Outline of the Book of Nehemiah

Outline of the Book of Nehemiah

The Book of Nehemiah

Lesson One

Outline of the Book of Nehemiah


This book is an autobiography of Nehemiah.

1.It recounts the important historical revival of the Jews which took place not long after the period of Ezra.

2.Nehemiah was born in Babylon during the captivity of the Jewish people and he was made a cupbearer in the palace of the king of Persia.

3.The main theme of this book is the rebuilding of the holy city

i)Nehemiah was very patriotic – he had a great love for his nation.

ii)He put his patriotism into practice and sacrificed a great deal for his nation.

iii)Through him, not only was the holy city rebuilt, his nation was also revived and greatly strengthened.

4.Important teachings on “prayer” and “working” (1:4; 6:3) can be found in this book.

II.Important Teachings and Prefigurations

This book is a continuation from the rebuilding of the holy temple. The rebuilding of the holy city prefigures in many respects the building and the teachings of the true church in the last days.

1.The rebuilding of the holy temple and the renovation of the city wall –

i)The holy temple was built prior to the building of the holy city. This denotes that when doing the work of God, the internal affairs should be settled first before moving on to external work.

ii)The work of the true church is also the same –

a.First correct the internal truth and doctrines, only then move on to construct the exterior of the church.

b.First lead the believers in establishing the correct beliefs. Only then shall the church be established.

c.Individually, all of us have to nurture and establish the spiritual temple of the heart first before we can manifest perfect conduct.

2.The faith of Nehemiah serves as a good example –

i)Because he loved his nation and loved God, he was willing to give up his high-ranking position to sacrifice himself for the work of God. This is comparable with the spirit of the Lord who descended into the world to save mankind (2:1-6).

ii)He set an example in prayers (1:4; 2:4; 4:4, 9; 5:19; 6:9, 14; 13:14, 22).

iii)He set an example by going to the front-line to work – many people were strengthened when they saw that he had left his high-ranking position to return to help build the holy city (2:18).

iv)He offered not only money, he also offered himself (5:14-19).

v)He was brave and not afraid of any trials or temptations (6:1-3).

vi)He glorified God when the task was accomplished (6:16).

3.Example of unity amongst the people (ch 3).

4.The categories of enemies which the Jews faced –

i)Sanballat (the Samaritan) – denotes believers who have compromised with the world (4:1-2)

ii)Tobiah (the Ammonite) – denotes the people of the flesh (4:3)

iii)Arabs – born of flesh (Gal 4:29) – denotes various secular denominations

iv)Ashdodites – denotes worshippers of idols (4:7)

5.The conspiracy of the enemies and their strategies of attack –

i)The enemies were furious and indignant. They mocked, despised, ridiculed and attacked the Jews and caused confusion (4:1, 4, 8). They plotted to kill the Jews (6:2, 10), and also bribed people to harm the Jews (6:12).

ii)The Jews had to be armed with all kinds of armoury and trumpets; they had to be on guard from dusk to dawn (4:16-18, 21-23).

6.The people listened carefully to the scriptures during the assembly (8:1-18) –likened to the spiritual meetings of today.

7. The work of reformation (13:4-31) –

i)Purification of the holy temple (4:7)

ii)The duties of the Levites were restored and the people were made to offer tithes (10-14).

iii)Those who failed to observe the Sabbath were rebuked, so everyone kept the Sabbath strictly (15-22).

iv)The practice of marriage with gentiles was strictly forbidden; those found committing this offence would be driven out (23-28).

The church should also undergo a similar reformation.

III.Sectionalization of this book – contents according to each chapter

1.Prayers prior to the commencement of the work (ch 1)

2.The work of rebuilding the city wall (ch 2-6)

i)Nehemiah returned and exhorted the people to repair the city walls (ch 2)

ii)The zeal of the people in the work of rebuilding (ch 3)

iii)The hindrances and attacking strategies of the enemies (ch 4)

iv)Nehemiah chided the dignitaries and the high officials for their conduct (ch 5)

v)The schemes of the enemies failed and the work of rebuilding the wall was completed (ch 6)

3.The work that involved the Law (ch 7-13) –

i)The people who returned were enrolled according to their genealogy (ch 7)

ii)The people were gathered and the laws were read to them (ch 8)

iii)Confession of sins and establishment of the covenant (ch 9-10)

iv)The registration of the people and the ceremony of completion of the city wall (ch 11-12)

v)The final reforms (ch 13)

Lesson Two

Nehemiah - The Leader Who Rebuilt The Holy City

I.The parentage of Nehemiah

1.He was the descendant of the King of Judah (the meaning of his name is “Jehovah has comforted”).

2.He was the cupbearer of the King of Persia (1:11).

3.He was appointed the Governor of the land of Judah (10:1; 5:14).

II.The prayer of Nehemiah

1.Earnest prayer that stemmed from a heart full of sadness and sorrow (1:4-11)

2.He made special prayers for the divine work, for the city of God and the people of God (Mt 6:33; Ezek 22:30; Jer 29:7).

