Nehemiah 13:1-31 – Reforms Already?

Read Nehemiah 13:1-31

There are some timing issues in this final chapter that often confound the reader, wondering in what order things are happening. Our last reading so positively set the stage for how life would be in Jerusalem. Now Nehemiah swoops in to shake some sense into the Israelites who must have quickly forgotten their purpose.

It’s almost like “when the cat’s away, the mice will play.” Nehemiah had returned to Babylon like he had promised the king before he left for Jerusalem. Nehemiah must have gotten word that the people in Jerusalem were struggling. His faithful leadership was needed again!

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Nehemiah 12:44-47 – Fitting In

Read Nehemiah 12:44-47

While the people celebrated the dedication of the wall, work was being done to make sure all the key ministry positions were filled. On the one hand, it seems like an odd time to be making staffing appointments; on the other hand, how brilliant to aid the selection process when plenty of people were already in attendance.

The new community needed order, and the recruitment of helpers began. It makes me think of when I would fill positions for Sunday School teachers, food donors, and other volunteers. The goal was to make our children’s ministry programs flow seamlessly. When these people receive their job descriptions, they know how they fit in.

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Nehemiah 12:27-43 – Joy of Jerusalem

Read Nehemiah 12:27-43

Who doesn’t like a good party? The opening scenes to this reading are filled with the anticipation of what is to come. The day has arrived when the completed wall will be recognized and celebrated. When parties have a purpose, they are even more enjoyable. When that purpose is to celebrate God’s faithfulness and love, imagine the great expectation!

The celebration appears to circle the city wall with songs of thanksgiving being sung and instruments being played. That sounds a lot like worship to me. How fitting the people would use the worship element to further honor God in this moment. What God had done among them already, and promised to do forever, was so generous. If only they could stay true to God alone. People continue to struggle with keeping God first in their lives today.

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Nehemiah 12:1-26 – Worship

Read Nehemiah 12:1-26

Up to now, we have been seeing how Nehemiah is shaping up the returnees, so they don’t fall out of God’s good graces again. Here are more lists supporting the people in charge of renewing the people and keeping them properly focused.

Let’s focus on verse 24. It says, “These were the family leaders of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, and other associates, who stood opposite them during the ceremonies of praise and thanksgiving, one section responding to the other, as commanded by David, the man of God.” It appears Nehemiah is prescribing a worship format, fashioned after King David’s command.

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Nehemiah 11:1-36 – Who’s Who in Jerusalem?

Read Nehemiah 11:1-36

Don’t let the list of names bore you to death. There is always a message hidden in Scripture. What’s a bit puzzling for me is why Nehemiah felt led to include all these names. Can you imagine if your name had shown up in the pages of the Bible?

It shouldn’t surprise us that the people returning to Judah would want to live on their family’s land. Not everybody would have lived in Jerusalem proper before being exiled. The motivation of the people seems to be to take back what was already theirs, grateful for the opportunity to start a new life in their homeland.

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