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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Old Testament bible study on Nehemiah (June 13, 2024)

June 13, 2024:  Thursday Bible Study on the Old Testament book of Nehemiah

Good cloudy Thursday morning to you in the name, and by the power of the Spirit of our LORD.

None of us come into the new day without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We may know that the new day holds difficult things with which we must be ready to deal, or, this new day may be filled with expected success after much hard work, or it may be a complete surprise filled with the unexpected, both difficult and joyful. This is kind of a lead-in to our study of Nehemiah for today.  The real message here is that regardless of the character of a particular day, it will all occur with the armor of the LORD surrounding us in every way, and we could never ask for anything greater to be with us. Please pray for the election of the new Grand Canyon Synod bishop at our Grand Canyon Assembly on Friday and Saturday. During assembly we will pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to guide our deliberations and our final choice. More on Sunday at worship, and if you are not there, I will update you through the Monday morning Bible study on the Gospel of Mark.

Like us, Nehemiah was faced with uncertainty in his days as well. In this passage for today, we discover that the wall has been completed in Jerusalem, but the work that has been done, is pretty minimal. With regards to the protection that the wall provided, it would have been relatively easy to scale, in all likely hood it was less than 8 feet tall, and the gates, though completed, still did not have a door in them, so that every entry into Jerusalem would require that the entire gate would have to be opened.  However, in spite of all of this, the nations around Judah have heard that the Judahites have completed their building project, and now are definitely worried about the power that the people of Jerusalem will wield now that they have returned and completed this necessary work. But in the midst of this completion, there are those in the area of Jerusalem who are really unhappy with the work that has been done. Their businesses may suffer, and also the right that has existed for them to worship their own gods is likely to come to an end. So, they set about a plan to do away with Nehemiah by inviting him to a location halfway between Jerusalem and Samaria. It was distant from Nehemiah's community, and if he consented to this meeting place, it is more than likely that his enemies would have him killed there, and then blame it on bandits or Bedouins. It was obvious as Nehemiah discerned this situation that there were those who felt that to destroy him would be to bring any continuing advance in Jerusalem to a halt. Nehemiah did not go! In fact, he wrote to these enemies of his telling them that he would not participate due to their intended actions against him. So, Nehemiah was faced with those who had generationally objected to any resettlement, and even by his own people. Some communities just outright refused to be involved in the building of the wall and gates for the city, and they were Judahites. In many ways Nehemiah was surrounded by people who didn't want him there, nor did they want Jerusalem to rise up.  Already in Jerusalem there was a leader of the city who was from the line of David. His name was Jerubbabel. (Another possible name for a Taylor male child!  Just kidding.)  And it is clear that the people of Jerusalem had been keeping track of the heirs of Jerubbabel who might rise up to be king from the line of David. But a greater fear for some was that Nehemiah would work his way into being declared king by some prophet in the city. And that would have worked. In fact, his enemies were already trying to use one of their own prophets to destroy Nehemiah's credibility. One of the wonderful things that we learn about Nehemiah is that he knows how to be powerfully forceful, while at the same time, acting with kindness and compassion. He moves the Judahites to build the wall, and while it is happening, he makes certain that loans taken to support those who are working away from the farms or businesses will pay no interest. He also cares for those who are working, providing food and wine every evening at his own cost. God made a really wise choice to lead this rebuilding project. It was God over all things, but it may not have happened without the faith and skills of Nehemiah to negotiate with everyone for the project's success and protection.

It is good to be with you this morning.

With Love in Jesus Christ, Pastor Kim

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