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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Old Testament bible study on Nehemiah 4:7-23 (May 23, 2024)

May 23, 2024:  Thursday Bible Study on the Old Testament book of Nehemiah 4:7-23

May the Grace of God fill your life today!

Just a reminder – in yesterday's Bible Study, I said that this Sunday was Gospel Music Sunday and Carry-in meal. It is NOT. June 2 is Gospel Music Sunday, and the carry-in meal is on that day too with an Asian theme.

In this part of Nehemiah, we come face to face with the enmity which existed between those who had earlier settled and established themselves after the exiles were taken away - so many years before Nehemiah, or even Ezra. There were plenty of troublemakers in that community who did not want any success or the presence of the Judahites who had returned from exile and were now rebuilding the breached sections of the wall, and the gates. It really does sound like Nehemiah is a great leader as the people doing the building are faced now with the danger of being attacked by their enemies. However, the issue here is not that Nehemiah has a plan for readiness to do battle with the enemies of the rebuilding and for the people who were doing it. Their enemies were murderous, and of all of the possibilities of what we might learn from this passage, things like readiness, tenacity for the rebuilding and difficulties of trying to settle down and protect their old homeland. They also had to become ready-to-battle-warriors for the well-being of their community and temple. I think that a more important point in this passage is not what the people were willing to do under Nehemiah's leadership, but what God would do for this faithful group of His people, and how they would be guided by God each step of the way to victory.  One of our problems is that we focus on making Scripture answer our questions rather than looking for God's agenda.

Nehemiah knows that God has a desire to support His people. The rebuilding is extremely difficult because the refuse of the destroyed wall is in the way, and it must be moved if the wall and gates are to be repaired and rebuilt. So not only is Nehemiah faced with enemies outside of Jerusalem, but he is also faced with the builders getting frustrated and tired of having to move all of the damaged materials. Nehemiah looks to God, His call to Nehemiah to serve, and the safety that he has already realized through faith. Remember that Nehemiah was a treasured servant of Artaxerxes, and God even moved Artaxerxes to trust Nehemiah to do as he had promised. God's agenda here is to continue to use Nehemiah to shape the rebuilding. So, Nehemiah does three things to hopefully avoid a full-scale battle with already established enemies who literally surround Jerusalem and the temple on every side. And they really don't want the Judahites to become powerful and favorites of Artaxerxes. 

  1. HE PRAYS! All too often in our lives we just depend on God to be there to meet our need. God always wants to hear from us through our prayers. They are the greatest sign of our faith.

  2. HE EQUIPS THE PEOPLE WITH WEAPONS FOR DEFENSE, AND WITH TOOLS FOR CONINUING THE REBUILD AND REPAIR. We do this every Sunday as we gather for worship. This is the place where we find our faith shared by others, we regroup for the week ahead, and we find 0ur faith strengthened by the undergirding which comes to us through the strong faith of our brothers and sisters in the church.

  3. NEHEMIAH GATHERS EVERYONE TOGETHER IN THE OPEN AS A SHOW OF STRENGTH AND COMMITMENT. When we are faced with evil in our world, or troubles in our lives, we need to always be surrounded by people of faith whose courage and strength becomes ours. We know God's promise, and His hope, through the life we share in common in the Church. There is a Thanksgiving song that we should repeat more often. "We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing!"  God brings the defense of His Spirit for us. Holy Spirit, Sustainer of Life, guide us every day to understand God's agenda for our lives, and, how together we can grow in our faith, and in our proclaiming of His Love for all people.

God Bless You and Protect You.

In Christ's Love, Pastor Kim

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