Repent and change your heart

“Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off.” Nehemiah 12:43 NKJV

Let’s recap this book of Nehemiah – He had a work to do, he had opposition, he convinced the people to repent, fast and pray, He had revival and they all signed a covenant saying they will not backslide again and this brings us up to today! Did their rebellious hearts finally submit to God?

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is from the book of Nehemiah, chapters 11-13 and Psalm, chapter 126 (embedded below the image below for your convenience).  

In today’s reading begins with more chronicles of who, and who they came from and where they were.  No other religious belief has so much historical documentation.  The accuracy of the Bible can therefore (at least historically) be proven. As much as our eyes glaze over at those names and we struggle to pronounce them or we slide our eyes over until we see a word we recognize, this information has kept the chains of history interlocked and validated.

Then we read about the great dedication of the work – they finished the wall.  Choirs all around to the left and right – sacrifices and joy – food and gladness. God is good and it is easy to say and believe inside this glorious dedication celebration! Hallelujah. 

Thoughts of dedicating our work to God – learning the time to rejoice and give thanks and the time to repent – celebrating God in worship… all make for great study in today’s reading.

But what happened in between chapter 12 (the dedication) and chapter 13?  In 13 he sees the people working the Sabbath and marrying the forbidden foreigners and having children who are not being raised Jewish. He sees the Levis being impure and exploiting the works of the temple. He sees the people forget the struggle, forget the persecution, forget the toils and get caught up with fleshly desires and cares of this world. What happened? How many years past – (talking children so at least 3 to 5 years?) 

Right now we are in the season of difficulty pursuing God’s purpose with a sword in hand.  If we finish our task will we also forsake our Lord?! Oh how the Israelites need Jesus!  We have the advantage of Christ and the Holy Spirit, but we are also human and stiff necked – we could easily fall away as well.  We are vulnerable – but God is able to complete the work He started in us. It is through Him and only through Him – we cannot on our own. If we learn nothing else from the Old Testament – let us learn we are a hot mess, so we should stay humble and let God do the work. Every time we try on our own we mess up!

Nehemiah is praying that God will remember that HE tried to do good – that he finished the work called for repentance put in place reforms – Oh Lord remember Him for that and not the fact that the people rebelled again! In his prayers we see he beat people and pulled out there hair in desperation and righteous indignation. It seemed to have no impact. So I suppose when we get frustrated we cannot beat out friends and relatives into repentance and transformation. Captivity and Nehemiah dragging them to church by their hair did not change the root problem.

They had hard hearts – and only the Holy Spirit can prepare those hearts (through our prayers) and Jesus can transform those hearts through grace with the kind of transformation that makes all things new!

I think most people remember him for building the wall – but once you learn he beat families and pulled out hair, I think I am a little scarred by it and you might be too.  That is definitely NOT the ministry of the New Covenant so any of you in ministry – do not get any ideas! Lol  So – going back to my original commentary of this book – I am left wondering if maybe Nehemiah could have resolved things differently.

God uses people – even flawed people. (Yes, I am implying that Nehemiah’s violent reaction to sin was a flaw.) It gives me hope! I am flawed, terribly – yet God selected me to be the author of this blog and do this work right now in this season. God has sown me more work that needs to be done and I will help in – in the future. And as flawed and imperfect I am – and knowing I will fall on my face sometimes publicly – I just pray for the grace and thank Him for the commission.  Moreover – I focus on reading, praying and getting alone with God to build a personal relationship with God.  It is only in Him that we can succeed.

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another great verse to pick up and swing when you need a sword in your hand!

1 John 4:4 NKJV – “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
NAS – “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”
ESV – “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
AMP – “Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind].”
NIV – “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: Nehemiah 11-13 & Psalm 126 NKJV

Nehemiah 11-13

The People Dwelling in Jerusalem

11 Now the leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city, and nine-tenths were to dwell in other cities. And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.

These are the heads of the province who dwelt in Jerusalem. (But in the cities of Judah everyone dwelt in his own possession in their cities—Israelites, priests, Levites, Nethinim, and descendants of Solomon’s servants.) Also in Jerusalem dwelt some of the children of Judah and of the children of Benjamin.

The children 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 children 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 Shiloni. All the sons of Perez who dwelt at Jerusalem were four hundred and sixty-eight valiant men.

And these are the sons of Benjamin: Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jeshaiah; and after him Gabbai and Sallai, nine hundred and twenty-eight. Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer, and Judah the son of [a]Senuah was second over the city.

10 Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, and Jachin; 11 Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, was the leader of the house of God. 12 Their brethren who did the work of the house were eight hundred and twenty-two; and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malchijah, 13 and his brethren, heads of the fathers’ houses, were two hundred and forty-two; and Amashai the son of Azarel, the son of Ahzai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer, 14 and their brethren, mighty men of valor, were one hundred and twenty-eight. Their overseer was Zabdiel [b]the son of one of the great men.

