Thinking Thursday: Lessons from Nehemiah 3. A Dangerous Holiness

Today I return to the study of Nehemiah. Lesson 1 was A Dangerous Calling. Lesson 2 was A Dangerous Delight. Today we look at A Dangerous Holiness.

Once Nehemiah had seen to the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalam, he began constructing a community. Who belongs to this community? Nehemiah studied the genealogies to find the firstborn of the Jews who had first returned.
So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families. I found the genealogical record of those who had been the first to return. (Neh 7:5)

Those who inherit the new Jerusalem are the ones of the new birth.
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. (Heb 12:22-23)

What is their duty?

To hear & understand the Word of the Lord
All the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel. So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion… Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. The Levites … instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read. (Neh.8:1-8)

To rejoice
Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them… The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great. (Neh.8:12&17)

To obey
On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the scribe to give attention to the words of the Law. They found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make booths” – as it is written. So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves booths on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim. The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great. (Neh.8:13-17)

To persevere
Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the feast for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly. (Neh.8:18)

To be penitent
On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and having dust on their heads. Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the wickedness of their fathers. (Neh.9:1-2)

To worship
They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God. (Neh.9:3)

To pray
Standing on the stairs were the Levites … who called with loud voices to the LORD their God. And the Levites … said: “Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.” (Neh.9:4-5) [whole prayer 9:4-37]

To be committed
In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it… [list of names] … The rest of the people – priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples for the sake of the Law of God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand – all these now join their brothers the nobles, and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the LORD our Lord. (Neh.9:38; 10:28-29)

The same duties are upon God people today. Let me encourage you to read and memorise the Word of God – feast on it. Then you will be like these people who dedicated themselves to holiness before God.

Other posts in this series:
1. A Dangerous Calling
2. A Dangerous Delight
4. A Dangerous Distinctiveness

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About Ann Marie Thomas

Married since 1974, Christian since 1986, 4 children, 4 grand children, disabled with fibromyalgia but was working almost full time until a stroke in May 2010 changed my life completely. Writing poetry and making up stories since I was a child, I only started to write seriously when my children were grown. My main ambition is to write science fiction, but along the way I got distracted by local history and poetry about my stroke. Taking early retirement gave me the chance to concentrate on my writing. My book, Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth, was published in print and ebook at Easter 2012. The success of Alina led to the publication of Broken Reed: The Lords of Gower and King John in September 2013, and The Magna Carta Story at Easter 2015. I am still writing science fiction - a series of novels called Flight of the Kestrel. For all my author news, see me author blog at www.annmariethomas.me.uk
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3 Responses to Thinking Thursday: Lessons from Nehemiah 3. A Dangerous Holiness

  1. Pingback: Thinking Thursday: Lessons from Nehemiah 4. A Dangerous Distinctiveness | Ann Marie Thinking Out Loud

  2. Pingback: Thinking Thursday: Lessons from Nehemiah 2. A Dangerous Delight | Ann Marie Thinking Out Loud

  3. Pingback: Thinking Thursday: Lessons from Nehemiah 1. A Dangerous Calling | Ann Marie Thinking Out Loud

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