Lesson 2: Doctrines Based Upon Nehemiah

Lesson 2 Study Notes

  • Hello friends, Bishop Andy C. Lutter here with this mini course entitled, Nehemiah the Builder. Now this particular mini course is divided into four lessons and what I'm sharing with you today is the second of those four lessons. We have a pretty simple format that we're using, where we use the first lesson to tell the story, to recite the narrative of the story, and then we come back in our second lesson and look at specific biblical doctrines and beliefs that are based upon the story that we are considering. Third, we look at the impact and the effect
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of the story in terms of the future. Now, we are in the second lesson of this series, and so I am anxious to get started and to share with you exactly what this particular lesson consists of. So, last week, friends, we focused on the telling of the story of Nehemiah. Now, to some of the highlights from that last lesson, it included the fact that Nehemiah circumvented, avoided, and escaped the lot, life, and destiny of so many other Jewish persons who were caught up in the Babylonian captivity. Individuals like Daniel, who ended

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up in the lions den, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who ended up in the fiery furnace. Now, Nehemiah, unlike those individuals, avoided that because he sought refuge. He was an immigrant to Persia and he secured a position as cupbearer to the king. And the cupbearer of the king eventually gave him permission upon hearing of the conditions that were going on in Jerusalem, that the walls had been torn down,

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that the gates had been consumed with fire, and that the temple, the lowest house, lieth in waste. And so Xerxes gives permission to Nehemiah to return to the city of Jerusalem, which he does, and he rebuilds the city and the temple in the miraculous timeframe of 52 days. He pairs his talents with that of Ezra, and while he, Nehemiah, works on the physical

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reconstruction of the city and the temple of Jerusalem and the temple in Jerusalem. Ezra works on rebuilding the faith, the religion, the covenant of the people with their God. Now, that was what we focused upon last week with the story of Nehemiah. This week, friends, we look at specific Christian doctrines that come from the story of Nehemiah. Now, let me say this, Nehemiah is found and locked into the pages of the Old Testament. Now, as Christians, we highly regard the New Testament. It is the fabric and foundation of our faith, but we respect the Old Testament as well, and we operate with the belief and the assumption

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that there are stories that reside in the Old Testament that inform and educate us in terms of what we believe, even as a New Testament church. And so, while we are indeed a product of the New Testament, the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, whether they're General, Pastoral, Pauline, Johannine, Petrine, and then of course the Eschatol. While we highly value that, we also look to the Old to determine for us many of the things that we believe. So there are at least five specific Christian doctrines that actually rely and

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depend upon the basis and the foundation of this story of Nehemiah. Now, when it comes to Christian doctrines, beliefs, and teachings, we draw much of our material from both the Old and the New Testament. So no particular book in the Old Testament has a monopoly on our doctrines and beliefs. And we look at them collectively to help understand what it is that we believe and why we believe what we believe.

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So the purpose, the goal, and the objective of this particular lesson is to look beyond the narrative of Nehemiah and consider what things have taken place in the story of Nehemiah that formed the foundation, and help us to affirm and to grasp and to hold on to specific doctrines and beliefs that reside in the life and the practice of New Testament Christians.

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That's what we're going to do. So I mentioned to you just a moment ago that there are five particular doctrines that I want to consider in this lesson that are all beloved, a derivative of the story of Nehemiah. And where appropriate, I hope to take a look at what is specific in the story of Nehemiah holds the doctrine, the belief, and the teaching that we have as New Testament Christians. Now, I hope you've gathered some writing material because there are some things that I want

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you to leave this lesson clearly understanding. And one of the things that I want you to note and beliefs that we hold dear in part because of our understanding and our affirmation of the story of Nehemiah. Now, those five items include kingdom, government, what we refer to as soteriology, ecclesiology, and then anthropology. Let me go through those again. Kingdom, government, soteriology, ecclesiology, and anthropology. Now, these are fundamental, basic beliefs and doctrines that we hold near and dear to our heart as Christians, and my purpose in sharing these doctrines with you is hopefully to connect some dots so that you not only

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see and understand the doctrines themselves, but you see the relationship between that doctrine, that practice, that belief, and some element in the story of Nehemiah that has brought us to the conclusion that these doctrines, these beliefs, these teachings that we hold on to are authentic and that they are practical and they are legitimate because of the stories that they rest upon. And of course, in this case, they are resting upon the story of Nehemiah. So, let's move forward and let's get started with these five Christian doctrines that are based and rely and depend upon this Old Testament narrative.

