Tag Archives: BiteSize Bible

Bitesize Bible Study – The Book of Nehemiah

Who was Nehemiah?

  • Nehemiah was a contemporary of Ezra.
  • He was born in exile and became cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes.

What happens in the book?

  • Many Jews had returned to the land of Israel from exile.
  • The events in the book of Ezra took place about 11 years earlier.
  • The work of rebuilding Jerusalem has slowed down due to external opposition and internal apathy.
  • Nehemiah is sad to hear of this state of affairs and prays for Jerusalem and for the people.
  • The king asks why he is sad and then gives him permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild it.
  • Nehemiah travels to Jerusalem and once there inspects the city walls.
  • Despite opposition he inspires the people to rebuild the walls.
  • The job is finished in under 2 months.
  • Guards and gatekeepers are established.
  • Following this, Ezra and the priests read the Law to the people.
  • The people confess their sins and rededicate themselves to God.
  • Nehemiah continues his work of reformation.

How was the building work opposed?

  • The building work was mocked – Chapter 2:19
  • Anger was directed at the Jews – Chapter 4:1
  • Enemies plotted to fight against the Jews – Chapter 4:8
  • Enemies schemed to capture Nehemiah – Chapter 6:2

What can we learn from the character of Nehemiah?

  • The book begins and ends with prayer, and Nehemiah is seen throughout to be a man of prayer. He does not carry out a task without praying about it.
  • The prayer is always supplemented with hard work and determination.
  • His work inspired others to work hard as well, and because of this the people together overcame opposition.

 

Next time – Bitesize Book of Esther! 

Bitesize Bible Study – The Book of Ezra

What happens in the book?

  • The Jews in captivity in Babylon were given permission to return to the land of Israel by Cyrus, King of Persia.
  • The first wave of people was led back by Zerubabbel the prince, and Joshua the High Priest.
  • They rebuilt the temple, but suffered opposition whilst so doing.
  • The prophets Haggai and Zechariah encouraged the people to finish building the temple.
  • Ezra brings a second wave of Jews back to the land, some years later.
  • He brings spiritual reform, and sorts out problems that had arisen in respect of inter-marriage.

Who was Ezra?

  • Ezra was a priest, a descendant of Aaron.
  • He was also a scribe – a writer and teacher.
  • As he could not be an active priest in Babylon he spent his time learning the Law of Moses.
  • He is credited with writing the books of 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, as well as Ezra and Nehemiah, the next book in the Bible.
  • He helped the people to institute the Law correctly on their return to the land.

What was the opposition rebuilding of the temple?

  • The enemies of the Jews from the nations round about did not want the temple rebuilt.
  • They appealed to Artaxerxes, the current Persian king, saying that the Jews would no longer pay taxes to him once the building was finished.
  • Artaxerxes forbade the building to continue as he knew the Jews had a long history of revolt against foreign kings.
  • Later, when Darius was king of Persia, a governor called Tattenai tried once more to halt the work which had begun again.
  • However Darius found the original decree from Cyrus, which gave the Jews permission to build the temple, and the attempt to stop the work was unsuccessful.

Why is this book important?

  • It fulfills the prophecy in the book of Jeremiah that the Jews would return to the land after 70 years captivity – Jeremiah 29 vs 10.
  • It reinstates once more the true worship of God by the Jews in accordance with his Laws.

 

Next time – Bitesize Book of Nehemiah!

 

 

Bitesize Bible Study – The Book of 2 Chronicles

Bitesize Bible Study – The Book of 2 Chronicles

What is covered in this book?

  • 2 Chronicles commences with the reign of Solomon, and finishes with the carrying away into captivity of Judah.
  • Much of the material in 2 Chronicles is also covered by 1 and 2 Kings.
  • The emphasis in 2 Chronicles is spiritual and focuses on the worship of God, whereas 1 and 2 Kings have greater emphasis on the political and military activities of the kings.
  • Like 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles only deals with the southern kingdom of Judah.
  • In chapters 1-9 Solomon becomes king and builds the temple.
  • In chapters 10-12 the reign of  Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, is covered.
  • The remainder of the chapters follow through subsequent events in the lives of the kings, from Abijah through to Zedekiah, the last king of Judah.

What are the themes in this book?

  • The temple is completed by Solomon and becomes the center of worship in Jerusalem.
  • There is a pattern of blessings on Judah when the king encouraged the people to do what was right, and periods of wickedness which lead to war and defeat.
  • Various kings were reformers, and tried to set to right the poor examples of previous kings.
  • Ultimately the people failed the Lord and were taken into captivity.

What reformations took place in Judah?

