Lessons in Perseverance - Nehemiah 11-13 - Episode 61

Lessons in Perseverance - Nehemiah 11-13 - Episode 61
Season 4 Sweet Selah Moments Podcas...

 
 
00:00 / 00:30:38
 
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Nehemiah persevered in reforms and calling people back to following God over and over and over again. He persevered. Sharon and Nicole discuss how easy it is to wander away from our promises to God and our zeal. They talk about how to stay close to Him even after failure. And they also finish out the book of Nehemiah. Thanks for persevering with us. Would you like more Bible Studies or do you prefer topics? Comment below and let us know, k?

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Read the transcript for Lessons in Perseverance-Nehemiah 11&12

Speaker 1 (00:02):

Are you ready to embrace a little stillness, some rest for your soul today? Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments podcast, where we stop and study God’s words and encourage one another to know him better and love him more. This Sweet Selah Moments podcast is brought to you by Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.

Nicole (00:28):

Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments podcast. Today, we are finishing up the book of Nehemiah. Episode 61 is called Lessons in Perseverance. We are going to read some hard passages today, because guess who did not have perseverance? The people who lived in or around Jerusalem. Guess who did have perseverance? Nehemiah, who continued to ask the people to live according to God’s laws and ways. Sharon, I feel discouraged just thinking about what we’re going to read today. Oh, it’s so sad to think that people fell away from their great promises so quickly. And yet when I think how often I fall away from my own zeal, I do have sympathy for them.

Sharon (01:08):

Me too for the same reason. Yes. You know, it really reminds me of Paul’s lament in Romans seven. I’m going to read just an excerpt from the New Living Translation. I think we’ve all been there where Paul was at this moment in his writing and hang on as I read to the happy resolution at the end, because we need a resolution for sure, with this section. So Romans seven, starting at verse 14, this is Paul. “So the trouble is not with the law for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me for, I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself for, I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. I love God’s law with all my heart, but there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am. Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God. The answer is in Jesus Christ, our Lord. So you see how it is, in my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature, I am a slave to sin.” So even Paul who was really amazingly good at being a Pharisee as you might recall, struggled with the sin nature in himself that tempted him towards selfishness and away from God’s best. So Nicole let’s just define some things here. What is sin nature? It’s kind of a heavy duty theological term. I think it’s worth understanding what we’re up against as human beings,

Nicole (02:46):

Right? So you don’t always hear it all the time. So I looked up on Got Questions and Compelling Truth.org and the definition that I found there was “the sin nature is that aspect in man that makes him rebellious against God”. When we speak of the sin nature, we refer to the fact that we have a natural inclination to sin. Given the choice to do God’s will or our own, we will naturally choose to do our own thing. The sin nature is that part of the human being that impels us to commit sin. Humanity is sinful, not just in theory or in practice, but by nature. Sin is part of the very fiber of our being. And in Romans chapter 6:20, it says, “when you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right”. Ouch. We are quite literally enslaved by our sin nature. And we have no hope of choosing right without the Holy Spirit’s help.

Sharon (03:38):

Yeah. That’s pretty bleak.

Nicole (03:39):

There’s no way we can be good on our own. It’s pretty clear.

Sharon (03:43):

Yeah. And knowing my own selfishness and how hard it is for me to put other people’s needs before my own, even as a believer with the Holy Spirit in me, I just see it. And we see it in tiny children who are like, “Mine! Mine!”

Nicole (03:58):

Yes.

Sharon (04:01):

Yes. I had a certain toddler grandchild who fairly recently, I was taking care of and she dropped food on the floor. And I said, you can’t drop food on the floor. And she looked at me and she picked up some more food and she dropped more food on the floor. The sin nature was alive and well.

Nicole (04:20):

Just thriving right before your eyes. (laughing!)

Sharon (04:22):

Thriving. So Nina did have her pick it up and she did eventually, but you know.

Nicole (04:28):

But it’s there.

Sharon (04:28):

It’s there.

Nicole (04:29):

From the youngest, yeah.

Sharon (04:30):

It’s absolutely there, it is. And that’s what happened. That’s why God told Adam and Eve not to eat from that fruit because that changed our DNA to the point that our bent is towards selfishness. And it’s only by the Holy Spirit that we start to change towards selflessness. (Nicole: “Right.”) So, yeah, back then they didn’t even have the Holy Spirit within them to help refine them and lead them to truth. They just had plain old human willpower and it was not enough.

