Dear Lord, What a marvel it is to see what can be done when we see that you are in what we do and that we are in your will; perfectly. Thank you Lord for calling all of us to something greater and promising to be with us. Amen.
Ezra 9 – The issue had arisen that there were men of Israel who had married foreign women. These wives of theirs were nonbelievers. The children they were raising were drifters among the covenant. God is not a drifter! He does not want us to be drifters. We have a call, an assignment, we have God Almighty pulling for us, the Holy Spirit is our constant aid, strength and comfort, we’ve a world to share this Good News with and if anyone thinks we can be mixing our agendas at this point is gravely mistaken. My husband was heading to speak at a church years ago and he got a call enroute that changed his plans instantly. It was another pastor who heard my husband was going to speak at this certain “church” and the pastor (a friend of his) was nearly yelling on the line, “don’t go speak there – the pastor’s wife does voodoo and is into witchcraft!” How long do you think it took my husband to do a U-turn? This garbage situation was not O.K. The pastor, who claimed to be evangelical, married a lady who did voodoo on the side “just to spiritually cover more bases” and make some money moonlighting. This is a mixed marriage and it is a mess! This rabid foolish disobedience should not be.
10 – So the issue is encountered, the drama ensues, Ezra is confessed to by a leader of the Jews. He then makes his official statement and the matter of solving this grand error is commenced upon. Any man who had a foreign wife had three days to come forward or forfeit his possessions. The investigation is thorough and complete in a matter of weeks. The long list of offenders is stated and told and they were to put away their foreign women plus the children they had with them. Not easy stuff here, but God meant business when He ordered that they be a holy people. He could not proceed with them if they would not purify their situation.
Nehemiah 1 – Nehemiah, though in Persia, is very concerned that the wall of Jerusalem is in ruins, the gates burned, and the city wall is still crumbled with the city open and vulnerable. It had been almost 95 years since the exiles came back and the wall is still not rebuilt! Imagine almost a century of sloughing off on this matter. The returned Israelites had been looking at a broken wall so long, they paid it no mind anymore. Nehemiah, however, is distraught to learn of this neglect and goes straight to fervent prayer over the matter. Nehemiah is a stalwart man of prayer. This is his first of six times in this book that he has a prayer session that gets serious attention.
2 – Nehemiah’s heart for Jerusalem is impossible to conceal from the King of Persia, whom he waits upon. It isn’t long before they discuss it and Nehemiah is sent back to Jerusalem with documents, guards, and horsemen. It is 444 B.C. at this time. [Ezra had returned 14 years prior, and it had been 34 years since Esther was made queen.] Nehemiah peruses the city and inspects the wall. Meanwhile an Ammonite leader and his sidekick become abundantly nervous as they sense action about to begin.
3 – The men began their great work of repairing and rebuilding the gates all around this roughly 35 acre area called Jerusalem. One after another, all along the wall, the work went on. We see them consecrating their work and then seeing it to completion. It is not a ManPower Program nor a “demonstration of human muster”, it is inspiration. It is Nehemiah’s prayer being heard and God pressing upon hearts to get going on the things of God. There are a lot of names and projects mentioned in this chapter. “Search” -Map of the wall and gates that Nehemiah rebuilt- This will put you miles ahead in understanding the activities that happened in this chapter. And keep in mind this is a project of God. Again, it’s different than a movement led by hearts that say “if it’s to be, it’s up to me”, or “I am the captain of my soul/master of my fate” invictus type of thing. If it were just humans spurring on humans, then why was nothing accomplished toward this repair in 95 years? The King of Persia didn’t get this going either. He merely permitted and endorsed it. It was God moving upon a godly man who listened: Nehemiah.
4 – Not long into the wall rebuilding, opponents of the Jews rallied themselves and threatened to make war on Jerusalem if the wall repairs didn’t stop. The encroachers that snuck into Israel during the exile are angry because the Chosen people were back on their land and history shows that when God is behind them and they are operating with Him, they are an invincible team! The wall is half done and the tension caused by the discouragement of Samaritans, Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, and Arabians is impossible to ignore. However, Nehemiah leads in prayer again, the workers arm themselves, set up rotations, become strengthened heart and soul and all is “FORWARD!!” There were as many guards with swords and spears as their were laborers and masons. The people were duly reminded that this was the work of God. You’ll be amazed next week at how quickly they get this wall up!