In his second letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17).
The “all” of II Timothy 3:16 certainly includes the Old Testament historical book Nehemiah, a book that does not often find a place in either our family or personal devotionals. After all, reading about the struggle of the Jews to rebuild the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem seems to lack the drama of the Exodus, the thrill of David and Goliath, or the pathos of the Passion of Christ.
Yet, as Scripture inspired by God, this book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of God’s bigger picture. Listed below are some of the contributions that this book makes:
A Historical Contribution
Ezra and Nehemiah record the last events of Old Testament history after the book of 2 Chronicles and prior to the “400 Silent Years” before the coming of Christ, so called because no book of the Bible was written during this time. Without the books of Ezra and Nehemiah there would be a significant void in Hebrew history.
A Doctrinal Contribution
These books reveal much about God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises to His people. They teach of God’s providence by relating how God preserved His people through the Babylonian captivity and ordered international events to insure the restoration of His people to their homeland.
An Understanding of Satan’s Schemes
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:11, “for we are not ignorant of [Satan’s] schemes.” The books of Ezra and Nehemiah contribute to our understanding of Satan’s schemes by showing how he tried to discourage and demoralize God’s people when they were trying to rebuild both the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem. These books teach us how we can deal with opposition, slander, threats, and mockery when we are trying to faithfully serve God.
An Understanding of Personal Holiness
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah make a contribution to our understanding of personal holiness. They teach us the importance and necessity of God’s people being separated from sin and forsaking sinful practices. It addresses the matter of unfaithfulness to the Lord and how to live a life that pleases God. These books also deal with the importance of prayer in our lives.
An Understanding of the Importance of Bible Study
Ezra was instrumental in reviving the people’s interest in God’s Word. In Ezra 7:10 we read, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra loved God’s Word and loved to teach others God’s Word. In fact, some scholars believe that Ezra wrote Psalm 119, the great Psalm about the Word of God. Both Ezra and Nehemiah were men who had a passion for God’s Word and for obeying God’s Word regardless of the consequences.
An Understanding of Godly Leadership
Without question, Ezra and Nehemiah were two of the most outstanding leaders in the Old Testament. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are filled with inspiring and challenging lessons for all who are leaders or aspire to serve in a leadership role. They teach such leadership lessons as goal setting, organizing, delegating, motivating, evaluating, administration, dealing with difficult people, and much more. These books make a significant contribution to our understanding of the dynamics of godly and effective leadership.
So, why study the books of Ezra and Nehemiah? Because studying these books will…
• help us to better understand Biblical history and put Biblical events into perspective. A study of these books will help us to see more of the bigger picture of Scripture.
• help us to better understand the ways of God and the schemes of Satan. A study of these books will help us to understand how to trust God through difficulties and how to stand firm in the face of opposition.
• challenge us to live holy lives and become people who love and obey God’s Word. A study of these books will challenge us to leave the comfort of lukewarm Christianity.
• help us to learn how to become better leaders and servants in God’s work. A study of these books will help us to learn how to be leaders and how to support our leaders.