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We begin with the doctrine of the kingdom. The doctrine of the kingdom. Now, I don't want to confuse you, beloved, because there is some movement here. And let me take you back to some of the lessons that I shared with you regarding Adam and Eve. And one of the things I suggested to you is that the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden gave them a thirst and an appetite and anxiety, a desire to get back to where God had placed them in the first place. So, there is this fall and failure on the part of Adam, and as a result, everybody since Adam has been trying to get back to the place of paradise. We refer to it as Eden, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Reuben, Simon, Levi, Judah,

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Dan, Nephthys, Gad, Asher, Isaac, Isaac, Isaac, Joseph, Saul, David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Jeroboam, populate and that are popular in the pages of Scripture are, get this beloved, an attempt to get back to what Adam and Eve originally lost. Now, the story of Nehemiah shifts the focus a little bit. Watch where I'm going, beloved, because up until a certain time, the hope, the objective, the desire is to get back to the garden. The story of Nehemiah revises that vision,

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whereby we're not necessarily aiming at getting back to the garden as much as we are becoming a citizen of the kingdom. Now, there is the kingdom of Shushan where Nehemiah comes from. There is the Babylonian kingdom that had taken custody of the Jews and held them in captivity for 70 years. And then there is the restoration of the Old Testament, we're seeing a shift. We're seeing movement where the goal, the objective, that which is highly

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desirable, is no longer focused upon a garden or a paradise, but admittance to a kingdom. Now, I must confess that this kingdom is depicted as paradise, and perhaps that is why it is a replacement for the garden. But without the story of Nehemiah in part, we would not have this perception that perhaps one of our human goals is to eventually reach the place where God is. And so, there seemingly is this substitution for the kingdom that is replacing the garden. The garden is where we initially were trying to get back to. But suddenly, in part because of this story of Nehemiah, we see the value and the goal, and we see the appetite for a kingdom. So, the Christian doctrine, the Christian belief that we eventually want to go to the kingdom

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of God. Now, we refer to that as heaven. So, heaven becomes our home. And less and less do you hear Christians talk about going to the garden or going to paradise, but they talk more and more about going to heaven. Why? Because heaven is where the kingdom is. Like I said, the story of Nehemiah accentuates the kingdom over and against the garden that we were introduced to in the book of Genesis. So, there is the doctrine of the kingdom. Secondly, there is this doctrine of government, but I'm using an adjective here, the doctrine of righteous government. Now, we see in this story that

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Artaxerxes, the king, is a righteous king and he's presiding over a righteous government and it is that righteous government that gives permission to Nehemiah to go back to Jerusalem. Now, for every good there is a bad. So, if the kingdom of Persia is the representation of the good kingdom or the righteous kingdom, then Babylon is the representation for an either evil kingdom or an unrighteous kingdom. And so, this dualistic perception, definition, and interpretation that we have, again, rests upon the story of Nehemiah, because it is

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illustrated in the story of Nehemiah the presence of a righteous government and then the presence of an unrighteous government. That unrighteous government being represented by Babylon. Babylon, where Nebuchadnezzar stole the holy vessels from the temple. Babylon, where Belshazzar, his son, took those holy vessels and profaned them by using them for an ungodly purpose. And of course, the result of that was a judgment, watch this beloved, unrighteous government. In Nehemiah, we find, Nehemiah 5, Tikal, Tikal, Perez, you phrase it, you have been placed on the divine scale of justice and you have been found wanting

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and tonight I will divide your kingdom between the Medes and the Persians. So, the whole Christian perception that government can be good but also can be bad comes in part from this story of Nehemiah. However, on the other hand, we have the depiction of a righteous government. It was a righteous government that released Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem, rebuild the city, and rebuild the temple. The government that Nehemiah constructs

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is an illustration of a righteous government. That's why he took Israel, rebuilding the religion, and Nehemiah, rebuilding the physical space of Jerusalem to them to bring back to the Jews righteous government. Our assumption that America was built upon

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Christian principles is this whole idea of fashioning a way of governing people that is in compliance with God. Our constitution, our government, while it does not pretend to be a Christian nation, it is certainly influenced, impacted, and built with Christian values.

