Lessons of Nehemiah

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BY JAMES DECKER

Nehemiah is one of my favorite leaders in the Bible, for several reasons. If you aren’t familiar, Nehemiah was a Jewish exile who was cupbearer to Artaxerxes, the king of Persia. The king controlled the areas that formerly belonged to the Jewish kingdoms of Israel and Judah after they collapsed. Nehemiah earned the trust of the king, who permitted him to journey back to Jerusalem to aid the residents who were suffering and to rebuild the walls of the city.

I previously wrote an essay last year, “Walls to Build,” that discussed Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He did it without any experience and in something less than a safe environment. Neighboring tribes were threatening to overrun the city and did not want to see the walls rebuilt to their former strength. The Book of Nehemiah speaks of the workers undertaking the job with a shovel in one hand and a sword in the other. I encouraged each of us to take inspiration from Nehemiah’s wall-building to rebuild the proverbial walls of rural America.

As magnificent as Nehemiah’s wallbuilding project was, it wasn’t ALL he did to rejuvenate Jerusalem. It had been many generations since the people had heard the Laws given by God to Moses, so Nehemiah worked with the priest Ezra to restore the peoples’ knowledge of the Law and to restore their covenant with God.

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