Memoirs of the Way Home: Ezra and Nehemiah as a Call to Conversion
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Author Gerald Bilkes explains that in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, we have two first-person accounts, or memoirs, of Israel’s return from exile to the Promised Land. In this winsome Bible study, with questions for individual or group reflection at the end of each chapter, the author introduces readers to the lesser-known Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah and helps us understand that these are not the records of historic feats but rather the confessions of a humble prodigal on a profoundly spiritual journey home. With pastoral warmth, Bilkes demonstrates these biblical memoirs’ relevance for us today as they challenge us to consider whether we are in the far country or, by grace, on our way back home to God.
Table of Contents:
Introduction: A Prodigal People
The Lord Is First
Tokens of Mercy
Adversaries, Subtle and Sever
Fresh Courage through the Word
Joy through God
A Further Reformation
A Fresh Exodus
A Time for Brokenness
Breaking with Sin
On His Knees before the Court of Heaven
From Burden to Boasting
Submitting to the Yoke of God
The Crucible of Conflict
A Redeemer Comes to Zion
A Fearless Leader
We Have a Strong City
A Fresh Sinai
The Prayer of Returning Prodigals
The Holy City
Looking Back in Wonder
Appendix 1: Lessons for Ministry from Ezra
Appendix 2: Lessons for Prayer from Nehemiah
Gerald M. Bilkes is professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids.
“Few people know the history of Ezra and Nehemiah and their God-given work to reestablish Israel in the Promised Land after their Babylonian exile. Memoirs of the Way Home offers an easily accessible survey and devotional reflection upon these overlooked but nevertheless vibrant books of the Bible. Readers will certainly benefit from this simple exploration of the many rich and vital truths that we find in Ezra and Nehemiah and the way Gerald Bilkes connects them to Christ and the church.” — J. V. Fesko, academic dean and professor of systematic and historical theology, Westminster Seminary California
“God’s people are a redeemed people; that fact is evident in that the Old Testament both begins and ends with redemption, first from Egypt and then from Babylon. In these events, God prepared his people for the great act of redemption through Jesus Christ. In this study of Ezra and Nehemiah, Dr. Bilkes focuses on elements of the redemption of God’s covenant people from the power of Babylon. As he works his way through these great books of the Old Testament, Dr. Bilkes shows us how God’s prodigal son—Israel—returned home, to the Father’s house. This is a wonderful resource: penetrating in analysis, faithful in interpretation, personal in application. It shows how the gospel is the means by which God gathers sinners into His kingdom and has powerful lessons to teach us on the nature of individual conversion, as well as on the need for prayer and the place of preaching in the contemporary church. — Iain D. Campbell, minister, Free Church of Scotland, Isle of Lewis.