The last few chapters of Nehemiah capture for us the reality of living life back in the Promise Land. The work of establishing a place of common worship, the restoral of daily sacrifices and offering and the reading of the word of God daily in the Temple all have resumed. The Temple and the city of Jerusalem are secure once again. Those who had rightful inheritance live within the walls. The scribes, priests, gatekeepers and singers are developing a “routine” in life. Man it feels good to be back home after a long absence! Coming out of chapter 9 which was a REVIVAL of the people. There is then chapter 10, with the identification of the signers of the Covenant. I couldn’t help but think of the USA and the original signers of our Constitution. I have often thought of the similarities of Israel and America. No I’m not talking politically! God has blessed people for their worship and obedience to His Word. When we fail to remember that HE is God and WE are not; then a resulting downfall is imminent. Far too long America has banked on the blessings of God, without any corresponding obedience to Him and His Word. I have heard some pastors even exclaim that America is GOD’s gift to the World. There is a definite arrogance about Americans. It wasn’t until I was overseas did I come to the reality of the expression “Ugly Americans.” For the very same reasons of disobedience and pride that brought Israel into a tumultuous time, even so I believe America is headed in the same direction. We cannot count on just the Blessings of God; we must also know the divine correction of God. The Father in Heaven loves His children, but He will not tolerate “brats.” There is a great need for a Holy Ghost, spirit breaking, confessional, repentant of sins, glorifying God revival; In the CHURCH. I’ll be doing a study on the Seven Churches’ in Revelation 1-3 soon. Something that must be noted, every church has problems. Mainly self-induced problems. If warnings are not observed when pronounced by God – through His Word and prophets, then there is a reality that the “Lamp” will go out. Jesus will extinguish the Lamp.
Israel discovered that their existence was in jeopardy when carried away into exile. They got and woke up for hundreds of years. I do not know what it will take for the Church in America to wake up? As a Church Revitalization person, I see churches that are ready to die. They don’t care; all they know is that they will not do anything to stay alive. Long before the Church doors close; the Holy Spirit of God has left. The Holy Spirit does not inhabit “dead people!” The problem with Israel before the captivity is the same problem with Churches today – we think we are bigger than God. We think that the CHURCH is ours! They may own the building – but the building IS NOT THE CHURCH. Enough preaching.
As a result of the Holy Spirit driven revival the people – Jews made changes in their living. Sin was no longer acceptable. It wasn’t just about doing the right things as it was also not doing the wrong things. When revival occurs, it affects every aspect of life. Just as Jesus indwelling our bodies through the Holy Spirit saturates our lives. The Work of living was the focus of the people. It is one thing to rebuild – quite another to live out on a continual basis what was covenanted during the revival. Sure all the rituals of worship were restored, the practices of the people and the labors to keep and sustain the place of worship had to be accomplished. But, having an awesome worship experience isn’t all God wants. He wants ALL of you and me! Ever detail of every area of our lives. Just as Jesus told the rich young ruler, “there is one thing thou lackest, go and sell all that you have and come follow Me.” All In- is the minimum requirement of following Jesus. There was a lingering problem of “unequally yoked marriages.” Israel had been told NOT to do it, they did it anyway. In Nehemiah 13- Solomon is the bad example and warning against mixed marriages. Please rise above RACIAL prejudices. This is a spiritual problem even today. Believers are inter-marrying with unbelievers and becoming casualties. DO NOT DO IT!
The problem stretched from the lowest social class to the priests. If revival is really going to be a lasting revival – we must continue the work of renewal as Nehemiah. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are not solely about repairs and building of the Temple and Walls. It was about building and restoring the Faith and obedience of God’s people. Nehemiah says at the end of the book; “Thus I purified them from everything foreign.” May we have purified lives before our God!