Nehemiah 1-2   Nehemiah Survey


NEHEMIAH has for many years been one of my favorite books of the Bible.

A) It has many different facets that minister to us.


B) It is an excellent study in REVIVAL. How God takes a broken down people and brings them together Restores them


C) The name NEHEMIAH actually means The Lord has comforted He is an excellent type of how the Holy Spirit comes

1) REBUILDING and RESTORING the broken walls of the human life { Building a city within the City


D) It is an EXCELLENT study in leadership.

1) IF you are involved or interested in leadership, there is no finer study than the life of Nehemiah.


E) Now it was a few years ago now that we did a rather in-depth study of the book of Nehemiah – on Sunday Mornings here at the Fellowship

1)16 weeks going thru the book back in 2004


For our Purpose this time around we are going to do a quick survey of the book – 6 weeks – 13 Chapters – hit some high points

A) If you are interested in a more in depth look – go to website and down load those studies


B) Following the completion in our study of Ezra – we come to the next episode in the story – involving a man named Nehemiah


C) Children of Israel are back in the land –

2 excursions – First Zerub - Rebuild temple

1)2nd Ezra – reinstitute Worship 


The first chapter of Nehemiah actually takes place about nine years after the close of the book of Ezra. 

A) Ezra closes in about 457bc and then the book of Nehemiah picks up in about 446 BC, the month of December. 


B) Fourteen years after Ezra returned to Jerusalem the brother of Nehemiah, went to visit Jerusalem and as he returned, Nehemiah got from him an idea of what was going on at Jerusalem.

                                                                        RD V.1-11



A) The final phrase of chapter one gives to us an insight into the Kind of man that Nehemiah was –


A man of great humility I WAS THE KINGS CUPBEARER


B) Being the Kings cupbearer was a tremendous honor at that time of history.


C) Originally, The king’s cupbearer was the one who sat next to the king to sample the king’s food and drink   before the king ate it. {Protect against poison                 

So initially that was what the position was about – but as time progressed, so did the prestige and dignity of the position

A) Because this was the man sitting next to the king. He was the man who was closest to the king. – Became the kings Closet confidant


B) He had the ear of the king, he became the Kings adviser.

1) He became the Kings right hand man. He was “chief of staff” so to speak.


C) So Nehemiah has is in a place of tremendous importance


And this is where we see his Humility: See most of us would have been tempted to mention this little fact at the beginning of the book

A) “Nehemiah, the king’s cupbearer (chief of staff, right hand man, confidant and advisor)”


B) But that wasn’t the kind of guy – he was – Humble


C) He only mentions it in passing at the end of the chapter, and only then because it had bearing on the rest of the story that is about to unfold.


D) See God put Nehemiah in Shushan just as He had put Esther there a generation before, and just as He had put Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon.


E) When God wants to accomplish a work, He always prepares His workers and puts them in the right places at the right time.


Now notice once again the description given to

Nehemiah about the

State of things back in JERUSALEM  v.3

The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach, the wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire."

A) The walls are still down the people are in Distress & reproach


B) Distress = Great grief, severely unsettled, a state of Misery and affliction

1)   Reproach= disgraced loss of dignity


C) Because of the Walls being down the people lived in

a continual state of insecurity – there was no stability/ no safety / no rest

1) Instead their lives were marked by constant Misery affliction and Disgrace


D) Nehemiah heard this heart broke


Not only was Nehemiah a man of Humility – He was a man of Compassion

               V. 4 He wept & mourned for many days –


B) His attitude wasn’t too bad so sad – I am glad I am here and not there. -   Mourned – Strong wail

C) Ministry Starts with Compassion: Starts by seeing the need – seeing what others don’t – Burden he wept   { Broken Heart

1) Jesus view of the Multitude was completely different from his disciples


B) They saw them as a Bother he saw them as Sheep with out a Shepherd –

1) He had compassion on them {His heart broke


D) Many believers today – so caught up in their own lives – don’t see the needs around them


All around are people’s whose lives are in distress whose

Lives are in Reproach because of Sin {Many Ignore it


SO Nehemiah is weeping over the condition of the city of Jerusalem

A) It is hard for us to imagine and understand the heart that the Jewish pp have for Jerusalem


PSALM 137:5-6

If I forget you, O Jerusalem, Let my right hand forget its skill!

6 If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth —

If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy.


B) Passion for the Holy City – the City of God

C)Today in Israel – there are those living in Jerusalem who don’t recognize those living in Tel ViV as real Jews – Any real Jew want to live in Jerusalem


D) True there is something special about that city – love Galilee

1) But come up the hill to Jerusalem – something happens in your heart


E) So Nehemiah is feeling it for the City of God and the Pp of God!


F) Now true compassion is pity plus action – Nehemiah’s compassion moves him to Fast and pray!

1) Great Prayer V.5-11– draw some good insights from   Note 5 things


#1 His view of God v. 5 and I said: "I pray, LORD God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments,


B) How did Nehemiah see God?

