VERSES: Nehemiah 1:1-13:31
MEMORY VERSE: Nehemiah 4:6 "...for the people had a mind to work."
BOOK TO REMEMBER: Mark. Write "Mark" on small slips of paper and hand out to the students at the end of class for memory work at home.
PRAYER: Pray that we might be hard workers like Nehemiah and God's people who worked on rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem.
SPECIAL SONG: Read, Read Every Day (see February - Songs We Sing In Bible Class #3 on this blog)
VISUAL AID: A large-sized Activity (see below)
- We studied last time about how King Cyrus of Persia, through the urging of the LORD, had allowed any of God's people who were also called 'Jews' to return to Jerusalem. We have studied two groups of God's people who returned to Jerusalem. One group of 50,000 people was led by Zerubbabel back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Later, Ezra led 17,000 more people back to Jerusalem to restore the law. Now, we find that Nehemiah is going to lead the last group of Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall that went around Jerusalem and protected the city.
- Nehemiah was a godly man who had the job in Babylon of being the king's cupbearer (Nehemiah 1:11). This was a very important job to the king. A king never knew who his friends really were. We have studied before about some kings who were killed by their family or by those who they thought were their friends. That was why Nehemiah had such an important job. He was responsible for making sure that the things that the king drank were not poisoned!
- One day, Nehemiah was in the city of Shushan which about 150 miles from Babylon and he met a friend and some men of Judah. He asked them about the Jews who had escaped the captivity and how things were going in Jerusalem. The men said that things were not going well. They said that that the remnant or the small amount of Jews that served God were not doing well at all. They said that there was great affliction and reproach, the wall of Jerusalem was broken down, and the gates had been burned with fire.
- This news made Nehemiah very sad and he sat down and cried. He mourned and fasted and prayed to God for days. Then, for the first time since he had heard the news about Jerusalem, Nehemiah went before the king to give him his cup. The king knew Nehemiah and noticed that he was very sad. He asked him what was wrong and Nehemiah was afraid because no one went before the king when they were sad. Nehemiah answered the king respectfully and said why shouldn't he be sad when the city, the place of his father's graves, laid in waste and the city's gates were burned with fire. The king was concerned and asked Nehemiah what he wanted to do. Nehemiah was a man of prayer. He prayed to God, then he answered the king. Nehemiah replied to the king that he wanted the king to send him to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall. The king was pleased to send Nehemiah to Jerusalem and Nehemiah received a letter from the king to get all the supplies he needed and he left with the captains of the army and horsemen.
- When Nehemiah arrived in the city, two men named Sanballat and Tobiah, who were not Jews, were terribly bothered that someone had come to check up on the Jews to see how they were doing.
- Nehemiah was secretive. He didn't tell anyone why he was there and at night time he went out and took a look at the wall. He wanted to see what shape the wall was in and made a plan on how to fix it. Then Nehemiah told the Jews that God's good hand was upon him and he had come to help them build the wall. Right away, the Jews said, "Let's get up and build!" They were ready to work! But, Sanballat and Tobias were not happy. The Bible says that they laughed at Nehemiah and mocked or made fun of him because they hated the Jews. Nehemiah answered them bravely that the God of heaven would help them and they would build the wall.
- There were obstacles in Nehemiah's way, such as the enemies that lived all around Jerusalem, including Sanballat and Tobias, also some of the Jews were afraid, some people said "We can't do it!", there was also an amazing amount of rubbish around the city they had to clean up, and even some of the Jews who were covetous were in Nehemiah's way. But the people wanted to build the wall and they set their minds to work. They worked hard and finished the wall in 52 days! That was fast--all because they were hard workers! The wall was finished.
- After the wall was finished, Nehemiah did much good by reading the law of the Lord. One day they were reading in the book of Moses out loud to all the congregation of people. Everyone could hear the law being read. They found written in the book that the Ammonite and Moabite were not supposed to be included in the congregation of the LORD. Both the Ammonites and the Moabites had treated Israel badly in past times and God had punished them for their mistreatment. When the people heard the law, the Bible says that the people separated themselves from the mixed multitude or the ones who were from other nations found in the house of God.
- Nehemiah also found that Eliashib, the priest, who had the oversight of the chamber of the house of God, was friends with Tobias. He had treated him like he was something special. He had given him a large room in the house of God to stay in. He had given him meat offerings, frankincense, money from the corn, and oil, and other valuable things to Tobias. Tobias was not a friend of God. He had married a Jewish woman (Nehemiah 6:17-19), but he should not have been in the house of God. All this was done while Nehemiah was in Babylon. When Nehemiah found out about this friendship between Eliashib and Tobias and all the things Eliashib had done for this enemy of the LORD, Nehemiah threw out all of Tobias' things out of the house of God and had them clean the room in which he was staying. Nehemiah was brave and not afraid of anyone who was against God.
- Nehemiah also took care of the Levites and made certain that they were fed and were doing the jobs for which they were responsible. Nehemiah also spoke to the men of Judah who had married foreign wives. He brought up King Solomon's sins to them and told them not to be like him in that way. He said that even the children could not speak in the Jewish language because they also spoke the language of Ashdod. This was a problem and Nehemiah wanted it fixed because God was displeased.
- Nehemiah said over and over again, "Remember me, O my God..." (Nehemiah 13:14, 22, 31). We should say that, too!
- Nehemiah had an interesting plan in building the wall around Jerusalem. Each family had a section of the wall and they were responsible for rebuilding only that section. By everyone pitching in and doing their part made the work go very quickly.
- Definition of affliction: pain and suffering.
- Definition of reproach: expressing disappointment or disapproval.
ACTIVITY: The Wall of Jerusalem
Materials needed: 9" x 12" dark brown construction paper, four 4 1/2" x 6" pieces of light brown construction paper, scrap of yellow construction paper, crayons, marker, lots of tape, scissors.
- Hand out dark brown piece of paper to student.
- Hand out one piece of light brown paper to student.
- Fold light brown paper in half, lengthwise.
- Fold again, lengthwise.
- Unfold and draw medium-sized circles all over one side of light brown paper. The circles are rocks.
- Fold paper to resemble a tube.This is one side of the wall.
- Secure with tape.
- Tape to short side of dark brown paper.
- Repeat steps #3-7 with second piece of light brown paper. This is the second side of of the wall.
- Attach to opposite side of dark brown paper.
- Repeat steps #3-7 with third piece of light brown paper. This is the third side of the wall.
- Attach to long side of dark brown paper. It should slide right in!
- Repeat steps #3-7 with fourth piece of light brown paper. This is the fourth side of the wall.
- Attach to opposite side of dark brown paper. This, too, should slide right in.
- Tape 'walls' together securely, so they will not bend easily. This is the wall of Jerusalem. Inside is the city of Jerusalem.
- Hand out yellow paper.
- Make a 'sunburst out of the yellow paper. See picture above.
- Write "Nehemiah and the people build the wall in 52 days!" in the middle of the yellow paper.
- Write "The people wanted to work!". "Nehemiah 6:15", and "The city of Jerusalem" in the middle of the 'city.'