God raised up extraordinary individuals of faith to rebuild the Jerusalem temple and prepare for the Messiah’s coming. Ezra and Nehemiah offer hope and comfort by showing us what God accomplishes through his people’s faithful labors—and, more importantly, through Jesus Christ, who fully accomplished our salvation through his perfect life, atoning death, and glorious resurrection. God continues to show his gracious mercy in Christ to his people despite their faults and failures, their self-centeredness, and their fickle love for righteousness. These themes give the books of Ezra and Nehemiah their power as part of God’s sacred Scriptures.
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“It is unlikely that either Ezra or Nehemiah wrote both of these books in their present form, though both books incorporate material from their memoirs. Furthermore, it is unproven (and perhaps impossible to prove) that the author of Chronicles is the author of Ezra and Nehemiah, though the author or authors of Ezra and Nehemiah most likely lived in the same era as the author of Chronicles and both were probably inhabitants of Jerusalem or at least the Persian province of Yehud.” (Page 12)
“Nehemiah, having successfully dealt with internal dissent that had threatened to disrupt the building of Jerusalem’s wall (Nehemiah 5), reports that the project was on the brink of completion (Neh 6:1) when his enemies made a series of last-minute attempts to stop him. The first of these came in the form of diplomatic correspondence designed to lure Nehemiah outside of Jerusalem and to the edge of the territory of Yehud in order to assassinate him (Neh 6:2).” (Page 463)
“It is interesting to note that the place of the arrival is called ‘the house of Yahweh’ (Ezra 2:68), even though the building itself had not yet been rebuilt. This verse anticipates the rebuilding and views it as guaranteed because of God’s promise (Is 44:28). It was this promise of God, and faith in God’s faithfulness, that moved the people to contribute generously.” (Page 177)
“The posting of a Judean guard did have a detrimental psychological effect on the Judean builders. The presence of the guard constantly reminded the workers that Sanballat and his associates were threatening to attack. The builders realized how hazardous their work was. The constant threat of imminent attack made the completion of the project less certain; the work seemed harder, and the danger appeared insurmountable (Neh 4:4 [ET 4:10]). The taunting words of Sanballat and Tobiah (Neh 3:33–35 [ET 4:1–3]) had instilled doubts in the minds of the workers.” (Page 447)