Rebuilding the Walls
Book of Nehemiah Chapter 2:9-20
In last week’s lesson we met a Jewish man named Nehemiah who was born in captivity in Babylon. Remember King Nebuchadnezzar had taken most of the Jews of Jerusalem to Babylon after he had destroyed the city.
Nehemiah had never seen the city of Jerusalem but there can be little doubt that his parents had told him of God’s city of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah had great concern for those who had returned to Israel because God had softened the hearts of King Cyrus and King Darius and they had helped financed the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon that had been destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar.
Nehemiah was just a cupbearer for King Artaxerxes, who was now the King of Persia and he had learned of the turmoil of those who had returned to Jerusalem and he approached this king to release him long enough to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem so his people could be safe from the neighboring enemies.
King Artaxerxes gave permission Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem as long as he would return to his job as his personal cupbearer. A cupbearer could be considered today as a butler.
Nehemiah was given documents of proof of his mission, access to the king’s forest and an armed escort for the trip to Jerusalem a 900-mile trip that would have taken at least 3 months.
So let’s pick up our story where we left off:
*****Neh 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.
Neh 2:10 When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.
Many good things had not taken place in Jerusalem because of a lack of leadership. Ezra had done what he had set out to do. The work on the Temple was completed and worship and the festivals where being observed but the city lived in fear of the neighboring enemies.
As things improved in Israel and the land began to blossom, the enemy began to take notice and began to hinder the lives of the Jewish people.
We must understand that the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem would not be something that would be allowed by most conquering nations because, if rebellion came again it would take much time to regain control of Jerusalem, but King Artexerxes allowed this to take place because he knew the enemies of Israel and refused to allow these things in his kingdom. Again another type!
The name Jerusalem means the city of peace but there will be no true peace in Jerusalem until the return of the Messiah.
We can think of those enemies now as Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon who still cause problems for Israel.
They did not want Israel to remain a nation then, and they do not now.
They were pained to see someone come to seek the welfare of these Hebrew Jews. They did not know at that time that Nehemiah had come to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
We have no recording of the trip of Nehemiah, so we know it was without incident.
What we do know is, that King Artaxerxes cared for his cupbearer so much, for the safety of Nehemiah that it would have been foolish to confront this armed escort that was with him.
These governors were no more that puppet rulers who could have been quickly removed and replaced had they caused them harm.
So Nehemiah came to Jerusalem.
*****Neh 2:11 So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.
Neh 2:12 And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon.
After three day’s rest Nehemiah secretly looked at the task that needed to be done in secret, at night by the light of the moon.
He could not make plans until he evaluated the job that had to be done.
Nehemiah did not bring a large workforce, he would have to present his plan to God’s people to get this work done.
This is the same thing God does today. God does not have a work force, He presents His plan to God’s people.
Nehemiah was in love with Jerusalem and he had never even been there.
This is the way the church should be today!
We may never see this Jerusalem but as Christians we will see God’s New Jerusalem!
What does God say about these things?
Psa 51:18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Psa 51:19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
The walls of Jerusalem are as much about the city as the city of Jerusalem itself!
The walls would be built, and the gates would be repaired.
All those who reject safety and security of their nation, are no more than ambassadors for the enemy.
*****Neh 2:13 And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.
Let’s look at these gates:
1) Gate of the Valley was the gate that opened to the Valley of Hinnon. In the days of King Solomon this gate led to where children were sacrificed to the false gods Molech. No Jew would enter at this gate because it was considered to be unclean.
It was King Josiah who finally broke down these false gods!
2Ch 34:4 And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them.
2Ch 34:5 And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem.
No one seems to know exactly where the “Dragon Well” was located though most of them believe it was the well that fed the “Upper Pool of Gihon”. Maybe the same as the “Serpents Pool” mentioned by Josephus.
2) The Dung Port was the gate where all the trash and the filth of the city was taken out of the city. It was located about 1500 feet from the Gate of the Valley.
*****Neh 2:14 Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king’s pool: but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass.
The Gate of the Fountain was the gate nearest to the Pool of Siloam which is also called the King’s Pool, some say this was the only true well in Jerusalem, others say it was probably the aqueduct built by King Hezekiah to bring the waters of Gihon into the city. This Gihon was a fountain near the city of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah had to walk for a time because of the rubbish that was gathering where this gate once stood, his horse could not pass for that rubbish.
*****Neh 2:15 Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned.
Neh 2:16 And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.
The brook would be the brook Kidron, which carried the filth of Jerusalem to the Dead Sea when the rains came, but from there Nehemiah could see the Eastern wall and then he returned to get his horse.
When Nehemiah had gotten to Jerusalem, there was no sign of anyone being in authority and he did not try to contact anyone to see who might be in charge.
It was possible that there was a sort of town council.
It was only after Nehemiah had surveyed all the walls that he confronted the residents of Jerusalem.
*****Neh 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.
As Jerusalem had begun to grow into a city, they were at the mercy of their enemies who lived around them.
