Nehemiah 1:11 – “…O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”
In the winter season (November-December) of 445 BC, nearing the end of the writing of the Old Testament, news was brought to Nehemiah by either his actual brother or a close male relative regarding how God’s people were faring far away in Judah, in the city of Jerusalem. Under King Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonians attacked the city 141 years prior, destroying it and carrying many of God’s people into exile, as reported in Daniel.
God’s people had so dishonored, disregarded, and defied Him that He sent a succession of prophets to rebuke them of sin and invite them to return to God or face divine judgment before the fall of Jerusalem occurred:
- Isaiah 13:1, 17-19 – The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw…Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them, who have no regard for silver and do not delight in gold. Their bows will slaughter the young men; they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb; their eyes will not pity children. And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.
- Isaiah 39:6–7 – “Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
- Jeremiah 27:4-7 – Give them this charge for their masters: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: This is what you shall say to your masters: ‘It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me. Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and I have given him also the beasts of the field to serve him. All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson, until the time of his own land comes. Then many nations and great kings shall make him their slave.’”
Despite the pleading of the prophets, people did not turn from their sin and trust in their Lord. So, the city was destroyed and largely abandoned because it was defenseless. God’s people were discouraged, unable to live or worship freely and biblically for 141 years, despite multiple failed rebuilding attempts. The wall was necessary if God was to have a people and a place for the coming of Jesus Christ.
What are you most excited to learn or study as we start our study in the book of Nehemiah?
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