Yesterday, we started our series through Nehemiah. As it looks right now, this is going to be a 16 part series. For our time together, we looked at two points: Nehemiah's Context, and Nehemiah's Call. If you missed it, you can head over to our sermon page and give it a listen.
In this blog post, I want to list some of Nehemiah's key themes, as well as look at why this is an important book for us in our current context.
Nehemiah's Key Themes
There are four main themes that we'll see over and over through Nehemiah. They are:
- Nehemiah's doctrine of God.
- Nehemiah's passion for Scripture.
- Nehemiah's experience of prayer.
- Nehemiah's experience in leadership.
There are certainly many more sub-themes that we'll see throughout the book, but these are the key themes which drive everything else. As you read through Nehemiah, watch for these themes. Nehemiah was a man with an incredibly high view of God which the church today can certainly learn from. He was a man devoted to God's word–it is clear that the whole of his life was informed by Scripture. He was a man who prayed–on just about every page of this story is some mention of prayer. He was a strong leader–there are few people today who can rally people behind a vision the way we'll see Nehemiah do it.
One of the questions many have asked is, why Nehemiah? On one level the answer is simply, why not? We believe all of Scripture to be God's word and profitable for our maturing and health as followers of Jesus. The other reason to study Nehemiah, is that it is incredibly relevant to our time as a church, and culture. For example:
- Nehemiah had to deal with the discomforts of change. God called him to a task 800 miles from where he had likely lived his whole life, and the task was going to be anything but easy.
- Nehemiah had to deal with fierce individualism.
- Nehemiah lived in a culture where the social injustices were extreme because many favored their own materialistic possessions over caring for the community at large.
- Nehemiah lived in a pluralistic society. God's Word, commands, and people were marginalized.
- Nehemiah's people, the Jews, though steeped in the religion of Judaism, knew very little of God's actual word. The same holds true for much of the church today.
As you can see, many of the issues Nehemiah dealt with are the same issues we deal with. Raymond Brown, in his commentary on Nehemiah, summarizes it well saying,
"Nehemiah lived heroically on the frontier between two worlds: human life as God intended it to be and as people have chosen to make it."
The gospel in Nehemiah
All of Scripture is ultimately about Jesus. Nehemiah is certainly no different. As we study Nehemiah, we need to always keep the reality before us that, though Nehemiah is the heroic figure of this story, he's simply a shadow of the Great Hero to come about 400 years later. Jesus would be born into human history and he alone would have perfect passion for God's holiness, the perfect view of Scripture, the perfect experience of prayer, and be the perfect leader. Jesus alone is our great intercessor and he alone can fully redeem and restore us back into a right relationship with God because he alone lived a life free of sin. He died the death we deserve, rose victoriously from the grave, and is continuing to make a people for himself.
I'm praying we learn much as we work through the book of Nehemiah, and I'm praying you are served well as we learn together about a people redeemed to redeem the nations!