re going to speak about immediately. Right now, we’re going to speak in regards to the E-book of Nehemiah. Final time we have been collectively, we talked in regards to the E-book of Ezra. We had really hoped to speak about each books in a single episode, and also you simply had an excessive amount of great things on Ezra. So I mentioned, “Okay, well, we’ll meet up again.” And in order that’s what we’re doing. And I can hardly imagine now that I assumed we’d do this multi function episode as a result of whilst I appeared by way of Nehemiah this morning, I simply thought, there’s a lot great things right here to speak about. So I respect you being keen to try this. And I believe we’ll simply dive proper in as a result of there’s a lot great things right here.
So perhaps the very best factor, although, is so that you can assist set the scene as a result of Nehemiah doesn’t simply drop out of the sky, though perhaps typically after we’ve heard it taught it did. But when we’re going to know it proper, we actually have to know the place that is taking place in historical past. Possibly we even want to know somewhat little bit of geography, and perhaps we even must overview somewhat of Ezra to know what’s occurring right here in Nehemiah.
Messner: I believe we now have to return even somewhat additional than that as a result of I believe what we now have to know goes all the best way again to the Kingdom of Israel and understanding how due to the sin of Solomon, God really divides the Kingdom of Israel into two kingdoms, the northern and southern kingdoms, and Israel being the northern kingdom, Judah being the southern kingdom. We see that the dominion of Israel is a really depraved kingdom. They by no means have a single good king, they usually’re ultimately overrun and destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC. And there’s a small remnant from Israel that form of flees right down to the southern kingdom in order that Judah actually does form of appropriately change into all of Israel at that time. They usually have this ebb and circulation of fine kings and dangerous kings. However ultimately, the wickedness of that kingdom catches up with it.
And God warns by way of a number of prophets that he’s going to ship the Babylonians to destroy that kingdom, they usually don’t pay attention, the kings. And but, even in that prophecy of destruction, there’s additionally a prophecy of exile and a prophecy of final restoration, in order that…
Guthrie: And return.
Messner: And return. So even earlier than Jerusalem has been destroyed, Jeremiah is already prophesying the rebuilding of the town. However Judah, the kings of Judah don’t pay attention so the Babylonians come simply as God has mentioned. They destroy the town. And even earlier than they destroy the town, we now have to return, they already gathered form of the very best and brightest of Jerusalem society and carry them off to exile. So Daniel is in that group. So even earlier than Jerusalem is destroyed, there’s already a bunch residing in exile in Babylon. After which, lastly, the town is put underneath siege. It’s destroyed. The wall is knocked down. The entire metropolis, the temple…the entire metropolis is razed to the bottom and burned with fireplace. There’s one other wave that’s carried off into exile, and all that continues to be in Jerusalem is that this little group of the poorest of the poor. It’s mainly a pile of rubble, and it sits that means all through the whole time of the exile.
So then we skip forward. Cyrus, the Persian king, conquers the empire of Babylon. And as a part of his royal rule, he permits the folks to return to their homeland in order that they don’t have to stay in exile. And so, he provides the liberty for the Jews to go, provides them a blessing, provides them materials backing in order that this group goes again.
Guthrie: In order that’s the place we have been in Ezra, “You can go back.”
Messner: And they also’ve now rebuilt the temple, and we are saying, “Woohoo, yeah, it’s great.” Besides, what we then study is the temple is rebuilt in about 515, however then there’s this prolonged interval the place nothing else appears to be taking place. And so ultimately then, Ezra within the 460s goes again with the intention to educate the legislation and to convey restoration to the folks. And now we’re 20 years previous that, so we’re in round 445, so right here’s Nehemiah. He’s a cupbearer to the king, a really outstanding place, and somebody comes again from Jerusalem and provides this report. And it says that Nehemiah, that he hears that the folks of Jerusalem are in nice misery. Nice disgrace is on the town, issues are in a dire means. And Nehemiah is devastated. That is new information to him. So why is that? Clearly, Nehemiah is aware of in regards to the exile. He is aware of in regards to the return. However I believe Nehemiah expects that, “Hey, this group has gone back and rebuilt the temple. And Ezra has gone, and he’s been teaching the law.” So he’s anticipating to say issues are on the upswing, issues are constructive. However now right here, 20 years after that, it seems that the town remains to be deserted, there’s no wall, the persons are in…I imply, it’s only a state of affairs of social, non secular, bodily nonetheless degradation, and Nehemiah is devastated by that. So this complete course of that individuals have been going again and other people have been in search of restoration, it appears to have amounted to little or no.
Guthrie: So if we have been attempting to attract a psychological image of this for our folks, if we have been educating them, perhaps we’d attempt to assist them think about that they have been seeing this on the large display screen, if we have been a movie director. You’d see this mountainous metropolis of Jerusalem, and also you’d see this rebuilt temple. Definitely it’s not as superb because it was in Solomon’s day, but it surely’s there. However all the pieces round it will be just about devastated.
Messner: I imply, as we discover out later in Nehemiah, there’s no houses rebuilt within the metropolis. There’s mainly no one residing within the metropolis. I believe Nehemiah is hoping for this imaginative and prescient of Jerusalem within the means of being restored, and he finds out that regardless of all these efforts, there’s little or no to point out for it. There’s a temple and a metropolis with no folks, and no wall, and no one’s residing there. And it simply grieves him to assume right here we are actually 100 years mainly after Cyrus has mentioned, “You can go home.” And there’s little or no to point out for that.
