REBUILDING THE WALLS OF JERUSALEM
Scripture: Nehemiah 1:1-3, 2:1-20, 4:1-23, 6:15-16
Memory verse: 1 Chronicles 29:12
"Wealth and honour come from you; you are the ruler of all things."
Bring to class scrap paper or shredded paper, a sheet of stationery, an envelope, a broom, and a dustpan. Use them in the following way:
• Before class sprinkle an area on the floor with the scrap paper or pieces of shredded paper. Then, while the students are watching, begin sweeping the classroom floor. After you have swept the floor, leave the mound of paper scraps in the middle of the floor. Ask the students if the floor is totally clean. Allow the students to respond. Mention that the floor isn’t completely clean because the job is not finished. Paper is still on the floor. Then ask a volunteer to sweet the scraps into the dustpan.
• As the students watch, pretend to write a brief letter to someone. Fold the letter, put it in an envelope, and seal it. Don’t address or stamp the envelope. Ask the students if they think the letter will reach its destination. Allow the students to respond. Stress that unless you finish by addressing and stamping it, the letter won’t go anywhere.
Tell the students that people have various reasons for not completing a job. These tasks this morning were small and easy, but sometimes people may get discouraged and want to quit when a task is long and hard. However, God promises to give us what we need to complete the tasks He gives us to do. He will be with us and will see us through any and every job. Tell your students to listen to the lesson to learn how a man named Nehemiah depended on God to help him finish a long and difficult task.
Hearing God’s Word
God places us in all kinds of places to do His will. Nehemiah had a job as the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes (pronounced ar-ta-ZERK-sees). As a cupbearer, Nehemiah’s job was to taste the king’s drink before the king did. That way, if the drink was poisoned, Nehemiah would die and the king would know not to drink it.
Ask: “How would you like that kind of job?” (Allow responses)
Nehemiah was one of God’s people living in Persia. The people of Judah had been taken captive by Babylon, but then later, Babylon itself had been conquered by Persia. The people of Judah were then under Persian rule and many were sent to Persia to live and work.
One day as Nehemiah was going about his work, the king noticed a change in Nehemiah. Nehemiah just did not look happy. “What is wrong, Nehemiah?” he asked. “Why are you looking so sad?”
Nehemiah was sad because he had learned that the city of Jerusalem was in terrible shape. What had happened to the city? (Ask a student to read Nehemiah 1:1-3.) The walls had been torn down and the gates had been burned. Some of God’s people, led by a man named Zerubbabel (Ze-RUB-a-bel) and Ezra, had returned to Jerusalem. They had worked long and hard to rebuild the temple, but now the wall around the city needed a lot of work to be restored and made like new.
Nehemiah told the king why he was sad. He explained to the king that the city of his origin, his homeland was still largely in ruins. Even though many Israelites had returned and were rebuilding the city, there was still so much to be done. The king listened, then asked, “What do you want to do about this situation?”
Nehemiah prayed before he answered the king. “If it is pleasing to you, and if I have found favour in your sight, I would like to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls and gates of the city,” Nehemiah said.
Nehemiah Goes To Jerusalem
Ask: “How do you think the king reacted?” (Allow response. Then ask several students to read Nehemiah 2:6-9.)
God answered Nehemiah’s prayer and caused the king to have compassion on Nehemiah and grant him his request. The king even helped Nehemiah prepare for his journey. In what ways did he do that? (Refer again to these verses. List what the king did.)
The king provided wood to use for building the gates and the walls. He gave Nehemiah letters to show to the governors of the land between Persia and Jerusalem so Nehemiah could pass through safely. The king even sent soldiers to protect him on his journey.
When Nehemiah reached Jerusalem, he rested 3 days. Then one night he and several men went to inspect the walls around the city. He saw how they had been knocked down and the gates had been burned.
When Nehemiah finished looking at the wall, he went to the Jewish leaders. They did not know why he had come to Jerusalem. Nehemiah said, “You can see that our city is in great trouble. It is in ruins. The walls are broken and the gates burned. Let’s rebuild the wall so we won’t have to be ashamed of it anymore. I have talked to the king, and he has given his permission as well as the wood we will need.”
Work Begins On The Wall
The people were glad to hear this good news. They immediately began to cooperate with Nehemiah and follow his instructions to rebuild the city wall.
But not everyone was happy about Nehemiah’s plan to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall. Three men – Sanballet, Tobiah and Geshem – were angry when they heard what Nehemiah was doing. These men were not Israelites. They lived in neighbouring places and did not want the wall and gates rebuilt. They did not want anything good to happen to the people of God, and they did not want Jerusalem to be strong. They began to make fun of God’s people. They hoped this would embarrass and discourage them so they would stop their work.
“What do you think you are doing?” they taunted. “Are you rebelling against the king?”
Nehemiah answered them firmly, “God will give us success. You will have no right or claim to this city.” Sanballet laughed. “You can’t rebuild a wall out of all this rubble.” Tobiah agreed with Sanballet. “The wall you are putting up is no good. If a fox walked on it, the whole wall would fall down.”
Obeying God isn’t always easy, popular, or even safe. Sometimes others may try to stop us from doing what we know is right.
Ask: “What are some ways people try to stop us from obeying God?” (Allow discussion. List the student’s ideas on the chalkboard.)
Even when others may make fun of us, persecute us or try to stop the work we are doing for God, God sees us and knows where we are. If we are obeying Him, we can trust Him to help us through these difficult times. We can take comfort in His power and love. Our memory verse reminds us of God’s power. It is a promise from God to give us strength. (Repeat the memory verse together.)
Opposition Is Strong
During this time of ridicule and persecution, the people continued to work. They kept piling up stones until half the wall was completed. But this made their enemies even more angry. They made a plot to send men to fight against God’s people and cause trouble. They wanted to distract the people of God and frighten them so they would stop their work.
When God’s people learned of their enemies’ plot, they became worried. Some of the men went to Nehemiah. “We are tired and afraid,” they said. “The wall is still in terrible shape, and now we hear that our enemies want to harm us.”
Ask: “How do you think Nehemiah solved this problem?” (Allow discussion. Then ask a student to read Nehemiah 4:13, 16-18.)
Nehemiah called the people together. “Don’t be afraid of the enemies, “he told them. “God, who is awesome and all powerful, will protect us from our enemies. Our God will fight for us! He will help us rebuild the wall. Now I want half the men to guard the wall while the other half work to repair it.” “The guards will be posted at different places around the wall. Since we are in many different places, we will have a man with a trumpet on duty at all times. If the enemy attacks, this man will blow his trumpet at that place. Then the rest of you must come and help us fight.”
God’s People Are Victorious
The plan Nehemiah gave the people worked. As the people obeyed, God gave them the strength to do a good job.
Ask: “How long do you think it took to finish the wall?” (Allow response.) Ask for a volunteer to read Nehemiah 6:15. The wall was completed in just 52 days. That’s less than 2 months!
Nehemiah’s enemies were surprised to learn the wall was finished. “How did they get it repaired so quickly?” they asked. The enemies realized God must have helped His people once again. They no longer thought they could bully the people of Judah. In fact, they were afraid of the people because they knew Nehemiah’s God is powerful indeed.
Nehemiah and the people were following God’s will and sticking to the task God had given them.
Ask: “What are some things you have to do for which you need God’s help?” (Allow discussion.) We all have difficult jobs we must do at times. It is important, however, to finish a job even when it becomes hard and other people try to stop us from doing it. If we are doing our best for God, He will help us. Stick to your tasks and do your best.
Study 16 | God's Character/O.T. Kings | africaatts.org/go-teach