Day 144 through Day 149 took us on a six day read through Nehemiah.
If we remember back to the start of Ezra, these two readings were once combined as one book. Together they tell the story of the Israelite who returned to Jerusalem following their exile in Babylon. While they both tell a similar story, Ezra focuses more on the reconstruction of the Temple, while the focus of Nehemiah is on the rebuilding of the city walls.
- Nehemiah serves as a high ranking official (cup bearer) fro the king of Persia. He laments over news of Jerusalem’s destruction, and the king takes note of is saddened state. Telling his story to the king, Nehemiah is allowed to return to Jerusalem to assist wherever needed. (Chapters 1&2)
- The walls of the city are then rebuilt under Nehemiah’s leadership. It is an amazing building project that takes a mere 52 days. What an astounding feat! This was no small task. Rubble had to be removed, stone redressed, foundations laid, and the walls built. Amazing as it sounds, with God’s guidance, the impossible happened, because everyone was willing to do their part. Every family took on the responsibility of building the wall closest to their home, and it worked! (Chapters 2 – 7)
- Now building the wall wasn’t without controversy. Enemies of Israel try, and try again to ruin the plans of rebuilding the city and take long to a hold of Jerusalem. Every time they try . . . they fail (Chapters 4-6)
- With the walls (and Temple if we are considering Ezra) now complete the Torah is read to the people. The rededicated themselves, the Temple, and the walls of Jerusalem to the glory of God. A census is taken. Everything seems hunky dory. (Chapters 9 – 12)
- Well, these are Gods (un)faithful people, so we know how things go. The priest aren’t fulling their duties, people begin to intermarry, sin creeps its way back into Jerusalem. (Chapter 13)
All in all, Nehemiah is a great read as the people realize that with God all things are possible. Including the rebuilding of an entire city wall in less than two months time. Despite the hardships faced, they achieve the impossible, because God was with them. Yet that continual reminder as we close the reading in Nehemiah, that sin and temptation, continue to hold sway. Even in the midst of what would seem a bright corner in the story of Israel, there is the darken cloud of sin and shame that cannot and will not be erased until we encounter Christ and his cross. Long way to go in our readings until we get there, but we are getting closer.