Guthrie: So is Nehemiah’s unhappiness that we examine in Chapter 1, I suppose you can take a look at that and see identical to mirror nationalism, like Jerusalem ought to be this sturdy, gleaming metropolis. However while you learn his prayer, you shortly uncover his sorrow. There’s one thing in regards to the damaged down-ness of the town that’s saying one thing in regards to the people who breaks his coronary heart. What’s occurring there?
Messner: Within the Previous Testomony, God enters right into a covenant with Israel. They’re his chosen folks. And God provides to Israel, all types of guarantees, by which guarantees of land, guarantees finally of the Metropolis of Jerusalem by which God’s glory and God’s relationship to His folks is linked in that this complete nexus of being within the Promised Land, and having the temple, and the Metropolis of Jerusalem being a spot that’s exhibiting forth the dignity and glory of God. So going again once more to Jeremiah 31, there’s this promise that the town will probably be rebuilt, and will probably be a spot that’s the Metropolis of God, that’s giving glory and honor to God. And so it’s clear that Nehemiah’s grief isn’t just bummer, “Jerusalem was such a cool place, and I would have liked to have gone on vacation there.” He is aware of that Jerusalem isn’t just any metropolis. Jerusalem is the town of our God, that’s the centerpiece of God’s covenant guarantees to His folks.
So a part of the misery and disgrace of the Metropolis of Jerusalem is it speaks towards…I imply, God’s identify ought to be glorified on this metropolis, and to have the town proceed to be in rubble, the guarantees of Jeremiah 31 usually are not fulfilled. So there’s all types of angst linked to the glory of God and the welfare of his folks, which is essentially tied up then to the welfare of this metropolis.
Guthrie: So right here’s Nehemiah, and also you talked about he’s a cupbearer to the king, so the king of Persia presently, Artaxerxes. How would you clarify, for those who’re educating this, perhaps how he received to that place, what meaning? First query may be why wasn’t he a kind of folks, who in the beginning of Ezra we learn that each one these whom the spirit stirred up their hearts to return to Jerusalem, they went again, and we see that these are individuals who actually have a love for and a eager for the town? In order that’s one of many first questions perhaps we now have about Nehemiah, why hasn’t he gone again already? So I ponder for those who can reply these questions, but in addition reply them when it comes to while you’re educating this, I imply, how a lot weight and time…how vital is that this?
Messner: When the unique group of exiles return, it’s a small proportion of the Jews who’re residing all through the Empire. And so that’s celebrated and championed. And we don’t know why all of the totally different folks. I imply, we don’t wanna say each one that didn’t go and went again was egocentric and untrue. However, clearly, there was a chance to return. And so, clearly, Nehemiah wasn’t of age to make that unique journey again, however he most likely was when it comes to with the ability to return with Ezra, perhaps 20 years earlier, we don’t… So we don’t wish to speculate an excessive amount of about why Nehemiah doesn’t return. What we do know is after we hear Nehemiah confess his sins, he confesses the historic sins of his folks.
Guthrie: He strongly identifies together with his folks.
Messner: He identifies with them, however he additionally in a private means, “I and my father’s house.” So we don’t wish to learn an excessive amount of into that and say…however there’s some sense by which Nehemiah isn’t simply saying, “Some people before me were sinful,” however he acknowledges that he’s indicted in that, that he and his father’s home have guilt. So there’s some sense by which Nehemiah acknowledges that. So he might have gone again. He hadn’t gone again. I don’t assume we wish to spend an excessive amount of time speculating, psychoanalyzing why as a result of what we do wish to say although is when he hears this report, perhaps he didn’t assume he was wanted earlier than. Possibly he thought all the pieces was effective. When he hears this report, all the pieces modifications. And I believe that’s what we wish to concentrate on.
Guthrie: I believe most frequently after I’ve heard Nehemiah taught, then a variety of time is put into this strategizing, not solely the prayer, however his technique of going earlier than the king to ask the king’s permission, after which additionally to ask for supplies. And I suppose a variety of that has been within the context of the best way I’ve principally heard Nehemiah taught, which might heart on two issues. Primary, you just about can anticipate a sermon collection on Nehemiah when there’s a church constructing program. After which the opposite means I’ve heard Nehemiah taught was in a research I used to be in that was all about management. And so it used Nehemiah, set him up for example of a pacesetter, and definitely there are some issues to comply with there when it comes to his prayer. And he does appear to have an excellent technique all the best way alongside right here. However how can we maintain from doing these issues, or can we?
Messner: I believe all of us, if we’re finding out the Bible and attempting to show the Bible, it’s as a result of we’re satisfied that the Bible is for us. The Bible is God’s phrase that’s for our profit. If we didn’t imagine that at some degree, we wouldn’t even be bothering to strive. Dick Lucas had this nice line that claims, “The Bible is for us, but it’s not always immediately about us.” So we wish to be very cautious about in a short time attempting to insert ourselves into Nehemiah’s state of affairs and flattening out all of the historic distinctive in order that we are able to form of spiritualize Nehemiah and make him as very similar to us as potential. As a substitute, we wish to say what’s the function of this story within the story of redemption?
