Five Interesting Facts About Nehemiah

June 3, 2021  |  Luke Simmons

On June 6 we begin a summer-long series through the Old Testament book of Nehemiah that we’re calling Rebuilding. Below is the series schedule, the tagline, and five interesting facts to help you get started.

The Schedule

If you’d like to read along or ahead, here’s the schedule for this series:

June 6The Prayer (Nehemiah 1)
June 13The Project (Nehemiah 2-3)
June 20The Opposition (Nehemiah 4)
June 27The Poor (Nehemiah 5)
July 4The Adversary (Nehemiah 6)
July 11The Covenant (Nehemiah 7-8)
July 18The Confession (Nehemiah 9)
July 25The Dedication (Nehemiah 10-12)
August 1The Failure (Nehemiah 13)

The Tagline

With each book we study, we typically have a tagline that we use to conclude our Sunday Scripture readings. For this series, it’s this:

May this word of the Lord help us to be fearless and faithful in a world of discouragement and danger.

Like the world of Nehemiah, there is much that tempts the people of God today to be discouraged. And, like the world of Nehemiah, there are many real threats. The book of Nehemiah is written to help God’s people be fearless and faithful in the midst of those challenges.

Five Interesting Facts

1. The book of Nehemiah was originally part of one larger book, Ezra-Nehemiah. The earliest Jewish references to Ezra and Nehemiah refer to them as one book. In the 9th century, however, Latin Bibles began separating the books which has continued until today. This is why many commentaries and overviews (like this excellent 8-minute video from the Bible Project) keep them combined.

2. Nehemiah is written to form the people of God during a time of disappointment and marginalization. In our days, many Christians feel disappointed by how much better the promises of God seem than our lived reality. And, we find ourselves increasingly on the margins of society. That’s a very similar dynamic that’s happening in Nehemiah’s day, which makes this book especially timely.

3. The primary title for God in Ezra-Nehemiah is “God of heaven.” Twelve times God is referred to as “God of heaven,” indicating that God is not limited to some kind of local region or people group. This provides a great deal of comfort to know that, even if our circumstances seem dire, the God we worship is the God over all things.

4. There are zero miracles in the book of Nehemiah. This book isn’t anti-supernatural, of course, but it’s filled with descriptions of what happens when God’s people pray hard, work hard, and trust the God who is constantly working in the background on behalf of his people.

5. Nehemiah ends on a huge bummer — on purpose. As the story builds in Nehemiah, it gets more and more exciting. The walls and temple are being rebuilt, the people are confessing sin, reading the Torah, and committing themselves to holiness. But then the final chapter describes their utter failure. It seems like a lousy ending, but it has a point — the future hope of God’s people will only be possible through God’s Messiah, Jesus Christ.