Brick Upon Brick
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
We actually finished our study almost two weeks ago! I was so blessed to study the entire book of Nehemiah with those faithful Moms! The last chapter took me by surprise. I have read through Nehemiah quite a few times, but had forgotten the sorrow of the last chapter. Chapter 12 had so much rejoicing and celebration, Chapter 13 caught me off guard!
"The latter part of Chapter 12, ... tells the story of the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem. It describes a wonderful event which evidently was postponed for awhile until the city had been repopulated. ... Now it is completed. The wall is built. The gates are hung. It is a well defended, beautiful city, filled with people. The time has come for celebration and the dedication of the wall. We have an account of a great procession around the top of the wall. There are choirs and musicians, and, of course, officials and politicians. " (http://www.raystedman.org/old-testament/nehemiah/the-sound-of-rejoicing)
What a joy it must have been to see the two choirs come up along both sides of the wall to the temple! Verse 30, speaks the purification process of the people, gates, and walls. Which brought us to our Memory Verse Romans 12:1 and these questions:
- Have you presented yourself to God in this manner? We shared with each other how God desires us to be pure so we can be useful for the work He has called us. He has called is to purity.
- Are there areas in your life were the Lord does not have full control?
Nehemiah 12:27 says, "And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps." and verse 43 says, "Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off." Some application questions from our study included:
Back to Nehemiah 13, which made my jaw drop! I have read through the book of Nehemiah plenty of times before, but because we were studying for the past 6 months, I was more in tune with what was going on. Nehemiah returned home to Persia and continued his duties as the cupbearer to the king. It is not clear how long it had been (1-20 years) but Nehemiah did return to Jerusalem on to find Tobiah had moved into a room in the temple. Nehemiah poured so much time and leadership into these people, only to return and see so much evil. It only gets worse: They were not giving tithe to the Levites or singers (they moved back to the fields), they were selling and bearing burdens on the Sabaath, and even marrying pagan women. His reaction? I would call it righteous anger with prayer! It was pretty intense. Quoted form chapter 13:
- When was the last time you openly rejoiced in your thanksgiving to God?
- Are you smiling about it today--are you singing?
- When people look at you do the y see a happy heart? People are starved for joy and when they see it expressed it is like a magnet.. they are drawn to it and encouraged by it. (Proverbs 17:22, Proverbs 15:13
One of the topics that presented itself was the joy and gladness we are displaying for our children or lack of it. Do we take time to smile, laugh and joke with our children? It can be done in the simplest manner. Even a impromptu game of tag or hide and seek. My kids love seeing me chase them around the house! Or on a greater scale... this I can work on.. when something has spilled for the 5th time that day, not to get angry.
Last week Elizabeth was cleaning the gerbil cage. Normally, more than one child is suppose to help rinse out the container. Well, no one was helping and bless her heart she tried to do it on her own. I had about a gallon of water on my kitchen floor mixed with bits of gerbil poop and bedding. Mom nor the floor was a pretty sight. A book I am reading called it "Avoiding Volcano Moments". Well, this was a Volcano Moment that left me in tears hiding in my room. I called my husband and declared the words we Moms often say: "I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE!" Well, good news JuRita.. Christ can through you. Although, at the moment I was even resisting His (Jesus') comfort. We are all learning daily..... Selah.
"8 And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room... 14Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God..21 Then I warned them, and said to them, “Why do you spend the night around the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you!” From that time on they came no more on the Sabbath. 22 And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of Your mercy!23 In those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab ..25 So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves. 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless pagan women caused even him to sin. 27 Should we then hear of your doing all this great evil, transgressing against our God by marrying pagan women?” 30 Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan....Remember me, O my God, for good!"
How sad it was to see a man who had so much influence and put so much work into rebuilding this wall, only to see them have no regard for the things of God. I cannot say that I agree with his actions, but I do think of when Jesus was driving those out of the temple in Matthew 12. Nehemiah also set a good example of how important prayer is along with problem solving. Even it is "God, please have mercy.. Give me wisdom!"
I wanted to see a happy ending. But it is a good reminder that we are sinners in need a Savior. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice so we can be free and not have to fulfill the requirements of the law. I guess it is a happy ending because it points to Jesus! I can do nothing to earn my salvation it is a free gift of God to anyones who believes. Left to myself I can do nothing. With Christ I can do all things..Thank you Lord!