And so this can be a story about God’s folks in God’s place pursuing God’s glory within the context of His covenantal guarantees. So now we are able to say, “Okay, so how does that kind of a story relate to us?” And I believe what the New Testomony tells us repeatedly is that the tales of Israel are initially to be utilized to the lifetime of the church, the non secular Israel. So earlier than we summary Nehemiah as civic chief, enterprise advocate, we wish to say, “This is a story about the people of God, who are pursuing the covenantal promises of God in order for God to be glorified and His people to be built up.” And so then after we search to use it, we wish to say, “This is first and foremost then a story for the church because we’re the people of God, we’re now living in such a way that we’re pursuing the covenant promises of God, and trying to live in light of them and pursue what he’s calling the church to do.” And I believe even then, the constructing language of Nehemiah, the form of constructing language that the New Testomony makes use of is all the time about increase the church, increase the folks of God. So the metaphors of residing stones, which is the folks being constructed up right into a residing home, or Jesus saying, “On this rock, your confession, Peter, I’m going to build my Church.”
So we wish to take into consideration this not initially as simply generic rules of human management however because the story of the folks of God that’s meant to be utilized to the folks of God because the folks of God. It’s for the church. And so I do assume there are a variety of issues we are able to find out about church management, rules of how the church offers with persecution, and hostility, and embracing a way of mission and what really fuels the church’s exercise. There’s so much there. And I believe you’ll be able to say as a church chief, there’s so much to be gleaned from Nehemiah, however then finally, church management is supposed to level us to the nice church chief, which is Jesus Christ, who’s the top, and Lord, and shepherd of the church. And all church management is solely under-shepherds attempting to execute His management.
Guthrie: On Chapter 2, Nehemiah makes the journey to Jerusalem. He’s on the market in the midst of the evening. As soon as once more, to me, it’s a film scene. You already know, he’s on this horse, and he’s going round amongst these broken-down ruins. And he goes, and he appears to be like at the entire gates, and he sees this pile of burned stones, damaged down burned stones, however these are the stones that he’s going to make use of to rebuild the town of God in a way. And to me, that’s really a phenomenal alternative for those who’ve completed precisely what you have been speaking about. If we take a look at this when it comes to, “Okay, this is the people of God, this is the City of God,” and we perceive that within the New Testomony, it’s going to be about residing stones and that’s us. I believe the Chapter 2 in Nehemiah instantly provides us a chance to say, “What kinds of stones is he building his church out of?” And it’s not the right ones. It’s not those who’ve by no means been touched by hardship, who’ve by no means been burned, who’ve by no means been damaged, however that he’s really constructing his church out of ruined stones, which is sweet information for us as folks.
Messner: Yeah. It’s majestic. And I believe even going again to saying, “Okay, so here’s Nehemiah, who’s got this great grief and shame about the state of Jerusalem,” what’s in software there? Even to have the ability to say from the very starting to say…and I believe asking the query, “Do we mourn the broken state of the church? Does the affliction of the church throughout the world, does the faithlessness of the church here at home, does that grieve us? Does that drive us to pray where we’re now praying to God, ‘Use me for to contribute to the welfare of the church?’” After which to have the ability to say, “Okay,” after which that prayer, that empowerment by God as a result of that’s a prayer he needs to reply and bless. He needs His church to be constructed up, and He’s utilizing His folks to that finish, after which to have the ability to come and say, “Okay, now I’m going,” and to have the ability to say, “I think we can learn some things about the way Nehemiah actually approaches the work.” He doesn’t simply present up in a form of triumphalist method to say, “I’m here to rebuild the city,” , which we regularly see within the church, like “We’re taking this city for Jesus and we’re going to eliminate poverty, and we’re going to evangelize the whole world in the next 10 years.” Okay, nicely, he comes, he evaluates, he sees what’s occurring, and he begins to maneuver ahead in motion even earlier than he strikes ahead in pronouncement.
I believe there’s some knowledge to be gleaned there. After which finally, sure. What’s the work he’s doing? Properly, he’s rebuilding the wall utilizing damaged stones, burned stones, ineffective stones, and to have the ability to say, “That’s the very work that God is doing now through Christ, through the church, gathering up broken stones and building living stones.” And so I believe that’s the form of trajectory we wish to see ourselves on is to say that is essentially a narrative about God’s folks, pursuing God’s guarantees and God’s instructions to be the folks of God, and to dwell out corporately the life that he’s known as us to dwell.
Guthrie: So in Chapter 3, he begins rebuilding the wall, and also you’ve received this lengthy record of the people who find themselves mainly going out to their part of city and rebuilding the wall. Possibly only a quick phrase to us. Let’s say you’re doing a research of Nehemiah, you bought to determine the way you’re going to interrupt this up. I imply, that is one in every of many chapters in right here that in some ways you’ll be able to simply take a look at and say, “Well, this is just a long list of detail. How am I going to go through all this? Give all these names and tell what part of the wall they rebuilt?” I imply, what would you do with that?
Messner: Properly, I might say this, at Westminster, we all the time learn the Scripture and we learn all of it. So I’ve learn by way of…I imply, I believe you’ll be able to learn by way of all these…
Guthrie: You will need to should follow this chapter to get these names proper.
