From the service to the next

371 from service nextThe book Nehemiah, one of the 66 books of the Bible, is probably one of the least noticed. It contains no heartfelt prayers and songs like the Psalter, no grandiose account of creation like the Book of Genesis (1, Moses) nor a biography of Jesus or the theology of Paul. However, as an inspired word of God, it is just as important to us. While leafing through the Old Testament it is easily overlooked, but we can learn much from this book - especially true cohesion and exemplary living.

The book Nehemiah is counted among the history books, because in it above all important events of the Jewish history are recorded. Together with the book of Ezra, it reports on the restoration of the city of Jerusalem, which was conquered and devastated by the Babylonians. The book is unique because it was written in the first person form. Through Nehemiah's own words, we learn how this faithful man fought for his people.

Nehemiah held an important position at the court of King Artaxerxes, but he gave up power and influence there to help his people, who suffered great misfortune and shame. He was given permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the ruined city wall. A city wall may seem unimportant to us today, but in the 5. Century before Christ, the fortification of a city was crucial for their settlement. The destruction and lack of protection of Jerusalem, the center of worship for God's chosen people, plunged Nehemiah into profound mourning. He was given the means to rebuild the city and make it a place where people could live and worship God without having to be afraid again. Rebuilding Jerusalem was not an easy task. The city was surrounded by enemies who did not like the fact that the Jewish people were about to re-emerge. They threatened with a surprising destruction of the already built by Nehemiah buildings. It was urgently necessary to prepare the Jews for the danger.

Nehemiah himself reports: "And it happened that half of my people worked on the building, but the other half had pikes, shields, bows, and tanks ready, and stood behind the whole house of Judah, which built on the wall. Those who carried loads worked like this:

With one hand they did the work and with the other they held the weapon "(Nehemiah 4,10-11). That was a very serious situation! In order to rebuild the city God had chosen, the Israelites had to divide people up and set up guards to protect them. They had to be prepared to fend off an attack at any time.

Throughout the world there are many Christians who are constantly threatened with persecution because of their way of life. Even those who do not live in danger every day can learn a lot from Nehemiah's commitment. It pays to think about how we can "protect" each other, even if the circumstances are less extreme. When we work to build the Body of Christ, the world encounters us with rejection and discouragement. As Christians, we should surround ourselves with equals and support them.

Nehemiah and his people always ensured vigilance and dedication to be prepared for any situation, be it building the city of God's people or defending it. They were not necessarily encouraged to do so because they were best suited to the task, but because the work had to be done.

There may be few among us who feel called to do great things. Unlike many biblical figures, Nehemiah was not explicitly called. God did not speak to him through a burning bush or in a dream. He just heard about the need and prayed for insight how he could help. Then he asked that he be given the task of rebuilding Jerusalem - and he got permission. He took the initiative to work for God's people. When an emergency in our environment stirs us up to do something, God can lead us as powerfully as if he were using a pillar of cloud or a voice from heaven.

We never know when we will be called to serve. It did not look like Nehemiah would be the most promising candidate: he was neither an architect nor a builder. He held a strong political position, which he unsuccessfully relinquished to success because he was in need. He lived for this task because he was convinced that people should live according to the will of God and His ways among the nations in a particular place and time - in Jerusalem. And he valued this goal higher than his own safety and merit. Nehemiah constantly had to face new situations. During the rebuilding, he was always challenged to overcome adversity and reorient his people.

I remember how often it seems hard to serve each other. It occurs to me that I often thought that someone other than myself was much better suited to help in certain cases. However, the book Nehemiah reminds us that as a community of God we are called to care for one another. We should be prepared to put our own security and our advancement behind to assist Christians in distress.

It makes me feel very grateful when I hear from siblings and employees who stand up for others, either through personal commitment or their donations - leave the anonymously deposited bag of food or clothing at the door of a needy family or an invitation to one Needy neighbors for dinner - they all need a sign of love. I am glad that God's love flows through his people to the people! Our commitment to the needs in our environment shows a truly exemplary way of life in which we trust in every situation that God has put us in the right place. His ways are sometimes unusual when it comes to helping others and helping to bring some light into our world.

Thank you for your loyalty to Jesus and your loving support of our faith community.

With appreciation and gratitude

Joseph Tkach

president
GRACE COMMUNION INTERNATIONAL


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