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Lessons from the
Book of Nehemiah

By Ken Raggio


Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem 94 years after Zerubbabal arrived, and thirteen years after Ezra restored the priests and Levites. Nehemiah was cupbearer to Ahasuerus (Artaxerxes) in Shushan the palace where Esther was queen. Nehemiah asked his brethren how things fared for Jews in Jerusalem, and learned that Jerusalem was in great affliction. The walls were broken down and its gates burned. God heard Nehemiah's prayers and sent him to rebuild Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1:4 - "When I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven."

Praying Day and Night

Nehemiah faced enormous difficulties after returning from captivity to Jerusalem to rebuild the fallen city. Cruel adversaries waged psychological warfare against him. Nothing but relentless heart-felt prayer got him through trying times. The people worked with a weapon in one hand and a tool in the other. Nehemiah never stopped praying until the walls were rebuilt and the city was safe again.

Nehemiah 1:6 - "Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night."

Nehemiah's Request

Nehemiah was cup-bearer for a pagan king, alienated from the life he truly craved back home in Jerusalem. He was depressed, and the king noticed it. "What's bothering you Nehemiah?" "How can I be happy when the land of my fathers is in ruins?" "What can I do for you?" God opened a dramatic door for Nehemiah. His prayer was ready. Within days, he was in Jerusalem, rebuilding the walls.

Nehemiah 2:4 - "...the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven."

Rebuilding The Gates On The Walls Of Jerusalem

The gates of Jerusalem Nehemiah found were: sheep gate, fish gate, old gate, valley gate, dung gate, fountain gate, water gate, horse gate, east gate, and the gate Miphkad. Almighty God sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and the gates. I pray that God will send mighty men to rebuild the walls of truth and righteousness and holiness in this generation.

Nehemiah 2:12 - "And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem."

The God Of Heaven Will Prosper Us

Nehemiah answered Ahasuerus, "Send me unto Judah, ...that I may build it." Nehemiah requested letters for safe passage, and a letter for timber and stones for the gates and walls. The king granted all. After only three days in Jerusalem, Sanballat and Tobiah showed themselves enemies of the project. But Nehemiah secretly toured the city and its walls by night to appraise the situation. He called the people. "Come let us build up the wall of Jerusalem." People of God: BUILD!

Nehemiah 2:20 - "The God of heaven, He will prosper us, therefore we His servants will arise and build."

The Sheep Gate

If you take a close look at each of the gates of Jerusalem, you might see some typology. For instance, the first broken-down gate that Nehemiah repaired was the sheep gate, through which the people brought sheep to sacrifice in the temple. This foreshadows the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. The plan of salvation is completely void without the Lamb for sinners slain. We restore the sheep gate when we preach Christ!

Nehemiah 3:1 - "Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate."

The Fish Gate

The second gate that was repaired along the walls of Jerusalem was the fish gate. It is where the fish market was. When Nehemiah built up the fish gate, he helped to restore the fish trade. This reminds me of Jesus telling Peter and Andrew at Galilee, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Jesus was "fishing" for the souls of men for his eternal kingdom. Jesus told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Let there be "fish!"

Nehemiah 3:3 - "The fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build."

The Old Gate

The old gate was third to be repaired. Why rebuild the old gate? Jeremiah preached, "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." Isaiah prophesied of great ones who would build again the old waste places and restore the old paths. The old way was a good way. All God's original works should speak to us continually. Never dismiss the lessons of your forefathers.

Nehemiah 3:6 - "Moreover the old gate repaired Jehoiada."

The Valley Gate

King Uzziah built a tower on the valley gate, overlooking Kidron Valley. Kidron is famous for many past and future conflicts, including Armageddon. We refer to our trials and tribulations as valleys. But David said, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." God told Ezekiel to prophesy to a valley full of dry bones, and they were all resurrected to become a mighty army. Nehemiah rebuilt the valley gate. We all must go in and out at the valley gate.

Nehemiah 3:13 - "The valley gate repaired Hanun,"

The Dung Gate

Each gate that Nehemiah repaired seemed to have a symbolic message for us. Such is true about the dung gate. The people of Jerusalem carried their trash, refuse, and dung out to the Tyropoeon Valley where there was a garbage dump. In every one of our lives, there are things that must be disposed. This is the message of repentance. Repentance not only renounces sin, it puts it away. "Dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."

Nehemiah 3:14 - "But the dung gate repaired Malchiah."

The Fountain Gate

Nehemiah repaired the fountain gate, near the pool of Siloam. A fountain is a spring. Jesus said, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.) Again, He said, "The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." This doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Ghost is the New Testament fountain gate.

Nehemiah 3:15 - "The gate of the fountain repaired Shallun."

The Water Gate

The water gate required no repairs. That is keen typology for the Word of God. "All the people gathered themselves together ...before the water gate; ...And Ezra the priest ...brought the law before the congregation ...And he read therein ...before the water gate from the morning until midday." Paul said that Jesus Christ sanctifies the church, in part, by the washing of water by the word. The Word of God NEVER needs repair. It is forever settled in heaven. Not one jot or tittle of it will fail.

Nehemiah 3:26 - " the place over against the water gate."

The Horse Gate

Nehemiah rebuilt the horse gate, where horses entered the king's palace. It is where wicked queen Athaliah was slain. Jeremiah prophesies a day when this gate will be holy unto the LORD and will never be thrown down again. That could only occur in the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ. Anciently, horses represented warfare. Prophetically, four evil horses patrol the earth in the endtime until Jesus returns on His white horse to conquer all armies at Armageddon. The horse gate presupposes a church militant. Child of God, fight on!

Nehemiah 3:28 - "From above the horse gate repaired the priests."

