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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Old Testament bible study on Nehemiah 3:15-4:6 (May 16, 2024)

May 16, 2024:  Thursday Bible Study on the Old Testament book of Nehemiah 3:15-4:6

Grace and Peace be with you today and always.

Surprise Wind and Rain in the desert last evening about 7PM, even a flash or two of lightning. Sometimes the desert can be full of surprises. Today that long list of people and groups who were going to rebuild the gate and the wall of Jerusalem brings a surprise too. Not only did they make the commitment to do the building, but they also completed it! It appears that some of what they completed was built in a different place, like higher up on the hill upon which sits the city of Jerusalem. That kind of building, though it created a smaller footprint for the city, was easier to do. This building was not a completion of the wall or temple, but it was the exciting start to the work that needed to be done.

I remember when I first came to American there was still a great deal of pride in the self-financed remodel and new sanctuary faceted glass. Back in 1980 that took nearly 80,00 dollars of member financed bonds.  There was great pride that under the direction of Loretta Olsen the self-bonding was nearly paid off, even the interest that the bonds received as payments. You and I get to see the result of that hard work of the congregation each time we come to worship. We are proud too of the work that we have done since then to keep our building and property moving forward. In my home I can say that my first boys and I rebuilt our kitchen, building and mounting new cabinets. I sat on the living room floor or stood at the dining table constructing cabinets that weighed as much as five hundred pounds, and then the boys and I moved them to the kitchen. We love our kitchen, though it is not designer, I look at it with pride in the work which we did to make it much more livable and much bigger than the original galley kitchen, and all in time for Joshua's rehearsal dinner. Just like Jerusalem, and the work done by so many people excited to get under way with Nehemiah overseeing their work, there was great pride, however, the locals ridiculed their work as inferior, saying that a little fox could breach the wall, but their families who would carry on the tradition of service and worship in the city that was being reestablished. It would continue the very traditions of service and worship provided for in this first outreach to begin the rebuilding. It is uncertain yet whether the wall that they rebuilt was on the original which had never been done since the exile, or if a new enemy had torn down the earlier work of Ezra, and the wall building now was the second new wall begun. There were certainly enough enemies to do that. All of this causes me to think of my forebears who built the church where I grew up. They came as immigrants in the early 1860s, and one of their first challenges was to get a new Swedish Lutheran church built. It was only about 15 years before Emmanuel Lutheran was chartered and built in 1876. It was built in the heart of Sweden Town, which was not the wealthiest area of the city, but their church was really impressive. Other peoples from Scandinavia built a Danish church, a Finish Church, and Norwegian Church, and as sad as it must seem, they derided each other over whose church was doing the best for years and years. The Judahites faced their own enemies, people who did not want to see these returned Jews do well. We all know and pray for God's blessings on our church, and yet today, just like in the time of Nehemiah, there are those who want to see the church fail, or in the case of the Judahites, want the whole of Jerusalem to fail along with the temple. But note, the Judahites do not send out hit squads to take out these enemies of the city. No instead they offer prayers that the attitude of such people is won over, or for God's judgement to take its course on these people who object and ridicule their work. After all they are ridiculing the work which God Himself has called for.  Since this story appears in Nehemiah, it is likely that Sanballat suffers discrediting and failure, while we know that the Judahites were successful in their work at Jerusalem. It stands until about 70 in the common era when the Romans destroy the City of David again, some nearly 40 years after the death of our Savior.  

I will be back with you next week as we continue our study of the Gospel of Mark, and Nehemiah.

In Christ's love, Pastor Kim

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