Sunday, September 9, 2012

4 Month Bible Challenge | Jump Start; Nehemaih

Well, last night I wanted to go ahead and start working on the Bible reading. I have a lot that has to be read by the end of this year so I decided to get it rollin.

To start it off I randomly flipped open my Bible...and landed at Ezra. I decided to start in the next book which just so happened to be Nehemiah. I realized I should have started with Ezra, but its okay. I will read that at another point.

Here is a little bit about this book which is written in my study Bible which I am using for this project:

Author: Nehemiah

Date: 445-425 B.C.

The Man Nehemiah: As cupbearer to King Artaxerxes I, Nehemiah's position was a responsible one (certifying that none of the wine the king drank was poisoned) and an influential one (since such a trusted servant often became a close advisor). Having heard that the walls of Jerusalem had not been rebuilt, and having received permission from the king to go to Jerusalem to correct the situation, he demonstrated unmatched skills in leadership and organization. In 52 days the rebuilding job was completed. As governor of Judah, Nehemiah exhibited humility, integrity, patriotism, energy, piety, and unselfishness. After 12 years in this capacity he returned briefly to Artaxerxes's court (1:1; 13:6) and then returned to Judah where he called the people to repentance.   Much of the material in the book comes from what must have been Nehemiah's personal diary, so frank and vivid is the reporting.

Historical Background: The elephantine Papyri, discovered in 1903, confirm the historicity of the book of Nehemiah, mentioning Sanballat (2:19) and Johanan (6:18; 12:23). These sources also tell us that Nehemiah ceased to be governor of Judah before 408 B.C.

Contents: The book completes the history of the restoration of the returned remnant from exile in Babylon, a restoration begun under Ezra's leadership. It also marks the beginning of Daniel's "seventy weeks" (Daniel 9:24), and provides historical background for the book of Malachi.

What I Read
So far I've read the first six chapters of this book. There are thirteen chapters total. Two verses were already marked in my Bible from previous times I read this section. The first verse is Nehemiah 4:17. This is the area where the workers are being attacked by surrounding enemies. It says, "They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon." Basically each person who was working on building the wall had in one had a weapon to defend himself from the enemy, and with the other he built the wall. I thought this was really interesting because these people were so dedicated to their work even when they were under attack. They didn't stop their work because they were being attacked, but instead continued their work and were prepared to defend themselves should they have to. I think that in our lives many people do this and don't even know it. We can't live in fear of what others will do/say to us because we choose to be different. We have to continue on our path and be ready when the time comes and we are asked (not really an attack necessarily, but not a positive thing either) why we are different. Be ready, but don't stop doing what you're doing because you are afraid of what will be said/done because you stand for what you believe in.

The second verse is Nehemiah 6:3. This is Nehemiah's response to the enemy who continually tried to take him away from his work: "And I sent messengers unto them saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?" Basically he is saying there is no time like the present to be doing this work, why should I let you distract me from it? This fits in with my thoughts from the verse mentioned above. I am relating this in how we as Apostolic Pentecostal (girls) people dress, but it can be used in many ways... Why let yourself be distracted by the immodest clothing of the world? Why be tempted by it when you know what you are doing now (dressing modestly) is honoring God? Nehemiah was building the walls of Jerusalem to protect the chosen people. The way we dress can either be one of two things. 1. It is protecting us/our bodies from eyes and minds who don't need more distractions than they already have (like Nehemiah building the walls to protect the people). or 2. We are adding to the distractions and causing men to lust/sin (like the walls which were torn down so that the city was exposed to its enemies).

How you choose to dress is your choice, but what choice are you making? Are you building walls or are you taking them down?

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