Messner: Sure. Ezra and Nehemiah, a few of these are the one occasions the place the studying I used to be extra nervous than the sermon. However I believe as a lot as we are able to, we wish to attempt to hone in to say…as a result of this isn’t simply true about Nehemiah. When the Bible provides us lists, genealogies, it does so for a function within the context of a narrative. It’s by no means simply saying, “Now, let’s take a hiatus from the point, from the narrative, and let’s just give a meaningless list of names.” And so I believe the query we wish to ask is how is that this serving the narrative? And I believe this can be a dynamic record. Once you begin to break down the small print of this record and simply begin to say, “Okay. So who are these people?” Properly, you will have all types of spiritual leaders and, , skilled non secular folks, who’re manning the wall, they usually’re at work, and you’ve got a listing of people who find themselves simply folks. Doesn’t appear to be something distinct about them aside from that they’re participating their part. And what’s fascinating, then you definately even have this record of some folks, their vocation is listed. And their vocations don’t have something to do with this wall constructing. Certainly one of them is a perfumer. Like, why point out that?
A few of them, it says, are literally specializing in the a part of the wall that’s, for some purpose, nearest and dearest to them. It has probably the most direct impression on them of their life. Some folks it says have come from varied locations to construct a chunk of the wall that appears to haven’t any correlation to any quick want of theirs. You begin to put all these items collectively and say, “What do you have here?” You also have a man who’s there together with his daughters. So what do you will have? Spiritual management, lay folks, people who find themselves working means outdoors their areas of gifting and experience, women and men all pitching collectively to serve for a typical function. That sounds an terrible lot like 1st Corinthians 12 or Ephesians 4, the place you speak about all these varied roles within the physique, who’re every…I imply, you can spend weeks on that to have the ability to say, “Sometimes God calls you to do things totally in your wheelhouse of gifting.” And typically he asks perfumers to go decide up stones as a result of that’s what must be completed within the lifetime of the church. They usually all do this. It’s not simply non secular leaders who’re doing it. It’s not simply…, it’s some folks.
Typically, we’re going to do the work of the church in methods which might be most instantly linked. We’re going to have mother and father who serve within the nursery as a result of they’ve youngsters there. And typically, we’re going to have individuals who do work that’s completely unrelated to non-public curiosity, however but they do it for the glory of God as a result of they love the church greater than they care about their private curiosity. And to see the best way all of that’s now working collectively, I imply, what a phenomenal tapestry of the best way God is at work in His folks to perform His functions. And so I believe, once more, for those who simply take into consideration this can be a management precept, attempt to get folks concerned, however there’s one thing far richer with a connection between God’s folks and God’s work, and God’s calling right here and what he’s calling us to do and the way he’s carrying out that function.
Guthrie: After we get to Chapter 4, we get this opposition to the work. And these names are most likely acquainted to folks, Sanballat and Tobiah, however perhaps you may give us somewhat perception into what motivates them and the place they got here from since you started our dialog by giving us somewhat historical past of each the northern and southern kingdom, and it appears to me that is one place the place understanding that is available in, but in addition understanding somewhat little bit of geography round Jerusalem to know what’s driving these folks. Why are they against this?
Messner: Properly, I believe two issues. What’s fascinating is God’s folks and God’s place, from the start of the story, all the time face opposition. So the world in varied capacities has by no means actually been tremendous excited to see God’s folks flourishing and effective. In order a normal precept, it’s not like that is an outlier in Scripture to say, “Here is one particularly odd instance where God’s people face opposition.” I imply, that is the story. So, at some degree, you’ve received historic animosity between peoples. You’ve received Tobiah the Ammonite. You’ll be able to return and take a look at the folks of Ammon and historic opposition between the Ammonites and the Israelites and the land and lingering hostilities and form of, “Hey, the destruction of Jerusalem, that seemed like we won.” And now they’re coming again. However then, it’s much more complicated than that as a result of later within the guide, we see that Tobiah is definitely married right into a outstanding Jewish household. And so now, Jewish individuals who have form of some vestige of energy are actually threatened by…
So there’s simply private pettiness concerned, like despite the fact that it’s been horrible, we’ve form of been in control of the terribleness and now Nehemiah is coming in and he’s form of exerting energy. So now, you see these Jewish households, going to Nehemiah and saying, “Hey, you should support Tobiah. He’s a good guy,” after which going to Tobiah with all these destructive reviews. So, on all the pieces from form of historic rivalries between the Ammonites and the Israelites going again for hundreds of years and simply the private pettiness of for those who begin doing nicely, that comes on the expense of our energy and authority, all of that’s wrapped up on this.
Guthrie: Properly, this appears to be one other lovely place to herald an image of Christ. You have been speaking about how this has all the time been the case, the hostility towards folks. And a pair passages come to thoughts to me, and I ponder if perhaps you will have a pair that come to thoughts to you in case you are educating this and attempting to attract out that bigger image. Like I consider Psalm 2, and right here is that this king in Psalm 2 and the nations are gathered round him and are raging towards him. And equally, Psalm 22, right here’s this determine that they’re gathered round him. After which after all, if we go ahead, we’ve received an individual who’s lifted up not on a wall working, carrying out a fantastic work for God, however as an alternative lifted up on a cross. And identical to we’re going to see in Chapter Four that these enemies are saying, “Just come down. Come down from the wall. Stop your work.” It’s such an unbelievable image, isn’t it? A foreshadowing of those enemies actually who’re across the cross they usually’re difficult Jesus to return down.
