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John Brown :: Nehemiah 7-8

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I. INTRODUCTION

A. Chapter's 7 & 8 begin the "second phase" in the book of Nehemiah.

1. This "second phase" is the re-instruction of God's people - of the laws of Moses.

2. The walls are complete, Nehemiah fades temporarily as the main character, and a scribe by the name of Ezra steps in.

a) Ezra had returned to Jerusalem some 13 years before Nehemiah.

b) He had been along side Nehemiah during the re-construction.

(1) He had been part of the victory!

c) Ezra and Nehemiah were aware of the fact that victory can give us a false sense of self-importance and security.

(1) Remember in the book of Joshua, the people had such a stunning success at Jericho, that they forgot to pray when they got to Ai and lost the battle!

d) When the "walls" are built there is a tendency to relax!

(1) Notice how Nehemiah prepared for this!

e) Nehe 7:3 (NKJV) And I said to them, "Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand [guard], let them shut and bar the doors; and appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, one at his watch station and another in front of his own house."

f) He made provision for the opening and closing of the gates and set guidelines for whom had watch duty!

g) In other words when the walls were completed the people didn't simply "relax" with a job well done, they made provision for counter-attack because they knew their enemy!

(1) They knew attack would come!

B. Notice whom Nehemiah put in charge of the city!

1. Nehe 7:1-2 (NKJV) Then it was, when the wall was built and I had hung the doors, when the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, 2 that I gave the charge of Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the leader of the citadel, for he [was] a faithful man and feared God more than many.

a) Please notice that Hanani and Hananiah were men he could trust!

(1) He lists their main quality as "faithful."

(a) 1Cor 4:2 (NKJV) Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

(b) It is the same today:

(i) If you want to be used by the Lord in your home, or at work, in your community or at your church - you must be found faithful!

2. Nehemiah has made practical provision for counter-attack, now it is time for spiritual provision.

a) Lets take a look at how that was done and the result of it!

II. THE RESULT Neh 8:1-12 (NKJV) Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that [was] in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who [could] hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. 3 Then he read from it in the open square that [was] in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people [were] [attentive] to the Book of the Law. 4 So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; and beside him, at his right hand, stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and at his left hand Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, [and] Meshullam. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was [standing] above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with [their] faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people [stood] in their place. 8 So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped [them] to understand the reading. 9 And Nehemiah, who [was] the governor, Ezra the priest [and] scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day [is] holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep." For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for [this] day [is] holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." 11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, "Be still, for the day [is] holy; do not be grieved." 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

A. Nehe 8:8-9 (NKJV) So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped [them] to understand the reading. 9 And Nehemiah, who [was] the governor, Ezra the priest [and] scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day [is] holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep." For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.

1. Notice that the reading was a clear exposition of the word not just a casual reading.

a) they read distinctly from the book,.... and they gave the sense, and helped [them] to understand the reading

2. Please keep in mind that this is most likely one of the greatest day's of victory most of them had ever seen. THE WALLS WERE UP!

3. As they heard the Word it convicted the people of their sin and they wept!

a) Why would the Lord do that? Why would He cause such conviction on such a great day of victory?

(1) I believe it is because we are most vulnerable on the mountaintop!

(2) Often in victory there is a subtle mind set that we are "awesome"!

(3) There is a tendency to let our guard down!

III. NEHEMIAH'S ANSWER TO THEIR CONVICTION

A. Nehe 8:10 (NKJV) Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for [this] day [is] holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."

1. Conviction is from the Lord and it is a wonderful thing, but if not allowed to produce it's intended result, satan will turn it into condemnation!

a) Condemnation is not from the Lord and it simply paralyses.

(1) satan loves phrases like "You're never going to get this right, why not give up?"

(2) "Your worthless and nobody cares about you!!"

(3) Please keep in mind, phrases like, "Boy, your awesome!" can sometimes be even more destructive!

b) If satan can get us to dwell on ourselves instead of the grace and mercy of the cross, we are defeated!

2. The main purpose of the sweet conviction of the Holy Spirit is to bring us to the end of ourselves!

a) As long as we believe there is some hope or strength in ourselves the cross will remain secondary.

b) Also, conviction's end result should be joy!

(1) Not necessarily happiness, nor laughter, nor emotion, but the joy of the Lord!

IV. WHAT IS THE JOY OF THE LORD?

A. First it is an understanding of God's forgiveness!

1. God's forgiveness does not come just because one is sorry!

2. God's forgiveness is not something that is earned!

3. God's forgiveness is only and entirely in the death and resurrection of His Son the Lord Jesus!

a) Without Jesus we can beat at the door of forgiveness all we want but it will never come!

(1) We can feel as guilty or as "awesome" as we want but we will die in our sins!

b) But as Christians, God's children, we need not beat at the door of forgiveness at all. It is for forgiveness of His children that he died!

(1) 1Joh 1:9 (NKJV) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

4. Conviction is meant to bring us to an end of ourselves, to bring us back to the cross, and that gives us joy.

a) To know our sins are forgiven!!

B. Second unlike happiness, joy is often "green housed" in affliction.

1. Jame 1:2 (NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

a) Self-pity is the opposite of the joy of the Lord.

b) The person with joy usually doesn't dwell on the trials in his life, though you can be assured they are there!

(1) They have learned from the trials and afflictions how little they are and how big God is. The cross is in full view!!

(2) There comes an understanding with age and spiritual maturity that the trial is but for a season. But the purposes of God for the trials are forever!

(a) We have this promise from the Lord out of Isai 61:1-3 (NKJV) "The Spirit of the Lord God [is] upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to [those] [who] [are] bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

C. Third Joy is dependent upon obedience to the Lord, not upon sacrifice, nor our service to Him.

1. Hebr 12:2 (NKJV) looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of [our] faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

a) Here we have the perfect example of the difference between happiness and joy!

(1) Rest assured, Jesus was not happy about the cross!

b) But, doing His Father's will brought Him joy!

(1) John 4:32-33 (NKJV) But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." 33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him [anything] to eat?"

(2) You see, even our trials can be a "gift" to the Lord!

c) God doesn't want anything we hate to give.

(1) 2Cor 9:7 (NKJV) [So] [let] each one [give] as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

(2) That includes our heart, our time, or our money and even a good attitude in times of trouble.

d) There are so many things in life that seek to rob us of our Joy in the Lord!!

e) Even our service to Him can be very disappointing!

(1) In almost everyone's eyes, Jesus' ministry had failed.

(2) In our service there may be little or no tangible results.

(a) It may appear in our eyes and in the eyes of others that we have failed.

(3) But, if we keep our eyes on the Lord and we are content doing the will of the Father, our joy will remain.

V. CONCLUSION

A. The joy of the Lord is independent of circumstances!

1. Circumstances determine happiness.

2. But, Godly joy is at the cross, it is in our forgiveness.

3. Joy is in God's provision for my weaknesses.

a) Roma 5:8 (NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

4. Joy is knowing that heaven awaits.

5. Joy is knowing Psalms 30:5... weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Nehemiah 6:1-19 ← Prior Section
Nehemiah 9-10 Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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