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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Old Testament bible study on Nehemiah 7:73b-8:8 (June 20, 2024)

June 20, 2024:  Thursday Bible Study on the Old Testament book of Nehemiah 7:73b-8:8

God's good morning to you all. Let's all pray today that the monsoon rains forecast for the next ten days yields some rain that the desert so desperately needs at this time of the year.  We all should be waking each day to the joy of Christ and His gifts of life, forgiveness, and salvation. And as we end each day at bedtime, we should be offering prayers of thanksgiving for the presence of our Savior and His Spirit that day, and then turning ourselves over to God's protecting presence and love through the night. Oh yes, and of course a person would expect that doors and windows would also be checked for our safety. Yes, God's protection is with us throughout the night, but we need to be proactive as well. I remember going through unending nights when my blood pressure first started spiking about 20 years ago. I took all of the prescribed medications, but I also prayed to God for His intervention and comfort as I sat in a living room chair trying not to panic with every spike.

Over the five years it took to have reasonable blood pressure, God and I worked together for my health safety.

Once again in the book of Nehemiah we discover that he understands himself as God's instrument to provide safety for the Judahites, many of whom have now helped to rebuild the wall. The space inside of the wall was not heavily populated, which is affirmed by archeologists who have studied the area. Zechariah was a prophet at the time that Ezra was bringing the exiles back, and his prophecy was that there was not need at that time for a wall around Jerusalem, that God would provide all of the protection that the exilic Judahites who had come would need. But Nehemiah is in a very different situation. There are now strong enemies of the Judahites who would like nothing better than to watch the rebuilding fail. They are concerned about their own power being weakened and their opportunities for growing wealth being severely limited. They are real enemies of this new community. They have connections to the governments of the people beyond the river, and through them threatened connections to Artaxerxes. I think that we can assume that Nehemiah was a record keeper from the forms of what appears to be a complete listing of people who can from the time of Ezra to Nehemiah's time, though the lists have some differences in them, but remain the same in the total number of people who were on both lists.  We can also assume that he was familiar with the prophecy of Zechariah. Nehemiah believed in handling the defensive wall, and in addition that he was God's instrument in keeping that prophecy of Zechariah alive and fulfilled. After all, God had called Nehemiah to this work in the promised land.  Please note that Nehemiah both prayed to God and then acted to fulfill God's hope for His people. Whatever that earlier disaster was between the time of Ezra and the time of Nehemiah, housing had been built close to the plots of land which were where their farming happened, and where their flocks pastured. So, the area inside of the wall was really no city, but rather a small community of people whose lands were inside of the wall. Nehemiah starts the process of getting people to come back to live inside of the wall in addition to those who had worked to rebuild the section of the wall near their homes. He is working to build the city into the large community we have so traditionally understood Jerusalem to be from the descriptions we have in the Bible. The lists of names in this part of Nehemiah are extremely detailed, with name that are difficult for us to pronounce.

Thanks for being with me.

In Christ's love, Pastor Kim

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