  • Chapter 15: King Asa held a great religious festival
  • Chapter 17: King Jehoshaphat sent religious leaders through the land to teach the people.
  • Chapter 24: King Joash, under the influence of Jehoiada the priest, repaired the temple.
  • Chapter 29: King Hezekiah restored the temple worship.
  • Chapter 34: King Josiah found the book of the law and restored true worship.

What can we learn from this book?

  • The people of Judah are encouraged to seek the Lord and rewarded when they worship Him.  This is the same in our lives, although not quite as directly as it was in those days.
  • Ultimately God wants us to worship Him and not forsake Him, to gain true spiritual benefits.
  • The best endeavors of man cannot save us, human nature is easily led and drawn into wicked behaviors, especially when a strong leader is lacking.
  • This points forward to the leader we await from heaven, the Lord Jesus.

 

Next Time: Bitesize Book of Ezra!

Bitesize Bible Study – The Book of 1 Chronicles

Isn’t 1 Chronicles just a repeat of the Books of Kings?

  • 1 Kings and 2 Kings are history books, mainly reciting the facts of the kings of Israel and Judah, and associated prophets.
  • 1 Chronicles is in the form of a journal of events, and adds supplementary information and detail to that information provided elsewhere.
  • 1 Chronicles only deals with the southern kingdom of Judah, where the line of David is continued and the book actually covers similar ground to 2 Samuel.
  • The genealogy at the beginning of the book reminds the people of Judah of their heritage with the Lord, and that they alone are God’s witnesses.

What else is in the book?

  • The first 9 chapters are taken up with genealogies, from Adam through to King Saul.
  • Many stories seen in earlier books do appear, but with a more spiritual emphasis, including much of the life of King David.
  • The temple and temple ritual are a more prominent subject than the lives and wars of the kings.
  • There are frequent references to the ark of the Lord and the priests and Levites.
  • The preparations for the building of the temple made by David are detailed.

What are the main stories in the book?

  • Chapter 10 – Death of Saul.
  • Chapters 11-12 – David becomes king.
  • Chapter 13 – The ark is transported on a cart to Kiriath-Jearim resulting in the death of Uzzah.
  • Chapter 15 – The ark is brought to Jerusalem.
  • Chapter 17 – God makes promises to David that he will have a son who will have an everlasting kingdom.
  • Chapter 21 – David sins by carrying out a census of the people.
  • Chapter 22 – David makes preparations for the temple to be built.
  • Chapter 28 – Solomon is given instructions on the building of the temple.

What can we learn?

  • The incident of Uzzah’s death upon the incorrect transportation of the ark teaches us that we must respect God and do things the way he wants us to.
  • We have the promise of the future kingdom of God reiterated for us again, and we know that we await the Son whose throne will be established for ever.

 

Next time: Bitesize Book of 2 Chronicles!

Bitesize Bible Study – The Book of 2 Kings

What happens in the book?

  • The story of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah continues.
  • Elijah the prophet’s ministry ceases, and that of Elisha the prophet takes over.
  • Elisha performs many miracles in the northern kingdom of Israel.
  • None of the kings of Israel follow God, and the kingdom of Israel is taken into captivity by Assyria in 722 BC.
  • A handful of the kings of Judah do follow God, but 136 years later, the kingdom of Judah is also taken into captivity by Babylon.

What are the main miracles Elisha performed?

  • Increased the oil of a widow woman close to starvation (Chapter 4).
  • Raised the Shunammite lady’s son to life (Chapter 4).
  • Purifies a poisonous stew (Chapter 4).
  • Cures Naaman’s leprosy (Chapter 5).
  • Makes an axe head float (Chapter 6).

Who were the significant good kings of Judah?

  • Jehoshaphat – followed God in his early years, did not worship idols.
  • Joash/Jehoash – repaired the temple.
  • Uzziah/Azariah – did what was right in the sight of the Lord.
  • Hezekiah – removed the high places (altars to idols), did not depart from following the Lord.
  • Josiah – repaired the temple, finds the Book of the Law and institutes reforms throughout the land including the Passover.

Are there any other significant events?

  • There was one queen throughout this period, Athaliah.  She was wicked and tried to destroy the rest of the royal family.
  • The royal line from David – which God had promised would lead to Jesus – nearly came to an end in this period thanks to Athaliah, but one child was saved and hidden.
  • The morality of all the kings is judged by whether they did what was right, or what was evil, in the sight of the Lord.  A worldly king was a bad king.

What can we learn?

  • Human nature doesn’t change – throughout history people do not learn from their mistakes, the next generation has the same problems.  The people of Israel and Judah did not learn that when they followed God life was better.  Their evil ways eventually brought destruction.
  • In the miracle of Naaman’s cure from leprosy we see a sign pointing forward to baptism – Naaman was given new life following a cleansing in the water.

 

Next time: Bitesize Book of 1 Chronicles!