Thursday, January 17, 2008

McCheyne Reading Plan: Catching up on Nehemiah

Disclaimer: In posting these thoughts, questions, and ramblings I feel it wise to give a disclaimer. There are many people that are far more knowledgeable and gifted in expositing the Word of God than I. These thoughts are not intended to be in-depth analysis of the text. They are thoughts. They are questions. They are ramblings. It will be a display of what God is teaching me through His Word. In depth study will be done at a different time. It is also good to know the author's goal. 1) To be accountable in reading through Scripture. 2) To share these thoughts with others. Possibly for someone else's edification; possibly for my own. 3) To glorify God through His Word. 4) To spur one another on in taking up Scripture and reading! So without further ado, here are today's readings:

Today I hope to get caught up on Nehemiah.

Nehemiah 1:

v5...Wow! What a big view of God Nehemiah had. He acknowledges the sovereignty of God. His greatness. His power. His faithfulness. His love. His conditions. His authority. His justice. All of these in one very profound sentence.

Also, I am struck by the specificity and depth of Nehemiah's confession. He does not candy coat his words. Yet even while he is confessing deeply and brokenly he has faith in God's promises of restoration.

"delight to fear your name". You normally do not see "delight and fear" so closely mingled.

Nehemiah 2:

This "prayer to the God of heaven" must have been quite short. It seems as if he is praying as he is thinking of what to say.

Again we see "the good hand of my God was upon me".

What is the significance of saying that the only animal with him is the one he rode?

How does one "strengthen their hands for the good work"?

Nehemiah 3:

"but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord". How pathetic. It's ironic that Nehemiah even says "stoop". What a noble thing it is to serve the Lord. It is far more noble than any other form of service. Yet these men see getting their hands dirty to serve the Lord as something well "below" them. Lord, help me to not have this spirit. Sometimes I know that ministers can be high and lofty and not "stoop" to serve.

"and his daughters". What a sharp contrast between these women and the "nobles" that would not stoop.

Nehemiah 4:

They take the insults of the opposition quite serious. What a strong prayer they offer.

"And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work". Oh, Lord grant us a "mind to work" for your glorious kingdom.

The solution to opposition? Remember the Lord, fight for your family!

I love their determination. Half are working on the walls, half are protecting the city. I wonder how quickly we would have given up such an endeavor.

"none of us took off our clothes"...I bet at this point the people of Israel really stunk.

Nehemiah 5:

It seems like anytime there is a mighty movement of God like this (seeing all the people working toward one great cause), if there is not turmoil outside the camp there will be inside. Here it seems that as soon as all of their forces where united to stop the outside risings came from within.

I am not certain that the pain and heartache of verse 5 is able to come through. That must have been horrible to be fighting to rebuild the walls of your city and see your daughters enslaved. Certainly they would have felt that they were doing God's will, and had to wonder why this was happening. This teaches us that sometimes following the Lord does not solve problems but rather adds to them.

Again we find that the cause of this is that the nobles are being jerks. There is no better way to put that. It kind of reminds me of the struggles of Scotland in the movie Braveheart.

Nehemiah gets to the root of the issue with the nobles. "Ought you not fear the Lord". If they feared the Lord they would not be oppressing their own people.

It is great to see such a quick and thorough repentance. Praise God for this. May the Lord raise up men as bold as Nehemiah and stir the hearts of sinful men to repent and make things right.

What kept Nehemiah obedient? Fear of the Lord.

Verse 19 seems to be a strange prayer. "Remember for my good". Shouldn't our prayers be more for the glory of God and his good and not ours?

Nehemiah 6:

Something about Nehemiah's response to Shemaiah strikes me. He is more concerned with the holiness of God than he is with his own life. I find it ironic that he says he will not go into the temple because he would not live, yet the reason for his going to the temple would be to preserve his life.

What wonderful discernment Nehemiah was given. It sounded like this guy was wanting to help him out, but because Nehemiah knew it contradicted the Law of God he discerned that it was not from the Lord.

"fell greatly in their own esteem". Oh, Lord, that I would do the same.

Nehemiah 7:

I'm not certain why I am asking this question only now. Why does Nehemiah have the authority to do all of this? I know that his authority comes from the Lord, but why did all of the people seem to unquestionably follow him? Was he in a position of authority?

God puts even things like putting together genealogies into people's hearts.

Again, the genealogies would be interesting to study, but not in this place.

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