Life Lessons from the Book of Nehemiah
The Old Testament was not written for the purpose of providing history lessons; but to give instructions, illustrations, definitions, and types/shadows for us to see God's plan in bringing forth the sons of God on the earth. It shows us the way to walk and also how not to walk. God uses the Old Testament to express truths that are present today for with God there is no past tense. What the children of Israel walked through in the Old Testament is still being walked out by the church today.
Jerusalem signifies the house of God, the city of God. It is a city surrounded by a wall with gates. Today we hear of the "golden gates" which will surround Jerusalem when the Lord returns. This is a city that has gone through destruction and rebuilding more than any other city around the world. However, the wall that God is building today is not a part of the literal city of Jerusalem, but the people, or church. We are the temple of God today (I Corinthians 3:17).
God is bringing forth a remnant of people around the world today to declare His city; His Holy Nation (Isaiah 62:12). In these scriptures this is represented by the people that have escaped the bondage of Babylon. They were free but had lost the foundation and understanding required to have a relationship with God. Religious confusion had replaced relationship.
The first concern that Nehemiah had was to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Those that had returned to Jerusalem had no way to defend themselves. Rebuilding these walls was accomplished over a 25 year period, which took place several hundred years before Christ. It didn't just happen within a few years, but was a vision that was diligently pursued for a long time with many people having to put aside their own issues of fatigue. They didn't have the miracles of Jesus or the letters of Paul to encourage them. It was the faith and vision God gave Nehemiah that allowed them to persevere.
Today, there is a loud trumpet call being given to rebuild the walls of Zion, the people of God, His Holy Nation under the headship of Jesus Christ. The vision that Nehemiah was given to rebuild the wall of the city of God had been a trumpet call as well. This is the same trumpet that is heard in the book of Revelation to return and establish the foundational walls of Christianity.
Nehemiah faced a tremendous amount of hardship in taking on this project. His workmen had to defend themselves from their enemies while they were trying to work to rebuild the wall. They were continually ridiculed with words that demeaned their craftsmanship being told by outsiders that what they were doing would not stand the test of time, and that their work was irrelevant to the city of God. This was a very long, tedious project that was draining on the people emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Theologically, building this wall compares to us today building the temple of God, Christ in us, so that deception of religion, economics, and government bondages cannot penetrate the revelation of LIFE that the Holy Spirit has revealed to us.
There were military attacks which tried to deter the children of God from building this wall. This book of Nehemiah illustrates the persistent will that took place when God placed a vision in the heart of those that He had called. The wall was intended to secure the city so that it would be possible to inhabit the Holy City again. For us today, our "Holy City" is being in the presence of God and knowing the UNCONDITIONAL love that He has for us as Father despite the opposition where scriptures are used to bring condemnation and justification.
Nehemiah's vision was not only the preparation of the walls to inhabit the city safely, but to bring restoration to the temple on Mount Zion. The other concern he had was the recovery of the Law of Moses, and the faithful interpretation and observation of the sacred word. The vision the Lord gave him was not only to protect the city, but to have the truth of the word of God be restored in the city. The people would need spiritual food to grow and develop to beable to keep the city.
Nehemiah was a builder and an administrator. The Scribe Ezra, who lived during this time, was given the responsibility by Nehemiah to re-establish the Law of the Covenant. Ezra had spent his whole life copying and studying the law. He knew it better than any other person that lived. They were concerned about the proper interpretation of the law that had gone astray during exile.
Hundreds of years before this time when God's people were in the wilderness with Moses, there was only a remnant that crossed over into the Promised Land even though the word of the Lord had been given to them. What God gave them was more than the laws of Moses. It included the Law of the Covenant that all the children of Israel had received. Yet, while in the wilderness sin and contamination entered into their lives. Just like Moses and Joshua, Nehemiah and Ezra came to renew the Covenant of God with the people. They desired to bind the people to God on the basis of the Word, and reestablish Truth.
The people had been without the wisdom and knowledge of what God originally established among His people for such a long time that it was necessary for them to go back to the foundation to re-establish the Law of the Covenant. Ezra took on the responsibility to establish the law in the hearts of the people keeping out sin and disobedience. He called the assembly together as Moses did to establish the Covenant by reading the words likened to a trumpet sound. He then sprinkled the blood of sacrifice upon the altar first, and then upon the people, binding them together in covenant unto God.
