4 LESSONS PART 3

 

                                         Nehemiah

                                   Part 3

                                                        By: Hans Hofman

 

The place of the Word

 

Another characteristic in the rebuilding of the wall and in building up the people

is the important central place of the Word of God.

If we look as in the previous lesson at Nehemiah, we see a man who is instructed

in the Word of God. A man in whose life the God of heaven and the Word have the

first place. His life is based on God’s Word. In everything that he undertook we

can see his relationship with God  and His Word. We also see that “…everything

that he undertook had success.”(cf. Ps 1:1-3)

In Nehemiah’s life we can see that he used God’s Word as a lamp for every step

he took and that the Word lit his path Cf. Ps 119:105.  In his decisions and his

answers he consulted God. His spirit was in tune with the God’s Spirit.

 

In Neh 6:1 we read that there was no breach in the wall any more. Only the gates

remained to be installed.

The opponents were aware of the completion of the wall. Immediately they changed

their attacking strategy. They wanted to lure Nehemiah away from his task by

inviting him to attend a conference in the Ono valley.

Now the name says enough: “ O no.”  But Nehemiah sends a clear message to

them. I am busy with a great work and cannot come. Why should I leave my

work to come to you?”

Four times they try to lure him into the same trap, and he gives them the same

 answer each time (6:4)

 

Nehemiah gives us here a clear example of constancy and perseverance by not

allowing himself to be distracted from his task. Neither by misleading nor by pious

invitation. He stuck firmly to his vision and carried out his task. In the same way

 we must learn more and more to distinguish the body of Christ and His

assignments from the sham body and the misleading plans of Satan.

For Satan likes to appear as an angel of light, but his aim is to mislead God’s

 children, to rob them and to kill them.

 

Like Nehemiah then we too must stand fast in the Lord and His Word and walk

 in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is also the approach which we must make

 to God’s Word.

Holding fast. Not letting ourselves be distracted or misled. Satan always wants

 to steal God’s Word from our hearts, so that he can disrupt our relationship with

 God, weaken us and finally destroy us spiritually.

Whenever than you are busy with the Word, whether it be reading it, preaching it,

teaching it, or whatever other form of building up you are doing, don’t let yourself

be lured away but give the same answer that Nehemiah gave to his opponents,

“I am busy with a great work  and cannot come…”

 

In Nehemiah 8 we read about the reading of the Law. We also see here EZRA

the expert on the scriptures. He brought out the book of the Law of Moses, which

the Lord had given to Israel.

And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, both men and women

and all who could hear with understanding…..and he read from it facing the

square….and Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden pulpit…. and opened the book

in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people; and when he opened

 it all the people stood….so that the people understood the reading. Neh 8:2-8

 

  1. He opened the Word of God for the people
  2. We also read “in the sight of all the people
  3. Place: outside on a square
  4. The people stood as the Word was read.

 

What can we learn from this?  - The priest Ezra had a specific ministry.

That the Word of God was not a subject of discussion, but was accepted into a

central place among the people and was clearly read out to them and where

 necessary was explained to them so that everyone could understand it.

There was respect for the Word of God – this is evident from the fact that the

people stood to listen to it. ( This doesn’t mean that somebody who sits to listen to

it does not show respect, but nevertheless…)

 

In Nehemiah 9 we read again about the descendents of Israel and the reading of the

Word…In verse 2 we see that the people sanctify themselves and separate

themselves from those who were not descendants of Israel

Again they came before the face of the Lord standing and the Word of God was

read again. This they did for a quarter of the day. For a further quarter they

confessed their sins and worshipped the Lord their God (verse 3)

In 8:10-11 Ezra spoke and the Levites helped the people to understand the Word

and they indicated that that day was to be a holy day for the Lord so that they

 shouldn’t be sad or weep. (In the meantime the people had burst into tears at the

 reading of the Word). No, instead of mourning they should eat good things and drink

 sweet drinks and share with those for whom nothing had been prepared.

 

The instruction to God’s people here was to rejoice in the Lord and to celebrate that

spiritually and physically by eating delicious things and being joyful  “…. for the

joy of the Lord is your strength (9:11)

 

In 8:6 we also read that the gathering was a festive occasion to God’s glory. “And

 when he opened the book all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the Lord,  the

 great God; and all the people answered ‘Amen, Amen’ lifting up their hands…”

                       

It is therefore a normal Biblical practice to raise your hands  to God and as answer to

the Word to say an audible Amen (so be it).

 

  1. What does Jesus say about the Word in John 5:24?……………………………

 

  1. And what does He say in Jn 15:7?…………………………………………………

 

    3.  In Jn 8:47 we see Jesus drawing a clear dividing line. How can we know

         whether we really belong to God or not?…………………………………….........

