This week’s podcast provides a brief overview of the book of Nehemiah. It continues the story of the return of the Jews from exile which was told so far in the books of Daniel, Ezra and Esther, and it’s the last part of the Bible narrative before the Gospels.
The book of Nehemiah picks up where the book of Ezra left off. Nehemiah, the cup-bearer of the Persian king Artaxerxes, leads the third return of Jewish exiles home to Jerusalem. Once they arrive Nehemiah gathers all the returnees and starts the process of rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem. In the face of opposition from two guys named Sanballat and Tobiah, Nehemiah presses on, leading the people in accomplishing the task God gave them.
Once the walls were rebuilt, Ezra re-enters the story as the spiritual leader of the people. He calls the people to recognize and acknowledge their past and their sins and those of their ancestors. With that past in mind Nehemiah tells the community not to grieve, “for the joy of the Lord is [their] strength” (8:10).
So with the loving faithfulness of their God in mind, the new Jerusalem community began a new journey of learning to live obedient to God’s laws.
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Grace and peace.