We begin with the Book of Nehemiah, Chapter One, using the Amplified Bible:
With verse 3 - 11 we read that Nehemiah was given a message about what is taking place in Jerusalem with the people of God. When he heard that the people were in great affliction and reproach, it stirred his heart to the point that he wept taking upon himself to pray, fast, and plead before God for the people's situation. He then began to intercede for the people reminding God of His words to Moses:
Verse 8-9: "Remember (earnestly) what You commanded Your servant Moses: If you transgress and are unfaithful, I will scatter you abroad among the nations; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though your outcasts were in the farthest part of the heavens (the expanse of outer space), yet will I gather them from there and will bring them to the place in which I have chosen to set My Name."
Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to restore the city with rebuilding the wall. The word "wall" means to join and protect. The wall that God is rebuilding today is not a physical place called Jerusalem, but people. However, these people must show the rebuilding of His temple as a type/shadow of the real. God is not going to permit the rebuilding while we just sit and wait for the Lord's return. He is making sure that there will be those that He has called to personally qualify for what only God will do. This book is full of specifics about the people that God chose to build what portion of what gate and what location of the wall. A whole teaching could be done about each person's name that is listed in this book declaring something unique and specific in the way God built the wall and re-established the city.
A wall represents the standard and boundaries of a city. It is the protection, limitation, and expression of a city. Today, Christ is living within a people. We are the temple of God. His coming forth will not be from the sky, but from within His temple. If we miss the coming of Christ it is because we were not looking in the temple of God, but somewhere else. Christ IN YOU is the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).
The golden gate that theologians have taught would be opened in Jerusalem when the Lord returns is a type and shadow for us to look within ourselves for a gate to be opened and the manifestation of Christ in us to be released. The Book of Nehemiah gives us a pattern to follow in the opening of this gate within the heart of each of us.
The wall that Nehemiah is called by God to build is a standard being set within a company of people that have been pulled aside by God to establish for His kingdom. However, whether we speak of the wall in China or in Jerusalem, they both make a specific statement to the world which is: This is the city and here is the expression of it. Here are the gates and entrance to enter into it and here is the place of exit. The walls state that within them there is protection and unity of like mind.
Nehemiah groans for the city and seeks the Lord for the repairing of it including the walls that protect it. The overwhelming task set before him is a project that he knows must be accomplished, but he also must depend on God for the resources and manpower to make it happen. He had served under a heathen king, but God touched the heart of Artaxerxes so that he was willing to supply Nehemiah with the means to rebuild Jerusalem.
Chapter 2: Nehemiah begins to encourage the people showing the king's letter which gained access to supplies to rebuild the wall. In verse 11 we see that he was in Jerusalem for three days which spiritually speaks of resurrection, or a new beginning.
He then got up in the night after everyone else was asleep taking just a few men with him and an animal to ride on. What Nehemiah did not do is to go about telling a lot of people what God had put in his heart trying to get a committee or church group's approval.
He went out by the Valley Gate toward the Dragon's Well and to the dung Gate inspecting the gates that had been destroyed by fire. He then went to the Fountain Gate and to the King's Pool, but couldn't pass because the destruction was so great. So he rode by the brook (Kidron) in the night inspecting the wall, and then returned to the Valley Gate (13-15).
Verse 16 tells us that no one knew what Nehemiah was doing including the rulers, Jews, priests, nobles, officials, or even the people that did the work. God gave him a secret work to survey the situation and destruction that exists. No one had a clue that he was making an observation of the situation for God.
When Nehemiah has a good understanding of what the circumstance is with the city of Jerusalem and the wall that has been torn apart, he presents the situation to the people. In verse 18 we read, "Then I told them of the hand of my God which was upon me for good, and also the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, Let us rise up and build! So they strengthened their hands for the good work."
Whenever God is doing a good work through us we can expect opposition of some kind. The same thing occurred for Nehemiah and the people that were supporting him to rebuild the wall. In verse 19 Nehemiah and the people were mocked with the words of Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah an Ammonite servant, and Geshem who were Arab. They laughed, scorned, and despised Nehemiah and the people by saying "What is this thing you are dong? Will you rebel against the king?"
They didn't just express their opposition once and then walk away. We read in Chapter 4, verses 1 and 2, "But when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and in a great rage, and he ridiculed the Jews. And he said before his brethren and the army of Samaria, What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore things (at will and by themselves)? Will they (try to bribe their God) with sacrifices? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, seeing they are burned?"
Since his mockery didn't do anything against Nehemiah, Sanballat gathered the strength of the Samaritan army. Samaritans represent Jews that did not want to summit to the ways of God. They set up their own standard instead of God's.
Nehemiah is receiving the opposition of all those that are against what God has shown him. There is parallel with the Jews and Samaritans for us today. For example, we can see all the many Christian denominations that refuse to work together as one body, yet insist that their doctrine is the path to life according to the word of God. Nehemiah is going against all ridicule and enemy forces to do what God has shown him.
