We see this happen so often throughout the Bible. The leader leaves for a little while and everything goes to pot. Nehemiah had gone back to his duties with the King and the people of Jerusalem reverted back to lost sheep without a shepherd. Even the priests and leaders of the city were slipping. This reminds us how important good influences and great leadership are on our lives.
Now, its easy to start judging and mocking these people for their failures and lack of obedience, but we need to remember the background to this story. These people had just come out of decades of captivity in foreign lands with foreign gods and foreign cultures. They have been immersed and raised in cultures that lived for themselves and worshipped other gods. A majority of the people living in Jerusalem may have truly wanted to follow the Lord's law and live for Him, but slowly faded away and back in to their comforts or their habits. Its easy to slip a little here and a little there in the every day mundane things and then find yourself far off from where you wanted to be and have no idea how you got there. I can definitely relate, can't you?
Let's take a look into what is going wrong:
Ammonites and Moabites were being included in the assembly of the Lord
- it was in the Book of Moses that they should not be included because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call a curse down on them.
Eliashib the priest has given one of the temple rooms to Tobiah the Ammonite
- Tobiah the Ammonite was neither a priest nor a Levite so it was unlawful for him to be living in the temple
- Tobiah the Ammonite was one of the main people against the rebuilding of the walls
The portions assigned to the Levite and singers for the service had not been given to them
- the people had vowed to support and maintain the temple
There were men working on the Sabbath as well as merchants from other cities selling in Jerusalem on the Sabbath
-Observing the Sabbath was one of the Ten Commandments the Lord gave us
- There were strict rules to working and selling on the Sabbath, all of which were read to the people of Jerusalem and fully understood at the time they made their vows
The people of Jerusalem were marrying foreigners when it was a strict law of the Lord not to.
- there was a very obvious reason to this law and the pages of history proved its significance. Many of the Lord's people and important leaders had been tempted and influenced by foreign women into worshipping other gods and having foreign idols
- The Lord's people were to be holy and set apart from other people. They had a covenant with the Lord and had been blessed by them as His people. Intermarrying was strictly forbidden.
On a different note, I have to admit that I get a little offended when I read some things in the Old Testament about excluding outsiders and not allowing intermarriages etc. For example, Verse 1:
"On that day the Book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people and there it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God"
My first instinct is to be upset and angry that the Lord would exclude people that want to be apart of his assembly. People that want to worship Him or become a part of His people. I am so used to Jesus being my Savior and our call to go out and make fishers of men from every tribe tongue and nation that I forget about the Holiness of God. I forget about why we needed Jesus in the first place. I forget that we are such sinners that we needed a Perfect Lamb to make atonements on our behalf because our God is so Holy that He despises and damns even the smallest speckle of sin. Our Holy God demands absolute holiness and not one of us can give that to Him.
I am so thankful for my Jesus.
So after God reminds me of this, my anger begins to subside and I start to see the text in a different light. It is not "why Lord, WHY, were you so mean that you excluded people and didn't let them into your assembly because they made a mistake" it is now "Oh Lord WHY did you choose to lavish a people undeserved of You with your blessing?!" "Why did you not blot us out from the earth?" "Why do you put up with our sin over and over again." "Jesus why did you die for us" "Why do you choose to love us." "Why do you choose to love me....."
"For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession."
1 John 3:1
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"
Day 25: Something someone told you once about yourself that you'll never forget (good or bad)
I'm sure I have been told a lot of genuine sweet things through my years, but unfortunately I have one weird comment that might haunt me for life. In highschool someone told me that I have worm lips. Really? Seriously, you are going to tell a self-conscious high school girl that her lips look like worms. Wow, that will cure any bad day, right?
Honestly, even though I am haunted by that comment and worry about whether my lips look like worms- I just really don't see the resemblance. Hopefully you don't think so either, especially now that you are probably searching for a picture of me to see for yourself.....
Haha! Wow! There are so many to choose from. It is completely obvious to anyone who knows me that I am definitely a sinner. There are so many things about me that need refining that I am having a hard time deciding which 3 to write about. Which ironically leads me straight into my first top trait....
1. I am the ABSOLUTE WORST at making decisions.
No seriously. I am. I can stand in the same grocery store isle for 10 minutes trying to decide whether to get the 15oz or 32 oz ketchup. I will make 3 trips to the store to pick out a vacuum and end up not getting one. I will say I donno/I don't care anytime you ask me what I want to do today. I'm telling you guys its bad, real bad. I am often kept from doing things I enjoy because I won't make the decision to go do them. I have called my parents/husband begging them to make huge life decisions for me. Not only am I bad at it, I hate being forced to make decisions. Which definitely makes things worse. So, basically, if you need something decided. Don't come knocking on my door....
