Daily reading

Today’s reading is: Neh. 1-2; Ezra 9-10


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Nehemiah Chapter One

  1. The Book begins in Chislev (Nov/Dec) of Artaxerxes’ 20th year (444BC).  It has been nearly 14 years since Ezra led over 4,000 Jews back to Jerusalem.
  2. In Nehemiah’s way of thinking, those who returned to Jerusalem from Persia “escaped” and “survived” the captivity (Neh. 1:2-3).
    1. This is the spiritual escape from the devil who keeps believers from pursuing the will of God (2nd Tim. 2:25-26).
    2. This is the spiritual escape from the corruption and defilement of the world system (2nd Pet. 1:4; 2nd Pet. 2:20).
  3. Nehemiah is informed that the Jews in Jerusalem are being afflicted and unable to successfully build city walls for their own self-defense (Neh. 1:3; Ezr. 4:12).
  4. The struggles of his people motivated Nehemiah to engage in a fervent effective intercessory prayer ministry (Neh. 1:4-11).
    1. He calls upon the Lord to hear His prayer.
    2. He confesses the sins of his people.
    3. He calls upon the Lord to be faithful to His promises.
    4. He calls upon the Lord to provide grace in his upcoming petition before King Artaxerxes.

Nehemiah Chapter Two

  1. Nehemiah was the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes (Neh. 1:11b).  מַשְׁקֶה mashqeh #4945: butler, cupbearer (cf. Gen. 40:1ff.).
  2. Artaxerxes has the capacity to recognize Nehemiah’s spiritual heaviness of heart (Neh. 2:1-2).
  3. Nehemiah explains his spiritual burden for Jerusalem, and realizes that the Lord has answered his prayers (Neh. 2:3-4).
  4. Nehemiah requests the king’s permission to head up a wall-building project in Jerusalem (Neh. 2:5).  After determining the length of time until Nehemiah’s return, Artaxerxes gives permission (Neh. 2:6) and issues a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Neh. 2:7-8 cf. Dan. 9:25).
  5. Nehemiah encounters opposition by the local Persian officials, but presses forward anyway (Neh. 2:9-10).
    1. Sanballat the Horonite.
    2. Tobiah the Ammonite servant.
    3. Geshem the Arab.
  6. He conducts three days of nightly inspections (Neh. 2:11-16), and then encourages the Jews of Jerusalem to build their walls (Neh. 2:17-20).

Ezra Chapter Nine

  1. The leaders of Israel approached Ezra the Bible teacher with a serious Biblical issue (Ezr. 9:1-4).
    1. The returnees had been inter-marrying with the idolatrous gentiles in the land of Canaan (Ezr. 9:1b-2).
    2. This was strictly prohibited under Mosaic Law (Deut. 7:1-4).
  2. Ezra sat down appalled, and explained the Law to the returned exiles (Ezr. 9:3-4).
  3. Ezra enters into an intercessory prayer ministry on behalf of his sinful nation (Ezr. 9:5–15).
    1. Ezra practiced “intercessory confession.”
    2. Ezra praised the Lord for the grace He extended in preserving a remnant through the captivity.
    3. Ezra praised the Lord for the grace He extended in returning a remnant to rebuild His temple.
    4. Ezra is left to wonder what the Lord’s judgment will be upon the returnees who continue to defy His Word.

Ezra Chapter Ten

  1. Ezra’s prayer ministry towards God prompted a repentance among the guilty parties involved (Ezr. 10:1ff.).
  2. Shecaniah represents the people, and encourages Ezra to take the leadership in this national revival (Ezr. 10:2-4).
    1. The Lord lifts up His servants for His purposes.
    2. Humble believers will recognize God’s calling of others, and appreciate the Godly leadership that is exercised.
    3. This national revival was not led by a prophet, priest, or king, but by the greatest recognized Bible teacher of that generation. 
  3. Ezra secured the cooperation of the Levitical priesthood, and fasted before the Lord for the three days it took for Israel to be assembled (Ezr. 10:5-8).
  4. Ezra bluntly taught Israel’s guilt and the need for confession & separation from the paganism of their mixed marriages (Ezr. 10:9-12).
  5. The people understood the seriousness of their evil, and accepted the consequences of their actions (Ezr. 10:13-17).
    1. Rather than the fervor of mob action, the people determined to handle the issue city by city under the delegated authority of the elders and judges.
    2. Each marriage was “investigated” before a divorce was decreed.
  6. In a tradition quite like the Chronicles, the Book of Ezra concludes with a roster of identified significance (Ezr. 10:18-44).
  7. Is this truly the end of the Book? Was Ezra-Nehemiah originally one book?