Nicole (04:59):

Nope.

Sharon (05:00):

So Nehemiah is kind of a stunning exception to that rule because he stayed true. Now we’re going to see him sin and we’ve actually already seen him sin in some of the kind of temper tantrums he had. (Yes.) So it’s not like he’s perfect, but he, he kept the law of God. I think it’s why he has a book in the Bible because he’s that unique. And we can learn from him to persevere because this is what we’re looking at today is lessons in perseverance. And he is going to get really discouraged by these people that had been so wonderfully doing things and then messed up again. So as we read excerpts from these last three chapters of the last history recorded in the Old Testament, (wow) before the 400 years of silence and then Jesus’ birth. This is it. This is the last little bit.

Nicole (05:47):

Wow. That’s exciting.

Sharon (05:48):

Let’s learn. Let’s seek God on how to be one of the faithful ones by his help and only by his grace. And we’re going to start out happy, Nicole, it starts out happy. We keep warning our listeners that it’s going to get bleak, but actually we start out happy. Tell us about chapter 11, which is no surprise, a huge list of names.

Nicole (06:09):

And at this point we would expect nothing less of Nehemiah.

Sharon (06:13):

So, so true.

Nicole (06:14):

All right. So I’m going to read chapter 11:1-2, The People Occupied Jerusalem: “The leaders of the people were living in Jerusalem, the holy city. A tenth of the people from other towns of Judah and Benjamin were chosen by sacred lots to live there too, while the rest stayed where they were. And the people commended everyone who volunteered to resettle in Jerusalem.” And then from verses three through 18, he lists all the officials from all the different tribes who came to live in Jerusalem. Then verses 19 to 24, he lists gatekeepers, even more officials in positions. And then he finishes this tidy and thorough list with verses 25 through 36, telling where the remaining people had settled around the area.

Sharon (07:00):

I love that he even listed the gatekeepers as well as officials. I mean, Nehemiah was a name person, and he was a detail person and he honored people. So.

Nicole (07:09):

It’s really neat.

Sharon (07:10):

But we’re not reading all those names.

Nicole (07:13):

We’ll skip those names. We acknowledge his faithfulness.

Sharon (07:13):

Yes, we’ve acknowledged it. We’re grateful for it. And anyone that wants to can go to Nehemiah 11 (absolutely) and know every name of every gatekeeper at that time in Jerusalem. Tada!

Nicole (07:26):

Yes, it’s there for you to know.

Sharon (07:26):

So I love how they repopulated Jerusalem. They cast sacred lots.

Nicole (07:30):

That’s pretty cool.

Sharon (07:31):

And 10% of the people had to move to the city, which actually would be a little hard for me because I don’t like city living, but they praised the people that went and it was necessary.

Nicole (07:43):

I thought that was nice. Everyone was like, yeah, good for you. And kind of like encouraged them as they did that.

Sharon (07:47):

Yeah. And you have to have so many people in a city to make it function.

Nicole (07:50):

Right.

Sharon (07:51):

And you’ve got to have stores there. You’ve got to have sanitary people there to clean up the garbage. You’ve got to have all the things.

Nicole (07:57):

To keep the city running.

Sharon (07:58):

And you’ve got to have gatekeepers, which we know, they had. So, all right. So that’s chapter 11, basically a ton of names. (Yeah, lots of names) Okay, yay, names. Chapter 12 is a great chapter, however, Nehemiah begins it with the list of names and we aren’t going to read them, but he sure lists them. But it’s actually, it’s time to dedicate the wall and gates. The dedication. (Yes) Everything’s finished. The city has new people living in it. The temple is up and running and Nehemiah’s got to get back to the king at some point.

Nicole (08:31):

Oh, that’s right. Yeah.

Sharon (08:32):

I mean, he’s not a permanent resident here. So let’s pick it up and read back and forth, Nicole, about this last act of celebration before things go wrong in chapter 13. Let’s still be happy for a bit. We want to confess up front friends that we’ll probably pronounce the names badly as usual, but you’ll get the idea from the reading of Nehemiah’s continued carefulness, that individuals matter to him. So Nicole, why don’t you start at verse 27? We’ll still skip some names, but this is a happy time, let’s feel the joy.

Nicole (09:04):

Yeah, absolutely. “For the dedication of the new wall of Jerusalem, the Levite’s throughout the land were asked to come to Jerusalem to assist in the ceremonies. They were to take part in the joyous occasion with their songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps, and lyres.”

