We are in the Nation Stream reading from the New King James Version.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
Lord Jesus, we thank you for the Holy Spirit bringing us and opening the Word for us. Amen.
The enemies of progress in Jerusalem had been the encroaching neighbors who were upset that the Hebrews were back in their homeland and building up the altar, Temple, and the wall of Jerusalem. Those were external enemies. Now there were internal enemies to deal with.
5 – The national project required national unity. The cooperation was of historical proportion. Very impressive indeed. But national cooperation requires everyone to be committed and there were some who were taking advantage of the situation and using the setting for their own financial gain. It was not a good situation. And the most committed to the program were getting taken advantage of by the hucksters that were least committed to the nation’s unity and morale. Nehemiah stepped in and took stalwart leadership. It was impressive and more. The shady business dealers were “read the riot act” for their cruelty. They repented immediately. Nehemiah himself upped the ante on his sacrifices. The world needs to see more virtue, principle, sacrifice, and leadership together in one man like we see in Nehemiah.
6 – There were three rabble-rousing trouble makers who started a rumor and paid certain “community disorganizers” to go spread tales that an attack on Jerusalem was coming. Enemies of Jerusalem used this as a final tactic to discourage the Jews from moving about their business in getting the wall patched, together, up, and finished. Nehemiah saw through the ruse for what it was, dispelled any phobias, and resumed the great work of getting the wall around Jerusalem finished. It was miraculously finished in 52 days (though some might say it was 145 years late!). The enemies of Jerusalem were sobered up immensely realizing that God was at work
7 – So the gathering in the city was called as they set out to ‘start anew’ as a nation. The people came together, the nobles and rulers too and they recited the list of those who returned from exile originally in the 538 B.C. event. Ezra 2 mirrors this chapter, btw. The list they read from were those who returned almost a century prior. The list compared/collated with the current registry would better materialize who was from which tribe. We understand this since census’ are usually taken each decade. [This however was the first in a much longer time span.] Offerings poured in, and the national fervor arose as Ezra took to the podium to read the Law for the first time in a very long long time.
8 – The Book of the Law of Moses was read to the entire nation who gathered AS ONE to be read to. Tutors were arranged for those who had extra questions. Booths were assembled so that the process would not be interrupted even in the heat of the day. Nehemiah and Ezra were spurred to the task of comforting the people who were hearing the Word of God for the first time. The peope were grieved at how far the nation had slumped into ignorance of the Book they claimed was their national identity. The Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated and there was great joy in Jerusalem. There were other details but I do want to say this: Look at what happens when a nation decides to follow God’s Word and declares so as one! The nation was doing this for the first time since Joshua had taken the helm of the country about 900 years prior. Why so long since the nation made a pact as such. Heavens, 900 years ago Leif Erikson of Norway was still a fresh memory. William the Conqueror (remember 1066 A.D.?) had just died. It would be almost 500 years until Columbus would sail the Atlantic and Caribbean. Why 900 years between comprehensive Bible readings?! A population understanding and reading the Bible is what brings vitality to a land. Wycliffe knew as much when he translated the Bible into English late 1300’s. Luther knew it in the early 1500s. If you want to see your region transformed, what can you do to raise Bible literacy in your town?