Israel’s Story in Nehemiah

The following is an excerpt from volume 1 of The Lutheran Bible Companion on the happenings in Israel during the time of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah Travels to Jerusalem and Serves

Summary Commentary for Nehemiah Chapters 1–2

Nehemiah recalls the report about Jerusalem that prompted his decision to travel there and assist God’s people. On behalf of those struggling in Jerusalem, Nehemiah fasts and prays with great empathy as guided by God’s Word. Nehemiah asks for an opportunity to help rebuild his homeland, and the king answers favorably, because God is guiding the matter. The Word moves Nehemiah’s heart to begin plans for rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls.

Summary Commentary for Nehemiah Chapters 3–4

The Judeans eagerly begin work on the walls and gates of Jerusalem under Nehemiah’s able leadership. When obstacles arise, Nehemiah encourages ever more vigilant service by reminding the workers that “our God will fight for us.

Summary Commentary for Nehemiah Chapters 5–7

Governor Nehemiah addresses the problems caused by excessive interest rates and taxes and sets an example of generosity for the leaders. However, false prophets attempt to deceive Nehemiah and bring about his death. God’s people must always test claims of prophetic authority against the sure Word of prophecy: Holy Scripture (Dt 18:20–22; 1 Jn 4:1–3). Nehemiah appoints faithful colleagues to ensure good progress on the next phase of the work and catalogs the status of the community.

Nehemiah’s Governance Increases Preaching of the Word

Summary Commentary for Nehemiah Chapters 8–10

Nehemiah’s efforts result in an opportunity for Ezra and others to teach God’s Word to the Judeans. The Word moves their hearts, who sanctify the day of celebration by Word and faith. By studying Scripture, the Judeans learn that they had overlooked celebrating a key feast: the Feast of Booths. The people confess the Lord’s enduring mercy promised in the covenant. They were saved by God’s grace, not by their obedience. They offer thanks to the Lord for the blessings of the covenant and the atonement provided through the sacrifices.

Summary Commentary for Nehemiah Chapters 11–13

For the sake of security and good order, a number of people willingly agree to occupy Jerusalem, which was only beginning to be restored. With careful organization, the priests and Levites lead the people in worship and in dedicating the city walls. Nehemiah confronts ongoing issues of the Law and holiness, even losing his composure when people violate the covenant (13:25). The book ends with practical measures he enacts. 

Specific Law Themes in Nehemiah

The book opens with Nehemiah’s distress over the exiles who returned to Jerusalem but had not been able to restore the community. As he prays about the situation, he painfully recalls the reasons for the community’s failures and exile, which originally led to Jerusalem’s destruction. After Nehemiah faces opposition from outside the community, he discovers an example of corruption within the community, which will again lead to their destruction: illegal marriage. The people continue to break faith with their Lord.

Specific Gospel Themes in Nehemiah

Nehemiah recalls God’s grace and providence in calling Israel His people and preserving them despite their failures. Like Ezra, he focuses on the blessings connected with God’s Word and the temple sacrifices and feasts. He sees God’s hand guiding the people through history to be the remnant for renewal of the covenant.

Excerpt adapted from Lutheran Bible Companion, Volume 1, pp. 440–441. Copyright © 2014. Published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture: ESV®.

Learn more about Nehemiah with a companion text!

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The Christ in Joshua

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming Bible study The Messiah: Revealing Jesus in the Old Testament. This study works through each book of the Old Testament and highlights the prophesy and presence of Christ in each. 

Digging Deeper into Scripture: Micah 5:2–5a

As a prophet familiar with patience, Micah’s words are especially pertinent during our wait for Christmas during Advent. 

Israel’s Story in Ezra

The following is an excerpt from volume 1 of The Lutheran Bible Companion on the happenings in Israel during the time of Ezra.

The Holy Spirit in Chronicles

The following is an excerpt from volume 1 of The Lutheran Bible Companion on the action of the Holy Spirit in 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles.

Elijah: God’s Prophet to the Kings of Israel

Throughout the Old Testament—and especially in the Books of 1 and 2 Kings—God works through prophets to call Israel and her kings back to Him and rebuke their unbelief. The following excerpts from The Lutheran Bible Companion feature one of these instances: the encounters of Ahab and Elijah. 


Samuel: Prophet, Priest, and Judge

This blog post is an excerpt from the Lutheran Bible Companion, Volume 1: Introduction and Old Testament

Redemption and Symbolism in Ruth

This blog post is adapted from Lutheran Bible Companion, Volume 1: Introduction and Old Testament. 

One of the first matters to require attention is the real import of Ruth’s oft-quoted speech in 1:16–17, expressing her resolve to accompany Naomi. One should take care neither to read into Ruth’s words more than is actually said nor fail to hear them in total context.

Digging Deeper into Scripture: Genesis 9

Relief had finally come. God created Adam and Eve perfectly. But their wicked transgressions brought sin into the world, taking the Lord’s unblemished creation into destruction. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, forced to work a stubborn earth, and forced to give birth in pain. Their son Cain killed his brother, Abel, confirming the wickedness of man’s heart.

Seeing this egregious depravity in humanity, God chose to flood the earth, destroying everything. Yet He kept Noah in the faith, making him blameless among his generation. God instructed this servant to build an ark so a pair of every living creature, male and female, could reside during the deluge.

Worshiping Idols in the Book of Judges

This blog post is an excerpt from the Lutheran Bible Companion, Volume 1: Introduction and Old Testament

By breaking the seemingly innocuous command to “make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land” (Jgs 2:2; cf Ex 23:32), Israel began its downfall. Israel was to be His arm of justice against Canaanite peoples whose measure of wickedness was full and overflowing.

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