The Gate Miphkad

Nehemiah repaired the gate Miphkad, north of the temple. "Miphkad" is variously translated "muster, gather, assign, appoint." Merchants gathered in the nearby markets. Workmen aggregated there when David prepared materials for the new temple. Nethinims (temple servants) established a community there. Most significantly, crowds of Roman soldiers carried out harsh judgments on Jesus there. The greatest "muster-gathering-appointment" of all is our final judgment. "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." What have you profited, if you gain the whole world and lose your soul?

Nehemiah 3:31 - "...the gate Miphkad."

The East Gate

The east gate, at the temple entrance, welcomes Jesus Christ to return. As Israel went into captivity, Ezekiel saw cherubims carry the throne of God from the temple across the east gate. He prophesied that the eastern gate would later be shut until the Prince returns and enters it. (It has been shut since 1541 AD.) "His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, ...before Jerusalem on the east," (Zechariah 14:4). The Shekinah glory of the LORD will return to Jerusalem through the east gate as Jesus enters, following Armageddon.

Nehemiah 3:29 - "...the east gate."

Nehemiah Overcomes Sanballat By Prayer

Sanballat and Tobiah were vicious enemies of Nehemiah's restoration of Jerusalem, mocking and reproaching the workers. But the people had a mind to work, so continued building. Then the enemies conspired war against Jerusalem. "Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night." Through great determination, the Jews carried their weapons as they worked, and finished the wall. Live for God and work for God, but always stay prepared for battle.

Nehemiah 4:17 - "Every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon."

Will God Shake You Out Of His Lap?

Jews who returned to rebuild Jerusalem reclaimed the lands of their forefathers, but mortgaged them because they were poor and needed cash to survive. Some of their own brethren loaned them money, but took their sons and daughters as servants in foreclosure. Nehemiah was very angry, and persuaded the lenders to promise to release the people's collateral so they could survive. Nehemiah prophesied divine punishment if they reneged.

Nehemiah 5:13 - "I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, ...that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied."

Should Such A Man As I Flee?

Sanballat and Tobiah tried desperately to stop Nehemiah from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, but failed. On their second attempt, they accused him of rebelling against the king. Then they tried to seduce him outside the walls to capture him. Next, they sent a false prophet to scare him into hiding in the temple. But Nehemiah said, "Should such a man as I flee?" Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Nehemiah 6:14 - "My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess ...that would have put me in fear."

God Put It In My Heart

Twice, Nehemiah said "God put it in my heart." First, it was to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Second, it was to gather the nobles, rulers and others to verify their genealogy. Certainly, the future of Jerusalem ultimately depended much more on the integrity of the people than with the integrity of the walls. If Nehemiah had only prayed, and not listened to God, Jerusalem's fate might have been vastly different. God IS speaking. Are you hearing?

Nehemiah 7:5 - "My God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people."

Corporate Worship

As repairs to Jerusalem progressed, Ezra called the people together into a street by the water gate for a reading of the word of God. He stood on a pulpit of wood above all the people (the only pulpit mentioned in the Bible) surrounded by other priests. When he opened the book, all the people stood up. "Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands." Corporate worship is a glorious exercise.

Nehemiah 8:6 - "And they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground."

The Joy Of The LORD Is Your Strength

When Ezra first read the word of God aloud to the citizens of Jerusalem, everyone wept greatly. The priests ministered to the people so they could understand the words they heard. They admonished everyone not to weep or mourn. "This is a holy day unto the LORD." Celebrate! Have a feast! Do not grieve! Everyone gathered branches and made booths, and celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles which had not been celebrated in decades. Sorrow weakens. Joy strengthens. Rejoice!

Nehemiah 8:10,17 - "Neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength. ...And there was very great gladness."

The People Make A Covenant At Jerusalem

Israel celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with rejoicing. But shortly afterward, the priests called a day of fasting and prayer in sackclothes. One fourth of the day, they listened to the reading of the word. One fourth of the day, they spent confessing their sins. Then they stood and loudly prayed and worshipped the LORD. The Levites rehearsed the story of the Exodus, then called everyone to make a covenant to serve the LORD.

Nehemiah 9:38 - "Because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it."

A Curse And An Oath To Walk In God's Laws

The long, hard work of Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah at last culminated in a real revival of the fear of God. The people wrote and sealed a covenant to serve the LORD according to His laws. They promised to separate themselves from the ways of their heathen relatives. They promised not to allow their children to marry the heathen. And they promised to pay tithes and give offerings to support the temple and the work of God.

Nehemiah 10:29 - "They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God's law."

Casting Lots For Their Destiny

Would you toss a coin to decide where you will live for the rest of your life? That is essentially what the Israelites did. Some volunteered to live in Jerusalem. The rest were chosen by casting lots. One of ten would dwell in Jerusalem. The other nine parts would dwell in other cities. The idea is not unusual. Generations of priests consulted the Urim and the Thummin to decide the will of God. Nothing is by chance.

Nehemiah 11:1 - "The rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city."

Employed To Minister And Lead Worship

While the Jews were in captivity, the names of the chiefs of the fathers, the priests and Levites were recorded. Their descendants then entered the ministry by pedigree. "At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps." From Moses' day, God has ordained for full-time ministers to be paid.

Nehemiah 12:47 - "All Israel ...gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion."

Nehemiah Sets The People In Order

Nehemiah made an exemplary stand for righteousness. As he read the book of Moses aloud to the people, he saw things they were doing wrong, and immediately acted to correct them. He ran off the Ammonites and Moabites who lived among them. He cast out Tobiah who was staying with Eliashib the high priest. He sanctified the Sabbath and disciplined the unclean priests. Nothing substitutes for obedience. Just do it.

Nehemiah 13:14 - "Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God."

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