Rebuilding Lives- Part 1 Study Notes and Slides
Introduction: This particular teaching centres on “Sefer NechemYAH” or the book of Nehemiah. We recite in our Liturgy every Shabbat “Av HaRachamim- Father of Mercy” in which we say “Father of Mercy bestow your favour upon Zion. Rebuild the walls of Yerushalayim.” (Jerusalem) This teaching will endeavour to make this great story not only more memorable but also more relevant to our daily lives. NechemYAH was a man chosen to restore not only the Physical Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) but like the Maccabees later, he was also called to reignite the faith of the people to return them back to the true faith of their Fathers since Yisrael was in great need of a leader that was strong and uncompromising. So often the Writings in the Tanakh (Old Testament) have been thought of as only Historical but I hope to show that there are layers of understanding & wisdom that are so much deeper and hidden within this wonderful tale of victory that speaks of the Yahudim (the Jews) returning to their beloved Nation and especially their Qadosh (Holy) City of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) to reclaim their land and their faith.
The beauty of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) the nature and charm of its setting originally was meant to represent the visible outer reach of the sacred radiance which dwelled within. The beauty of Solomon’s Temple was legendary. In Solomon’s Temple, being the pinnacle of the Kingdom, dwelt revealed “Shechinah- the Presence” but through rebellion it was taken away. Is this not a picture of fallen man who through disobedience was removed from the presence of YAHWEH?
As the Kingdom began to decline many Prophets were sent to it such as YeshaYAHU (Isaiah) & especially YirmeYAHU (Jeremiah) but finally after many years of rebellion the Kingdom fell while under King Tzidqiyahu (Zedekiah) and the promise of exile was fully realized.
The land of Canaan was promised to Yisrael after years of slavery according to:
Shemoth- (Exodus) 3:8 I have come down to deliver them from the hand of the Mitsrites (Egyptians) and bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk & honey.
To fully understand this great story we must see it in a Messianic context which we will see repeated again with NechemYAH (Nehemiah) but ultimately with the return of the Machiach (Messiah).
The Messianic Goal: Rambam- (Hil. Teshuvah 9 and Hil. Melachim 12)
The abundance of Canaan was offered so the people might satisfy their physical needs and be free to engross themselves fully with the study of Torah & the performance of Mitzvot or the Commandments. However if the people indulged themselves with the Temporary its blessings became a pitfall & became a hindrance so blessing was replaced with famine, warfare, persecution and finally exile. The people would however merit redemption only when they devoted themselves to Torah study despite the obstacles. Accordingly Messianic redemption is defined as freedom from the obstructions to Torah observance.
Note: “our sages & Prophets did not long for the Messianic era in order to dominate the World & rule over the Heathen but rather to avail themselves of the Torah and its wisdom without oppression or disturbance… In that era there will be neither famine nor warfare, envy nor contention, for worldly goods will flow plentifully and the entire World will engage solely in the pursuit of knowing Elohim. (Rambam, Hil. Melachim 12:4-5)
This therefore suggests that the Messianic age when Yahshua will reign will be a time when the Physical needs will be fully met and all will be free to engross in Torah Study without any hindrance.
In the present however Yahshua also makes this point when teaching of the folly of worrying about food, drink & what to wear etc when he says in:
MattithYAHU (Matthew) 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of Elohim and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
With this thought in mind we see a people deprived of their blessings, removed from their inheritance yet in all this, rather than turning to other Elohim as they had done during their prosperity they returned to YAHWEH their Elohim.
NechemYAH (Nehemiah) at this time in desperation over the condition of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) and its inhabitants remembers the promise of Elohim when he prays:
1:8-9 Remember please the words which You (YAHWEH) commanded your servant Mosheh (Moses), saying, “if you should sin and I disperse you among the Nations, and then you return to me and observe my commandments and perform them then even if the banished among you reach the ends of Heaven, I shall gather them from there and bring them to the place which I have chosen as the resting place for My Name.
“My Name” refers rather to the “Shechinah” or the Divine Presence. The great promise given here is that when repentance therefore “Teshuvah” or returning to YAHWEH is truly from the heart then YAHWEH promises to return his people to the place from which they were cast out, the place that he had chosen for his presence & his name.
The Symbolism of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem)
Since Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) is a picture of the place that YAHWEH would rest his divine presence and that today there is no Temple standing we can say that through the perfect sacrifice of Yahshua his Divine Presence is now with man since Scripture says:
1 Corinthians 6:19 do you not know that your body is the temple of Ruach Ha Qodesh (the Holy Spirit) who is in you.
Since Yerushalayim was the place of the Presence of YAHWEH and the believer today is the place of his presence a strong representation can be made to analyse this Divine Parable to gain insight into the state of the Believer based on the state of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) at the time of NechemYAH (Nehemiah). As Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) is the physical manifestation of the presence so the spiritual manifestation is his presence in man, making this powerful tale something to look into with much more anticipation!
