Struggles in this sinful world often leave us dealing with unfinished hope. We may place our hope in our spouse only to have the marriage go sideways. Perhaps our hope is in our job and then we are laid off.
Israel’s hope of a Messiah was put on hold during their exile. Now they had returned to Jerusalem. It had been a struggle, but they had rebuilt the Temple and their homes and farms. Still their enemies opposed them, and the wall was down which left the city exposed.
Nehemiah Attempts to Rebuild Hope
Nehemiah was a fantastic leader. He encouraged the people and with God’s help they rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem, which had been down for 140 years, in just 52 days. Nehemiah 6: 15 So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. 16 When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.If the book of Nehemiah ended here, we would cheer.
But Nehemiah isn’t done yet. He has Ezra and the Levities come teach the Word of God. This starts a revival, and the people make promises to follow God. Nehemiah 10: 28 Then the rest of the people…29 joined their leaders and bound themselves with an oath… They solemnly promised to carefully follow all the commands, regulations, and decrees of the Lord our Lord. Again, if the book of Nehemiah ended here, it would be great.
Anticlimactic End to Rebuilding Hope
But the book ends on a downer. Nehemiah had returned to his job with the King of Persia. At this point, the people forget their promises to God and drift from the faith. When Nehemiah returns, he finds that all the spiritual progress has been undone.
The Apostle Paul had a similar thing happen to the churches of Galatia. I think Nehemiah felt the same way Paul did. Galatians 3: 1Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you?…3 How foolish can you be?… 4 Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it? 
We Still Deal with Unfinished Hope
Nehemiah was a Godly leader with great skill. The physical rebuilding of the wall gave hope to the people that Messiah would come soon. The spiritual renewal added to this hope. Then everything seemed to fall apart. The spiritual work was undone, and Nehemiah was frustrated when he returned to Jerusalem. This is how the book ends.
No matter how good of a leader Nehemiah was, the only way true restoration could come is through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. We know that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins. When we believe and trust Jesus as our Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit begins to restore us. Yet, we still are dealing with unfinished hope in our world. It will only be complete when Jesus returns to put the new heaven and new earth in place. But we have the promise of God, and He doesn’t break promises. He will be with us to help us on our journey of life and will return to finish our hope.
To hear about dealing with unfinished hope, listen here: