At the end of chapter 6 Nehemiah’s initial objective was completed: Jerusalem was a walled city, more secure than it had been in 130 years. The project timeline of just 52 days is indicative of Nehemiah’s skilled leadership and the amount of hands and materials already at his disposal.
However, we also learned at the end of the trouble that still lay before him. Many Jewish nobles had interconnected business and family relationships with Tobiah the Ammonite, and were hedging their bets against Nehemiah. This information helps set up the tensions at the end of the book.
In the first chapter today we see Nehemiah taking firm administrative hold of the district around Jerusalem. His first task is to assemble a new genealogical record, tracing the covenant through the first exiles who returned with Zerubbabel.
We also discover that he is accompanied by a man of similar faith and ability: Ezra the scribe, the priest, who enters the gathered assembly to read from the Book of the Law. Notice the great, reverent detail that goes into this scene: where Ezra stands, which direction he faces, and how the people respond.
At the end of chapter 7, after the genealogy, notice this insertion: “And when the seventh month had come, the people of Israel were in their towns.” Remember the importance of the seventh month from Leviticus: the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Two of the most important feasts in Israel’s year, when they were to recognize their need for repentance and the LORD’s sustenance of their forefathers in the wilderness.
This sets up the events that come next: feast and confession. Ezra and Nehemiah command the people not to weep, but to “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Our verse for this week is Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Nehemiah 7 through 9. Now let’s read it!
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.