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Nehemiah 13

09.22.2010

Today we finish the Ezra narrative (this second part as told from the perspective of Nehemiah).  The last impression from the book (which is the last historical description from the Old Testament, remember) is kind of an odd one.

The gist of the whole chapter is a downer.  After all the hard work done by the people to rebuild the walls, and after all the ceremonies of dedication and celebration, Nehemiah brings the smackdown for more of the intermarriage incidents and for non-observance of the Sabbath.  If nothing else, it’s a poignant reminder that our troubles and our sinfulness will not be erased in this lifetime.  No matter how triumphant we are in God, as long as we live in this world we will still continue to fall short.

Also, I found Nehemiah’s ending to his chapter-long prayer odd.  Having related all of the reforms he instituted among the people and the measures he took to set them straight again, he closes by saying, ‘Remember me, God, for good.’  This rang jarringly in my ear, as if Nehemiah were a goody-two-shoes who runs to God and says, ‘I found all the people doing bad things, but I told them to stop and I made them stop.  Remember that I did that, okay?  Reward me for that, please.’  At the very least, it’s not a flattering picture of our buddy Nehemiah.

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