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Bible Lesson: “Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced”    

Focus: Nehemiah builds the walls of Jerusalem (found in Section 3 of this week’s Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly)

Article from The Christian Science Journal: “He Will Prosper Us,” by Dorothy Roberts.  Click here to login to read this article.  Also, JSH subscribers can view the article here: https://journal.christianscience.com/issues/1920/8/38-5/he-will-prosper-us

Excerpt: “The story of Nehemiah’s successful completion of the walls of Jerusalem is a most comforting one to the student of Christian Science. It portrays distinctly the different ways in which suggestion tries to impose itself as thought, activity, and causation, and shows how it must inevitably fail . . . . in Nehemiah’s experience we have an excellent illustration of the results which follow right handling of the arguments of evil. When Sanballat and Tobiah taunted him, he did not accept their suggestions . . . . Nehemiah is saying, then, that evil has no portion, right, nor memorial in true consciousness. In reality he completed his own wall when he understandingly made this statement, before work on the structure of stone and brick had even begun.” (CSJ, August 1920)

Questions:

1  Why is the city of Jerusalem in ruins?

2. How is prayer integral to this story (vs. 4)?

3  What might be the significance of the number of days it takes to rebuild the walls?

4  What qualities does Nehemiah express that enable him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem?

5  Who are Tobiah, Gesham, and Sanballat, and why do they attempt to stop the building of the walls (vs. 19)?

6  Why doesn’t Nehemiah listen to Sanballat and the others?

7  How does this story of Nehemiah relate to this week’s Bible Lesson, “Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced”? 

Painting: Nehemiah Looks On The Ruins Of Jerusalem by James Tissot

Map: Nehemiah’s Route

Bible Lesson Verses: Nehemiah 2:1-5 Now, 8 And the, 11, 16, 18-20

(note: citations in green are from this week’s Lesson; citations in blue are not from this week’s Lesson)

“Nehemiah was a great Jewish patriot and statesman. He was identified with the period of the Restoration—with the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls and, like Ezra, with the firm establishment of the Jewish ecclesiastical system. Nehemiah was cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in the winter palace at Shushan in Persia. Word was brought to him that the returned remnant in Jerusalem was in great affliction and reproach, and that the city’s walls were still broken down. He was plunged into a grief that lasted many days. After fasting and prayer he determined to go to Jerusalem; and he petitioned the king for permission to repair its walls and gates. His request was granted and the king appointed him governor (Tirshatha) of Judah. He reached Jerusalem in 445 B.C. Three days after his arrival he rode secretly by night around the city to inspect its ruined walls and burned gates. Then he urged, ‘Come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.’ Willingly the people ‘strengthened their hands for this good work.’ As Samaritan adversaries had hindered Zerubbabel in the reconstruction of the Temple, so now the Samaritans, Ammonites, and Arabians led by Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem tried to prevent the fortifying of the city. At first they laughed with scorn . . . . When mockery failed the adversaries united to fight against them, but Nehemiah armed his workmen and set a watch day and night. . . . Next, Nehemiah’s enemies Sanballat and Geshem tried to entice him to meet with them outside the walls, but he refused. Four times they sought him; four times he gave the same reply, ‘I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: . . . . A fifth time they tried to intimidate Nehemiah with an open letter which insinuated that he and the Jews were planning to rebel against the king. . . . turning to God in prayer, beseeched: ‘Now . . . O God, strengthen my hands.’ The adversaries’ final attempt to stop the work was to make Nehemiah fear for his life. One of Nehemiah’s own countrymen was bribed to induce him to flee for safety into the Holy Place of the Temple (a violation of the Law for a layman), but Nehemiah refused, perceiving it as the guile of the enemy. In fifty-two days the wall was finished, . . . .” (Shotwell, p. 138)

“From first to last Nehemiah was a man of piety and of prayer. When his work was finished Jerusalem was once more a fortified city, rebuilt and thriving, and the Mosaic ecclesiastical system of the Jewish Church was well established. The strict adherence of the covenant people to monotheism during the next four centuries prepared the way for the Advent of the Messiah.” (Shotwell, p. 139)  

And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.

 “It is supposed that the kings of Persia had a different cup-bearer for each quarter of the year, and that it had just now come to Nehemiah’s turn.” (Clarke, online)

“This was four months after the time mentioned in Nehemiah 1:1, during which time Nehemiah had fasted and prayed ‘night and day’ that something could be done to aid Jerusalem. During this period, Nehemiah had diligently tried to maintain his customary happy appearance; but his great grief finally became evident in his appearance.” (Coffman online)

 

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