                               As a Great and Awesome God –

1) How big is your God/ Bigger than any problem you might face? –   Any Challenge


* Nehemiah Knew there was a big Job ahead – But his eyes were focused on a Big God – Great & Awesome


A God who keeps his Promises – Covenant keeping GodYou who keep Your covenant - In other words He is a God I can trust


So first we get some insight into Nehemiah’s View of God


Next insight into his prayer is #2 His view of the Problem.

6 please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father's house and I have sinned.7 We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses


Nehemiah Knows this all started with Rebellion –

not kept the commandments that is why they were sent into 70 yrs of Captivity to begin with

A) Interesting Nehemiah takes ownership includes himself even though he wasn’t even born … occurred


B) My sin & my fathers

1) He did NOT pray: “Lord forgive THEM for they are not completing the work.”


C)) In a sense we should do the same – the world around us – Millions of Babies are aborted we are silent

1) Homosexuality is allowed to progress and we don’t protest

#3We see His View of the Solution: V.8-9   

Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying,’ If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; 9 but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.'



1) Turn from our sin turn to the Lord


B) God is quick to forgive



So Nehemiah a man of Humility / Compassion – Burden / Man of Prayer and a man who was Available   V.10-11 {Redeemed People

10 Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.

11 O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man."   The King


A) Nehemiah discerned that somehow the King was going to be used in meeting this need – Nehemiah made himself Available


B) Nehemiah had it made in Shushan. But he is willing to lay aside all of his position and possessions to get involved in the work of God


C) Nehemiah would have to sacrifice the comfort and security of the palace for the rigors and dangers of life in a ruined city.

1) Luxury would be replaced by ruins, and prestige by ridicule and slander.

E) He would leave behind the ease of the palace and take up the toils of encouraging a beaten people and finishing an almost impossible task.



How long did Nehemiah fast & Pray – How long before God answered? -   V.1 of Ch.2 gives us insight     

And it came to pass in the month of   Nisan, [3 months later March] in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that  I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before


Nehemiah has been fasting & praying for 3 months – but God has not answered - Why? Why does God have Nehemiah Wait? – us wait ?

A) God is working in that time of waiting – Waiting is Prep time


B) It is during this time that Nehemiah was learning to Pray – learning to trust – learning to give things to the Lord

1) His Burden is going to turn into a Vision


C) Too often we can be very impetuous – there is a need –we get a Burden & the next thing we know –taking matters into own hands

1) Nehemiah doesn’t do that – He waits on the Lord



God used Jon Courson to confirm our calling to Oregon in 1989 – But God didn’t send us for 2 more yrs - until 1991

A) Those 2 yrs were Prep time – I was given more responsibility here at the Fellowship – {Went on 1st overseas mission trip – Essential


B) Those two yrs were tremendous time of Preparation God working on my heart – strengthening our Faith 




Note V.1b– I had never been sad in the kings Presence before –


B) It was forbidden to be sad in the presence of the king.


C) The idea was that the king was such a wonderful person that merely being in his presence was supposed to make you forget all your problems.

C) When Nehemiah looked sad; it could have been taken as a terrible insult to the king. PUNISHABLE BY DEATH

1) So for 3 months Nehemiah is Praying / fasting / burdened and the only one who knows it is God


D) Nehemiah is practicing something that Jesus taught – Praying & Fasting don’t make a public spectacle of it – do it Privately



A) Now we learned from the his prayer at the end of Chapter 1 that Nehemiah Discerned that Artx would be a part of the Plan


B) But Nehemiah hasn’t been trying to persuade Artx for 3mths

1) He hasn’t been dropping little hints – singing oh Jerusalem oh Jerusalem – {that is what the flesh does – schemes maneuver 3 mths


C) He is praying – trusting waiting – that God is going to work on the king’s heart


LISTEN: When you wait on the Lord in prayer, you are not wasting your time; you are investing it.

A) God is preparing both you and your circumstances so that His purposes will be accomplished.



2 Therefore the king said to me, "Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart."

A) 2nd thing we see is that God was preparing the King!!! – Instead of being offended by Nehemiah’s Countenance – he is concerned


V.2b So I became dreadfully afraid, 3 and said to the king,” May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?"


Traditionally, the Jews do have tremendous respect for the dead and for the bodies of the dead.   Graves - 


B) Now the Persians also had the same kind of respect for the sepulchres, the tombs or the burial places of their ancestors.


C) So when Nehemiah brings up the fact that “the burial places of his fathers are lying waste,

1) He hits on an area that would have been sensitive to Artx – Notice the result V. 4 Then the king said to me, "What do you request?"


Artx’s heart had been prepared to respond in this way – by the Lord

A) It was odd for a king to show this type of Concern for one of his servants - What do you Request


So I prayed to the God of heaven.5 [FAX PRAYER – HELP] and I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' tombs, that I may rebuild it."6 Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), "How long will your journey be? And when will you return?" So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. 7 Furthermore I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy."


Nehemiah is waiting but he has also been planning - not trying to make things happen – but he is ready to move when the door opens.

A) During those 3 months of waiting, he had thought the matter through and knew exactly how he would approach the project.