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We get that belief, we get that doctrine from the story of Nehemiah. One of the things that I didn't talk about in the telling of the story of Nehemiah last week, at least not in detailing the narrative, is that Artaxerxes was not sure how long Nehemiah was going to be gone. We get the sense that Artaxerxes, the king of Persia, anticipated

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Nehemiah being gone on a temporary basis. That turned out to be permanent. And of course, the king covered not only Nehemiah, watch this, the king covered Jerusalem as well. And eventually Nehemiah was made the governor of Jerusalem, which maintained a relationship and a covenant and a rapport with King Artaxerxes.

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So our Christian perception, our Christian hermeneutic on government is largely framed and shaped by the story of Nehemiah. And then that brings us to soteriology. Now, soteriology is actually a combination of two words. The first part of this word, sotir, literally means to save or to rescue, or what we refer to as salvation. Soteriology is the

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saved the city of Jerusalem, saved the temple, the house of God. There is this element of rescue that comes out of the story of Nehemiah was instrumental in saving Jerusalem, in saving the house of God. Jesus in the New Testament comes almost like a Nehemiah or a Nehemiah-like figure who does symbolically did for his people during his lifetime.

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So the image that we have of being saved, of being rescued, of being taken care of by the divine, comes in part from the story of Nehemiah. Because prior to having a Jesus and redemption and salvation that is offered by Jesus in the New Testament, we are given this abundantly clear picture of salvation being saved and being rescued in the Old Testament by the figure Nehemiah. So, the Christian doctrine on soteriology has a debt that it owes to the story of Nehemiah.

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And that brings us to this very lengthy word, which means that it is suggesting the study of the Greek word for man is anthropos. And so anthropology is the study of man. Now, what I'm suggesting here is that the Christian doctrine and belief that man has value, that man has worth, that man is worthy of being saved and rescued in terms of soteriology. That belief about the value of man, even it is an extension to what we learned in the book of Genesis about man being made in the image of God. If the story of Nehemiah means anything, it means that God did not permanently abandon his people. Now, he allowed them

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to be subjugated to Nebuchadnezzar and to go into Babylon for 70 years as a God sent Nehemiah to come to their rescue. So the doctrine of anthropology, man being made in the image of God, man having worth, man having value, man being critical to creation,

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all of that revolves around the story of Nehemiah. Because if the people of God were worthy of God's attention in that circumstance and in that context, we can certainly see where we are worthy and we are valuable to God even today. And then from there, we have the doctrine of ecclesiology. Again, you see this O-L-O-G-Y, and that's the study of ecclesiology, is the study of the church. Now, the study of the church can be somewhat similar to the study of the kingdom. The study of the kingdom is where we're waiting

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to get to the Kingdom. Now, sometimes we use Kingdom of God and church interchangeably, and that can be a bit confusing, but I want you to clearly understand the difference between the two. of God is a futuristic hope and objective. It is a destination. It is where we are trying to get to. The church is where we are while we're in the midst of waiting to get to our destination. So, again, the story of Nehemiah, especially with Ezra and the coming together of a physical hope with a spiritual hope, creates this early embryonic picture of the church. And we can see that the book of Nehemiah

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says that the people have a head and mind to work. And that is an apt description for to how we refer to the church. Our belief, our doctrine of the church is a belief and a definition that believes that the church is made up of people who have a mind to work. And so we can't talk about the church in the New Testament without talking about the people who returned from Babylon after 70 years, put their shoulder to the plow and worked to rebuild the city,

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to rebuild the house of God, but more importantly, to rebuild their relationship with God, and to rebuild their covenant with their Lord. Well, friends, that takes all of my time for this particular lesson. I certainly thank you for yours. I pray that you have gotten something meaningful out of this particular lesson. Last week, I told you the story of Nehemiah. This week, I've tried to take the

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 various components and the various elements of the story to help you better understand and give you a more profound insight on two Christian beliefs, Christian doctrines that we have that are in fact a derivative of the story of Nehemiah. Go in peace, go in joy, go in love, go in happiness, but the author of the saying goes Go in peace, go in joy, go in love, go in happiness, but the author of the saying goes with you.
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