Messner: A part of what you see in Chapter 4, and Chapter 5, and Chapter 6. It’s like these waves of trial, opposition. You will have non-Israelites who hate the historic work of God in Israel. They’re Gentiles. They’re pagans. After which you will have the folks of God conspiring from inside as a result of they really feel like their very own private authority is being threatened. You will have makes an attempt to select off Nehemiah’s associates. And so, after all, then you definately get to Jesus. And so that you’ve received the Romans, who finally execute him however as a result of they’re really serving the request of his personal individuals who would fairly see the Jewish Messiah executed than seeing their very own energy compromised, he’s betrayed by his personal disciples. And so this inner and exterior persecution, sure, it factors to the fact of Christ, after which it’s additionally a name to say, “Church, this is what you can expect,” as a result of what’s occurred to Jesus, he says, “That’s going to happen to you.” You’ll be able to anticipate the world to hate you and conspire towards you on a regular basis. And after you overcome one trial, then the subsequent trial comes, and you may anticipate trials to return from inside.
When you’re in church management, I’m keen to hazard to guess a lot of your individual private trial really comes from folks working towards you within the church. And also you see that within the lifetime of Jesus, and then you definately see that within the lifetime of Paul. Paul spends a complete letter of two Timothy speaking to Timothy about persecution all coming from throughout the church. In order that’s the place the story form of applies on so many ranges. So it’s the story of Israel pointing us to the story of the church, which is finally discovered within the story of Jesus. However then it really works again out to say, “As we follow Jesus, these are the realities that we’re going to face.” After which I believe we are able to additionally say, “And here are principles that we can begin to glean in wisdom to how to deal with those things.” It’s pointing us to Jesus after which the information of who Jesus is is then instructing us how we’re to dwell within the church in our day.
Guthrie: After we get to the center of Chapter 6, it’s a aid to learn these phrases in verse 15, “So the wall was finished on the 25th day of the month of Elul in 52 days, and when our enemies heard of it all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.” That appears to me like a really key verse on this guide.
Messner: This can be a work that they mentioned couldn’t be completed. And as Eric Alexander identified, and I form of, “Wow,” he’s an previous Scottish preacher, that Nehemiah really spends extra time praying in Chapter 1 than it really takes to rebuild the wall. He really prays and fasts for an extended season than the precise wall. I imply, that’s how dramatic and wonderful the wall completion is, so that everybody is aware of there’s just one means that might occur. It’s the Lord. It’s the Lord. Not solely does the folks of God acknowledge this, however even the enemies, but it surely causes them to worry. And in order that’s a part of the wonderful character of this story that even in software, issues that we’re known as to do because the church, the discipleship and sanctification of damaged vessels. When you concentrate on tough folks in your church who’re combating sin, and also you’re attempting to cause them to repentance, and religion, and new obedience, and also you throw up your fingers and say, “I can’t even bring about the life reformation of one believer.” And then you definately look within the mirror and also you say, “I can’t even do it for myself,” and on prime of that, we’re supposed to enter all of the nations and preach the gospel to all of the nations and that God’s going to avoid wasting a folks for Himself from each tongue, tribe, nation, you say, “That can’t be done.”
And on the finish of all historical past, we’re going to face and go, “Wow, only God could have done that.” And he did it. And he really used us to perform it. I imply, that’s the fantastic thing about it. So that they pray for the work, however they roll up their sleeves they usually stand guard all by way of the evening, they usually work, they usually work, they usually work. And but, on the finish of the day, the conclusion of their work is simply God might have completed that. And that’s lovely. I imply, that simply summarizes the entire path of Christian ministry. We acknowledge how unattainable the work is, we pray, we’re totally depending on God, and what does that dependence lead us to do? Work, give ourselves to the work, after which when the work bears fruit, we acknowledge solely God might do this. Most individuals’s information of Nehemiah is what’s Nehemiah about? The constructing of the wall. And right here we’re in Chapter 6 and the wall is completed.
Nancy: And there’s much more left in Nehemiah.
Messner: There’s much more guide. So clearly, the guide has a bigger agenda than simply that.
Guthrie: So we get to Chapter 7 after this as a result of, okay, the wall is rebuilt and so there’s an enormous query, who’s going to dwell right here? Who’s going to dwell right here? And that’s the place we come across one other one in every of these chapters that’s a protracted chapter of lists. They return to a earlier record, they pull out that record from Ezra, who’re these individuals who got here again when at first Cyrus mentioned, “All those whom God has stirred up their hearts to go back.” So they begin there. They need Jerusalem to be inhabited by individuals who love God, who wish to dwell by His covenant and wish to be in His presence, in His metropolis. So what do you do with this lengthy record of names of individuals?
Messner: So, that is a kind of the place the context is actually vital as a result of the wall’s completed, however we get a clearer sense later within the guide of what the issue is. So that is a kind of examples the place for those who’re simply educating by way of the guide verse by verse and also you don’t really know what comes subsequent, then usually you don’t even have the instruments that the guide is supplying you with to make sense of what you’re coping with. So we full the wall in 6, and it turns into very evident later within the guide that the brand new problem is we received to get folks residing within the metropolis, constructing houses. Nehemiah’s mission was to not construct the wall. Nehemiah’s mission was to see Jeremiah 31 fulfilled and to see the town rebuilt for the glory of God in line with His Phrase.
