I hope you enjoyed your new year. It’s back to the grind for most if us- the aerobics DVD’s are dusted off, the last mince pie is ravished only to be replaced with a bag of carrots and new years resolutions are put to play.
My new years resolution in a nutshell is ‘more of the same.’ I aim to make more progress with my business, ‘Scribble Ink’, earn more money, produce more written works, read more, travel more, socialise more. More, more, more!
As many of you could sense via my short n’ sweet (or admittedly, my half baked) blog on Ezra, to persist with Contemplation Cafe is starting to take it’s toll. Emotional factors and situations greater than myself weave their way into my study, thus making it a challenge to understand or even have the zeal I had when I wrote ‘Understanding Genesis’. Though I won’t go as far to say the new year has rejuvenated the old enthusiasm, I am still determined to have the bible read from genesis to revelation before the year is over. Here’s to praying this is not only accomplished, but enthusiastically achieved. I hope you can forgive me for my bluntness. It would be so much easier to tell you that reading the bible is a doddle, but in reality, it does get hard sometimes; I don’t understand a book through and through if I’ve only read it once, even then I don’t always understand it; I still have a few unanswered questions and sometimes when those questions are answered, they bring about new questions. Surely I cannot be alone in thinking this way and I hope this mini rant reaches the other girl/guy whose been feeling a little ‘blah’ and ‘meh’ lately. Yes, sometimes it’s hard, but let’s encourage each other. Also, if you know of any cool external resources or ways to keep up with said bible reading mission, please let me know via your comments. It’ll be much appreciated. I’m particularly keen on grasping a deeper understanding of the cultural contexts and historical facts surrounding the bible and of course, the writers of the books. I truly believe this sort of knowledge brings about more appreciation for…well, everything.
Now back to the book at hand. Nehemiah (which up until a few centuries ago was the second half of the book of Ezra), reinforces the idea of repentance. This dude wept outside Jerusalem’s city gates as he saw the downfall of a sinful, yet mighty people. The first chapter documents Nehemiah begging God to hear him and save the people. A few weeks ago I would’ve expected this prayer to be answered at the click of a finger, but now I wonder if his prayer request was actually fair?
We all mess up and then ask God to save us from our own boo boo’s before making those boo boo’s again. Equally, How much jurisdiction do we have over our repeating patterns? Has God been saving us from the mess we make forever, or only as a temporary fix before messing up again? After all, he knows the future…
Now Nehemiah was a servant to the King. He had a stable job, a solid income, etc and yet gave it up to go help rebuild Jerusalem. I guess one could equate that to a banker leaving it all to become a missionary in the Congo. My guess is that’s why God answered his prayer, but does that really answer my question?
Using the previous analogy, I guess Sanballat of Samaria could be seen as the bankers colleague who mocks the new missionary and gossips about him to other members of staff- telling everyone how stupid his ex-team mate was for leaving it all behind to go to a country he as one man cannot save.
All seems very sweet on Nehemiah’s part, until we reach the end of chapter 5 when he asks God to remember all he has done for the Jews, particularly when they’re attacked by the artaxerxes and other tribes. Are we allowed to request such a thing from God? I’ve always been told that asking God to note something you’ve done so he can return the favour is arrogant. Is Nehemiah illustrating otherwise?
Nehemiah also introduces the feast of the tabernacles- a time to avoid sorrow and be grateful for what one does have. It’s not the easiest task after being struck down by tribes who just want to see you fail and nothing more. But hey, if these guts can remain optimistic despite preceding events then there’s hope for us all!
Chapter 9 hosts a beautiful piece of poetry- a song of praise which rather than analysing, I would encourage you to read and meditate on. It summarises the books of Ezra and Nehemiah perfectly while making references to the Israelite journey from Abraham to Egypt and of course Nehemiah’s present journey. It really is beautiful 🙂
Chapter 13 vs 2 mentions how God turns a curse into a blessing. I couldn’t help but blog this point once I’d read it as I get the feeling it answers many of mine and other’s questions. Sometimes bad things do happen but are needed so we can fully appreciate the blessing ahead…sometimes.
I soon came to learn that this poetic piece I’m referring to was the covenant! Lol. This was sealed in the new sanctuary and subsequently, society went back to dong society like things. Each man had a part to play and so did every woman. But there was one particular woman whose role was most extreme, most dynamic and most vibrant. I really look forward to sharing my thoughts on who I hold as one of the greatest women who ever lived.
Come on Esther!