Sworn to Obedience

Nehemiah 10:1-39

Today’s reading gave a profile of all the people that gathered at the Watergate to make a commitment to obey God’s laws as given by Moses.

These people were sworn by oath and curses to ensure they obey God. They promised not to intermingle with the foreigners in marriage, to watch to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy by not trading, and also to forgive debts in the seventh year. Other commitments included given a third of their money yearly for the service of the house of God, bringing their first-fruits to God’s house, and the firstborn of their sons and flocks. Indeed, the people committed to never forsake the house of God.

Israel’s attitude to God today begets the question, “How committed are I to the things of God?” Are we willing to be bound in oath and curses to obey him, to give our lives and our substance in honour and worship of him. God deserves the very best from us, afterall  he made us and owns us and all we have.

Worship him with your life and all!

 

 

 

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A Nation Repents

Nehemiah 9:1-38

Today, the people of Israel gathered together with fasting, separating themselves from all strangers. The gathering was to confess their sins and those  of their fathers in a show of genuine national repentance.

The day started with the reading of the book of the law of the Lord, and the other parts of the day the spent confessing their sins and worshiping God. With the Levitical leaders going through Israel‘s history to show how God had dealt with the fathers – starting from Abraham, to the miracles God did in Egypt, and in the desert with the giving of the law.

They also recounted how the fathers were unfaithful, making for themselves gods, causing great provocation. Despite these, God had been merciful to them, feeding them, and leading them, and preserving them in the wilderness. God also gave them lands to possess, giving them strong cities, but after eating to their fill, they became disobedient to God, and he delivered them into the hands of their enemies. However, when they cried out to Him, he sent them saviors to deliver them from their enemies.

Israel’s cycle of disobedience and deliverance from trouble went on and on until their exile to Babylon. Now that they had returned, they sought God’s face for mercy. They confessed their sins and those of their fathers, and they made a covenant to obey God’s laws.

Just like the Israelites, we all have a journey with God. Most times it is not a smooth run. Do we always come back to God in repentance and a willingness to obey him from our hearts. Make a commitment to God today, He is willing to help you to obey him.

The Watergate Gathering

Nehemiah 8:1-18

Today, we read of how the whole nation gathered to respond to the word of God. Israel was in a transition state having just come back from exile. So all the people gathered as one man to listen to the Law of God as read to them by  Ezra, the scribe.

Great reverence was giving to the reading of the word, as the people rose, bowed their heads, worshiped and say ‘Amen‘! It was not just about reading, we learn that the the reading was done distinctly, and the Levites caused the people to understand what was being read, giving sense and meaning. How many times do we just go through the motions of the things of God – prayers, worship, reading the bible – do we really seek meaning and understanding??

The people’s response to God was to weep and mourn, for they could see how far they have deviated from God’s law. Nehemiah and Ezra however encouraged them to rejoice for it was a holy day unto God. They people were charged to go their way to eat, drink and share with their neighbours. The people left rejoicing for they have understood the word of God declared unto them.

The feast was kept for seven days, and on the eight day, there was a solemn assembly.

Nehemiah Organizes The People

 

Nehemiah 7:1-73

After the walls of Jerusalem had been built, and the doors set, Nehemiah appointed porters, singers and Levites. He also gave responsibility to his brother – Hanani, and Hananiah – a man described as being faithful and fearing God above many – to take charge of Jerusalem. He gave them instructions on ensuring the safety and security of the city.

Nehemiah also saw that the city was large and great, but the people were few and the houses were not builded. So, God laid it in his heart to gather the nobles, the rulers and the people, according to their genealogy of those who came back from captivity. Everyone was named according to his city that came from Babylon with the leaders of Israel. We could see what Nehemiah was trying to do here – to ensure that the people were organized, and then they could each rebuild their homes and cities.

One thing is clear – leaders have vision, foresight, and are able to instruct and guide others into a better future. At times they do the thinking for the people, and the people respond by doing the acting and cooperating. Nehemiah had vision, and he was able to pass on the same to his people. He had credibility and could instruct others.

What type of leader are you?

Some verses to remember

4-5: Now the city was large and great: but the people were few therein, and the houses were not builded. And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy.

 

 

A Sinister Plot

 

Nehemiah 6: 1-19

Today, the adversaries return to perpetrate their evil works against Nehemiah. When Sanballat and Tobiah, and Geshem heard that he had built the wall and that there were no breaches in it, they sent to Nehemiah to meet with him for a discussion, but they were planning to do him mischief.

Nehemiah sent back messengers to these men telling them that he was doing a great work, and he could not come down so that the work didn’t cease. They however kept messengers to him, with Sanballat sending a fifth messenger to Nehemiah with a threat letter. The letter claimed that Nehemiah, along with the Jews, were planning a rebellion by building the walls, and later on would make Nehemiah their king. The letter also claimed that Nehemiah had appointed himself prophets to declare him as king in Judah, so they asked him to come meet them to discuss all these together before they reported him to the king. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Nehemiah had diligently loved and served his people. He replied to Sanballat that all his accusations were his own imaginations, and attempts to weaken the hands of the people from the work to be done.

Interestingly, Sanballat still went ahead to hire false prophets in Shemaiah and Noadiah (a prophetess) to prophesy against Nehemiah to put him in fear. Shemaiah suggested he ran to the temple to hide away from the enemies, if the leader ran into hiding, what would the followers think and do?

Against all these odds, the work of the wall building was completed. When the enemies all around heard this they were cast down in their hearts, for they perceived that the work was wrought by God.

