A new way of thinking

On the surface, Nehemiah’s work in Jerusalem was complete. People had marvelously celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles, third of three pilgrimage festivals which begin the Jewish New Year. AKA Sukkot, a time when Jews live in booths for a week to celebrate God’s provisions. Think of it as a week-long back-yard camping trip, part of the harvest festival which annually commemorates all that God has done in their lives.

For a week they live in outside in booths, listening to the Law read and expounded upon by Ezra. The reading reveals the Lord’s goodness, and it builds community as they enjoy each other’s company. The symbolism reminds them how God brought them back to their homeland, helped them rebuild the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem. Not since the days of Joshua had this feasting season been celebrated with such passion. They fulfilled the original command of the Lord in Deuteronomy 16:14~Be joyful at your Feast—you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. (NIV) Deuteronomy 16:15~For seven days celebrate the Feast to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord, your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. (NIV)

Yes, Nehemiah could have concluded that his job was finished and gone back to Persia to resume his career as the king’s cupbearer. However, he chose to remain for twelve years. He wanted his fellow Jews truly restored to the position God had called them to as a holy nation, set aside for His purposes. Billy Sunday a professional baseball player turned Evangelical Preacher was asked, Do revivals last? His response was classic: No, neither does a bath; but it’s good to have one occasionally. Revival on a national and international level is still possible today. God has not changed. He is still merciful, calling all humanity to come to the waters and be cleansed at Calvary. God always honors His covenant, even when we don’t. He’ll allow us to drift but only so far, before He raises a Nehemiah before He raises a Martin Luther, a John Wesley, a Billy Graham, or countless others to bring His people back. Today let’s consider A New Way of Thinking: Confess, Confess, Reject, Execute.

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