Nehemiah 9:1-37 is the longest recorded prayer in the entire Bible. I won’t be laying it out here but I strongly urge you to take a look at it. The people who both offered the prayer and heard it clearly understood why they had fallen into captivity and slavery. They had brought this judgement upon themselves by their sin and rebellion against God. Today we stand where the people of Israel stood so many years ago. We too, as a nation, have wandered so far away from God’s righteousness and truth that I wonder if we can come back from the brink of the cliff. Do we have enough praying men and women, humble and contrite; crying out to God to save our country? And, will we not just pray, but act?
Nehemiah 9:38 – 10:39
Once the entire nation had unanimously repented and prayed their prayer of contrition, then they put a binding agreement in writing to resolve to commit themselves to a new way of life and had their leaders affix their seals to it. Once again, I recommend your reading of the scriptures, but to summarize for you, there were six specific commitments the Israelites made to one another and to God: (1) They committed themselves to abstaining from marriage with pagans. (2) They promised to observe the 7th Day (the Sabbath) and the 7th Year (the Sabbatical). (3) They promised to provide money, grain, and animals for the offerings at the temple. (4) They promised to bring the first fruits of their crops, and their wealth to the temple. (5) They promised to pay ten percent of all their income, their crops, and their wealth to the temple. (6) They promised faithfully to attend the house of God.
Perhaps these six commitments are not specifically for us today, but there are truths herein for us to weigh and ponder and extract their applicability. Most assuredly, let us pledge ourselves to carry out God’s commandments in the community of faith and let us rely on HIM for the power to keep that pledge.
Nehemiah 11:1 – 12:26
At this point in the account, the city wall was rebuilt, and Jerusalem had become a strong and well defended city—yet it was a city without people. During the reconstruction of the walls, the people had come from the towns and villages around Jerusalem so Nehemiah had to figure out a way to repopulate it. His solution was to “draft” families to Jerusalem. (vs. 1-4) In order to be fair to all, the people cast lots to select one-tenth of the population to be drafted to live in Jerusalem. The whole process is fasinating and reminded me how valuable the casting lots system can work for both adults and children when trying to resolve a dilemma. My husband and I both had to put on our thinking caps this fall in changing up the reward system for our grandchildren’s report cards. Up to this point, we paid them for A’s, B’s and C’s but we’ve realized that 1 of the 3 is gifted academically and another not so much BUT had earned an A for Effort. The third one was somewhere in the middle. We felt the monetary reward system would always favor the academically gifted but not reward the other’s character and resilience. So we cancelled the monetary reward and decided instead to reward all 3 with a Nana/Papa “Good Job” Adventure Outing each semester.
The rest of Nehemiah 11 and the first 26 verses of chapter twelve read like a phone book. It’s kind of dry with an uninteresting list of names. I’m sure though if our name made it in there, we would be letting everyone know. In fact, I’m thinking of a good friend of mine, Mary, who would be reminding me right now that the list of names are priests, which her son is, and musicians, which is her entire family, so they would be listed. Forgive me Mary. The significance about this passage is like all the others: they are a record of God’s actions in human history. When athiests proclaim the Bible is nothing but a collection of myths and that men invented God and wrote the Bible, they leave out the fact that it is not a collection of fairy tales but recorded history confirmed by other historical accounts outside of the Bible. Faith is not belief without evidence; faith is trust based on the evidence that God has provided in His Word and in the world around us.
Stay Strong. Sacred. Armed
*adapted from God’s Blueprint for Succeess – Ray Stedman