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

THE book of Nehemiah is certainly needful for these times. Recorded against a background of disgrace and apathy in the Brotherhood, when the Truth was in decline, and the affairs of ecclesial work were relegated to secondary importance by many, the experiences of this man of God can inspire and strengthen concerned brethren and sisters today.

The appeal "Let us rise up and build" must again be expressed, and the encouraging exhortation that develops from the Book of Nehemiah is of great value to that end.

It is a book portraying intense activity. Without preliminaries, the reader is

immediately involved in the drama of the times and impressed with the ardor of

Nehemiah's love for Jerusalem.

We know little of his background. He introduces himself as "the king's cupbearer"

(1:11), and beyond this we know nothing, except what may be inferred

from the narrative. He was certainly a member of an important family of Judah

which had been taken to Babylon into exile, and afterwards found their way to

the city of Shushan in Persia.

Apparently he was not a priest, nor of priestly ancestry, as was Ezra. However, in character he showed every mark of outstanding godliness and nobility, and doubtless for this reason, as well as for his obvious scrupulous honesty, loyalty and concern for the majesty of Persia, he was chosen for the important position of cupbearer to the Persian monarch.

When he finds himself moved to work as the Restorer of Jerusalem, under regal authority, he becomes not only an enthusiastic organiser and laborer with his people, but also a man of personal prayer.

He puts time aside to appeal to his God; he calls upon Him in moments of great pressure and trial; he daily communes with Yahweh as he continues in his work. His prayers are always to the point, without hypocrisy, idle phraseology or vain repetition (cp. Mat. 6:7). Such prayers can help us become a community of praying laborers, as we closely examine the prayers of Nehemiah which are so interwoven with the record, that they appear as an intimate part of his character - which, of course, they are.

Nehemiah was not unaware of the vagaries of flesh, nor was he likely to be deceived by a feigned interest in the Truth of those who in reality were treacherously

committed to its destruction. He could recognise the "mind of the flesh" and took steps to protect the ecclesia in Jerusalem from the influence of the enemy, even when, like wolves in sheep's clothing, they tried to infiltrate the walls of Jerusalem.

In this he is revealed as a Protector of the Flock - a type of the Lord Jesus Christ who fulfils the role of the Greater Shepherd, Restorer and Man of Prayer.

Bro Graeham Mansfield - The Christadelphian Expositor