Sharon (09:18):

“The singers were brought together from the region around Jerusalem and from the villages of the Netophathites.”

Nicole (09:25):

“They also came from Beth-gilgal and the rural areas near Geba and Azmaveth, for the singers had built their own settlements around Jerusalem.”

Sharon (09:34):

(Smart singers) “The priests, and Levites first purified themselves. Then they purified the people, the gates and the wall.”

Nicole (09:42):

“I led the leaders of Judah to the top of the wall and organized two large choirs to give thanks. One of the choirs proceeded southward along the top of the wall to the dung gate.”

Sharon (09:53):

“Hoshaiah and half the leaders of Judah followed them. They used the musical instruments prescribed by David, the man of God. Ezra the scribe led this procession.”

Nicole (09:53):

“At the Fountain Gate they went straight up the steps on the ascent of the city wall toward the City of David. They passed the house of David and then proceeded to the Water Gate on the east.”

Sharon (09:53):

“The second choir giving thanks went northward around the other way to meet them. I followed them, together with the other half of the people, along the top of the wall.”

Nicole (09:53):

“The two choirs that were giving thanks then proceeded to the Temple of God, where they took their places. So did I, together with the group of leaders who were with me.”

Sharon (09:53):

“We went together with the trumpet-playing priests—Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hanania”

Nicole (09:53):

“And the singers—Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malkijah, Elam, and Ezer. They played and sang loudly under the direction of Jezrahiah the choir director.”

Sharon (09:53):

“Many sacrifices were offered on that joyous day, for God had given the people cause for great joy. The women and children also participated in the celebration, and the joy of the people of Jerusalem could be heard far away.”

Nicole (11:11):

“On that day, men were appointed to be in charge of the store rooms for the offerings and the first part of the harvest and the tithes. They were responsible to collect from the fields outside the towns, the portions required by the law of the priests and the Levites for all the people of Judah took joy in the priests and the Levites and their work.”

Sharon (11:30):

“They performed the service of their God and the service of purification as commanded by David and his son Solomon. And so did the singers and the gatekeepers.”

Nicole (11:39):

“The custom of having choir directors to lead the choirs in hymns of praise and thanksgiving to God began long ago in the days of David and Asaph.”

Sharon (11:47):

“So now in the days of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah, all Israel brought a daily supply of food for the singers, the gatekeepers and the Levites. The Levites in turn gave a portion of what they received to the priests, the descendants of Aaron.” Huh! Nicole, those walls must’ve been broad. There were whole choir’s walking on the wall.

Nicole (12:11):

I know, a choir’s a large group of people. I, I think I always pictured like a fence in my mind. I can’t imagine it being big enough for them to walk, but isn’t this a massive structure?

Sharon (12:20):

Yeah!

Nicole (12:20):

That’s a big wall.

Sharon (12:23):

It is. I mean like how many men abreast? Maybe five or six. I don’t know.

Nicole (12:28):

Right. Wow.

Sharon (12:28):

I just… so now I’m like, how’d they build that in 52 days?

Nicole (12:32):

Oh, that’s right.

Sharon (12:33):

That’s stunning.

Nicole (12:34):

That is.

Sharon (12:35):

It makes it even more stunning than it was already stunning. (Right) Oh, my goodness. Well, pick out a favorite verse or two. Tell me why

Nicole (12:42):

I liked verse 46. I think it was neat that they continued the tradition of having choir directors lead the chorus of hymns and praise and thanksgiving to God. And that this tradition carried through from King David’s time. I just thought that was kind of cool, you know?

Sharon (12:56):

I love that.

Nicole (12:56):

And we know from the Psalms what a passionate worshiper of God that David was, you know, so I think it’s kinda neat that he left his legacy, despite his many flaws.

Sharon (13:05):

I like that too. I do. And they’d heard of that. So now they’re doing what David did.

Nicole (13:12):

Yeah, they’re kind of like revitalizing all these traditions and stuff from long ago. I don’t know, I just thought that was kind of neat.

Sharon (13:17):

Yes, so neat. And David was kind of a wild dancer, remember?

Nicole (13:19):

He was. He was a good worship leader.

Sharon (13:22):

Was it? I can’t remember his wife’s name, but was it Micah, but whoever it was, she’s like, ‘you are so embarrassing yourself’.