The State of Yerushalayim:
To understand the state of the Qadosh (Holy) City we need to remember that this time was 14 years after the completion of the second Temple in the 6th year of the reign of King Darius son of Ahasuerus & Queen Esther. However though the place of worship or the Temple had been completed and under Ezra the Priest its function of leading the people in the Torah had commenced the things in this city were by no means good. The Temple was rebuilt but the walls of the City lay in Ruins which brought NechemYAH (Nehemiah) great distress.
Ultimately it was his deep anguish over the fate of the Sacred City where his forefathers were buried that moved him to abandon his high position as attendant to the King to journey to Yerushalayim at great personal risk.
Compacted with this was that only a small remanent of 42,360 responded by returning to the land (Ezra 2:64) while most had remained in Babylon or the centre of the Medo- Persian Empire. Yet more devastating was the condition that NechemYAH found the inhabitants. Communal affairs were almost in a state of Anarchy, the tithes for the Kohanim (Priests) were inadequate, intermarriage was rampant, Sabbath observance was lax and the destitute were downtrodden by the wealthy moneylenders.
The symbology can now be established. Many people today find it hard to leave Babylon but a remanent does although these still live in great turmoil. Many that have received Yahshua as their Saviour & King still have many areas in life that have not revealed the victory that Yahshua came to give. In this great tale we will now find beautiful underlying Spiritual truths that I hope will give greater meaning to the image we see.
Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) had broken down walls which can be seen as a believer who has been redeemed so the heart has been restored being the place of Worship reflected in the restored Temple however the broken down walls reflect the personality of the believer which so often is still lying in Ruins therefore we need to understand that a person who fails to control his personality is open to spiritual attack just as the people dwelling in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) were open to attack from their enemies meaning that believers are vulnerable to the incursion of evil thoughts & successful temptations:
Mishle (Proverbs) 25:28 tells us “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a City broken down, without walls.
Blue Letter Bible H7307 - The Word Spirit or Ruach can refer to mind, emotions like temper, anger, impatience, disposition, uncontrollable impulse, desire & is the seat of moral Character.
The Beauty of the story of NechemYAH (Nehemiah) is that it has great relevance to us today. NechemYAH waited on the King of the Empire but after reports about the City of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) came to him it grieved him much. For many years each one of us lived in captivity but when Yahshua the Messiah entered our hearts we were set free from the captivity of sin had the Temple of YAHWEH restored but like Yerushalayim (Jerusalem), though Ezra had a rebuilt Temple the walls of the City were still in ruins. From this great story we see the King authorizing NechemYAH (Nehemiah) to go and rebuild the walls and seek the good of the people. We could say that the King represents Yahshua who is seated at the Right hand of YAHWEH and has all authority but amazingly a great truth is further revealed in the name NechemYAH (Nehemiah):
Blue Letter Bible H5166 His name actually means “YAH comforts, the comforter of YAH or the consolation of YAH.”
Is this not a picture of the RUACH Ha Qodesh (The Holy Spirit) who is our Comforter and comes to rebuild our lives as well! It truly grieves him that he finds the walls of our lives often in Ruin too, though the Temple has been rebuilt giving us relationship with YAHWEH, often the walls or our personalities can be thought of as crumbling ruins.
Since Yahshua paid such a price to redeem us from the curse which means he delivered us from the strategies of the enemy like disease, and bondage to do his will, he will not leave us as we are, until we become like Yahshua so the Ruach Ha Qodesh (The Holy Spirit) has been given us to rebuild those areas that are crumbling or have holes.
The Walls of Yerushalayim:
In the Ancient days the only security and protection that people had from marauding enemies was their City with its great walls. Just think of Yericho (Jericho):
Yahushua (Joshua) 6:1Yericho (Jericho) was bolted and barred against the Yisraelites; no one went out and no-one came in.
A city with walls could often keep an enemy out until all supplies were gone. So important was it that a city could remain secure for years as in the case of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) in the days before its capture by Nebuchadnezzar’s army. The importance of walls cannot be underrated.
The conditions of the walls of Yerushalayim & their effects are clearly shown from:
NechemYAH (Nehemiah) 2:17-18Then I said to them, “You see the evil which we are in, how Yerushalayim lies waste and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Yerushalayim and let us no longer be a reproach or humiliation.”
18 And I informed them of the hand of my Elohim which had been good upon me and also of the sovereign’s words he had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and we shall build.” So they made their hands strong for good.
The walls of our lives should also not be underrated in importance. If the study of Torah only gives us knowledge but does not transform our personality then our walls are still in ruin and the purpose of Torah has been lost in the complex of intellectual extremism.
1 Corinthians 8:1-2 we know that we all have some knowledge about these things. But knowledge puffs up, while love builds up.
2 But if anyone thinks that he knows it all, he does not yet know as he ought to know.
The Enemy would like us to think that everything is OK in our life when we have received Yahshua because then it is easy for him to come at any time to attack us for we have no protection from him & our Temple or Heart commonly known as the Spirit is very vulnerable when the Walls of our Personality have not been rebuilt. When NechemYAH came to Yerushalayim he found the Walls in total Ruin which grieved him but he came with the directive to rebuild those walls. When you received Yahshua as your Saviour he sent the RUACH ha Qodesh (the Holy Spirit) with the directive to rebuild the walls of your personality. What does this refer to? The walls are the areas of our life that produce thought & feeling. These areas develop as a result of the personality you were born with, together with life’s experiences such as childhood experiences whether they be good or bad and are carried through to today. They have a cumulative affect and ultimately produce your personality.
