“Nehemiah Points To Christ”

Categories: Daily Living, Expository Study, Jesus Christ, Nehemiah, New Testament, Obedience, Old Testament, Prayer, Salvation, Sin

This may seem like an odd title at first, but I believe it describes Nehemiah’s actions appropriately. Nehemiah’s occupation was cupbearer to Artaxerxes (Neh. 1:11). This work required him to be a trusted person, but also one who was closest to the king not only physically, but emotionally. He and the king were friends in a sense. R.A. Torrey describes it this way, “The office of cup-bearer was one of great trust, honour, and emolument, in the Persian court. To be in such a place of trust he must have been in the king's confidence; for no eastern potentate would have a cup-bearer to whom he could not trust his life, poison being often administered in that way. It was an office much desired, because it gave access to the king in those seasons of hilarity when men are most disposed to grant favours” (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge).

There came a day, though, when Nehemiah saw he had to do something else. Jerusalem’s walls lay in ruins (Neh. 1:3), and it seemed no one else would take up the responsibility to repair those walls. Therefore, Nehemiah took it upon himself to lead the people in this work. He prayed to God about it (1:4-11, 2:4), and then requested “time off’ from his job to go and help the people (Neh. 2:5-6). The king consented to this, and Nehemiah went to Jerusalem (2:6-11).

Nehemiah then worked to lead the people and get them to do the work of rebuilding the walls (Neh. 2:17-18, 3:1-6:15). In fifty-two days, the walls were repaired, and the gates were attached! The work had been accomplished in spite of ridicule they faced, the physical threats, and attempts to get Nehemiah to compromise. Not to mention the internal issues (Neh. 5), and the general unrest at times when people were scared of the enemy or just frustrated because of the work. Despite all of this, we see success and happiness when the work was completed. Nehemiah, the “Tirshatha” (governor, Neh. 7:65, 70, 8:9, 10:1), had led the people, and they were blessed.

I hope that we can already see the comparison between Nehemiah and Christ. Just as Nehemiah, Christ was sent to do a job (Jn. 3:16; Heb. 3:1b). The One described as “in the bosom of the Father” or “in the closest fellowship with the Father” (Jn. 1:18, KJV, NET) was sent to this earth because men’s lives were in ruins and no one else could repair this problem (Jn. 10:10; Rom. 3:23, 5:6-8). Christ came to this world and led the people to the truth (Jn. 14:6). Even though Christ had the plan, each person must follow it on his own (Mk. 16:16; Rev. 22:14, 17; Jas. 2:24). As Nehemiah had a title, so also Jesus wears the title of King (Jn. 18:33-37; I Tim. 6:15)!

Like Nehemiah, Christ endured ridicule, physical threats, and hatred for what He did (Matt. 16:21; Lk. 6:11, 15:2; Jn. 7:1, 11:47-54; etc.). Unlike Nehemiah, however, Christ died for what He did, and saved not merely Jerusalem or the Jews, but saved the world (Matt. 26:28; Heb. 5:9)!

What beautiful foreshadowing we see in Nehemiah! When we read the book and marvel at Nehemiah's words and actions, let’s make sure we also see Christ.

- Jarrod M. Jacobs