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Thursday, January 31 2013

Nehemiah: The Return Of The Governor

The kingdom of Judah had fallen to the Babylonian Empire (see 2 Chronicles: Judah From Solomon To Babylon). Before their prescribed seventy-years exile, as declared by the LORD, had expired, the Babylonian Empire itself fell to the Persian Empire (see The Prophet Daniel: The Hand Writing On The Wall) - also exactly as the LORD said that it would (the Persian king Cyrus is even named before he was born; see Israel In History and Prophecy: Babylon and Persia). So it was that when the time for Judah's return came, it was from the custody of the Persians that they were set free (Persia is known today as Iran; see Iran's Greatest Leader Was Pro-Zionist).

Nehemiah was a servant of the Persian King Artaxerxes when the LORD had already begun Judah's return to Jerusalem. The first reports received back by Nehemiah were of a city in ruin.


"1:1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, 1:2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 1:3 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. 1:4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven" (Nehemiah 1:1-4 KJV)

According to the Will of the LORD, in answer to Nehemiah's prayer (see also How To Pray), Nehemiah presented himself before the king to request that he be sent to join with the first exiles who had returned. The king not only agreed to the request, but supplied Nehemiah with everything that he asked for.

"2:1 And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. 2:2 Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart.

Then I was very sore afraid, 2:3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?

2:4 Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request?

So I prayed to the God of heaven. 2:5 And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it.

2:6 And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.

2:7 Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; 2:8 And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me. 2:9 Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me." (Nehemiah 2:1-9 KJV)

Assyria, Babylon, Persia

The return of the people of Judah wasn't simply a matter of a journey from Babylon and Persia to Jerusalem. Even after seventy years, the city remained in rubble that the Babylonians had reduced it to in 586 BC. They faced a massive work of clearing away all of the debris and then rebuilding the city and the country - all amidst constant opposition from the people then living in the land who had done nothing themselves. As we read above, reports from the first to return were the incentive to Nehemiah to ask for help from the Persian king. Some of those early reports would have come from those recorded at the beginning of the Book of Ezra.

"3:8 Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD." (Ezra 3:8 KJV)

Nehemiah the governor and Ezra the priest (see Ezra: The Return Of The Levites To Jerusalem) then oversaw the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple over the next twenty years.

"2:17 Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. 2:18 Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. 2:19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? 2:20 Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem." (Nehemiah 2:17-20 KJV)

"6:15 So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. 6:16 And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God." (Nehemiah 6:15-16 KJV)

"8:1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. 8:2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. 8:3 And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law." (Nehemiah 8:1-3 KJV)

The Chapters Of The Book Of Nehemiah

Chapter 1: Nehemiah's Prayer For The Return

A History Of Jerusalem: Ezra And Nehemiah

Chapter 2: Artaxerxes

The Decrees Of The Persian Kings

Chapter 3: Rebuilding The Gates Of Jerusalem

The Messiah's Teachings About Gates

Chapter 4: Opposition To The Rebuilding


Chapter 5: Nehemiah The Righteous Governor

The Rules Of Rulers

Chapter 6: The Wall Rebuilding Completed


Chapter 7: Return Of The Exiles

Israel In History and Prophecy: The Return Of Judah

Chapter 8: Ezra Reads The Law

Ezra: The Return Of The Levites To Jerusalem

Chapter 9: The Israelites Confess Their Sins

Christ Died For Repentant Sinners

Chapter 10: The Israelites' Covenant To Be Faithful

Israel In History and Prophecy: The New Covenant

Chapter 11: Jerusalem Restored As Judah's Capital

A History Of Jerusalem: The Capital Of Judah

Chapter 12: Priests And Levites


Chapter 13: Nehemiah's Warning About Violating The Christian Sabbath

When Is The LORD's Day?

The Christian Work Days, The Christian Sabbath

Do You Observe Christ's Sabbath Or Babylon's Sun Day?

Fact Finder: How was linen used by the ancient Israelites? What prophecies of the future involve linen?
See Linen In History And Prophecy

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This Day In History, January 31

1606: Guy Fawkes was executed for his involvement in the "Gunpowder Plot" - an attempt by English Roman Catholics to blow up the British Houses of Parliament and assassinate King James I (for whom the King James Bible was named). Fawkes was hanged, drawn, and quartered.

1788: Charles Edward Stuart (popularly known as "Bonnie Prince Charlie" and the "Young Pretender") died in Rome at age 67. He was the leader of the Jacobite rebellion against the English (1745-46).

1915: During the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), Germany used poison gas on the Russians at Bolimov. On the same day in 1917, Germany announced that it was beginning a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic Ocean.

1918: In the Soviet Union, January 31 under the Julian calendar system was the last day of its use. The next day was designated February 14 under the Gregorian calendar - the dates in between were simply skipped.

1929: Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Soviet Union after losing a struggle for leadership of the country with Joseph Stalin.

1930: Britain, the U.S., France, Italy and Japan began the London Naval Conference. The purpose was to halt the arms race and prevent war. The Second World War followed only nine years later.

1943: The Battle of Stalingrad ended with the Russians victorious over Hitler's invasion army.

1950: U.S. President Harry Truman (the only man to ever order the use "weapons of mass destruction") announced that he had ordered the development of hydrogen bombs that would greatly surpass the destructive power of the U.S. atomic bombs that he used to incinerate the civilian populations of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Russia responded to Truman's increase of military power with the development of their own "H Bomb," beginning the nuclear arms race.

1953: 2,000 people were drowned when hurricane-force winds flooded the Netherlands.

1958: James van Allen discovered the solar system's radiation belt that is now named after him - the Van Allen Belts.

1968: During the Tet offensive of the Vietnam War (which was actually a civil war between the Vietnamese people whose single country had been partitioned in 1954, by the French at the end of the First Indochina War, into North and South Vietnam), a captured Vietcong soldier was summarily shot in the head on a Saigon street by the chief of South Vietnam's police, General Nguyen Ngoc Loan. The execution caused international outrage after it was seen around the world in newspapers and TV news.

1976: Ernesto Miranda, famous from the U.S. Supreme Court ruling "Miranda Rights" reading to an accused person ("You have the right to remain silent etc."), was stabbed to death in Arizona.

1996: Comet Hyakutake was discovered by Japanese amateur astronomer Yuji Hyakutake.



Copyright © Wayne Blank