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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Nehemiah 4:6 So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.

During the siege of Babylon, Jerusalem was laid waste. Its walls were mostly destroyed and its temple and other buildings suffered considerable damage. For the most part, all of the Israelites were captured and carried away into Babylonian bondage. Ezra was a descendent of the priestly tribe of Israel. He received favor from King Artaxerxes, and was given permission to return to Jerusalem and to repair and restore the damaged temple and its wasted wall. Much of the repair was completed in the days of Ezra. However, the restoration slowed to a stop as the Israelites began to mingle, and intermarry, with the people of the heathen nations that inhabited much of Jerusalem and the surrounding area.

Some of the Israelites that accompanied Ezra to Jerusalem returned to Babylon and related the events that had occurred and the fact that the work on the restoration of Jerusalem had stopped. Nehemiah, a godly man, was saddened by these unfavorable reports. Nehemiah was a cup bearer to King Artaxerxes, and the king noticed Nehemiah's sad countenance. When the king discovered the reason for his sadness, he commissioned Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to complete the task that Ezra had begun.

Although Nehemiah had letters of authorization to rebuild Jerusalem that were signed by King Artexerxes, he was still faced with opposition from local governmental officials. After Nehemiah had assessed the work that needed to be done, he gathered his work force together and assigned their specific duties. Work was immediately started. At the instigation of Sanballat and Tobiah, Persian governors, the surrounding heathen nations rose up to fight against the Israelites that were rebuilding Jerusalem.

However, in the presence of these threats of harm, the Israelites continued rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. At the advice of Nehemiah, half of the Israelites would build and the other half would stand guard and protect the builders from the heathen opposition. All went to work armed, in order to defend themselves. This was a determined group of Israelites. As the text states, the wall was built, all parts of it were joined together, and it was completed because the people had a mind to work.

What a great example of desire, zeal and determination theseIsraelites demonstrated in doing the work of the Lord. Paul told the Galatians that is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing (Gal. 4:18). In Titus 2:13-14 we read that ...Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. To go to work for God and His Son, Jesus Christ, we must be zealous of good works. Certainly, with the zeal of Nehemiah and his builders, God's people are sure to accomplish good works for the benefit of themselves, others, and the glory of God.

The duties of mankind (to obey the laws of God) need to be accomplished today just as the breaches in the walls of Jerusalem needed repaired in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Both are to be accomplished through the zealous work of God's people. These duties and responsibilities are too numerous to mention here. It is sufficient to say that we are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. All of the duties and responsibilites of mankind relate to these two commandments.

Be zealous to do God's work. Search for and recognize the physical and spiritual needs of your neighbor, and fill those needs to the best of your ability. Be determined to carry out the work God has for you. Have a mind to work.