Tomorrow at 11.15am, Ottery St Mary Parish Church, Lynn picks back up our Bible Timeline series, where we’re coming to the end of the Old Testament. Nehemiah rebuilds Jerusalem’s walls. Why do you think this was important?
God prompted Cyrus, king of Persia, to initiate the financing and rebuilding of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Under the direction of Zerubbabel, a notable Jewish figure in Persia, the rebuilding of the temple began. They encountered considerable opposition from Gentiles around Jerusalem. At the urging of Haggai and Zechariah, two Jewish prophets living in Jerusalem, the restoration of the temple was completed.
Rebuilding the temple is a direct parallel to the spiritual rebuilding of the Jewish people. Temple worship had been discontinued for seventy years. Most of the Jews had never seen or heard the Law of Moses. They had to be instructed in a national reeducation program. Ezra set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, to practice it, and to teach God’s statues and ordinances in Israel to rebuild the people as they return from exile.
Even though not all Jews returned when they could have (see the Book of Esther, whose events take place during this Era) many Jews came back home to Jerusalem. The temple stood restored as the dominant structure in the city, but the walls of the city were still broken down. This was a security threat as well as a source of national humiliation. Nehemiah, another Jewish notable serving Artaxerxes, king of Persia, was burdened to rebuild the walls. He was given permission and financing by the king of Persia to do so. A short time later, the walls framed the noble city of Jerusalem. Restoration was complete as the temple was rebuilt, the people were rebuilt, and the walls were rebuilt.