Nehemiah – Building God’s Kingdom ネヘミヤー神の御国を建てる

We continue our series on the books of the Bible. Quick review. Chart.
Let me say again at the start, it’s amazing how applicable Israelite history is to our lives today. We might at a glance think of it as nothing more than ancient history regarding a faraway and long ago people of a different culture and language. But a closer look sees people who are very much like you and me, dealing with the same struggles and joys as you and me, and most importantly, who are serving the same God as you and me.

Nehemiah is the last historical book of the Old Testament. (Although the book of Esther appears after Nehemiah in the canon, the events in Esther occurred in the time period between Ezra 6 and 7, between the first and second returns of the people to Israel. The prophet Malachi was a contemporary of Nehemiah.)

Broad Outline for Nehemiah
I. The Return of Nehemiah 1:1 — 2:20  ネヘミヤの帰国
II. The Building of the Wall 3:1 — 7:73  城壁の再建
III.. The Reading of the Law 8:1 —13:31 律法の朗読

I. The Return of Nehemiah 1:1 — 2:20  ネヘミヤの帰国
A. Nehemiah learns of conditions in Jerusalem 1:1-3  ネヘミヤがエルサレムの状況を知る
B. Nehemiah’s prayer for Jerusalem 1:4-11  ネヘミヤのエルサレムのための祈り
C. Nehemiah’s preparations for the wall (chap 2)  ネヘミヤの城壁の準備

Nehemiah’s humility and faithfulness before God provided an example for the people.

Right at the beginning when he is brought the report of Jerusalem’s state, despite being in a position of influence, the first thing Nehemiah did was ネヘミヤが最初に行ったことは
– donate money? 寄付をする?
– go to the king? 王のところへ行く?
– pray? 祈る?
– bury himself in work to avoid taking action? 行動をとるのを避けるために仕事に没頭する?

He always prayed first, despite obvious solutions (like going straight to the king).
Nehemiah’s prayer in chapter one is a great example for us how to pray.
But see also 2:4,5 ‘The king said to me, “What is it you want?”
Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”’
Even before speaking, in the moment, Nehemiah prays.

II. The Building of the Wall 3:1 — 7:73  城壁の再建
A. The builders of the wall (chap 3)  城壁の再建
B. Opposition to the builders 4:1-3  建て直す者たちへの反対
C. The problem of debt (chap 5)  借金の問題
D. More opposition and the wall completed (chap 6)  反対の増加と城壁の完成
E. Protecting Jerusalem 7:1-73  エルサレムを守る
There’s something worth nothing about the opposition to the building of the wall: it came from both outside and from within. 反対は内側と外側の両方から来ました。
Which one was worse? Opposition from within.
Opposition from outside can be scary and intimidating, no doubt. But generally it leads to 外からの反対はたいてい
* resolve 決意 * unity, and  一致 * growth 成長 につながります。

Opposition from within is usually far worse. If not dealt with quickly and firmly, it usually leads to 内からくる反対はふつう
* discouragement  落胆 * division, and 分裂 * destruction 崩壊 につながります。

Nehemiah set a fine example in leadership in his dealing with opposition both from without and within. His key to dealing with both kinds of opposition was his confidence in God. When we are facing opposition from within or without, political or economic, relational or spiritual, emotional or physical, we have the same power source that Nehemiah had, which is the same power source that Jesus had when He rose from the dead. We have the power of God, the Holy Spirit, in our lives to deal with opposition.ネヘミヤのどちらの反対にも対処できた鍵は神への信頼でした。

III.. The Reading of the Law 8:1 —13:31  律法の朗読
A. Ezra reads the Law (chap 8)  エズラが律法を朗読
B. Israel confesses its sin (chap 9)  イスラエルの罪の告白
C. The signing of the Covenant (chap 10) 契約の署名
D. Lists of exiles returned 11:1-12:26  追放された者たちの帰国
E. Dedication of the walls 12:27-47 城壁の奉献

This final section sees spiritual revival.この最後の節に霊的リバイバルが見られます。 It’s such a joy to read and hear about spiritual revival. It’s such a joy to hear about and see the Holy Spirit in action. I’m giving a quick overview here. There’s real meat to this revival and by that I mean there was real hardship as well as real blessing. And we’re all in a position today where we’re poised for revival yet it’s not without hardship. This is normal. But we must continue to seek revival with all of our hearts.
And I believe it is a spiritual law that the more we seek and the closer we are to revival, the more we will be attacked. We must continue to seek and work, as Nehemiah did, under God’s hand, for the coming of God’s kingdom. And as we do, the blessings are unmistakable.

Here’s how it came about in Nehemiah’s day, in a nutshell.
i. The law was reintroduced.律法が再導入された There is a return to the Word of God. A passion for it. A devotion to it. An obedience to it.
ii. There was celebration. 祝いがあった There was joy. The people learned in their hearts that their strength was not in a completed wall, a new church building, a new program, church growth – their strength was in the joy of the Lord. It was in the joy of knowing Him and serving Him.
iii. There was confession.告白があった Real dirty, grimy, gritty confession. Crying out and tears. An acute awareness of their sinfulness and God’s goodness.
iv. And there was covenant renewal. 契約の更新があった This was effected by a pledge of renewal by the people to be devoted to God, and a blessing conferred upon the people by God.
Today, revival follows a very similar pattern, only it concludes with a filling of the Holy Spirit which has now been poured out for all people who confess Christ as Lord. We should be continually seeking this fullness of Christ through the Holy Spirit. We should be hungry for revival in our own hearts and church.

Nehemiah was a layman. He was not a priest like Ezra or a prophet like Malachi. He served the Persian king in a secular position before leading a group of Jews to Jerusalem in order to rebuild the city walls.
God uses all manner of people in all manner of places doing all manner of work. You don’t have to be “in ministry” in order to serve God. Be encouraged; God is not limited by your vocation. In fact, God has placed you where you are for a purpose. Have this attitude about your work: 神に仕えるために“宣教”に関わる仕事をしていなくてもいいのです。
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” Col 3:17

I’d like to conclude by drawing some more parallels between the work of Nehemiah in Jerusalem 2,400 years ago and our work in the church today.

We’re building a temple. 私たちは宮を建てているのです。

The first temple we build is that of our bodies.最初に建てる宮は私たちの体です。 “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.” We should treat our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. That could easily sound like an invitation to narcissism in a world where body image seems to be everything. But God’s Word tells us clearly that we are to love ourselves in a very healthy, holy way. We are to eat well, rest well, exercise, keep our bodies sexually pure, keep our motives right and our minds Christlike.

The second temple we are pillars of is the church. The New Testament devotes many pages to church health, growth, maturity and vitality. 2番目に建てる宮は教会です。

Let me refer to one passage here from Ephesians 4:11-13:
It was Christ who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
to equip his people for works of service,
so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature,
Unity and maturity – for what purpose?
to attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

This is the temple we’re building. Focussing on the goal here, this temple – Minoh International Church – is to be built up to attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Not parts of it, not a little of each part, not sometimes. The whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
That’s why we meet each week. That’s why we study the Word with passion each week. That’s why we celebrate with joy each week. That’s why we humble ourselves and confess our sins before God each week. That’s why we seek revival through the power and work of the Holy Spirit each week. Because like Nehemiah, we’re building a holy place where God is present and people are reconciled to Him.