This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I am focusing in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will post a summary page with some thoughts about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey! Click here to see where we’ve been so far!
The Big Picture of Ezra and Nehemiah:
Originally, Ezra and Nehemiah were considered one book. In some later manuscripts they were divided into three, telling the three main stories of the book, though most modern Scriptures have two books. Together they tell of the return of some of God’s people from exile. First, Zerubbabel leads a group to rebuild the temple. Then Ezra works on reminding the people of God’s commands, and Nehemiah returns in the midst of this to rebuild the city walls. This all happens over the course of almost 100 years (Approx. 538 B.C. – 443 B.C.).
Key Events in Ezra and Nehemiah:
(The approximate dates below were found at this website.)
- Ezra 1 – – King Cyrus declares that the Jews can go back to Jerusalem (Approx. 538 B.C.)
- Ezra 2 – A list of all who returned and the gifts they gave to rebuild the temple.
- Ezra 3 – Altar restored, sacrifices were made, temple reconstruction begins (approx. 536 B.C.)
- Ezra 4 – Construction on the temple stops (approx. 535 B.C.)
- Ezra 5-6 – Temple construction resumes and is completed (approx. 515 B.C.)
- Ezra 7-8 – Ezra returns to Jerusalem with more exiles (approx. 458 B.C.)
- Nehemiah 2-3 – Nehemiah returns to lead a group of people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (approx. 444 B.C.)
- Nehemiah 4-5 – Conflict with people surrounding the city trying to stop them from rebuilding
- Nehemiah 6 – The wall rebuilt in only 52 days
- Nehemiah 8 – Ezra reads the Book of the Law to the people (approx. 443)
A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:
Some of us are planning to read through the whole book each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse (two this week since we’re in two books!). This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.
- ‘Rise up, this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it!” Ezra 10:4
REFLECTION: Sometimes we need to stop and let someone else, maybe even God take care of a situation. Other times we need to rise up and do what we’ve been called to do. What “matter is in your hands” this week that you need to take courage and do? Who is around you to support you?
- “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord.” Ezra 3:11
REFLECTION: What can you praise and thank God for today? Is there a song your can play or sing that represents your praise well?
- “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” Nehemiah 4:14
REFLECTION: What does fighting for your family look like this week? Who is “them” that you need to not be afraid of? How can you focus on the great and awesome Lord who fights for your family in the middle of whatever you’re facing this week?
- “Yet our God turned the curse into a blessing.” Nehemiah 13:2
REFLECTION: Where has God turned a bad situation into a blessing in your life recently?
God’s Grace in Ezra and Nehemiah:
Grace is all about what’s undeserved. Multiple times throughout these two books these leaders get undeserved gifts. Just take Nehemiah for example. When he asks his leader, the king, for permission to return, God’s favor is upon Nehemiah. The King not only lets Nehemiah go, but sends all kinds of supplies to help in the process. God provides all Nehemiah needs to do what He has called him to do. This grace had to be encouraging to him as he thought about the huge task before him and endure great opposition. I am so thankful that we serve a God who provides all we need… and then some.
Some Other Resources:
- The Bible Project summary video of Ezra and Nehemiah
- A Pinterest board with resources and pictures for Ezra
- A Pinterest board with resources and pictures for Nehemiah
- The 66 in 52 Schedule and Tracking Sheet
So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!