So what’s fascinating right here now could be, placing that in context, all the pieces now begins to make sense as a result of what Nehemiah, having constructed the wall, is doing is constructing to a spot the place folks will say, “I’ll move into the city,” and all the pieces that’s taking place in 7 and eight is transferring ahead to have a folks whose coronary heart is warmed and burning with that zeal to try this. So even earlier than the record of names, there’s simply this temporary little verse about how he’s appointed the Levites and the temple musicians, and also you assume, “Well, that’s interesting. So why weren’t they already there?” So at some degree, it looks like the temple has been constructed, however full-orbed worship has not been going down. And so he begins to say, “We got to rebuild worship.” And as a part of that rebuilding worship, with the intention to inflame a folks for God’s glory so they’ll do what God instructions, he provides this record of names. Why? Properly, in context, I believe it really begins to change into clear that what he’s going to do in a couple of chapters is he’s going to name on folks to say, “I need you to leave your more comfortable existence in the outskirts of Judea. And we need people who will move into the city, who will start from scratch, who will rebuild a home, who will begin to live in this city for the glory of God. We need people to do that.”
So in that context, it says, “Hey…” and after we name you to try this, we’re simply constructing on the work that was completed earlier than. I’m asking you to maneuver 10 miles, to maneuver into the town. This record of brothers and sisters, they moved 1000 miles. They got here again right here when there was nothing. There was no wall. They got here again, and to have the ability to have fun, that is what God’s folks have completed. We’re part of this superb practice. We’re persevering with the story and so to be impressed by the work of God’s faithfulness of what has gone on earlier than. And that is one thing the scripture does. The scripture usually provokes the faithfulness of God’s folks by calling them to recollect the faithfulness of God’s individuals who have gone earlier than and to say God was at work, and God did one thing with them, and we’re not simply…that was an episodic cool story, however we’re part of that very same story. So we’re carrying ahead that legacy. And we do that on a regular basis. We not solely see it within the Scriptures, that’s why we learn Christian historical past to say, “We’re a part of that story. We’re inspired by those stories.” And so I believe that’s what’s taking place right here. I imply, he might say, “Yeah, it’s the same list with some small discrepancies as Ezra 2. So why do it again?” As a result of it’s serving a unique function. In Ezra 2 it’s saying, “Hey, these are the folks who came.” Now it’s saying, “Look back, remember, celebrate and participate in that.” And so he’s stirring them to then make that decision, which is coming as much as say, “Now I need you to do the same.”
Guthrie: After we get to Chapter 8, it’s one other scene by which we want we had a film maker ability. We learn, “And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate, and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses so that the Lord had commanded Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard and on the first day of the seventh month. And he read it facing the square,” and it’s this unbelievable image of him studying the guide of the legislation, after which we get to verse 6, “And Ezra, bless the Lord, the great God and all the people answered, ‘Amen. Amen,’ lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and they worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” And then you definately’ve received these Levites who appear to be operating round, explaining, serving to the folks to know.
So he pulls out Deuteronomy, maybe, and he begins to learn it. But when you concentrate on Deuteronomy, perhaps we’re gonna want some folks to elucidate to us what a few of these issues imply, or how am I going to use that to my life immediately and the Levite appear to be doing this with the folks. And it’s an unbelievable image of how they reply to God’s phrase being learn to them. They wish to obey.
Messner: So it’s not unintentional that there’s this particular want. There’s an motion that should happen within the folks of God. Persons are gonna have to maneuver into the town and start to dwell in a selected means for God’s glory. How does he start to convey that about? He appoints in, 7, Levites to revive…temple musicians to start a full-orbed restoration of worship, after which we learn the Phrase of God, the blessings, the curses, the challenges, the guarantees. We learn the Phrase of God, we clarify the Phrase of God, there’s reverent listening to the Phrase of God, and it’s the Phrase of God that then is the first catalyst to result in God’s folks doing the work that he’s known as them to do. As we’ll see in Chapter 9, that’s going to guide the folks into confession, and finally, it’s going to guide them into dedication and motion.
There’s large profundity when it comes to software for the church. Within the church immediately, we regularly…pastors, church leaders can settle in on issues we want to see the church accomplish. And so we are saying, “Well, how do you get the church to do what they’re supposed to do?” “Well, you tell them what they need to do. We need to call these people to action, and we need to create some programs, and call for volunteers,” and there’s this relentless pursuit of the outworking of Christian exercise. And sometimes, that’s completed on the nice neglect of the ministry of the phrase and prayer, as a result of we are saying, “Wait, wait, wait, we know, we need Bible and prayer, but what we need is action.” The place does Christian motion come from? Actual obedience. We all know it comes from love. We obey as a result of we love God. And why can we love God? As a result of we all know God’s love for us in His story of redemption, and His grace and His mercy. And the place can we hear any of that? It’s from the Phrase of God. It’s the Phrase of God that calls us, tells us who God is, it’s the context then of worship the place the Phrase of God is learn, and defined, and preached, by which we hear who God is, and what God has completed for us, and all of the ways in which we failed Him, and we’re led to confession, and we all know that there’s forgiveness, and a pardon, and pleasure, after which out of that we are saying, “We want to commit ourselves to the Lord’s purposes,” after which they do what the Lord has known as them to do.
It’s not a random development. And so I believe there’s simply unbelievable knowledge for the church. And in some methods, that is the centerpiece, all of the exercise of God is fueled by God’s folks taking within the Phrase of God. The reverent studying, the reverent listening, and the diligent rationalization is what produces this response.
Guthrie: And it’s not begrudging obedience as a result of after we proceed right here, it says, “This day is holy to the Lord, your God. Do not mourn or weep,” as a result of their preliminary intuition is to mourn over their sin, however then we see they’ve unbelievable pleasure for the enjoyment of the Lord is your power. It’s going to be this pleasure within the Lord that’s going to provide them what they should obey.