15 Also of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni; 16 Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the heads of the Levites, had the oversight of the business outside of the [c]house of God; 17 Mattaniah the son of [d]Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, the leader who began the thanksgiving with prayer; Bakbukiah, the second among his brethren; and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun. 18 All the Levites in the holy city were two hundred and eighty-four.

19 Moreover the gatekeepers, Akkub, Talmon, and their brethren who kept the gates, were one hundred and seventy-two.

20 And the rest of Israel, of the priests and Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, everyone in his inheritance. 21 But the Nethinim dwelt in Ophel. And Ziha and Gishpa were over the Nethinim.

22 Also the overseer of the Levites at Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micha, of the sons of Asaph, the singers in charge of the [e]service of the [f]house of God. 23 For it was the king’s command concerning them that a [g]certain portion should be for the singers, a quota day by day. 24 Pethahiah the son of Meshezabel, of the children of Zerah the son of Judah, was the[h] king’s deputy in all matters concerning the people.

The People Dwelling Outside Jerusalem

25 And as for the villages with their fields, some of the children of Judah dwelt in Kirjath Arba and its villages, Dibon and its villages, Jekabzeel and its villages; 26 in Jeshua, Moladah, Beth Pelet, 27 Hazar Shual, and Beersheba and its villages; 28 in Ziklag and Meconah and its villages; 29 in En Rimmon, Zorah, Jarmuth, 30 Zanoah, Adullam, and their villages; in Lachish and its fields; in Azekah and its villages. They dwelt from Beersheba to the Valley of Hinnom.

31 Also the children of Benjamin from Geba dwelt in Michmash, Aija, and Bethel, and their villages; 32 in Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah; 33 in Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim; 34 in Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat; 35 in Lod, Ono, and the Valley of Craftsmen. 36 Some of the Judean divisions of Levites were in Benjamin.

The Priests and Levites

12 Now these are the priests and the Levites who came up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Amariah, [i]Malluch, Hattush, [j]Shechaniah, [k]Rehum, [l]Meremoth, Iddo, [m]Ginnethoi, Abijah, [n]Mijamin, [o]Maadiah, Bilgah, Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, [p]Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, and Jedaiah.

These were the heads of the priests and their brethren in the days of Jeshua.

Moreover the Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah who led the thanksgiving psalms, he and his brethren. Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brethren, stood across from them in their duties.

10 Jeshua begot Joiakim, Joiakim begot Eliashib, Eliashib begot Joiada, 11 Joiada begot Jonathan, and Jonathan begot Jaddua.

12 Now in the days of Joiakim, the priests, the heads of the fathers’ houses were: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah; 13 of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan; 14 of [q]Melichu, Jonathan; of [r]Shebaniah, Joseph; 15 of [s]Harim, Adna; of [t]Meraioth, Helkai; 16 of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam; 17 of Abijah, Zichri; the son of [u]Minjamin; of [v]Moadiah, Piltai; 18 of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan; 19 of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi; 20 of [w]Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber; 21 of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; and of Jedaiah, Nethanel.

22 During the reign of Darius the Persian, a record was also kept of the Levites and priests who had been heads of their fathers’ houses in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua. 23 The sons of Levi, the heads of the fathers’ houses until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib, were written in the book of the chronicles.

24 And the heads of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers across from them, to praise and give thanks, group[x] alternating with group, according to the command of David the man of God. 25 Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were gatekeepers keeping the watch at the storerooms of the gates. 26 These lived in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of [y]Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor, and of Ezra the priest, the scribe.

Nehemiah Dedicates the Wall

27 Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps. 28 And the sons of the singers gathered together from the countryside around Jerusalem, from the villages of the Netophathites, 29 from the house of Gilgal, and from the fields of Geba and Azmaveth; for the singers had built themselves villages all around Jerusalem. 30 Then the priests and Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, the gates, and the wall.

31 So I brought the leaders of Judah up on the wall, and appointed two large thanksgiving choirs. One went to the right hand on the wall toward the Refuse Gate. 32 After them went Hoshaiah and half of the leaders of Judah, 33 and Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34 Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, 35 and some of the priests’ sons with trumpets—Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Michaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph, 36 and his brethren, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God. And Ezra the scribe went before them. 37 By the Fountain Gate, in front of them, they went up the stairs of the City of David, on the stairway of the wall, beyond the house of David, as far as the Water Gate eastward.

38 The other thanksgiving choir went the opposite way, and I was behind them with half of the people on the wall, going past the Tower of the Ovens as far as the Broad Wall, 39 and above the Gate of Ephraim, above the Old Gate, above the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, the Tower of [z]the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate; and they stopped by the Gate of the Prison.