Nicole (13:27):

Yes, I remember that.

Sharon (13:28):

And he’s, ‘are you kidding me? I’m having a wonderful time!’

Nicole (13:31):

Dancing before my Lord. And I like verse 40, where Nehemiah kind of like slid in ‘so did I’ in taking up his place in the parade of worship. You know, he continued to lead by example. And also he wasn’t just the studious one taking notes. He also joined in worshiping God.

Sharon (13:46):

Isn’t that neat?

Nicole (13:48):

I like that.

Sharon (13:48):

It is. Yeah. He was right a part of it from rolling up his sleeves and never changing his clothes.

Nicole (13:53):

Right. From the beginning he was in it.

Sharon (13:54):

From his building the wall. He was in it, and part of the joy, so.

Nicole (13:59):

It’s just really good.

Sharon (13:59):

Yeah. Yeah. Well, some of the verses I liked were the musical instrument versus like the whole trumpet section in verse 41. They had a whole… And trumpets are loud, you know, and how it says people far away heard it.

Nicole (14:11):

I know, I like that part.

Sharon (14:11):

And unlike the walls of Jericho, with all the trumpets and the noise, these walls did not fall down. And let us recall when they were mocked long ago and they were told that even a Fox stepping on the walls would break it down. Oh, well, take that you mockers. We had trumpet players blasting out the trumpets.

Nicole (14:34):

Right. And large choirs walking on the top.

Sharon (14:36):

And those walls, they did not fall down. So there were cymbals, there were harps, there were lyres. There were women and children. It’s like this parade. (Yeah, what a fun thing.) I’m just picturing everybody banging everything and shouting and screaming and not wrecking the walls. It’s just this is just so fun.

Nicole (14:52):

That is really cool.

Sharon (14:54):

Isn’t that fun? It really is. What was the other thing they said? Oh, ‘that charred stone will never stand up’. I’m remembering all the mockings.

Nicole (15:01):

I forgot about that until you mentioned that. That must’ve been so victorious for them. To stomp along that wall, sturdy as is it was, praising God, blowing the trumpet.

Sharon (15:09):

Yeah. Shouting. Having a blast. You know what? I don’t do enough parades!

Nicole (15:16):

Or dancing before God.

Sharon (15:18):

No, I’m a rather quiet worshiper.

Nicole (15:18):

We’re rather reserved people.

Sharon (15:19):

Yes, we are.

Nicole (15:21):

The New England…

Sharon (15:21):

I feel like we should do a parade occasionally, maybe for our team meetings someday we’ll do a parade. We’ll get a really great donation and we’ll bring some cymbals.

Nicole (15:29):

That would be fun.

Sharon (15:31):

Oh man. Okay. Well that was the last bit of happiness. I enjoyed it. Did you enjoy it?

Nicole (15:37):

I did.

Sharon (15:37):

The parade. The fun. The dedication? Everybody hitting the mark. (Yeah.) Okay. Now we get into the sad chapter. Chapter 13, Nehemiah was a part of that wall dedication. But then at some point after that, he returned to the king back in the foreign land of Babylon or wherever he was and resumed his duties there. But then at some point later on, we don’t get the details, he came back to Jerusalem. All his hard work, Nicole. This happened during his lifetime, right? I mean 10 years, maybe, I don’t know. He finds things spiritually in a shambles. I just can’t stand it. It still had a wall and a temple of course but God and His laws had already been abandoned. Oy! Man. Well, let’s read it and witness Nehemiah’s temper tantrum in the middle and then let’s talk about his perseverance and what we should or should not do when our own zeal wanes, because Nehemiah is totally human. And I am not sure we want to do everything exactly the way he did it even though he’s been a great example in a lot of things. And this is good for us really to see Nehemiah as sort of having his little temper tantrum because we can put people on pedestals.

Nicole (16:42):

Yeah, and that’s dangerous.

Sharon (16:43):

No one belongs on a pedestal.

Nicole (16:46):

Absolutely not.

Sharon (16:46):

It’s just foolish to put them there. We should expect sinners to sin. (Yes.) I used to say that when Ray and I were first married, he’d be a little brusque with me or something. And I’d say to myself, what did you expect, Sharon? You married a sinner.

Nicole (17:02):

Oh yeah.