Messner: What do they do? They have fun the Feast of Cubicles, which we are likely to go, “Okay, whatever.” However what’s that? It’s a response to the Phrase of God by which they’re now celebrating that God was with us. He sustained us within the wilderness. He introduced us out of Egypt so we’re not right here alone. And so we wish to return to that story. We wish to dwell in that story. That story is our story, worship producing obedience. Let’s have fun the story of redemption. And I’m fairly assured that when the residing lively phrase of God is learn, and heard, and defined, that’s the catalyst that God is happy to make use of, to alter the guts, to heat it, to inspire it, to drive it into motion. And sometimes, we neglect the supply as a result of we’re so in the long run product.
Guthrie: In Chapter 9, if we wished a chapter of the Bible that gave us, in some methods, a abstract of the historical past of the Previous Testomony, that is form of it. Why does it fall right here? What’s its function of being included on this Nehemiah narrative?
Messner: The Nehemiah narrative is a chapter within the nice story. And Nehemiah acknowledges that. He acknowledges, “Hey, we’re not on some chronological island to ourselves just working out our own issues. We’re a part of a people. We’re a part of a story. There is generational consequence to sin, which has affected us and we’ve contributed to it.” And so to acknowledge and what God has begun, I imply, once more, Nehemiah isn’t just attempting to make his present-day as good as he can. He’s self-consciously taking part in God’s story the place he needs to see God’s glory revealed in God’s place. And so he is aware of. For generations, we haven’t completed what we’re presupposed to do. The suitable listening to of the phrase of God leads us to worship, however a part of that worship is we confess our sins and we acknowledge that we’re a part of a folks of God and we’re affected by these sins, we’ve contributed to these sins, and our solely hope is in God’s forgiveness and charm.
I believe that is difficult as a result of that is one thing I believe that the modern church ought to wrestle with. As People, we don’t wish to have any a part of identification with anyone else’s sins however ours, “That was me. I didn’t do it,” however to have the ability to say, “I’m a part of a church that’s affected by the things that have gone on before, and that’s my story and those are my people.” Nehemiah doesn’t say, “Well, I wasn’t there. I wasn’t there back in the wilderness. I don’t want it.” No, he says, “That’s my people. That’s our story,” in the identical means that I’ve simply gotten by way of celebrating the faithfulness in that record of names and to say their faithfulness blesses us immediately. We’re persevering with that on. A part of the story is, “Hey, and we’re also caught up in that sin and God’s grace is sufficient for all, for the whole people throughout all of history. So we come before you, we confess that sin.”
Guthrie: They usually make some determinations about how they’re going to dwell. They’ve heard that phrase, they’re going to be conserving the Sabbath, they’re going to marry, or they’re going to refuse to marry pagans who convey their pagan gods into that marriage fairly than forsaking these gods. And simply because our time is brief, I wish to leap ahead to Nehemiah 13 as a result of it’s been some years. Nehemiah has left Jerusalem for some time, perhaps gone again to serve the king. Then, he comes again to Jerusalem. When he will get again, he’s totally dissatisfied about what he sees.
Messner: When you’re hoping that Nehemiah is the grand crescendo of the story and say, “Yay…”
Guthrie: All of it labored out.
Messner: “We rebuilt the temple. We rebuilt the wall. We got people living in the city and now, you know, the glory of God is fully on display now and forever.” You’re sorely dissatisfied. There’s some harsh motion that’s taken right here and a part of that’s harsh phrases. Typically we get hung up on this in our day and age as a result of we expect that is in some way like ethnic animosity, who’re attempting to take care of ethnic purity in these marriages. However the actuality is it’s non secular purity. We’re a definite folks. And we all know from historical past that one of many nice ways in which the folks of God have been theologically compromised, warned to not however have completed it anyway and have been theologically compromised is thru intermarriage with different peoples who produce other gods. And in some ways, that places the entire identification of the folks of God at stake going ahead. And so Nehemiah has received to return in and say, “This cannot happen.”
Guthrie: So in Chapter 13 verse 23, it says, “In those days also I saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab.” So he comes again, and, , beforehand, they’d confessed their sin they usually mentioned, “We’re going to obey God,” they usually’re saying they’re not going to do that, however he comes again and time has handed and they’re marrying these international wives, and the verse 24, “And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod and they could not speak the language of Judah but only the language of each people.” So he comes again into Jerusalem, the town he left in such an excellent state and discovers that now it’s changing into as soon as once more stuffed with the worship of false gods. And it’s not simply that they’re intermarrying, there’s this enormous offense…you talked about earlier Tobiah, this foreigner who had married into the household. And right here, after they’ve rebuilt the temple, he comes again and what have they completed? They’ve like made an workplace, given Tobiah a spot within the temple of the Holy God…
Messner: Yeah, verse 28, one of many sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib, the excessive priest was the son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite. So right here you will have Sanballat, who his youngsters are actually married with the kids of the excessive priest. I imply, so it’s like compromised on the highest and deepest degree. I believe there’s a pair issues. One is as you undergo the story of Nehemiah, there’s loads of locations the place you wish to say, “Yay, we won.” And that form of momentary victory simply provides method to the subsequent problem. And that may be actually discouraging. A number of occasions as Christians, we wish to say, “Hey, we’ve crossed this hump, and now it’s…” Till Jesus comes again in glory, the battle continues. There’s a unending non secular battle for the welfare of the church. That victories are simply met with new challenges. And so I believe you see that in Nehemiah the place you will have the victory of the wall being constructed and it simply turns proper into the subsequent problem, the opposition comes proper again, and then you definately face up to sure oppositions after which growth, there’s one other one. And then you definately lastly get all the pieces accomplished, and also you prepare for this subsequent problem, and you’ve got these thrilling moments after which bang, you’re beset by this.