40 So the two thanksgiving choirs stood in the house of God, likewise I and the half of the rulers with me; 41 and the priests, Eliakim, Maaseiah, [aa]Minjamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets; 42 also Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. The singers [ab]sang loudly with Jezrahiah the director.

43 Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off.

Temple Responsibilities

44 And at the same time some were appointed over the rooms of the storehouse for the offerings, the firstfruits, and the tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions specified by the Law for the priests and Levites; for Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who [ac]ministered. 45 Both the singers and the gatekeepers kept the charge of their God and the charge of the purification, according to the command of David and Solomon his son. 46 For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chiefs of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. 47 In the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah all Israel gave the portions for the singers and the gatekeepers, a portion for each day. They also [ad]consecrated holy things for the Levites, and the Levites consecrated them for the children of Aaron.

Principles of Separation

13 On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people, and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God, because they had not met the children of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing. So it was, when they had heard the Law, that they separated all the mixed multitude from Israel.

The Reforms of Nehemiah

Now before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the house of our God, was allied with Tobiah. And he had prepared for him a large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which were commanded to be given to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers, and the offerings for the priests. But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king, and I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing a room for him in the courts of the [ae]house of God. And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.

10 I also realized that the portions for the Levites had not been given them; for each of the Levites and the singers who did the work had gone back to his field. 11 So I contended with the rulers, and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their place. 12 Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse. 13 And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouse Shelemiah the priest and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah; and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were considered faithful, and their task was to distribute to their brethren.

14 Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for its services!

15 In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. 16 Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.

17 Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? 18 Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”

19 So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath. Then I posted some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day. 20 Now the merchants and sellers of all kinds of [af]wares [ag]lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice.

21 Then I warned them, and said to them, “Why do you spend the night [ah]around the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you!” From that time on they came no more on the Sabbath. 22 And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day.

Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of Your mercy!

23 In those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke according to the language of one or the other people.

25 So I contended with them and [ai]cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves. 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless pagan women caused even him to sin. 27 Should we then hear of your doing all this great evil, transgressing against our God by marrying pagan women?”

28 And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite; therefore I drove him from me.

29 Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.

30 Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan. I also assigned duties to the priests and the Levites, each to his service, 31 and to bringing the wood offering and the firstfruits at appointed times.

Remember me, O my God, for good!

Footnotes

  1. Nehemiah 11:9 Or Hassenuah
  2. Nehemiah 11:14 Or the son of Haggedolim
  3. Nehemiah 11:16 Temple
  4. Nehemiah 11:17 Or Michah
  5. Nehemiah 11:22 work
  6. Nehemiah 11:22 Temple
  7. Nehemiah 11:23 fixed share
  8. Nehemiah 11:24 Lit. at the king’s hand
  9. Nehemiah 12:2 Melichu, v. 14
  10. Nehemiah 12:3 Shebaniah, v. 14
  11. Nehemiah 12:3 Harim, v. 15
  12. Nehemiah 12:3 Meraioth, v. 15
  13. Nehemiah 12:4 Ginnethon, v. 16
  14. Nehemiah 12:5 Minjamin, v. 17
  15. Nehemiah 12:5 Moadiah, v. 17
  16. Nehemiah 12:7 Sallai, v. 20
  17. Nehemiah 12:14 Malluch, v. 2
  18. Nehemiah 12:14 Shechaniah, v. 3
  19. Nehemiah 12:15 Rehum, v. 3
  20. Nehemiah 12:15 Meremoth, v. 3
  21. Nehemiah 12:17 Mijamin, v. 5
  22. Nehemiah 12:17 Maadiah, v. 5
  23. Nehemiah 12:20 Sallu, v. 7
  24. Nehemiah 12:24 Lit. watch by watch
  25. Nehemiah 12:26 Jehozadak, 1 Chr. 6:14
  26. Nehemiah 12:39 Heb. Hammeah
  27. Nehemiah 12:41 Or Mijamin, v. 5
  28. Nehemiah 12:42 Lit. made their voice to be heard
  29. Nehemiah 12:44 Lit. stood
  30. Nehemiah 12:47 set apart
  31. Nehemiah 13:7 Temple
  32. Nehemiah 13:20 merchandise
  33. Nehemiah 13:20 spent the night
  34. Nehemiah 13:21 Lit. before
  35. Nehemiah 13:25 pronounced them cursed

Psalm 126

A Joyful Return to Zion

A Song of Ascents.

126 When the Lord brought back [a]the captivity of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing.
Then they said among the [b]nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
And we are glad.

Bring back our captivity, O Lord,
As the streams in the South.

Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes [c]forth weeping,
Bearing [d]seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again [e]with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 126:1 Those of the captivity
  2. Psalm 126:2 Gentiles
  3. Psalm 126:6 to and fro
  4. Psalm 126:6 Lit. a bag of seed for sowing
  5. Psalm 126:6 with shouts of joy

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