Sharon (17:02):

It really helped me because it made me realize, what did I expect? (Right.) He sins, I sin. We miss the mark. If we could just do that, we’d have so much more grace for people. I think we need a little grace for Nehemiah at this point, but also I kind of get why he’s mad. So why don’t you start at verse six when Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem, he’s come back angry because Tobiah who was a foreigner, and at that time not even allowed in the temple, was actually living in it.

Nicole (17:30):

Oh my goodness.

Sharon (17:31):

Seriously.

Nicole (17:33):

They like really missed the mark.

Sharon (17:35):

Now we’ve got foreigners and people that don’t even love God living in the temple.

Nicole (17:40):

My goodness.

Sharon (17:41):

So pick it up at verse six, Nicole, here we go.

Nicole (17:43):

Here we go. “I was not in Jerusalem at that time, for I had returned to King Artaxerxes at Babylon in the 32nd year of his reign though I later asked his permission to return.”

Sharon (17:54):

“When I arrived back in Jerusalem, I learned about Eliashib’s evil deed in providing Tobiah with a room in the courtyards of the temple of God.”

Nicole (18:03):

“I became very upset and threw all Tobias’ belongings out of the room.”

Sharon (18:08):

“Then I demanded that the rooms be purified. And I brought back the articles for God’s temple, the grain offerings and the frankincense.”

Nicole (18:15):

“I also discovered that the Levite’s had not been given their prescribed portions of food. So they and the singers who were to conduct the worship services, had all returned to work their fields.”

Sharon (18:26):

Well, what else are they going to do, the poor babies?

Nicole (18:27):

Right, they’re starving.

Sharon (18:27):

They had no way to eat. Good grief. “I immediately confronted the leaders and demanded. ‘Why has the temple of God been neglected’? Then I called all the Levite’s back again and restored them to their proper duties.”

Nicole (18:42):

“And once more, all the people of Judah began bringing their tithes of grain, new wine and olive oil to the temple store rooms.”

Sharon (18:49):

“I assigned supervisors for the storerooms, Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe and Pedaiah one of the Levites. And I appointed Hanan son of Zakkur and grandson of Mattaniah as their assistant. These men had an excellent reputation and it was their job to make honest distributions to their fellow Levites.”

Nicole (19:09):

“Remember this good deed, Oh my God. And do not forget all that I have faithfully done for the temple of my God and it’s services.”

Sharon (19:17):

“In those days, I saw men of Judah treading out their wine presses on the Sabbath. They were also bringing in grain, loading it on donkeys and bringing their wine, grapes, figs, and all sorts of produce to Jerusalem to sell on the Sabbath. So I rebuked them for selling their produce on that day.”

Nicole (19:38):

“Some men from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise. They were selling it on the Sabbath to the people of Judah and in Jerusalem at that.”

Sharon (19:49):

“So I confronted the Nobles of Judah. Why are you profaning the Sabbath in this evil way? I asked.”

Nicole (19:57):

“Wasn’t it just this sort of thing that your ancestors did that caused our God to bring all this trouble upon us and our city? Now you are bringing even more wrath upon Israel by permitting the Sabbath to be desecrated in this way.”

Sharon (20:10):

“Then I commanded that the gates of Jerusalem should be shut as darkness fell every Friday evening, not to be opened until the Sabbath ended. I sent some of my own servants to guard the gates so that no merchandise could be brought in on the Sabbath day.”

Nicole (20:25):

“The merchants and tradesmen with a variety of wares, camped outside Jerusalem once or twice.”

Sharon (20:30):

“But I spoke sharply to them and said, ‘what are you doing out here, camping around the wall? If you do this again, I will arrest you.’ And that was the last time they came on the Sabbath.”

Nicole (20:40):

“Then I commanded the Levite’s to purify themselves and to guard the gates in order to preserve the holiness of the Sabbath. Remember this good deed also, oh my God. Have compassion on me according to your great and unfailing love.”

Sharon (20:54):

“About the same time I realized that some of the men of Judah had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab.”

Nicole (21:00):

“Furthermore, half their children spoke the language of Ashdod or of some other people and could not speak the language of Judah at all.”

Sharon (21:10):

“So I confronted them and called down curses on them. I beat some of them and pulled out their hair.” Oh, my word. “I made them swear in the name of God that they would not let their children intermarry with the pagan people of the land.”

Nicole (21:24):

“Wasn’t this exactly what led King Solomon of Israel into sin I demanded? There was no king from any nation who could compare to him and God loved him and made him king over all Israel. But even he was led into sin by his foreign wives.”