These people that worked on the rebuilding did not turn their backs to the enemy. While they worked, they carried swords and shields to fight off any attacks (vs. 17). They had to continually keep themselves protected as they were rebuilding. Keep in mind; this was not a 6 months or one year project, but took place over a 25 year period. Many people died of old age before seeing the finished work, yet by faith they persevered.
With all the opposition around Nehemiah and the men that were rebuilding they prayed to God and set a watch against their enemies day and night. Those carrying the most burdens began to weaken, so Nehemiah set armed men behind the wall in places that were least protected. He used the people as families with their swords, spears, and bows.
In verse 4 of Chapter 4 we read, "(And Nehemiah prayed) Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their taunts upon their own heads, and give them for a prey in a land of their captivity."
The parallel that we see happening is what we go through today: God will be calling us out to do something that may not agree with church doctrine. We must pray about it waiting for His counsel while searching His word. Once we know in our heart without any question what God is commissioning, we must put on the armor of God expecting to be attacked with words of ridicule that will try and convince us that we are not really hearing from God.
The voice of the enemy will say things such as, "If God is in this: why hasn't He told everyone else; why is there so much financial struggle; why is it difficult to get the supplies that are needed; why are you and a few people the only ones hearing; why is there so much confusion; why are things going backwards after taking a few steps forward; why is there delay?"
These questions are not meant to be answered, but to weaken the vision and call of God. Therefore, it is vitally important to be equipped with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-18) expecting confrontation while moving towards what God has called us to do for His glory and His kingdom to be manifested NOW.
Nehemiah 4: 13-14, "So I set (armed men) behind the wall in places where it was least protected; I even thus used the people as families with their swords, spears, and bows. I looked (them over) and rose up and said to the nobles and officials and the other people, Do not be afraid of the enemy; (earnestly) remember the Lord and imprint Him (on your minds), great and terrible, and (take from Him courage to) fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes."
Further down in this chapter we read that the destruction of the wall was great and spread out. The workers were individually armed, but because of the distance between workers, they were to press on in diligence to the cause and vision God had given them independently. This issue is addressed by Nehemiah in verses 19-21:
"And I said to the nobles and officials and the rest of the people, the work is great and scattered, and we are separated on the wall, one far from another; in whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us. So we labored at the work while half of them held the spears from dawn until the stars came out."
When God calls us to do something He equips us individually in accordance to the vessel that we are created for that purpose. Though it will be the same equipment, it may fit a little different on each person because we are all a unique portion of the body of Christ. However, once the trumpet sound is heard within our spirit (vs. 18), we will come together as His body for the same call that God has placed in each of our hearts.
In Chapter 5, the people began to complain about their debit and what it is costing them to build this wall. The kingdom of God requires a certain standard of excellence. God is not looking for a people that are interested in doing a "patch job" for His Kingdom to be manifested. He does not need a "buddy" to give Him an opinion of what works and doesn't work. Christ is all and in all (Col. 3:11). It takes those that know they are a new creature in Christ (Gal. 6:15) ready to do the Father's business. They believe in their heart that as He is so am I in this world (I John 4:17). The old man (Adam) is gone and all things are new in Him (2 Corinth. 5:17). God requires perfection from those that He has called.
The people's complaints to Nehemiah were about a burden they were carrying as a debit or bondage that was way beyond THEIR ability to pay. They were armed from attacks from their enemy on the outside, but they were feeling the pressures that come from within their soul of the cost to rebuild the wall.
When we come to Chapter 6 verse 5, we see that the people are influenced from the words of outsiders causing them to start forming their own opinions and views of what God called Nehemiah to do. They were ideas and thoughts like "this rebuilding project was not from God, but to build a kingdom for Nehemiah." The workers grouped together to come against him because of their own burden, but they are blaming the situation on Nehemiah. They tried to justify their position by emphasizing that they already had a king and didn't need Nehemiah to be one. They threatened to take matters to the Persian king.
Verse 8-9: "I replied to him, no such things as you say have been done; you are inventing them out of your own heart and mind. For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, their hands will be so weak that the work would not get done. But now strengthen my hands!"
The people that had been called by God begin to make an impact on those outside. Not understanding the ways of God, those in leadership felt threatened by what building this wall might mean to their personal situation and ruler ship. God's people tend to doubt God when natural opposition, which may sound logical, causes insecurity, anxiety, fear, and confusion to the vision that God has given. Again, the "why" questions enter into the mind of the people. Many people leave what God has called them to do as a result of the conflict and troubles they encounter thinking that in doing so their troubles will leave.
