Scripture to Read: Nehemiah 1:1-11
As we begin in Nehemiah 1, here’s a little background. About 1,000 years after Moses and nearly 400 years before Christ, the nation of Israel lay in ruins. The northern kingdom, Israel, and the southern kingdom, Judah, had been conquered by Babylon. In the city of Jerusalem, the temple of Solomon had been destroyed. The Babylonians had deported almost all of the Jews to Babylon for 70 years. Over time, many of the Jews settled in Babylon. The Jews still worshipped God but had little desire to return to the land God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. After 70 years of captivity, the Jews were allowed to return to their Promised Land. Out of the two or three million Jews in Babylon, only about 50,000 returned to the Promised Land. In the days of Ezra, the Jews who returned rebuilt the temple and laid a renewed spiritual foundation for Israel. The Book of Nehemiah starts about 15 years after the Book of Ezra ends; about 90 years after the first Jews returned to the Promised Land; about 140 years after Jerusalem was destroyed. After all this time, the walls around Jerusalem were still not rebuilt. In Ezra 4:6-23, 75 years before, the Jews tried to rebuild the walls but were stopped by their enemies, so Artaxerxes, the king of Persia, issued a decree to stop the project. The Jews had given up hope, so the walls around Jerusalem lay in ruin, offering the people no protection.
Challenge & Application
1. When you consider your foundation in Christ, how solid is it to be able to overcome persecution and the test and trials this life brings?
2. What trials have caused you to lose hope and feel your life was laid in ruin? How did you overcome?
Don’t forget to pray using the A.C.T.S. (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) method!