On June 6 we began a summer-long series through the Old Testament book of Nehemiah that we’re calling Rebuilding. Below is the series schedule, the tagline, and five interesting facts to help you get started.
If you’d like to read along or ahead, here’s the schedule for this series:
|June 13||The Prayer (Nehemiah 1)|
|June 20||The Project (Nehemiah 2-3)|
|June 27||The Opposition (Nehemiah 4)|
|July 4||The Poor (Nehemiah 5)|
|July 11||The Adversary (Nehemiah 6)|
|July 18||The Covenant (Nehemiah 7-8)|
|July 25||The Confession (Nehemiah 9)|
|August 1||The Dedication (Nehemiah 10-12)|
|August 8||The Failure (Nehemiah 13)|
Like the world of Nehemiah, there is much that tempts the people of God today to be discouraged. And, like the world of Nehemiah, there are many real threats. The book of Nehemiah is written to help God’s people be fearless and faithful in the midst of those challenges.
Five Interesting Facts about Nehemiah by Luke Simmons
1. The book of Nehemiah was originally part of one larger book, Ezra-Nehemiah. The earliest Jewish references to Ezra and Nehemiah refer to them as one book. In the 9th century, however, Latin Bibles began separating the books which has continued until today. This is why many commentaries and overviews (like this excellent 8-minute video from the Bible Project) keep them combined.
2. Nehemiah is written to form the people of God during a time of disappointment and marginalization. In our days, many Christians feel disappointed by how much better the promises of God seem than our lived reality. And, we find ourselves increasingly on the margins of society. That’s a very similar dynamic that’s happening in Nehemiah’s day, which makes this book especially timely.
3. The primary title for God in Ezra-Nehemiah is “God of heaven.” Twelve times God is referred to as “God of heaven,” indicating that God is not limited to some kind of local region or people group. This provides a great deal of comfort to know that, even if our circumstances seem dire, the God we worship is the God over all things.
4. There are zero miracles in the book of Nehemiah. This book isn’t anti-supernatural, of course, but it’s filled with descriptions of what happens when God’s people pray hard, work hard, and trust the God who is constantly working in the background on behalf of his people.
5. Nehemiah ends on a huge bummer — on purpose. As the story builds in Nehemiah, it gets more and more exciting. The walls and temple are being rebuilt, the people are confessing sin, reading the Torah, and committing themselves to holiness. But then the final chapter describes their utter failure. It seems like a lousy ending, but it has a point — the future hope of God’s people will only be possible through God’s Messiah, Jesus Christ.