B) His reply to the king can be summarized in two requests:

“Send me!” (V 2:4–6) and “Give me!” (v. 7–10)


C) Nehemiah had a Plan that involved a Time Frame & Provision needed

1)    He needed letters of introduction that would guarantee safe travel and hospitality between Susa and Jerusalem.

He also requested letters of authority that would provide the materials needed for the construction of buildings and walls.

A) Nehemiah had done his research well. He even knew the name of the keeper of the king’s forest!)


B) Well thought Plan



So Nehemiah shares his well thought Plan: Result 8-9 and the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.9 Then I went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me


All of Nehemiah’s needs were supplied –

A) Letters of endorsement FOR PASSAGE / Materials for PROVISION He


B) The King EVEN gives Neh something he didn’t even ask for


Bb) v.9 tells us – he sent captains from his army for PROTECTION

1) Passage / Provision / Protection 



C) Notice Nehemiah’s perception of the Favor he received

Neh 2:8 and the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.


For 3 months Nehemiah had been earnestly praying that God would send him to Jerusalem – that he would Change the heart of the king

A) And when he is given the green light – he knows why – God’s hand is upon me – what a boost of confidence for Nehemiah



B) Now When God is working there will always be opposition

1) The greater the work the greater the opposition - 


C) Here Nehemiah introduces us to the main source of opposition


V.10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.


Nehemiah hasn’t met these guys yet – his first encounter with them will be at the end of this Chpt

A) However at this moment – he lets us know that a storm is brewing the climate is changing


B) Things had been going well up to this point – God’s hand was upon him / King Artx. Was behind him

1) He had safe passage for his travelshe had provision


C) But now he is letting us know that – there would be opposition – notice how he puts it - they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.


Think about for a moment what’s broken in your sphere of influence.

A) It could be a relationship with a spouse, a parent, a child, a friend, a ministry.


B) Know this the Devil is never happy – when you or others in your life decide it is time to Changetime to rebuild


So Nehemiah travels 3 months 900 miles – gets there – 4 things he does that are vital for solving conflicts 

                                RD V.11-16


1st thing: Rest and Refocus 

A) V.11 tells us he didn’t start anything for 3 days


B) Finally they reach Jerusalem after a 1,000 mile trip that took 2 months


C) Now a lot of people today would have sent an advance team to let everyone know – the Calvary was coming – PARADE

1) Extreme makeover – Home Addition – Ty & the gang is on the way {Move that Bus


D) Everything is about to kick into high gear –

2nd thing we learn from Nehemiah is to investigate before you initiate.

A) A good leader doesn’t rush into his work but patiently gathers the facts firsthand and then plans his strategy


B) Before Nehemiah began, he was determined to know the worst.

1) So he makes a careful probing examination of the whole situation


C)  Sometimes, we don’t do a very good job or rebuilding or getting the right kind of help because:

1) We put on the rose colored glasses and don’t want to see how bad things really are in the marriage/ in the family or w/ the business or in the ministry.

D) Not Nehemiah. He investigated the situation.

1) While others slept, Nehemiah was wide-awake, burdened, and conscious of desperate need and shame and ruin all around him.


E) He diagnosed the situation, surveyed the ruined walls, and thought about the magnitude of the task to which God had called him.



3rd the Problem must be clearly defined: V.17a Then I said to them, "You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire

A) The fact that the city which had once been the center of God’s dealings with His people lay in ruins was not merely a reproach to them, it was a reproach to the honor and to the name of their God.


B) That was to be the inspiration and the power behind all this work of revival.

1) It was not simply a disgrace to them; it was a Disgrace to God.

Nehemiah asked them to notice the obvious: You see the distress…..;

A) Sometimes, the obvious is the hardest to see.


B) Nehemiah owned the problem - He didn’t criticize the leaders of Jerusalem.

1) He simply identified right along with them regarding the problem.


C) That is where you need to Start – the Problem must be clearly defined.


4th The solution must me simply stated.  v.17b  Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.

A) Nehemiah figured if God could move upon the heart of a pagan king to partner in this work,


B) He certainly could move upon the hearts of His own people to join in!

C) Nehemiah wasn’t there to do it for them, but to partner with them in  the job of restoring Jerusalem and its people.



5th  The Lord must be Clearly Seen.  V.18-20  

A) This was encouraging to them -  This wasn’t Nehemiah’s Project it was God’s Project – He was orchestrating this whole thing


B) They saw God’s hand at work. They knew Nehemiah had to be telling the truth.


C) What other explanation would there be for his presence in Jerusalem?

1)Furthermore, he had evidence—official letters signed by the king himself.   Supplies / Escorts


The Response of the leaders: V. 18b So they said, "Let us rise up and build." Then they set their hands to this good work.

A) There was a Willingness to go for it – They saw the big picture – they caught the vision & set their hands to do this great work


B) Nehemiah’s confidence was infectious, the crowd caught the vision, and hope suddenly soared.

1) Despair turned to hope. They believed Nehemiah and trusted him. Vision confirmed. All systems go. This is a God thing!

Note V. 19  The first form of opposition here is Mockery & Slander


They laughed at us – accused us of rebelling against the king


Come back to when we start talking opposition.