Tips for Reading Nehemiah | Real Women

Tips for Reading Nehemiah | Real Women

Here at RealFaith we’re wrapping up our study of the book of Genesis, which has taken almost a year to unpack. It’s been full of lessons of the repeated failure of humanity, God’s faithfulness despite our errors, and His desire for generations to know Him.

Next, we turn our attention to a completely different book of the Bible, Nehemiah. Whereas Genesis was a book of the Law written by Moses, Nehemiah is a historical book written most likely by Nehemiah himself since it’s written primarily in first person.

In addition to listening to sermons about the Bible or reading books about it, it is important to be studying God’s Word for ourselves so that He can directly reveal to us what we need to hear. We have unlimited  access to Him through His Word, but sometimes it can be challenging to know how to decode certain parts of the Bible. There are a few helpful things to keep in mind while reading Nehemiah. It is also helpful to pray for the Holy Spirit to bring understanding as you read the scriptures because He inspired the writers and gives us wisdom. Here I’ll highlight five:

  1. This isn’t just ancient history, it’s family history. The story of the nation of Israel is our story, as well, if we belong to Jesus. He preserved, guided, instructed, and led them through thousands of years so that Jesus could come to save us. Every leader Israel has and every decision they make impacts Jesus coming into the world, so pay attention to what aspects of Nehemiah foreshadow Jesus’ coming.
  2. When studying history, it’s important to look at what else is going on during the time period of a specific event. In the case of the Old Testament, books don’t appear in chronological order. Nehemiah’s is actually the last historical account of the Old Testament since right after it is the time between the Old and New Testament, or the Intertestamental period. In the same way that Israel was waiting for Jesus’ first coming, we are now waiting for His second coming. There are many parallels between the two times between the times, especially as relates to the temple in Nehemiah. Keep in mind what you can learn from both the triumphs and failures of the nation of Israel while waiting for Jesus in Nehemiah’s time.
  3. It is also important to study the individual people in a historical account. Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one book in the Hebrew Bible but were later divided into two separate books. It is helpful to read Ezra before Nehemiah to understand more of the context of what Nehemiah is specifically called to do and why. As you read, pay attention to what defines Ezra’s character, Nehemiah’s, and the rest of the characters that shape the story. What can we learn from each of them?
  4. Lastly, it is important to pay attention to places when studying history. Nehemiah tells the story of the Jewish exiles returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, specifically the wall surrounding it so that the Jews might be able to defend themselves while they rebuild the temple. The temple is frequently discussed in both the Old and New Testaments as where the Jews could meet with God, so as you read, think about what else you know about the temple from the Old Testament and how it relates to Jesus.
  5. “And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the Lord their God.” // Nehemiah 9:3

This goes for any time you read the Bible, but especially when reading Historical books that might be hard to directly apply to life, it is important to go beyond just reading. This verse models both Bible reading and repentance and worship. If you get stuck, don’t understand something, or can’t figure out how to relate a passage to your life, stop to pray, confess sin, and worship. Each of these spiritual disciplines can be practiced individually, but when combined, sometimes there is a greater awareness of God’s presence as you get rid of distraction, selfishness, and sin in order to focus solely on Him.

The Bible is so rich that God can speak through any number of people, places, and things you encounter while reading His Word. These are just a few angles to study from, but there are endless ways to glean from this important book of the Bible. I hope and pray that as you read and study that God would reveal new insight to you about Himself and who you are in relation to Him.

To help you study the book of Nehemiah with us, check out the free e-book study guide here

Grace & Ashley
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