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Bible Study for Jehovah's Witnesses: NEHEMIAH

 



1:1-11 Despite Israel's sins, with what does Nehemiah connect the COVENANT and the NAME of Yahweh? (vv.5,9)

2:1-3:32 Was the God of heaven only concerned with the restoration of worship in Jerusalem? (2:3-5) What else had God put in Nehemiah's heart? (2:12,20)

We would be remiss if we neglected to point out that Yahweh's covenants with Israel were (and are) not merely contractual arrangements; from the beginning LOVE has been the binding force of the covenants (Deut.7:6-11; Hosea 3:1-5; Jer.31:1-3,35-37). It is touching to contemplate the Lord's consideration for the human needs of his servants -- especially the desire of Jerusalem's sons for community continuity. Nehemiah pleads the compassion of Artaxerxes for his hometown as a favour, a gesture of appreciation for service rendered. Are we not convinced that the Lord will not do less than a pagan ruler in granting His servant the desires of his heart? (Psalm 37:4; 21:2)

4:1-23 What might we say about non-religious interests of the God of Israel? (esp. vv.4,5,8-9,14-15,20)

5:1-19 Is it humanitarianism that spurs Nehemiah's care for his fellow Jews? (esp. vv.15,19)
Draw attention to the common appellation for the Deity in public discourse, even prayer, as against public worship (4:4,9,20;5:9,13a,15,19; contrast 5:13b)

6:1-19 To what is the slanderous spirit closely related? (esp. vv.2,6-8,13)
We may mark the inevitable progress of opposition to the divine will and work: from derision and ridicule (2:19; 4:1-3) to violent intent (4:8-11) and diabolical, murderous conniving (chapter 6). He who searches the heart knows no clear demarcation between the assassination of a man's character and the taking of his life (John 2:24,25; John 7:19,20; 8:44-58 -- note that the one denoted "a murderer from the beginning" is yet named diabolos, slanderer, and accuser of our brethren -- Rev.12:10).

7:1-8:18 Nehemiah's building projects are only preparatory to what? (esp. 8:1-8) To what were the restored services given over? (esp. 8:3,6,18, also 9:3)

9:1-38 In the Levites lengthy rehearsing of Israel's history -- actually a prayer -- how often is the NAME used? (contrast use in praise, worship and covenant recounting, vv.3-8, with the final summation of Israel's rebellion, vv.31-32) The Levites reluctance to use the NAME may well be a sign of their true contrition at Israel's failure to keep covenant. Contrast TRUE reverence for the name of the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 43:14 and passim) with the Watchtower's advocacy of its indiscriminate use.

What do Jehovah's Witnesses (and many Christians) tend to see in Israel's history? (vv.16,18,26, etc) But what does thoughtful inquiry see? (vv.8,15,17,19,27,28,31,32)

10:1-12:47 What seems to be the chief motivation for the thousands of Israelites covenanting with Nehemiah, even to determining the location of their homes?
Again, no one seems to recall Nehemiah's generation while wagging heads and fingers at Israel's history. One could wish that this generation of Christians would make God's worship as high a priority. If thou, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared. (Psalm 130:3,4).

13:1-31 Why would it be that such a man of God as Nehemiah would hesitate to use the NAME in prayer (vv.14,22b,29,31), or in conversation with fellow Jews? (vv.11,18,25-27)
The NAME does not occur once in this lengthy chapter. Even the NWT can't find a place to insert it. Why? Wasn't the entire point of their punishment, according to Isaiah (ch.43), that they failed to be His witnesses?

A suggested talking point with JWs: Nehemiah may have a consciousness of community guilt in the sorry state of spirituality he finds upon returning to Jerusalem after a lengthy absence (v.6). The covenant NAME would not fall easily from the lips of a man shamed, even implicated (as governor), in the backslidings recounted here: a profaned temple (vv.4-9); neglected priesthood (vv.10-14); violated sabbath (vv.15-22); intermarriage with the heathen (vv.23-31). Nehemiah's plea, Remember me,O My God, for good (v.31) vividly drives home the man's despair over -- and sense of responsibility for -- Israel's spiritual declension. Nehemiah would not want to be included among those swearing by the name of Jehovah and who make mention even of the God of Israel, not in truth and not in righteousness (Isaiah 48:1, NWT) Would that Jehovah's Witnesses knew the full implications of their careless NAME dropping. (Deut.5:11)

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