December 11

Nehemiah 9-12

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Dear God in Heaven, Such great things happen when we simply pause and rededicate ourselves to be people of the Scripture. Amen.

09 – The scripture reading (from the chapters we read last week) led straight into a movement of great repentance and solemn prayer. There was confession and worship.  The praise led to a reciting of their history: the great, the good, the foolish, the bad.  Their assessment of themselves was sober (quite refreshing actually!).  They, right then, right there, make a pact to be an obedient people.  Interesting that yesterday, we were reading the other end of their history, when they were hearing the urgent reasons to be an obedient people.  Here they are regrouping in the land, 900-1000 years later and pledging to be an obedient people.  Can we say “finally!” Can we?

10 – Like contracts today, they needed to put it in writing. They did and signed it. Participants were Nehemiah, and Zedekiah (not the lousy tortured king from 586 B.C., a different Zedekiah) along with numerous priests, Levites, and leaders. Then all the others who consecrated themselves to also follow God pledged an oath in kind: None in their families would marry pagans, they would keep the Sabbath, they would see to the Temple being financed, maintained, and supplied.  Family-members would be dedicated to God. There would be no more hoarding against God’s rules or withholding from what He asks of them.
11 – It was time to resettle and occupy Jerusalem.  Sacred lots were drawn and people gathered their things to go take up resident and fill the city with life.  They came from the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, plus there were Priests, Levites, gatekeepers and their associates.  The apportioning and settlements were then listed as the land was to be occupied by Hebrews, not pagan peoples.
12 –  We read (‘red”/not “reed”) the list of priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel. They along with family leaders are listed. Everyone of these fine souls was there to help keep Jewish minds to be “stayed upon Thee.” We see the records are kept during this era and such and such that era.  It is interesting that Jewish people are generally tremendous record keepers even to this day. The dedication of the Wall was an event to behold.  It was part Disneyland Parade, part big band/big choir. Nehemiah is giving live report as he writes it.  …And there was great joy in Jerusalem. The singing could be heard for miles. Can you hear them singing, “Joyful Joyful, We Adore Thee” from all around the world? Someday we will…

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