3.His attitude in prayers –

i)He prayed before God – the crucial factor (Mt 6:5-6)

ii)He sat down and wept – showed his earnestness (Rom 9:2)

iii)Fasted in prayers – special (Dan 9:3; Esth 4:16; Mt 4:2; Acts 13:2)

iv)Sorrowful for a few days – persistence (1:1; 2:1)

4.Contents of prayer (1:5-10) –

i)Confession of sins (1:6-7)

iiPleading (1:8-11)

iii)Held onto the promise of God (1:8, 10)

5.The time of prayer –

i)When he heard of the situation of the holy city (1:4)

ii)He prayed even when he was busy serving the king (2:1-4):

  1. the shortest prayer;
  2. the appropriate prayer;
  3. manifestation of his habit of praying;
  4. sign of humility and lack of self-righteousness

6.The effectiveness of prayer –

i)He gained the patronage of the queen (2:6).

ii)He gained the approval of the king (2:6).

iii)It pleased the king to send him (2:6-9; 5:14).

7.He prayed even when the work was in progress –

i)He prayed when he was despised by others (4:3-4).

ii)He prayed when others conspired against him (4:8-9).

iii)He prayed when he was threatened (6:9).

iv)He prayed when he was slandered (6:13-14).

8.He prayed after the work had been accomplished –

i)He gathered the people together to pray (9:1-8)

ii)Ceremony of the completion of the work (12:27)

iii)Prayed to God to remember him (13:14, 22, 31).

III.The faith of Nehemiah

1.By faith, he was prepared to sacrifice everything (Heb 11:24-26) –

i)He was willing to forsake his governorship to undertake a long journey to the desolate holy city to carry out the work.

ii)He was made a governor but he refused any payment. Instead, he helped the needy with his private possessions (5:14-19).

2.He had complete faith in the words of God (1:9) –

i)He exhorted the people with words of faith (2:20; 4:14, 20).

3.Because of his faith, he was courageous –

i)He was threatened but not discouraged (4:4, 9; 6:9, 11).

ii)He faced the adversaries boldly (4:21; 6:3).

iii)He showed no favouritism towards the congregation (5:7-13; 13:17, 25).

  1. Because of faith, he persevered till the very end.

Lesson Three

Rebuilding The Holy City

- An Example for the Revival of Church Work

I.Someone must first have a heart of zeal

1.Nehemiah’s heart of zeal (1:4; Dan 9:3; Jn 2:17; Rom 9:2)

2.Fervent prayers stemmed from his heart of grief (1:4-11).

3.His burning prayers allowed him to sacrifice himself (2:5).

II.Because of the sacrifice of one person, the whole congregation played their part (2:17; 3:1-32)

1.Those who followed him in carrying out the work were pro-active (3:1-32; Phil 1:5).

i)Each one repaired his own gate (3:28-32; 4:6) – today, it means each person is to guide their close friends and relatives.

2.Every member was involved in the divine work (ch 3) – no one was idle.

i)The chief/high priest (3:1)

Eliashib means “God made again”

ii)The noblemen (3:5)

iii)The goldsmith (3:31)

iv)The merchants (3:31-32)

v)The women (3:12)

3.There was division of labour amongst the congregation (3:1-32) –

i)They worked towards one objective – to complete the holy city

ii)The whole work force was united as one (4:6) –

a.The work was carried out in turns (3:1, 32) from the Sheepgate to the Sheepgate.

b.The work was carried out in an orderly manner with a beginning and an end (3:3-32).

The Sheepgate – the Fish Gate – the Old Gate – the Gate of Ephraim – the Valley Gate – the Dung Gate – the Fountain Gate – the Water Gate – Gate of the Guard – the Horse Gate – the East Gate – the Muster Gate.

III.The opposition of the enemies and the final victory (ch 4 to 6:1-14)

1.The enemies –

i)Sanballat (the Samaritans) (4:1, 2) – those who compromise to the world (4:1-2)

ii)Tobiah (the Ammonites) (4:3; 6:18; Gen 19:38) (6:18) – those who are of the flesh

iii)Geshem (the Arabs) (6:1; Gal 4:29) – those of the blood

iv)Ashdodites (the Gentiles) (4:7) – the idol worshippers. They conspired together (4:8; Lk 23:12).

