Wednesday Devotions: A Study in Nehemiah

Make a Move

 

By: Patty Nicholas-Boyte

Nehemiah 11:4-6 (NASB)

Some of the sons of Judah and some of the sons of Benjamin lived in Jerusalem. From the sons of Judah: Athaiah the son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalalel, of the sons of Perez;  and Maaseiah the son of Baruch, the son of Col-hozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, the son of the Shilonite.  All the sons of Perez who lived in Jerusalem were 468 able men.”

Ancient Jerusalem [model] | BYU New Testament Commentary | Ancient jerusalem, Ancient cities, City layout

Last week, as we moved into chapter 11, we saw that the Israelites had a problem. Even after the city of Jerusalem was rebuilt, it remained vastly unoccupied. There were several reasons for the empty Holy City; one of them being fear, another being, people had already settled in outlying towns before the walls had been repaired, and thus they did not want to uproot their families and move. Therefore, it was necessary to cast lots and select people to move into the city.

The majority of chapter 11 is a long list of names of those selected to move into the Holy City. If you are like me, I often skim long sections of names in the bible, but today, I want to highlight a few of the people listed above.

First, Nehemiah starts with the lines of Judah, and of Benjamin. The first two kings over Israel arose from these two tribes. King David from Judah, and King Saul from Benjamin, so it was intentional that these two tribes had top billing, and begin the repopulation of the city.

Next I want to focus on the fact that the sons of Perez are listed in a prominent manner. Perez was the illegitimately conceived son of Judah and Tamar. If you are not familiar with the story, you can read about it in Genesis Chapter 38. I believe God gave the sons of Perez an important part of repopulating His Holy City of Jerusalem because of the man’s difficult past. I believe both the lines of the kings, as well as those with a checkered past are mentioned because God welcomes all who will come into His presence through His son. He draws us all to Himself. All to His Holy City. The city on a hill.

Isaiah 10:14

“And my hand reached to the riches of the peoples like a nest, And as one gathers abandoned eggs, I gathered all the earth; And there was not one that flapped its wing, opened its beak, or chirped.”

What can we learn from Nehemiah?

·         As the first two tribes were called upon to do God’s work, they answered the call. Be the first to answer when God calls.

·         Do not let my past hinder me from doing what God is asking of me.

·         Obey God’s word, make a step of faith and we will have a part of His Holy City

·         Making a step of faith may not seem safe or comfortable, but He will reward you for making the move.

 

It took courage for these men to move their families from a comfortable home in the country to a city that wasn’t necessarily safe, but God not only honors our faith, but also our actions. He listed these men as men who took the steps and moved into Jerusalem. A city on a hill, which contained God’s Holy presence.

James 2: 14-17

“What use is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?  In the same way, faith also, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”

What questions can we ask ourselves that can affect change?

  1. What work has God given me that I am afraid to do?
  2. What is holding me back from moving in my calling?
  3. What can I do to listen more intently to the Holy Spirit?
  4. What is in my past that is causing me to doubt God’s call?
  5. What Holy City is God calling me to make into?

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