God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

September 26 - Nehemiah 1-5: Nehemiah Leads God's Chosen People to Rebuild Jerusalem's Walls

Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 1-5

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Nehemiah also guards his people's spirits along with their bodies.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Nehemiah prayed for God's intercession on Jerusalem's crumbled walls. Artaxerxes granted Nehemiah's request to rebuild them. Sanballat and Tobiah scoffed.
Nehemiah rallied support. Sanballat and Tobiah mocked.
The wall was rebuilt by many families. Sanballat and Tobiah insulted.
Sanballat and Tobiah led a cabal to attack. The workers learned of the plan and carried weapons. Nehemiah strengthened their resolve.
Some of the Jews complained about high interest. Nehemiah confronted to the nobles and they agreed to return the mortgaged land and interest.
As governor, none of Nehemiah's underlings fed off the people. Instead, he fed people from his own stock.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Nehemiah asks God to set things right through him (Nehemiah).

Nehemiah has a cushy job in the palace. He had no obligation to leave Susa and return to Jerusalem; however, when he learned of the city's plight, he knew he needed to take action. He wanted to gain permission from Artaxerxes to repair the wall. He asked God to bless him along with the others who want to honor God. When God's Chosen People pray to set things right, God sets things right through them.

The ones who built the wall endured insults and discouragement throughout the entire construction process.

Similar to the reconstruction of the Temple, the families that rebuilt the wall had to endure harassment from their neighbors. With Nehemiah's help, they endured. God's Chosen People will always have discouragement from those who do not want things set right. God may not remove the discouragement. He may ask that we endure to the end.

Nehemiah shows a great example of leading in discouraging times.

Unlike Zerubbabel and Jeshua, Nehemiah did not stop reconstruction because of the harassment of others. He encouraged Israel to keep working, to keep building. He stationed guards to protect the workers and eventually gave weapons to the workers when threats materialized. All the while he kept the same tone, "The God-of-Heaven will make sure we succeed. We’re his servants and we’re going to work, rebuilding" (2:20, The Message). By leading with conviction and courage, Nehemiah provided the right attitude for the workers and people in Jerusalem to mimic. Leaders set the tone for everyone's trust in God setting things right.

Loaning at crippling interest is no different than slavery.

In the Law, twice, God explicitly prohibited loaning with interest. The reason is that it prevents people from getting ahead of their debts. Because they cannot get ahead, they must sell their children into slavery to pay for their living expenses. Nehemiah points out the irony that he and others went to such trouble to free Israel from their exiled slavery while these nobles are selling them into slavery again. God's Chosen People do not loan to their brothers and sisters at interest.

Nehemiah's government workers never lived off their constituents.

The governors before Nehemiah lived off a portion of what the people paid in taxes to Artaxerxes. God blessed Nehemiah enough that he did not live off the people. He lived off God's blessings. I wish our government could do the same.

Are you an example of steady faith in the face of ridicule?

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