Though not the last book in the Old Testament order of books, Nehemiah is the last book Chronologically. Nehemiah covers the last historical period of the Old Testament. After this there would be no more inspired record or Word from God for the next 400 years. The next communication of God came from angel of God when he came at the temple when he announced the birth of John the Baptist. The one who would prepare the way for the Messiah. Nehemiah a prayerful man of action and organization is the leading character of the narrative. Most believe Nehemiah wrote this book which bears his name. He probably recorded these events sometime between 445 – 425 b.c. Even though Nehemiah was Jewish, he held a significant role in the Persian Empire and then was named Governer of Judah. He describes the third return of exile to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity. Telling how the walls were rebuilt in 52 days and how the people were renewed in their fatih. (NIV Audio Bible)
Vs. 3, “They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” Though the temple was restored, the walls of Jerusalem were still not completely rebuilt. You might remember they started it in early on in the book of Ezra but the enemy put fear in their hearts. The walls were very important for the protection of the people and showed to the enemy that they were ready to defend themselves if needed. Upon hearing the report of the condition of his people, Nehemiah wept and felt a burden for his people. Nehemiah was a man of prayer and we see that in the opening chapter. His hope is that the Persian king would grant him permission to go to his people and help. This was the same king that granted Ezra to go years earlier.
Regarding application…Confession. Vs. 6, “let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you.” It takes courage and humility to admit failure and sin. Nehemiah understood the full scope of what brought all of this in the first place. The reason why they were even looking at a rebuilding project was because the nation had sinned years earlier to bring this about. The hebrew word for confess basically means to “cast off”…we cast off our sins and lay them before the Lord. Most of you who know me are aware that I’m a picky eater. When I was in grade school one of my sisters who was married at the time was hosting an evening get together with famly & frineds. I believe they made some sort of soup that night and I had made a really childish remark about how it wasn’t very good. When I got home that night, my mom approached me about the comment and it was then that I cried and confessed it was a really mean thing to say. Even though I was very young, I knew what I had said was wrong and it was such a good feeling to confess it and let it go.