Celebrating Anniversary Week here on Hope in the Healing! Two years ago this week you invited me into your cyber lives and I have been forever blessed. I know this past year, especially the last six months, have not been my best but I appreciate that the blog has grown and you have shared and encouraged. I thank you. Today and tomorrow I am sharing the two most viewed posts from last year. This post was in response to a She Reads Truth sharing challenge. I hope you enjoy. Blessings!
Poor Nehemiah. He leaves for Jerusalem with the intent of rebuilding the city and setting it back in its rightful place. He accomplishes this great feat in 52 days! Once it is accomplished, he must return to Babylon for a while and while he is gone, just as Moses experienced coming down from Mount Sinai, the people fall right back into their sinful ways. When he returns, history tells us ten to twelve years later, chaos is rampant.
One of the priests, Eliashib has set up a room for his good relative, Tobiah where they used to store the “…grain offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil.”
The priests were also no longer receiving their pay and had literally left to go back to their homes.
They were working on the Sabbath! Treading out the winepresses, bringing in the grain and as Nehemiah tells it, “Tyrians also, who lived in the city, brought in fish and all kinds of goods and sold them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah, in Jerusalem itself!” Nehemiah 13:16 ESV.
They were marrying outside of Israel. Nehemiah reminds them that was the downfall of King Solomon, the greatest king who ever lived, and loved by God, yet he fell into sin when he began to marry outside of God’s commandments.
These are just a few of the atrocities that the people were committing and Nehemiah was furious.
“Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign, and I established the duties of the priests and Levites, each in his work; and I provided for the wood offering at appointed times, and for the firstfruits. Remember me, O my God, for good.” Nehemiah 13:30-31 ESV.
It seems we are back where we started with the Israelites. We can read all throughout the book of Nehemiah, why he has this tremendous burden to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He is loyal, dedicated and committed to his beloved Jerusalem, and most of all, to his God.
Just as everything is set in place, and their fearless leader returns to Babylon, to fulfill commitments there, once again Israel sins.
Relationship, relationship, relationship.
They were not in love with the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Nehemiah. They were not committed to His ways and His laws. Maybe even in this instance they were serving man and not God.
When Jesus ascended back to Heaven, He left us His Holy Spirit to dwell IN us; a living, breathing, portion of the Father to be with us and IN us until He would return to take us unto Himself.
This Holy Ghost, as it is referred to in the Book of Acts, was, and is, intended to give us the knowledge of God, to know right from wrong and to have the power to overcome. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8.
Does that mean WE never sin, if we have this power within us?
Of course not, but we do have relationship, and a desire to please the One who gave His very life for us. We are not bound by rules, but by love for a Savior.
So, why does the Book of Nehemiah end so disappointingly? What does the Lord want us to understand here about Jesus Christ and the Church?
Nehemiah continually looked back to the Savior.
He knew where his strength and help originated from. Just like Moses, he realized that those “rules” were meant to give guidance and direction to a wandering people. He set the example before them that when the Laws were broken, they could repent (turn from their sin) and God would forgive.
Ultimately, the Law, the rules, regulations, promises and covenants were virtually powerless when it came to eradicating sin in the lives of people.
It is truly the grace of God, the infilling of His Spirit, that gives us the desire and the power to overcome!
The following of rules will continually cause us to look at ME instead of Jesus.
All throughout the Old Testament, we see time and time again the leaders pulling their hair out (and even some on others!), frustrated with the continual sinning of Israel. God rewards them with fantastic victories only to have them turn right around and go back to their pigpen, over, and over, and over again.
We will always be disappointed because we will never reach perfection if we are bound by contracts and misplaced promises.
Thank God for Calvary! We have a Hope and His name is Jesus!
We are saved because of who HE is, not by what we can do.