Nehemiah means The Lord Comforts. The book was written approximately 445-432 B.C. Some Bible expositors believe Nehemiah wrote this book and much of the book is a personal account of the circumstances surrounding his return to Jerusalem.
Nehemiah shows the fulfilment of the prophecies of Zechariah and Daniel concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls and is the last of the Old Testament historical books. It records the history of the third return to Jerusalem after captivity, telling how the walls were rebuilt and the children of Israel renewed in their faith.
Nehemiah was not the first of the exiles to return to Jerusalem. Zerubbabel had led the first group back in 537 B.C. more than 90 years earlier (Ezra 2 v 2). Ezra followed with a second group in 458 B.C (Ezra chapter 7), and now Nehemiah was ready to lead the third major return to Jerusalem approximately 445 B.C.
When he arrived after a three month journey, Nehemiah saw the completed Temple and became acquainted with others who had returned to their homeland. Nehemiah also found a disorganised group of people and a defenceless city with no walls to protect it. Before the exile, Israel had its own language, king, army and identity. Now it had none of these.
The Jews lacked leadership and direction. As soon as Nehemiah arrived, he began to help and care for the people’s physical needs by setting up a fair system of government and rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls. Ezra accomplished the spiritual establishment of the new community, whereas Nehemiah succeeded in giving Israel physical stability.
Nehemiah surveyed the walls at night to avoid detection by those who might have opposed the building process. The project was completed in the remarkably short time of 52 days. During his endeavour he faced determined opposition. In each case, he met the challenge with courage, wisdom, and an invincible determination to complete the task for which God had called him.
Leadership appears glamarous at times, but it is often lonely, thankless and filled with pressures to compromise values and standards. Nehemiah was able to accomplish a huge task against incredible odds, because he learned that there is no success without risk of failure, no reward without hard work, no opportunity without criticism, and no true leadership without trust in God.
Remember, there is a place for you in God’s Kingdom even if you are different from most other people. God uses each person in a unique way to accomplish his purposes!