We know that as always, the rich survive but the poor are always at risk!
These words of Nehemiah brought assurance to these people and they went to work building the walls of the city.
Building the walls just seemed like an impossible task, but when you take a great big job and break it down into many small jobs then it no longer seems so impossible.
Jeremiah had described these things for us:
Lam 2:5 The Lord was as an enemy: he hath swallowed up Israel, he hath swallowed up all her palaces: he hath destroyed his strong holds, and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation.
Lam 2:6 And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden: he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: the LORD hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest.
Lam 2:7 The Lord hath cast off his altar, he hath abhorred his sanctuary, he hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; they have made a noise in the house of the LORD, as in the day of a solemn feast.
Lam 2:8 The LORD hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion: he hath stretched out a line, he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore he made the rampart and the wall to lament; they languished together.
Lam 2:9 Her gates are sunk into the ground; he hath destroyed and broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the LORD.
Lam 2:10 The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground, and keep silence: they have cast up dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth: the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground.
Lam 2:11 Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city.
All these things that Nehemiah described were the things that God had allowed to happen to Jerusalem and the Temple, because these people had gone against the commands of God!
Eze 5:14 Moreover I will make thee waste, and a reproach among the nations that are round about thee, in the sight of all that pass by.
Eze 5:15 So it shall be a reproach and a taunt, an instruction and an astonishment unto the nations that are round about thee, when I shall execute judgments in thee in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I the LORD have spoken it.
Eze 5:16 When I shall send upon them the evil arrows of famine, which shall be for their destruction, and which I will send to destroy you: and I will increase the famine upon you, and will break your staff of bread:
Eze 5:17 So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee; and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee. I the LORD have spoken it.
These people did not need a reminder of the conditions they had to live with.
What they needed was encouragement and “faith” in God that they could change things if they would become obedient to the Lord!
The one thing that we so easily do is to forget we serve an almighty God, who is able to provide our needs and keep us safe from our enemies.
What are we supposed to do?
Eph 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
What will God then do?
Php 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Php 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
Php 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Php 2:16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
*****Neh 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.
When we witness to others, we need not tell them how great we are because we are a Christian, we need to brag on God.
We do not brag on God near enough today, yet God still loves us!
It is because we are obedient to God that things that most all things are better for us!
If these people would trust the Lord God of Israel, then they would be unstoppable in this world.
The hand of God was good on Nehemiah or how else could he have gotten favor with this Persian King.
We understand that the Lord works upon the hearts of people and just hearing again, “How Great Thou Art”, they quit being lazy believers and became obedient working believers.
All in all, God does not ask much of any of us! He asked us to believe Him and to do that we must accept that (all), (every word) of God is true!
Deu_8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.
Pro_30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
Mat_4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Luk_4:4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
When we say we trust God, then we are saying that we believe what He says, each and every word!
We should remember that caution in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ!
Rev 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
Rev 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Rev 22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Ezra had made sure these people had the true Word of God and it was time for them to get busy for the Lord.
Again, God will not do for us things we can do for ourselves and there is no need asking.
If we are too lazy to do things that we are physically and mentally able to do ourselves then God will not help with those things.
God does the things that are impossible for man to do!
These people were in jeopardy for their lives because they were too lazy to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem.
God sent a man of God, Nehemiah, to remind them of these things.
And of course, the enemy is always watching what God’s people are doing!
*****Neh 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?
A Horonite was known for their anger and fury and Sanballat had those qualities. These are some of the things that God says will cause us to sin.
Tobiah was a descendant of Lot and they have always hated the children of Israel, because they still thought that Lot should also receive the blessings of Abraham, but God does what God does and God says what God says, none of these things kept them from being blessed of God, but hatred and anger will never be qualities approved of God.
At this time this Geshem was the Chief of all the Arab nations, and through today the Arabs hate all the things of the Jews and would see the tiny nation of Israel disappear from the face of the earth, but God will not allow this to happen and those that defy God are foolish!
These Hebrews were not going against the King, in fact they were doing things that the King of Persia had already approved, so this time these Hebrews ignored them as they should have all along.
Nehemiah assured God’s people that if they were obedient to God, they did not have to worry about the King of Persia and in fact it was these trouble makers who had better worry about what the King of Persia might do to them.
We need some more men like Nehemiah today to challenge the Church to be obedient to the Lord!
As true believers, we also must challenge and exhort all others to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and join the family of God.
To be honest, God is not impressed with lazy Christians!
When we live self-centered lives instead of God-centered lives, we are most always in jeopardy of getting caught up in the sins of this world!
What are we to do?
1Ti 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
We are all to be ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Tit 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
Tit 1:8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
Tit 1:9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
We are all to to be present in the House of God when the time comes to do so!
Heb 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
This is the truth of God, and it is the truth of our salvation, because we are in the family of God and it is still time for us to take a stand on God’s Word without worrying about what the enemy will do!
Our wall is the Lord Jesus Christ and He opens one gate and that is the gate of “FAITH”!