2. I am so self-conscious.
Ugh. Isn't every girl? Gosh it's just the darndest thing. O how I wish I could feel as beautiful as my husband thinks I am. How I wish I could love my freckles, or feel in shape, or enjoy my curly hair. Why is it the curse of all curses on the female race that we have to be so gosh darn self-conscious?!
Oh, don't get me wrong, I'll do everything in the world to come off as self confident, but deep down in side I am a worry wart about my appearance, personality and the like.
3. I am a grudge holder.
There, I said it. I admit it. Ashamedly. I hate this about myself! When someone hurts me or "does me wrong" I just can't get over it. It's the silliest thing too because I know how awful of a sinner I am and that I make offenses to other all the time. And honestly, I will make amends with those "offenders" by talking through it or making up but deep down I am still holding on to it. I think of the other person differently or I feel like they owe me or something. It really is an AWFUL trait that I wish the Lord would rid me of. I will just keep on praying that He saves me from my sins and refines me to be more like Him....
This chapter is very similar to the other chapter in that Nehemiah has kept track of and honored specific people by giving us a list of their names. In this particular chapter that names are of the priests and levites that were serving the citizens of Jerusalem. Nehemiah was not just rebuilding the city, He was rebuilding a people, a community, and as part of that rehabilitation he was setting them up to be a people of the Lord again. These priests and levites were Israel's direct link to God, and Nehemiah was praying and hoping that they were lead the people in following the Lord.
At the dedication of the Wall the Lord's people were obviously overflowing with joy. They were celebrating a victory, a completion, a new beginning! Not just any celebration though, it was a dedication to the Lord, acknowledging that it was the Lord who provided. These people were not just sitting in church singing from the hymnal book. It says that "they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy." They brought in the singers from other regions(v 28), Levites(v 27), choirs(v 40), the town leaders(v 31), and all of the men, women and children(v 43) rejoiced!
Verse 43 says that the sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away! The Bible doesn't exaggerate either, it really could be heard from FAR away. They were PRAISING our Lord and were not ashamed to do it loudly!
Think of any modern day celebration: A birthday party, graduation, wedding, anniversary, job promotion, family reunion, july 4th, etc. Think of what we do and feel when we celebrate those occasions, then multiply it by a lot.
I am going to use an exert from my Quest Study Notes again, because I love how it explains everything:
"When we work with God on any great endeavor, we're not done until we celebrate and dedicate that work. Celebration involves the entire congregation and takes full advantage of music and ceremony to heighten the sense of joy and worship. Dedication reminds us of our dependence on God and invites Him to guard the work accomplished. Such a time often marks a fresh beginning for God's people- with a renewed sense of purpose, identity, worth and security of His care."
If you have anything to add or any questions about Nehemiah 12 please feel free to leave a comment. I'll get back with any questions as soon as I ask someone wiser than me;) Have a wonderful day! Love, Devon
Obviously this one is a tough-y because all of my posts are so wonderful, just HOW am I going to choose my favorites?!? ;) hehe just kidding. I definitely have some favorites, and oddly enough they revolve around food. Hhhmmm. Ok, I'll only do a couple favorite food posts and then a couple non food posts. Otherwise we all might get too hungry to finish reading.....
Ok, so bear with me on this post. My favorite pictures I have ever had taken of me are from my engagement shoot. I still remember very vividly how nervous I was. Nervous that I wouldn't look pretty. Nervous my hair wouldn't work right. Nervous I would have zits on my face. Nervous the trees wouldn't be colorful enough. Nervous it would be raining. Nervous I would have weird smiles. Nervous my outfit wouldn't look cute. Nervous our personalities wouldn't show up in the pictures. Just plain nervous about almost ANYTHING that there was to be nervous about.
I have loved engagement pictures my whole life. I love looking at them, whether it is someone I know or some random person. I just think they are so darn special. It is at an adorable exciting time in your life and you are so much in love with your fiance and that always shows in the pictures. Plus you will have those professionally done pictures for the rest of your lives to display in your homes to remember how good you used to look before you had kids... :)...
What if after all that, I didn't like my own engagement pictures?!?!
Well, The Lord blessed me yet again. I absolutely positively adore my engagement pictures! Our photographer, Emily Rodgers (whom I would totally tell everyone to look up and hire if she wasn't retired), was amazing and captured us perfectly. I love the colors she enhanced and the ideas she brought to the table. I was so relieved to get the pictures and to love every one of them.
Sooooo, all that being said. My engagement pictureS are my favorite pictures of myself. All of them. I couldn't choose. Lucky you gets to see them all.....
And there you have it Folks! My favorite pictures...