This is the first blog in a series of blogs on the book of Nehemiah
Nestled in the middle of the Old Testament we find the small, yet powerful book Nehemiah. The book of Nehemiah outlines Nehemiah’s efforts to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem and restore the people back to a right relationship with God.
The Israelites, who had spent many years in captivity, were returning back to their homeland only to find their home town in complete shambles. Nehemiah was most likely not born in Jerusalem yet his heart was heavy when he heard about the destruction there. He asked for a report on the condition of the city and here is what he found out:
And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” (Nehemiah 1:3 ESV)
What a sad scene! The people have been delivered from a very oppressive captivity. Life has been terrible for them and as they came home we see a people who are in trouble and who are shamed. Their city walls are broken down and their gates were destroyed by fire. In many ways the Israelites felt completely exposed. It is in the midst of this scene that we find Nehemiah broken over the condition of God’s people. He is broken because they have come so far and they have been through so much. Yet they are wounded, hurt and defenseless.
I cannot help but read these words and think of my own life at times. There are seasons of life where we feel like we have been in exile. We have been hurt and abandoned by others or by our own decisions. Life is difficult and all we want is to find a place of comfort and protection. And some of you may find yourselves in that spot right now. You are beat down and wounded and you feel a great sense of trouble and shame in your life. On top of that you feel completely exposed because the walls of protection around you are in shambles.
The irony is that finding ourselves in a place of trouble and exposure often leads us to the protection we can find only in Christ. You see the Israelites had a long history of trouble. They often found themselves being oppressed by other people because of their decision to turn from God. Now as the people come back home they are in a position to evaluate their past and reflect on their need to surrender their lives to God.
The real story of Nehemiah is that God is in the business of redeeming and restoring people. In fact that is the story of the whole Bible. God sent his son Jesus as means of restoration and redemption. The Israelites tried it on their terms so many times and kept find themselves broken and destroyed. Yet in Christ, God offered the perfect answer to our brokenness. I pray, as Nehemiah did, that for any who are broken, shamed and in trouble, that they would realize the need for Christ in their life.
Loving God, Loving People for His Glory