2.The obstacles – similar in the past to those in present times –

i)Anger, ridicule and mockery (4:1-3)

ii)Confusion, threats, rumours and bribery (6:2-3, 13-14)

iii)Selfishness leading to internal unrest (5:1-13)

3.The methods of victory (Eph 6:11-18) –

i)By faith (2:20; 1Jn 5:4)

ii)By prayers (4:3-6; Eph 6:18)

iii)In one united force (4:8-22)

iv)With discretion and right judgment (wisdom) (6:10-14; 1Cor 2:15)

v)With purity and personal sacrifices (5:1-19)

4.Trivial matters and major works (4:2-3; 6:3) – the two sides of divine work –

i)The great work of God is often reckoned as a trivial matter to men (4:2-3):

a.The returning of the elect to their homeland was considered a great matter but this was despised by men.

b.The work of God’s salvation of mankind is considered the most valuable work (Mt 16:26) but it is treated lightly by men.

c.A sinner repenting is an important matter (Lk 15:7, 10) but men take it as a trivial matter.

ii)The mighty works of God are often accomplished through small matters:

a.The rebuilding of the holy city is linked to the salvation of all humankind.

b.The manger of Bethlehem became the source of the Gospel of Salvation.

c.The cross on Golgotha revealed the power of the communication between God and men.

d.The staff of Moses and the stones of David – all accomplished great work (2 Cor 4:7; 1 Cor 1:27-28).

iii)If we desire to work for the Lord, let us not despise these small matters (Mt 10:42).

a.The people who returned with Nehemiah were very few in number and the amount of work they could perform each day was limited and negligible (4:2), but they were very faithful in all that they did (Mt 25:20-23).

b.The temple that was rebuilt was not comparable to the original temple (Hag 2:9).

c.Because they were faithful in their work despite being despised in the beginning, their enemies soon began to fear them (6:15-16).

IV.Type of Workers – The Soldier (4:15-23) (Exemplary warrior in spiritual warfare)

1.Every person is a soldier (2 Tim 2:3-4).

2.The working place is the battlefield.

3.The Lord is the Commander.

4.The work is the battle.

5.All co-workers need to co-operate (4:18-20).

6.Be watchful day and night (4:9, 21-23).

7.Only by trusting in the Lord can one be victorious (4:20; 1 Sam 17:45-47).

i)It is useless to rely on oneself (Zech 4:6; Lk 5:5-6)

ii)Rely upon the Lord to be of one heart (4:6)

Lesson Four

The Assembly of the Reading of the Law Books

& The Assembly of the Revival

I.The Assembly of the Reading of the Law Books (8:1-18)

1.Time, place, the readers (8:1-4)

i)The seventh month – after the harvest

ii)Venue - the public place or the public square

iii)The readers - Ezra and twelve other assistant readers (8:4)

2.The attitude of the listening public (8:1-8)

All the people gathered together as one man, devoted, in all earnestness, attentive, humble and striving for understanding.

3.The effect of the Assembly (Lk 1:37)

i)Initially the people wept (8:9).

ii)Later they laughed (8:10-12).

iii)According to the Law Books, they observed the Feast of the Booths together (8:13-18).

II.The Assembly of the Revival (9:1-10:39)

After the first gathering came the Festival of the Booths, followed by the Assembly of the Revival.

  1. The fasting of the public and their repentance (9:1-3)

(Realisation of sins, repentance, confession of sins, removal of sins)

  1. The praises and confession of the priests (9:4-38)

(Cry aloud, give praises, thanksgiving and confession)

3.The vows and establishing of the covenant of the leaders (9:38; 10:1-31). The covenant (9:38; 10:1-26); the vow (10:29-31)

4.Regulations were set with regards to the dedication of the holy temple (10:32-39) –

i)A crown tax was imposed (10:32; Ex 30:11-16).

ii)Wood offering was made at fixed times (10:34).

iii)To offer the first fruits of the land (10:35-37; Ex 23:19; Lev 19:23; 23:16-17; Num 18:12; Deut 26:2)

iv)To offer tithes (10:37-38; Num 18:21-24; Lev 27:30-33)

The priests and Levites should also offer (Num 18:25-32).

.Through this revival, the elect were able to preserve their tribes and belief.

Lesson Five

The Dedication of the Holy City

I.The completion of the Holy City

1.The completion of the city walls (6:15)

2.The keepers were sent to guard the gates (7:1-3)

3.The study of the Law Books and the Revival Assembly (ch 8-10)

4.People were sent to live in the rebuilt holy city (11:1-23)

Those who stayed in the holy city were blessed (11:2)

II.The joy of rededicating the holy city (12:27-44)

1.The dedication (12:27)

2.The consecration (12:30)

3.The people marched in two companies around the city to sing praises (12:31-43; Ps 24:7-10)

i)The Wall of Salvation (Is 60:18)

ii)The Gate of Praise (Is 60:18) (There were twelve gates – 3, 12; Rev 21:12)

  1. The sound of joy was heard even in far-off places (12:43).

III.The spirit of rededicating the holy temple (12:43 - ch 13)

The city and the people living in the city were all dedicated

1.There was great joy amongst the assembly (12:43).

2.The whole assembly offered all kinds of gifts (12:44-47).

3.Purification of the chamber (13:1-9)

i)To disassociate themselves from the mixed multitude (13:1-3)

ii)To drive out Tobiah (13:4-9)

iii)To offer tithes and to appoint the Levites to attend to the duties of the holy temple (13:10-14)

iv)To observe the Holy Sabbath strictly (13:15-22)

iv)To strictly forbid marriages (13:23-29)

4.Special prayers (13:29-31)

i)To pray for the priests who had sinned (29)

ii)To pray to God to remember the work of the rebuilding of the holy city (31)