So there’s a lesson for the church in that, but in addition there’s a way by which these…you get to the tip of Nehemiah and also you don’t understand how issues actually end up. Nehemiah simply says, “Hey, remember me? Oh my God for my good, bring judgment and justice on what’s going on here and remember me for my good, because I don’t know if the people are gonna remember me. I don’t really know how this story works out so I’m just gonna have to entrust myself to the Lord.” And also you get to the tip of Nehemiah and, , that is actually the final form of historic second within the Previous Testomony and also you simply say, “This can’t be the end of the story. It can’t be the end.” I imply, so there’s simply…and I believe that’s intentional. There’s received to be somebody who can come alongside as a result of as nice as Nehemiah is, he doesn’t convey lasting, everlasting blessing, and cleaning to the folks of God. So that you’re simply saying, “Someone else has got to do that.” I imply that is the final historic second within the Previous Testomony and also you’re simply saying, “Please, please, don’t let the story end this way,” and thanks be to God the story doesn’t finish this fashion as a result of this nice want is finally happy by the one who comes and who does cleanse the temple, and who does convey full atonement for all of the sins of God’s folks, previous, current, and future. That is the one who then is risen incorruptible and provides us an inheritance that’s undefiled, and imperishable, and stored in heaven for you. And he does and can sanctify all of the folks utterly. And, after all, that is the Lord Jesus Christ.
And so Nehemiah is finally a dreadful story if that is the tip of the Previous Testomony, which traditionally it’s. And also you simply say, “I don’t even want to read this…I hate this story. It can’t end this way. This is a terrible ending.” And it simply creates this, “Please God, please make the story right.” I imply, that’s Nehemiah’s plea on the finish, and he does make it proper. He does make it proper. So our hope is within the one which Nehemiah is pointing to, the Lord Jesus Christ, the builder, the one who’s laboring, the architect and builder of the heavenly metropolis and the folks of God is God, and it’s the Lord Jesus Christ, and he’s the one who will, has and does and can start and full this superb work of salvation for a folks of each tongue, tribe, and nation within the New Jerusalem. And that’s the trajectory we’re on. And we get to be part of this story, and this story now could be our story, and we don’t should serve with any form of ambiguity in regards to the final finish. We all know it, we all know it, and that provides us the labor to worship, to be fed and fueled by the phrase in order that we too could be known as to tackle the obligations of the covenant, to serve faithfully and being utilized by God to do the work of increase the folks of God throughout the nations. And it’s thrilling.
Guthrie: So after we end Nehemiah, and we’re educating it, it appears to me such as you couldn’t finish excellent right here on the finish of Nehemiah due to this disappointment. However that truly in a educating collection of Nehemiah, you’ll wish to finish in Revelation 21 and 22, which is a narrative of a metropolis with partitions which might be constructed and that’s the town that’s populated by these people who find themselves pure, and who’ve taken maintain of the covenant from the guts and they’re protected they usually’re having fun with the presence of God of their midst like by no means earlier than.
Messner: Yeah. Ceaselessly.
Guthrie: Properly, why don’t you finish this fashion, for those who would, Aaron, would you simply converse on to the one that may be making ready to show Nehemiah and provides them a phrase of problem, encouragement of their preparation for educating?
Messner:So one is to say, it’s okay to say, “I’m not sure I can catch all the historical references, you know. The likelihood that I’m going to faithfully overturn every little rock, and every little people group, and every little quirk of every little list,” [vocalization] , and also you would possibly say, “I’ll never get it all so I won’t even try.” However to have the ability to say, “There is a very clear, coherent message in which we can clearly see God through His chosen servant is doing a work, building up the people of God in God’s place in the pursuit of and in light of the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises.” And we are able to then study from that and see a fairly clear software to that’s what we’re known as to immediately. We’re known as to be the folks of God who’re laboring to meet God’s functions. And we are able to take into consideration a number of the particulars and the way that may have an effect on, however that grand story I believe is fairly clear.
And I believe that there’s actual hope that I can sit down and browse this guide, and I don’t should be an unbelievable scholar on the traditional Close to East and perceive all. However I can see this story of how God is working in His folks right here, and that is written for our instruction in order that we often is the trustworthy folks of God in our time, in our place, in gentle of the truth that we all know Jesus has come. He’s achieved this nice work and it’s in gentle of what Jesus has achieved that he’s now setting us for it to do the work of laboring for use by him for the constructing of his church. And that’s a piece that may’t fail. The gates of hell can’t prevail towards the onward march of the church. The church will probably be constructed, will probably be established, and he can use the educating of Nehemiah to help us in that course of.
Guthrie: Thanks a lot, Aaron.
Messner: You’re very welcome.
Guthrie: You’ve been listening to “Help Me Teach the Bible” with Nancy Guthrie, a manufacturing of the Gospel Coalition, sponsored by Crossway. Crossway is a not-for-profit writer of the ESV Bible, Christian books and tracts together with, “Ezra and Nehemiah: A 12-week study” by Kathleen Nielson that will enable you for those who’re wanting to guide a small group by way of the research of Ezra and Nehemiah. Study extra about Crossway’s gospel-centered assets at crossway.org.