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Nehemiah 3-7


Two notes:

3:14 | Let’s say you’re Rechab.  Are you excited and proud that your son, Malchijah, has brought your family honor and reknown by earning a mention in the holy scriptures?  Or are you a little bit ashamed that his accomplishment was building the dung gate?

You know what?  Forget the haters.  Own it!  Your boy just etched his name and yours into the history book of eternity.  Throughout human history, people will know that your son built a gate in the wall of the restored Jerusalem.  Who cares if it’s the dung gate.  Someone has to build it, or where would the dung go?  This is a matter of public health, and your son is a hero.  Congratulations, Rechab.

4:9 | On a more serious note, I recently heard/read a good example of how to do prayer from this passage.  Nehemiah prays for protection as enemies surround the city and threaten the workers.  He also sets up a guard rotation so that some people are standing by in arms while others continue the work.

This is a much healthier approach (I’ve come to appreciate) than praying and putting your feet up, letting God take care of everything.  It’s not an issue of trust; Nehemiah didn’t feel like the attack might be too much for God but manageable for his armed laborers.  Nor did he figure, ‘Got may not want to protect us, but I’ll show Him!’

No.  Nehemiah asked God to do something and then placed himself (and his people) in the position to be used by God toward that end.  If my child is sick; I don’t pray for his well-being and then neglect him, trusting God to heal him.  I pray AND I tend to the child, serving medicine, arranging medical visits. 

It’s an erroneously dualistic conception of God that assumes He cannot work through us or within the physical world.  It’s like the old joke:

A man lives in a neighborhood that’s starting to flood.  He hears the alert broadcasts telling people to leave but stays because he trusts God to save him.  He declines a place in the evacuation bus because he trusts God to save him.  When the waters rise and he climbs to the second floor of his house, he waves on the rescue boat because he trusts God to save him.  As the waters rise farther and he sits on his roof, he refuses to climb aboard the helicopter sent to rescue him because he trusted God to save him.  The waters rise even more, and the man is swept away and drowned. 

When he gets to heaven, the man demands of God, ‘Lord, I trusted you.  Why didn’t you save me?’

‘What more did you want?’ God replied.  ‘I sent an alert broadcast and a bus and a boat and a helicopter?’

Like Nehemiah, pray for protection and arm yourself so that you can be an agent of God’s will toward that end.  Unlike the man in the joke, pray for safety from the flood, and then take advantage of the opportunities to get out of danger.  We may not be capable of answering our own prayers, but we are responsible for taking an active role and letting God use us toward the same end.

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