 

  1. What does Peter say in 1 Pet 1:25?……………………………………….....…..

 

     5.  What had the believers in Phildelphia kept, even though they had little

          strength? (Rev 3:8)……………………………………………………………………

 

  1. What was proclaimed to the people in Nehemiah’s day? 13:1………………….

 

    7.  De prophet Isaiah in Isa 55:8-11 gives a clear illustration of what the Word

         really is and how it works.Through Isaiah God says that His Word is His

         thoughts. So God uses His Spirit and His workers to sow His thoughts in

         us and he waters our hearts(prepares them with His Spirit and His thoughts)

         so that His word comes to life and develops so that it in turn brings forth in us

         fruit, seed and food.

         We can depend on God’s promises for this. Which promises do we read in

         Isa 55:11 and12?………………………………………………………………………

 

    8.  God’s Word then will not return to Him empty (i.e. without achieving its aim).
         But it will accomplish that for which it goes forth. So God sends His Word

         toachieve a purpose in our lives and those of others. One of these purposes

         we find in Jn 17:17. What  does this verse say?

         …………………………………………………………………………………….....…

 

  1. What is the purpose of God’s Word for our lives according to Jn 17:17
    ...........................................................................................
    ……………….

The truth is part of our armour of faith Eph 6:14. In Jn 17:17 we see what the truth

in the life of a child of God can mean, in other words our sanctification.

Truth therefore makes us clean and pure in Christ. Jesus and His Word and

together the truth. Nehemiah had the word read to the people and had the people

taught from the Word. The Word of God took a central place in his day among his

 people. And the people learned to keep certain rules of living and there was a

 clear strategy to protect the people. This produced unity among God’s people.

 We see Nehemiah setting watchmen, who besides their ordinary jobs also had the

task of defending the wall and the city. Additionally there were other people with

all sorts of functions, but all with the same final aim – to be united as God’s people

 within a protected community. ( Of course in the light of “where the Holy Ghost is,

 is freedom” thus with healthy spiritual growth and room to develop. But where each

member takes up his/her own place and carries out his/her own task.)

 

In the same way Christ’s fellowship of the church, just like Nehemiah and his

workers, needs Spirit-filled leaders with good leadership abilities, who will lead the

 church of Christ to the objective which He indicates through Paul in Eph 4:11-16. etc.

Here we see clear guidelines for living in the power of His Word.

(See also 1Tim 3:1-16)  If  we divert from this path then the consequence will be a

church whose members will never all grow to be healthy and which will lack unity

 in Christ.

 

If we follow these guidelines we can become people who in a close relationship with

 God serve Him and bring the people closer to Him. We will not become domineering

 manipulators, but servants who together with all other spirit-filled brothers and sisters

 seek to build up and protect the fellowship/the house/the city/the nation.

 As such people we are partly responsible for the growth to adulthood – in Christ

of God’s people.  “ Partly” because each individual Christian is responsible to feed

him/herself with God’s Word and to seek the Lord in prayer and listen to Him to be

 able to fulfil the tasks God gives him/her in relationship with Him.

There must therefore always be a triangular relationship between child of God and

others (including leaders) on the base line and Christ at the apex.

 If both members are in tune with Christ and His will both will grow closer to each

 other and to Christ.

In the first church fellowship in Acts 2:41-47 and 4:32-37 we find people who were

learly converted and who obviously had no difficulty in daily seeking fellowship with

 God and the other members of the community. They continued in the teaching

of the apostles, evangelists, teachers and pastors Acts 2:42 Cf Eph 4:11 (Philip

was clearly used as an evangelist, but Paul more as an apostle and teacher, etc.)

 

In the first church the members were also obviously delivered from selfishness.

 Acts 4:32. Their own self had died with Christ and had been buried in baptism (2:41)

and they had been resurrected in Christ to a new life!  (Col 2:11,12)

 

Just as the body needs daily food, so our spirits also need daily nourishment.

 Unfortunately it is often only the body (stomach) and our feelings and emotions

 which are fed and the spirit remains underfed or shut out.. God is Spirit and He

wants to have fellowship with our spirits. A born-again child of God can make

contact with God, for God is Spirit and He wants to be worshipped  in spirit and truth.

It is in this that believers need to be brought up in Biblical teaching and in being

actively involved in the life of the church of Jesus Christ. (This last point of course

means more than only going to church on Sunday. People must be trained in

 pastoral work, in evangelism, in teaching etc  See also 1 Cor 14:26, Eph 4,

1 Tim 2:2)

 

In Nehemiah we see that they worked at discipline and a clear division of the tasks.

Where this is led by the Holy Spirit and everyone willingly takes up his/her place,

 then a powerful, growing church will result, where members feel safe and

spiritually at home. A homebase from which members are also prepared to go out,

for instance to the missionfield  close by or far off.

 

Three Biblical aspects are essential for this:

A   Jesus Christ is Head and Chief shepherd of the church

B   A clear vision (aim: where do we want to go as a church and which strategy

     do we employ?)  

C   Good teaching, led by the Holy Spirit and in cooperation (consultation) with

      a team.

     (an army without aim, without strategy and without unity within the army and

     the leadership is powerless.)     

   

TO PART 4