Nehemiah responds by telling the people that the reports are not true. The people must strengthen the weakened areas where doubt and insecurity have tried to penetrate by tightening the armor of God around them.
In verses 15 -16, the wall is finished. "When all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us feared and fell far in their own esteem, for they saw that this work was done by our God."
The wall has now been built. Around the wall there were gates established that was part of the rebuilding of the wall. Each gate had a designated team of people that were assigned for a specific purpose at the gate of which they were to be in charge. Each gate had a unique position for the city's purposes, yet had to work in unity with the other gates to establish strength and power as one wall around the city.
In Chapter 7:1 we read, "Now when the wall was built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites had been appointed…"
Notice who is watching over the gates: gatekeepers are those who serve; singers are those who lead in praise to God; and Levites are the priests or sons of God. The post watch of the gates was a 24/7 responsibility. In other words, these gates were manned with the armor of God continually by those that had been crucified with Christ. Their life was not their own, but in a position of strategy for the Kingdom of God.
When we go to verse 3, Nehemiah says, "Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while the watchmen are still on guard, let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from the people of Jerusalem, each to his watch (on the wall) and each opposite his own house." The word "sun" can be replaced with "SON" in applying these scriptures for us today. This means that there will not be a releasing of the gates until the SON is red hot, or until it is "high noon" when the LIGHT is shining at HIS brightest. It also means that the pressures we incur in the natural realm will be at their hottest point; when we think we can't take it any longer and we are ready to give up or quit whatever God has called us to do.
Those that will be in the city cannot go out, and those on the outside will not be able to come in until God says it is "high noon." We read in this same verse that the guards would take their position on the wall opposite their own house, yet in verse 4 their houses were not yet built! In verse 5 we read that the people that are counted in the city have a genealogy connection to the city which qualified them to be inside the wall.
Let's get this picture: The people that are within the city are there because of being a son or daughter of someone that was connected to the city of God, not because they had years of experience in being a guard; however, they don't yet have a house. Until the gates are opened so their house can be built, they are to establish themselves as a guard on the wall opposite where there house will be. How many times do you think these people went through their days visualizing their dream home within the city walls while they stood guard? How often did they long for the gates to be opened so that they could start building their homes?
These people had already gone through many trials trying to build the wall while dealing with the attacks from their enemies. They were tired. When the wall was finished they were ready to rest, yet God was calling them to come to a place higher, the top of the wall, and guard the place where their house would be in the city, not telling them how long they would have to continue watch. They would know by a sign when things were at their hottest and the sun was at its brightest. When the SON is red hot, everyone will be steaming and sweating uncontrollably. Water will be pouring out of the flesh. It is the trials and tribulations of our life that this experience occurs. Selah.
The gates to the city each had a particular purpose of entering into the city:
Sheep Gate: Those that are migrating in the world needing to be gathered together by the shepherd. This gate is a place of collecting or coming together. They began to collect the sheep.
Fish Gate: The souls of people that have been seeking for the deeper things of God not satisfied with what tradition or denomination has taught. There are numerous squirming souls ready for harvest gathering. God is repairing the migrating and recollecting.
Old Gate: Symbolic of something that has always been in existence. Represents truth that has always existed; but alienated from the lives of the people.
We can go back today through history and find a company of people that God has used to preserve His word and truth as a seed to be carried into the next generation. God's present truth has always been and will always be. There is nothing new with God.
God is collecting the sheep that have gone astray, and the souls that are squirming with the word of God that has always been in them, but because of traditions and doctrines has been hidden except for a few that have carried the genealogy seed which qualifies them to stay within the walls.
Valley Gate: The main entrance in the west wall (West Gate or Jaffa Gate). This gate symbolizes arrogance. In the Old Testament, if there was an ego issue that God needed to deal with, that person was brought into the city through this gate. They had to go down into the valley to find humility before coming up into the city of God. He is bringing about restoration where there was arrogance.
Dung Gate: Represents a heap of rubbish or filth; a sense of scraping. God is drawing the rejects and outsiders of society into the city. Through all the rejection they have experienced, they are finding their true identity with their Heavenly Father as being a child of God. They are finding out that God loves them unconditionally, and that they are wonderfully and fearfully made!
Fountain Gate: The place of the eye; a place that is obvious. The center or display that catches your eye that everything else evolves around. It is supposed to be the Church; however, what should be a display of Christ has been a reproach. The outside world sees the church as a mockery and insult to God. God is restoring the eye or center display so that when others see the church, His body, they will see HIM and be drawn to HIM.