Sharon (21:39):

“How could you even think of committing this sinful deed and acting unfaithfully toward God by marrying foreign women?”

Nicole (21:46):

“One of the sons of Joiada, son of Eliashib, the high priest, had married a daughter of Sanballat, the Horonite. So I banished him from my presence.”

Sharon (21:55):

Sanballat was like his worst enemy.

Nicole (21:56):

I was just going to say wasn’t that the guy at the beginning who was making fun of him?

Sharon (21:59):

Yes! No wonder he was having a temper tantrum. “Remember them, oh my God. For they have defiled the priesthood in the solemn vows of the priests and Levites.”

Nicole (22:08):

“So I purged out everything foreign and assigned tasks to the priests and the Levites making certain that each knew his work.”

Sharon (22:15):

“I also made sure that the supply of wood for the altar and the first portions of the harvest were brought at the proper times. Remember this in my favor, Oh my God.” Is this not the weirdest ending?

Nicole (22:28):

What happened? And that’s the end? That’s the end.

Sharon (22:31):

That’s the end. Then there’s 400 years of silence.

Nicole (22:34):

That’s a huge cliffhanger I feel like.

Sharon (22:36):

I know. And you kind of know at this point that even though Nehemiah has reformed everybody temporarily again,

Nicole (22:43):

It’s probably not going to stay.

Sharon (22:44):

It’s not going to last.

Nicole (22:46):

Thus Jesus needing to come in 400 years.

Sharon (22:49):

Thus Jesus needing to come in 400 years. It’s a stunning thing. The very first thing that I find disturbing is that Nehemiah was pulling people’s hair out.

Nicole (22:58):

A little shocking!

Sharon (23:01):

You know what? Part of me didn’t want to read chapter 13 for the podcast. I’m like, could we just like quit at 12 and not talk about 13? And then I though, ‘Sharon, is all God’s word inspired? Even chapter 13?

Nicole (23:14):

Even the hair pulling.

Sharon (23:15):

Even the hair pulling. God wants the hair pulling, why God wants the hair pulling in there I don’t know, but it’s in there. I mean, he was mad and I get him being mad. I mean, they had just made all these wonderful promises. Things were going well, they’d had a happy parade. Ah, but still I feel like it was a little over the top. Ray always says this, Nicole, he says the Bible provides what happens. Clearly, the Bible is an honest book. It does not leave out the embarrassing portions, like Nehemiah, the godly planner, ripping people’s hair out by the roots. Right. Even when you’re like, could you leave that part out?

Nicole (23:51):

All the details are in.

Sharon (23:53):

But it doesn’t always give us commentary. There’s no like commentary on Nehemiah 13 of what we should learn from it. And what parts of what Nehemiah did were right. And what parts were wrong, which would be so handy. So I’m not necessarily signing up that the hair pulling temper tantrum was good. It might’ve been, it doesn’t say one way or the other. We would have to interpret it from other parts of scripture of how God wants us to behave, to understand whether that was good or not. But it’s true.

Nicole (24:22):

Right. But it happened.

Sharon (24:23):

It happened. It happened. And God wants us to know truth. He wants us to know that people shouldn’t be put on pedestals. He wants us to know not some doctored up fairy tale version of history. He wants the truth. And chapter 13 is the truth. It just is. So, it’s so frustrating that the people so quickly had walked away from their promises. I don’t know. What do you think, Nicole?

Nicole (24:51):

I love that. I love the way Ray described that. He has such a clear way of looking at it. You know? That, you know, it’s here. And I think that is huge to see Nehemiah sinning or having a tamper tantrum. I don’t think God wants us to pull people’s hair out. But I’m just guessing. But to see that it just reiterates that we’re to look to God, not Nehemiah, you know, we can learn from his examples, but oh boy. But you know, I, I feel his absolute frustration here. Don’t you? You can just feel it. And as a parent, I totally empathize with him. You know? It’s like, I left for a bit and everything fell apart. Like you all know better.

Sharon (25:30):

What happened?

Nicole (25:30):

It’s like he came back on his kids. I understand, I can feel his frustration as a human. I feel it.

Sharon (25:35):

Yes. It’s like, I told you what to do that would make you happy.

Nicole (25:37):

It’s maddening. Yes. You swore an oath. We did this whole thing and you’re right back where you are.

Sharon (25:45):

Yes, and you wrecked it and you know what’s going to happen.