No matter what the opposition is, God could help us to achieve the objective set before us. We need to remain focussed, trust him, and not allow fear and distractions to come in the way of his plans and purposes.

Some verses to remember

15-16: So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.

 

Nehemiah Intervenes for The People

Nehemiah 5:1-19

In the midst of the building going on, there arose complaints amongst the people due to the scarcity of corn. A lot of these people have mortgaged their properties, some have put their children into slavery just to obtain corn. It got to a critical point and they had to complain to Nehemiah.

When the complaints reached Nehemiah, he was very upset, so he consulted with the nobles and the rulers. He asked them whether having redeemed their brothers, the jews, from the heathen, would they now allowed them to be sold at home again? The nobles had nothing to answer him. So he asked them to restore to the people their lands, vineyards, oliveyards, and houses, and the nobles agreed.

From that time, Nehemiah was appointed to be governor over the people of Judah. Unlike previous governors, he did not charge the people or take of them bread and wine, because he feared the Lord. He continued the work of the wall, and was fully focussed on pleasing God. No wonder, he could pray God to remember him for all the good he had done for the people.

What could we learn today from Nehemiah as leaders? Do you put your people first or seek to satisfy your own needs? Nehemiah has laid a good example for us all to follow.

Some verses to remember

19  Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.

 

Building with Sword

 

Nehemiah 4:1-23

The Jews progressed with the work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, but when the opposition saw the progress of the work, they arose again.

First, Sanballat and Tobiah made mockery of the Jews and their work, saying that if a fox climbed the wall, everything would come tumbling down. This did not deter the Jews and they continued to build as helped by God. When they enemies saw this they made further threats, and this time around it was war! They conspired together to fight against Jerusalem and hinder the work.

So, the Jews prayed unto God, and set watchmen day and night in preparation. The work could not progress smoothly as before, but the Jews prepared in every way. They did not neglect the work as Nehemiah set people in places with swords, spears and bows. He also charged the leaders of the people not to be afraid of the threats of the opposition, but to fight for their brothers .

The people then returned to the building work, with half of them doing the work and the other half holding spears, shields and bows. Those building too worked with one hand and with the other held a weapon, all the builders had a sword girded by their side as they build.

They Jews did not make an excuse to stop the work. They prayed to God, prepared for war, and continued to build. Definitely there’s a lot we could learn from this whenever we face opposition with respect to whatever it is that God wants us to perform.

Some verses to remember

8-9: And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.

18:  For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.

 

 

Building and Repairs

 

Nehemiah 3: 1-32

Today, the work that Nehemiah set out to do in Jerusalem began in earnest as the people rallied and started building. It all started with the priests, with Eliashib, the high priest and his brethren – they builded the sheep gate, sanctified it and set up its doors.

It is so amazing how different people took up different parts of the project, from building different parts and regions of the walls and gates, to repairing major parts of the city, including the temple and part of David‘s sepulcher. Great things happen when people collaborate together, and each person play his role to achieve the common goal, the work looks a lot easier, and progress would be made fast.

Of note however, was the comment made about the nobles of the Tekoites. We learnt that they did not put their necks to the work of their Lord. What a negative in the whole positive of the chapter. This shows that anything short of the best is not good enough for our God. These nobles probably were feeling too big to be too concerned about the project, they probably didn’t want to get their hand dirty, or wanted more time for pleasure rather than work. Whatever reason it was, their attitude was noted to the extent that it merited being written in Israel‘s history book.

What would be said of you when it comes to God’s work? Would you be commended for doing  your part, playing your role and doing your best? Or would it be said of you, that you did not put your neck to the Lord’s work?

Examine Yourself!

Some verses to remember

vs 1  Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel.

5 And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord.

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Nehemiah Goes to Jerusalem

Neh 2:1-20

We read of Nehemiah‘s prayer yesterday after heard of the situation in Judah. Today, he received favour in sight of the king while doing his service. The king noticed that his countenance was sad and asked him why, to which Nehemiah responded, sighting the situation in Jerusalem as the reason for his sadness. The king then granted him permission to go and build the walls, and even gave him letters to authorize support for him from the nearby governors.

Nehemiah then travelled down to Jerusalem, and spoke with the people, charging them to get ready to build the walls. This was not without opposition, as we have already read of three men who made mockery of Nehemiah’s intentions to rebuild.  Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem laughed Nehemiah to scorn and despised him when they heard of the project, saying,  “what were you trying to do, would you rebel against the king?” Nehemiah, strengthened the people, and responded to the detractors, that God would prosper his people, and that they would rise and build, with Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem not having any part with God’s people.

How did they progress? What opposition did they face? How did they overcome? We will soon see as we continue with this history book.

Some verses to remember

vs 20:  Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah’s Prayer

Nehemiah 1:1-11

As we concluded the book of Ezra yesterday, we moved on to another leader who showed great love and concern for the wellbeing of his country and its people. Nehemiah was a cupbearer for Artaxerxes in Shushan palace, but when he heard that those who were left of the captivity were in great affliction, and the walls of Jerusalem broken down, he broke down and wept for days, fasting and praying before God.

Nehemiah, in similar fashion like Ezra, made the sin of the people his own sin. He prayed before God for forgiveness and mercy, reminding God of his promise for restoration. He knew their plight was due to their sin, but he also remembered that God promised that if they repented, they would be restored.

As the first chapter closes, Nehemiah prayed for favour before the king, as he would need the king’s permission if he were to leave his role in the palace to attend to the problems in his home country. What happens next? We will soon discover.

Some verses to remember

4  And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.