We know that the battlefield is the mind so this is the area that needs the attention of the RUACH Ha Qodesh (Holy Spirit) that we can guard ourselves from the strategies of the enemy.
So often we think that whoever is in Machiach is a New Creation & think everything has been restored but this refers more to our Heart or Spirit. The Work of Building the Walls is an ongoing work the RUACH Ha Qodesh. So often we think that the RUACH completely replaces our personalities but NechemYAH gives us a different picture. He did not cast aside the old burnt, chipped & broken bricks but rather used them to construct the renewed walls & so does the RUACH Ha Qodesh who uses our useless past life and uses it to create a productive new life that is changed and built out of that former past.
RomaniYA 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love YAHWEH, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Why would Elohim use the bricks of our past hurts & failures to rebuild our lives? The truth is that when he builds us into a restored personality we have the ability to minister to those with the same issues.
When we begin to see where Elohim has taken us from, we too will know how & when he will use us. I like to think of our personality as a compilation of bricks that may be burnt, chipped or broken that produce a wall that easily crumbles when pushed before we know Yahshua the Messiah. This could refer to broken relationships, emotional hurts or any hurtful words spoken to us or over us. When the RUACH Ha Qodesh (The Holy Spirit) came to us he holds those bricks together by his power & presence thereby strengthening us to withstand the onslaught of the enemy in times of need.
One thing we need to know however is that, in building your personality the RUACH Ha Qodesh does not do it alone. Just as NechemYAH encouraged vastly different people to work together to rebuild the walls the RUACH directs the work and will use many people but sadly, often he will use people you may not see eye to eye with, to build a certain area of your life.
The great contrast in your life comes when your personality reflects the New Creation you are in Yahshua Ha Machiach (Yahshua the Messiah). You are totally different from the person you were before you were saved. People that knew you will say, “I knew you before but you have certainly changed. They see the contrast that Yahshua has made in your life. The question for us is “do people say that about us” because when this is apparent then it becomes in itself a great witness for Yahshua. Witnessing is not always about preaching the saving message of Yahshua but it is often observed through our changed personalities. I pray that every day we embrace the work of the RUACH Ha Qodesh (The Holy Spirit) in our life who is bringing us from glory to glory through every experience we are given:
Ya’acov (James) 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Knowing that the work of the RUACH is to bring us to the Nature of Messiah the following is an interesting translation that highlights the work of the RUACH in our personalities beautifully:
2 KephAH (Peter) 1:4- 7 He has granted to us His precious and exceedingly great promises, that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust.
5 Yes and for this very reason He adds to you all diligence, that in your faith He supplies moral excellence and through moral excellence, He supplies knowledge,
6 and through knowledge, He supplies self-control and through self-control persistence and through persistence He supplies the very nature of Almighty Loving YAH of All Creation. 7 and in Almighty Loving YAH of All Creation‘s nature, He supplies brotherly compassion and through brotherly compassion, He supplies Ahavah (Love).
It is YAHWEH’s will that we have RUACH led personalities that are being restored into the image of Yahshua. If this is our true desire we need every day to present every part of our personalities to him & pray that he helps change us to be all He desires by the power of his RUACH (Spirit) whom he has sent as our comforter & help. Not only will we be a light to the world as we reflect Yahshua but we will also have a strong wall against the attack of the evil one & his Cohorts.
Ya’acov (James) 4:7 Therefore submit to YAHWEH your Elohim. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
If we look to Yahshua we see someone totally submitted to the Heavenly Father through whom the RUACH Ha Qodesh could do great & mighty things but he was so much more.
Why was it that the greatest of sinners like the tax collectors & prostitutes were drawn to him? Even small children desired to sit on his lap. This was because he had a personality that reflected his loving Heavenly Father. So too our heavenly Father desires us to be like him that people will be drawn to Yahshua & the demons will see that we are fully submitted to YAHWEH in all areas so that the wall of our personality is strong and impenetrable inMessiah.
Since NechemYAH came to encourage & strengthen the inhabitants of Yerushalayim who were living in distress they were able to stand strong and as a great strategist NechemYAH had them join together in Families working together in areas that were adjacent to their own dwellings to inspire them as well as having them armed with swords, spears & bows for their own defence:
NechemYAH 6:15 And the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month of Elul, in fifty two days. 16 And it came to be, when all our enemies heard and all the nations
around us saw, that they fell greatly in their own eyes and knew that this work was done by our Elohim.
This is a grand tale of standing together to see the rebuilding of the Great city of Yerushalayim the City of Elohim. We can learn much from this historical tale. When we learn to be guided by our Comforter and stand together to rebuild the place of YAHWEH’s dwelling, the body of Machiach, the result will be a strong fortress that is impenetrable by the attacks of the enemy.
Yahshua said it best in:
Yochanan (John) 13:34 A renewed commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”