They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. When I heard these things, I sat down and wept.
Nehemiah 1: 3, 4

Reading: Nehemiah 1: 1-13

Stage 3: - 445BC

Nehemiah was Ezra’s later contemporary, arriving in Jerusalem in 445 BC. He returned with a political commission as governor, which included authorization to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 

It was at this time that Nehemiah was allowed to return to the land in order to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and enable the people to re-inhabit the city. The Old Testament prophet that ministered at this time was Malachi.  

Obviously those who stayed in Persia lived a wealthier lifestyle than those who returned to the land. Those who returned, much like the Jews who returned to Israel in the 50’s and 60’s, experienced some hardships and difficulties until houses were rebuilt, the city walls re-established and crops re-grown.  

Nehemiah oversaw the task of rebuilding the walls in the face of fierce opposition (Neh. 1–6), and joined Ezra in a ceremony of reading the Law and celebrating the Festival of Tabernacles, that included a great national confession and a renewing of the covenant (Neh. 8–10).

In the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, we see joy, optimism, and a strong sense of spiritual purpose. After all, had not God brought His people back in fulfillment of the prophecy to Jeremiah (Ezra 1:1)? The return to the land from Babylon echoed in many ways the earlier return to the land from Egypt, only this time, a spirit of joy and enthusiasm prevailed (see Ezra 1–3). The whole nation pitched in to help, whether in rebuilding the temple (Ezra 1–6), or, later, in rebuilding the walls (Neh. 3) and repopulating Jerusalem (Neh. 11).

Ezra and Nehemiah instituted various reforms in alignment with the Law of God. Years before, the people under Zerubbabel and Jeshua carefully reinstituted sacrifices (Ezra 3). Now, they publicly read the Law and made confession on the basis of what they read (Neh. 8–9). 

It really does seem as if the people had learned something through the lesson of the exile – certainly, they were never to return to the levels of apostasy and syncretism that had been evident before the exile. 

It was during this period that the prophets began to speak of a Kingdom to come, an everlasting Kingdom, inaugurated directly from Heaven. Had they become a people ready to meet their Messiah? That remains to be seen. 


Father, I pray that I would learn every lesson You seek to teach me. I ask that I would become increasingly more like Jesus, grow from glory to glory, under Your watchful eye. 


Watch this video over the next few days

Exile and Return