The Dedication of the Wall of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 12:27 – 47)

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Nehemiah 12:27 – 47

With the religious reforms behind him, Nehemiah can get on with his plans for dedicating the wall. When the day set for dedication finally arrives, there is a great choral procession by two choirs marching in opposite directions on top of the wall. Ezra led one of the choirs. Nehemiah (in an act of humility) brought up the rear of the other.

1. What’s your idea of a “musical extravaganza”?

  • 76-trombone parade?
  • 100-piece orchestra?
  • half-time at the Super Bowl?
  • boom-box concert?
  • in a huge field with sound stages and tons of audio-video equipment?
  • other?

2. What do you associate with “Thanksgiving” celebrations?

  • Pilgrims?
  • Grandma’s?
  • Football?
  • Turkey?
  • Count your blessings? 
  • Other?

3. How did the people celebrate the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem? What specific actions did the priests, Levites and singers take?

4. What was the purpose of the processions? Which groups were included? Who led each group? In which direction did they go? If you were there, what would you see? Hear? Feel? If your local media were covering this event for the evening news, what picture stories and interviews would they be sure to get?

5. What happens off-camera in the “house of God” (verses 40 – 43)? What mood typifies the dedication ceremony? What modern music pieces would you have assigned to capture that mood?

6. What steps of appreciation do the people take to make sure that those who serve at the temple (priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers) are cared for (verses 44 – 47)?

7. Review Nehemiah’s lonely walk around Jerusalem (chapter 2). How does that compare with the grand procession here? What “before and after” story could you write from Nehemiah’s diary? Have you seen or experienced anything like that in your life?

8. How would you go about thanking God for shoring up the spiritual resources of your life?

9. How are you (like Ezra and Nehemiah) finding, developing and using your gifts to build God’s kingdom? Where would your gifts have placed you in their winning team?

10. What steps as an individual and as a community of faith are you taking to care for those who are serving the Lord as “priests, Levites, singers or gatekeepers”?

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Nehemiah’s Final Religious Reforms (Nehemiah 13)

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Nehemiah 13

Nehemiah continues to govern Israel over the next 11 years, and then, in 432 BC (at the end of his term of appointment) returns to Artaxerxes in Susa. What Nehemiah does while there is not indicated, but presumably he reports on his work and makes plans for a return. One thing which he never done is to dedicate the wall which he was so instrumental in building. It is not known how long Nehemiah stayed in Susa, but it was long enough for some of the people back in Palestine to forget the covenant they made when Nehemiah was with them. Since then they neglected and desecrated the Temple, violated the Sabbath, failed to continue temple offerings, and began again to marry foreign wives. The overdue dedication of the wall has to wait until a furious Nehemiah confronts the sinful ways of the people.

1. When told by Mom or Dad, “pick up your room, or else”, what did the “or else”imply? Did your parents ever follow through on their implied threat? How?

2. Who has recently told you, “clean house”? Your boss, parent, roommate or pastor? What would it mean for you to “clean house” at work, at home, at church and in your heart?

3. For you, what makes “Sunday” different from the other days of the week?

4. What happened soon after Nehemiah was no longer governing Jerusalem? What five reforms did Nehemiah make upon his return from Babylon, for which he wanted God to “remember” him?

5. What rule had been set up to exclude what Eliashib did? Why do you suppose Eliashib did this “evil” thing?

  • “While the cat is away, the mice will play”?
  • What the boss doesn’t know won’t hurt him?
  • Tobiah is a friend of the family?
  • People are more valued than property?
  • Tobiah wanted “rent money” to pad the temple treasury?

6. Why did Nehemiah act against Tobiah the way he did (verses 8 and 9)?

  • to settle an old grudge?
  • the temple needed house-cleaning anyway?
  • God’s temple servants and services were being neglected?
  • trust had been broken?

7. What made it necessary for Nehemiah to rectify “neglect of God’s house” (verses 9 – 13)?

8. What made Sabbath reform necessary? How does common use of sacred things profane God’s name, and thus stir up His wrath?

9. Some 25 years before, Ezra dealt with the same problem of intermarriage for foreigners, but quite differently than Nehemiah here (see Ezra 9). How are they different and why?

10. What made marrying foreign women so wicked? What example of this does Nehemiah make of Solomon and Joiada’s son?

11. Which of the reforms addressed by Nehemiah needs attention in your society? Which has contributed more to your people drifting away from God?

  • not regarding the needs, authority or integrity of the clergy?
  • not keeping the Sabbath holy?
  • not marrying within the faith?

12. How would you start “cleaning house” and restoring clergy credibility and Christian marriages? Whose hair would pull out: your own (as did Ezra) or “theirs” (as did Nehemiah)?

13. How are you like Eliashib (taking advantage of your privileged position or neglecting the needy among the community of faith)?

14. What is the most important thing you learned from Nehemiah (the man and/or this book)? What life changing application are you making?

15. What life application would you like God to favorably “remember”?

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The Agreement of the People (Nehemiah 10)

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Nehemiah 10

  1. Recall a significant agreement you put your name to in writing: Was it enlisting for the military? Purchasing a home? Co-signing for a loan? Applying for a driver’s license? Settling your marital property? Affiliating with your professional association?

2. In reference to Question #1, in each instance, what did it matter whether the agreement was in writing or not?

3. What is the one thing you are waiting now to be “signed, sealed and delivered”?

4. From verses 1 – 29, what of significance do you see in the listing of specific names? Where else have you seem most of these names?

5. Do you suppose the original agreement contained all the names of those summarized in verse 28? Why or why not?

6. What subjects are covered by the provisions of this covenant? What rationale can you see for the prohibition in verse 30 (Exodus 34:16)? For the prohibition and duties in verses 31 – 33 (see Exodus 20:8 – 11; Exodus 30:11 – 16)? For the duties in verses 35 and 36 (see Deuteronomy 26:11)? Is Nehemiah prescribing tighter restrictions, or more lenient ones, on his fellow Jews than required by the Law? Why might that be?

7. In verses 37 – 39, how did the Jews demonstrate that they were good stewards? What had neglecting the house of God taught them in the past (see Nehemiah 13:11; Haggai 1:4 – 11)?

8. For the Christian, is there any similar covenant that reflects the values or principles of this chapter? (What about your church’s practice of baptism or new member classes?) What part does putting it in writing play? How might this regulate lifestyle? How could this become legalistic?

9. Is personal stewardship a reliable index of commitment to God and His work? Why or why not? What else might serve that purpose for you?

10. In your church, what seems most neglected, or in need of repair? Why do you think so?

  • God’ house?
  • His Word?
  • His leaders?
  • His people?
  • Th Christian lifestyle?
  • Other?

11. What will you do next week as a direct result of renewing your covenant vows today?

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