Let Us Rise Up and Build!
"From the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, unto Messiah the Prince . . . shall be . . . seventy weeks" (Dan. 9:24, 25).
The story of Nehemiah is a story of great courage and devotion in the face of tremendous difficulties and disappointments.
The events of this book occur about four hundred and fifty years before Christ in the middle of the two hundred year life span of the second great world empire-Medo-Persia. The first empire-Babylon-the head of gold-had been destroyed with all its glory by Cyrus, about one hundred years before. The small beginnings of the third and fourth empires, Greece and Rome, were just starting to stir.
Nehemiah's labours occur just about one hundred years after the return from the captivity of a remnant under Zerubbabel, to rebuild the Temple. As the book opens, we find Nehemiah as the cupbearer to the King of Persia, supreme ruler of the known world from India in the east to Ethiopia in the west.
Nehemiah's position was a very important one, of great honour, influence and advantage. He would be in close and daily contact with the world ruler. The empire's choicest comforts and luxuries would be available to him.
We are reminded of Moses in the court of Pharaoh and his decision to
"choose rather affliction with the people of God."
Through the love of God and the discernment of the Spirit, he chose the glories of eternity rather than the vain baubles of present prosperity. We are told nothing of Nehemiah's background or tribal lineage or family affairs. In this respect he stands before us like
Melchizedek. All we know of him is that he was an Israelite indeed, in the fullest sense of the term.
The king was Artaxerxes I, son and successor of the great Xerxes I of whom Daniel says that-
"By his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia" (Dan. 11:2).
Xerxes was the Ahasuerus of Esther. Esther, if still living at the time of Nehemiah, would be about fifty-five years old when the book opens.
Bro Growcott - Nehemiah