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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Old Testament bible study on Nehemiah 2:11 - 3:14 (May 9, 2024)

Updated: 6 days ago

May 9, 2024:  Thursday Bible Study on the Old Testament book of Nehemiah 2:11 - 3:14

May the hope of the Resurrection fill you with joy today and every day of your life. Good morning.

I know that recently we have had some difficult times for our members, with the death of Pastor David, illness, and changes in the potential loss of some independence, and in my own health issues with a too low heart rate, and a too high blood pressure, as well as some other newly developed changes in caring for my current health concerns.  Like so many of you, I am thankful to our Lord for everyday that I get to live in my life, and for all of your prayers.

This Sunday I am beginning my Sunday School class on the new archeology in Israel, and what it means for all of us when some of what we have heard our entire lives, appears to be different, yet not disconnected from the history of Israel. Join me, won't you? Get ready to be challenged! The class will meet at 9AM and go 45 minutes. Please pray for Melody and Me, we both have cardiology appointments coming up soon. Pray for Kandice, Jeff for God's touch to heal them from their cancers and pray for Pastor David's family and friends. Pastor David died this week, succumbing to his battle with cancer. Pray for our students who will be graduating really soon and be with our students who have senioritis. I too have senioritis, but it is a whole different thing!

Nehemiah old man beard open bible
Nehemiah with the bible

Today we are in chapter two and three in the book of Nehemiah. It is very interesting in several different ways. First is the kind of secretive way in which Nehemiah ends up taking a survey of the Jerusalem wall. Second, we have the naming of so many family groups who are called to come get this work done.  Let’s start with the first of these.  Ever since it entered the minds of Ezra and Nehemiah, called by God to find ways to restore the city of Jerusalem, there have been problems with certain communities of people who really want to knock this project off the rails. Wealthy local tribal groups, individuals, and government representatives to Persia and Artaxerxes. We always need to remember that, while the King may be supportive of Nehemiah's actions, there has been no communication by his word to help Nehemiah moving forward. Instead, local authorities work to derail this major project. So, Nehemiah sets out quietly at night to do a survey of the repair work that needs to be done. Just his horse and a few companions are with him, and he takes note of what is still to be done to keep the city of Jerusalem secure. For Nehemiah, this work will be moving forward simply by his faith and conviction that the work must be done! Based on the number of groups who were named in Nehemiah's writing, there were still a number of groups of Judahites who were ready and able to take on an assigned, or perhaps a volunteered portion of the necessary work.  This list of names certainly outdoes the Pentecost reading that we will do from the Acts of the Apostles on Pentecost. We get a few hints about how things may have been assigned/volunteered for. For instance, the priests take the East Gate which is the side of the walled community where the temple will be built. They have a special interest in getting this gate and wall section rebuilt so the temple can be completed and secure. In this section we discover that people are not assigned by the gifts that they bring, but instead by the desire they have for the wall and gates to be secure. After all, the priests were not builders.  They were intended to be the spiritual guides for the community. I suspect that the other groups had similar interests in their areas, but that they to0, were not artisan builders, rather they were people with a heart for the restoration of their city and temple. There is yet one more thing to address. There were indeed interlopers who wanted to have their finger in the pie of this rebuilding project. It could be lucrative for someone who controlled materials, or for foreign businesspeople to keep gates and walls open to them. Nehemiah saw through all of it. He made it clear that this Judahite city would be for Judahites only. There would be no place for those who wished to manipulate and keep their current power in the area.

I know that in the church we talk about having people serve in particular areas of need because they have a particular gift for that area of work, but what is really most important is the energy, excitement, and faith which  a person brings in God's call to service in His Church.   May He bless us all as we move into the world with the Good News!

In Christ's love, Pastor Kim

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