Water Gate: Spring or new beginning which comes from the word sperm. The restoration of the "seed" of the word of God. The restoring of intimacy, childbirth, and multiplication of the word of God as sons of God ready to do the Father's business. The restoration of creating after our own kind that Adam was originally commanded to do by God in Genesis 1: 27-28a:
"So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them and said to them, be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it (using all its vast resources in the service of God and man);"
Horse Gate: Skipping and leaping for joy; the restoration of joy.
Miphkad Gate: Also known as the Muster Gate. The assignment, the mandate, or command.
The repairing of the net for recapturing the commandment of God:
Matthew 22: 37-40: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect). This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. And a second is like it; you shall love your neighbor as (you do) yourself.
These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets."
When we come to Chapter 9, Nehemiah tells us how the Israelites came together and separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood and confessed the sins and iniquities of their fathers; read from the Book of the Law of the Lord; and worshipped God by singing praises and lifting up His name.
In verse 8 of this chapter there is a list of "ites" from which the people had been set free. They were released from the following:
Canaanite: Freedom from being humiliated or belittled.
Hittite: Freedom from being terrorized.
Amorite: Freedom from a place of publicity and pride.
Perizzite: Freedom from rusty; from being separated or in the wilderness.
Jebusite: Freedom from being trodden.
Girgashite: Freedom from being trampled and possessed or ruled over.
A very prevalent disease during Bible history was Leprosy which is symbolic of the "disease of the mind." It was a disease that the people were very fearful of being around. Those that had it blamed someone other than themselves for the responsibility of their condition or negative circumstances. Their praises to God included the recollecting of how His people were a "stiff-necked" group complaining constantly, yet God was ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great steadfast love. He did not forsake them and allotted to them the Promised Land (vs. 17, 22).
Something we must consider is; there were those that were called to rebuild the wall; those that were called to guard the gate; those that were called to guard their home; and then those that were princes, Levites, and priests to set the standard for the city. Each of these people were called by God. Chapter 10 gives a list of these people. Their names teach a lesson. These people had a passion to reestablish the covenant of God and walk in His Law which was given to Moses (vs. 29). They desired to see lost souls come into the city and have a safe place they could reside with their brothers and sisters; This is what all the gates represent. There is a restoration today calling the people that have labored through this process to bring ALL into the kingdom of God. Each of us has a "gate" that we have come through. Each gate is important and not any greater than another gate. God calls us to come with a spirit of unity and understanding of the importance of the assignment each person has.
We each have a list of "ites" or the Leprosy of our mind that will try to justify why we can't do our portion to what God has called to bring the unity of the family. However, there is a trumpet call that will be heard, and is being heard even now, for each of us to wake up and realize that the purpose of our being is not about us, but about Him. When this happens in each of us; when we experience our "high noon," we will rise up beyond our "ites" to do the Father's business in filling the earth with His glory, setting the captive free and bringing unity to the family of God.
In Revelation Chapter 21: 2-3 we read, "And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, all arrayed like a bride beautified and adorned for her husband; Then I heard a mighty voice from the throne and I perceived its distinct words, saying, See! The abode of God is with men, and He will live (encamp, tent) among them; and they shall be His people, and God shall personally be with them and be their God." The gates were opened resurrection morning when Jesus Christ rose from the grave for all to come through with whatever situation is going on in our lives. Each gate is separate, yet built of one pearl. (Rev. 21:21). Pearls represent a transformation through trials and tribulations coming through as a stone of righteousness.
"I saw no temple (natural building) in the city (body of Christ), for the Lord God Omnipotent (Himself) and the Lamb (Himself) is its temple. And the city has no need of the sun nor of the moon to give light to it (natural or carnal understanding), for the splendor and radiance (glory) of God illuminate it, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations (all mankind) shall walk by its light and the rulers and leaders of the earth shall bring into it their glory. And its gates shall never be closed by day, and there shall be no night (sorrow, ignorance) there. They shall bring the glory (the splendor and majesty) and the honor of the nations (our Christ identity) into it." Revelation 21:23-26.
These are they that have moved into place of overcoming by His grace and faith any hindering circumstances and have come a place of higher understanding in God. They know it is not about lifting themselves up, but about establishing their true identity and the unconditional love of God.
"I have been crucified with Christ (in Him I have shared His crucifixion); it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" Galatians 2:20
"In this (union and communion with Him) love is brought to completion and attains perfection with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment (with assurance and boldness to face Him), because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love (dread does not exist), but full grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment and (so) he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love (is not yet grown into love's complete perfection). We love Him, because He first loved us." I John 4:17-19.