Nicole (25:47):

Yes. We just talked about it.

Sharon (25:50):

Yes. Oh, for crying out loud.

Nicole (25:52):

So you can absolutely feel his frustration here.

Sharon (25:53):

Yes, you can. And we kind of do understand it. Even if perhaps he had a little bit of a temper problem there. And I am calling, this is the pot calling the kettle black because I really struggle with my temper too. So, well in any case, Nehemiah is straightening things up again. It’s so fascinating. Even the wood. And I made sure I knew who was bringing the wood for the altar each month.

Nicole (26:14):

Cause they had a detailed plan of that before in the previous chapter. I thought, Oh, they even took care of the wood. How good was that to plan that out?

Sharon (26:20):

How very tidy? Yeah. But then people stopped bringing it and the poor Levites, they’re like, uh, no one’s feeding us. I think we’re not singing anymore. I think we’re going back to herding sheep or what were they doing? They were doing the fields. They were doing the fields.

Nicole (26:31):

It’s just so sad.

Sharon (26:32):

Good gravy. Okay. Well Nehemiah has basically come against the sin nature we talked about at the beginning of this podcast, that part of us that is prone to wander away from what we know is best. That part that doesn’t want to give up our seat for the older person on the subway. The part of us that is angry when someone cuts us off in traffic, even though it’s pretty clear, they’d never have gotten out unless they pushed it a little bit. The part of us that wants the biggest piece of the pie, you know, that part? Like Paul without Jesus, our lives would be a miserable seesaw of promising to be better, failing and promising again. So Nicole, how has God broken that cycle? Remind us one last time.

Nicole (27:13):

That hope, let’s end on that hope. He broke it by forgiving all of our sins at the cross. All of them, even the repeat ones.

Sharon (27:25):

Yay!! Preach it!

Nicole (27:25):

And now that we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, which the Israelites did not have, we’ll give them some grace, He prompts us to quick confession and a washing clean. So when we do slide back into that old pattern of living He is there to push us back to God. But the good news is the closer we come to the Lord, the more sensitive we are to the Holy Spirit and the less we goof. And even when we sin there’s forgiveness and not condemnation. Thank you, Lord.

Sharon (27:52):

Oh, amen.

Nicole (27:52):

That is the best news ever. And we have such hope in Christ.

Sharon (27:56):

I’m so very, very thankful for that. For the grace of Jesus who forgives us seventy times seven for our waywardness and bids us come to him for a fresh start. And I’m grateful for Nehemiah’s perseverance, lessons in perseverance, even when he had to make it right, again, he did.

Nicole (28:14):

He did.

Sharon (28:15):

And I guess that’s what a parent does. You’re like, okay. So let me teach you again. Right?

Nicole (28:19):

Yes, do not punch your sister.

Sharon (28:20):

Yes. There are not good consequences from that. Yes. Yep. And we need lessons in perseverance ourselves to come back time and again, and ask forgiveness again. I think we get so disgusted with ourselves. We stop coming and that’s the sin in itself that we should never commit. We always come back, always come back, always persevere. Father, forgive me again. Start fresh. We get so many fresh starts.

Nicole (28:48):

We do!

Sharon (28:48):

It’s a wonderful thing. So let’s persevere. I shall pray. Here we go. Oh Lord, thank you for this awesome study. Thank you for every life lesson we have learned about persevering, about keeping going when people mock us, about learning to celebrate, about learning that the joy of the Lord is our strength. And especially Father we thank you for the unending forgiveness brought to us by Jesus and his saving death on that cross. We are so grateful. Give us persevering hearts, Lord, that no matter how old we get, we always come to you for fresh starts. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Nicole (29:38):

Well, that’s a wrap on our first podcast Bible study. What are your thoughts? Do you want us to study another book of the Bible on a podcast in the future? Do you prefer topics? Let us know by writing us at SweetSelah.org/podcasts. If you’d like to make our Christmas extra merry, become a podcast partner with a donation monthly of any amount by going to SweetSelah.org/donations. No matter what, do come back next week, we are going to be talking about faithful living in a fear-filled world. First up? A look at Elizabeth and Zechariah parents of John the Baptist. Episode 62 is called Dare to Be Different.

Speaker 1 (30:17):

We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. This Sweet Selah Moments podcast is a co-operative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast can be found at SweetSelah.org. Thank you for joining us.

 

You can download and print the transcript here.

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