The flow the last few chapters as been God’s Word leads to Repentance, Repentance leads to Confession, Confession leads to Purification and in Chapter 10 we’ll see Purification giving birth to actionable promises of Obedience.
Chapters Thus Far:
1 – Nehemiah broken when learns of state of Jerusalem; because he loves God and hurts to see the state of His people and desires to see His promise fulfilled.
2: 1-10 – Nehemiah desires to bring God glory so much he abandons his Persian palace and heads out to do work in Jerusalem.
2:11-20 – We learn of the calling to Go and Rebuild.
3 – The Gates parallel the Christian life. Ah-Mazing stuff…
4 – External Opposition : way in which the devil attacks
5:1-6 – Responding to Anger Part 1 – wrong doing is inevitable; think before you speak.
6 -Proper handling of opposition of comes with a attributes I do not have!
7 – When God takes roll of His people, which tribe will you be associated with?
8 – Restoration begins with God’s Word
9 – Restoration leads to purification
The promises we see made (to God) in this chapter are:
- Not intermarrying outside cultures – v30
- Honoring the Sabbath (not buying merchandise on this day) – V31
- Re-engaging in Jubilee – v31
- Giving / Provision for the Temple – 32-34, 37-39
- Tithing – v35-36
And check out this (ominous foreshadowing) promise :
We will not neglect the house of our God.
It might be easy to read that last statement with a mind of hope, a sweet outlook on the future; but aside from the fact that I recently preached on Chapter 13 (and know this promise is short lived), a common thread throughout scripture is our natural rebellion. It might as well read ‘we will neglect the house of God’ or more pointedly “What house?”
We are so quick to forget.
“Thank you, Lord, for delivering us from slavery!”
“AGH! I hate the wilderness, we’d be better off in captivity…”
“Thank you, Lord, for the mana!”
“AGH! I hate bread….”
The deep reality of our disposition is prone to wander, prone to leave the God I love. And that is, in fact, what is so compelling about the God story, about our story – that both conditions are true.
We are prone to leave a God we love.
- Did Jerusalem love God? Yes.
- Were they sincere in their promise? Yes.
- Did they wander…again? Yes.
What, then, are we to do with this cycle? How, then, are we to break it?
I think the answer is, like so many answers, found in God. We abide in his Word, we memorize His commands, we find satisfaction in Him alone and we ask Him to not let us leave.
Check out Psalm 119:
9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.
We will neglect the house of God…