Let’s get back to a character Bible study as we “Search His Word and Seek His Heart.” I’ve been studying Nehemiah recently and finding some good stuff there.
First we need the setting. Nehemiah is not in Israel where you would expect to find a good Jewish man. No, the Babylonians came and swept the Jews far away from the land of Judah years before. Think Daniel in the lion’s den and King Nebuchadnezzar.
Fifty years later the Persian empire took down mighty Babylon under the Persian king, Cyrus. Though the Jews had settled into life away from their homeland, King Cyrus allowed the Jews to make the choice of returning to Judah.
Fast forward another seventy years during King Xerxes reign. Think Queen Esther. Many Jews did not return to Israel. The Jews who stayed had settled in over these 120 years, yet they were still considered foreigners. Remember how Esther was told not to tell King Xerxes that she was a Jew?
Fast forward another twenty-five years and we finally come to Nehemiah. Keep in mind that it has now been about 145 years since the exile of the Jews from Judah.
We find Nehemiah speaking with a brother who has been back to Jerusalem to see how things are going. Not a good report. The walls around the city were torn down years ago and in crumbles. The gates were burned.
How did Nehemiah respond?
“I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God in heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4
Why would he care so much about that land and its desecration? It was far away and long ago. He had a good position in Persia. After all, he was cup-bearer to the king! But listen to a portion of his prayer.
“I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. We have not obeyed the commands and laws you gave your servant Moses.” Nehemiah 1:6-7
Then he reminds God of the instructions He gave to Moses years before.
“If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you turn to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.” Nehemiah 1:8-9
How did Nehemiah know about all this since the exile had been so long ago? How did he know about the ancient Scriptures? How did he have such deep feelings to the point of weeping, fasting, and praying?
It’s simple, it had been passed down from one generation to another, from father to son, grandfather to grandson, which brings me to ask, “What am I passing on to the next generation?”
~ Joyce ~