Hey 👋🏾 there BCU Family!
As usual, you have the option of listening to our podcast (click the BCU avatar below to listen), reading the notes or BOTH. In any case, we pray the message blesses you. If so, please thumbs up or leave a comment! Thank you and enjoy your study!
Over our Nehemiah study, where we’ve chatted about overcoming people approval, the importance of gates , what do do when attacked, when you are weary on the wall, getting back to work on the wall, the enemy within and how to confront him. Nehemiah also walked us through how he led/governed (with the help of the Lord) the people, versus bossing/managing the people, which motivated them finish the work triumphantly!
While this project is complete, there are some other very important learning points (like gatekeeping from our chapter 7 lesson and preparing to apply God’s word from our chapter 8 lesson) in the remainder of the chapters in Nehemiah. Let’s take a look at Nehemiah 9 as the people continue to reflect on the Word and what God has done.
Scene: (Nehemiah 9:1-5) This was a time of reading the law, confessing sins, worship and reflection as the Isrealites recall the time they were in Egypt and God’s protection, mercy and provision while wandering in the wilderness (Leviticus 23:43).
In verses 6-15, the people of God lay out who God is and what all He had done:
How God is God alone and how He made heaven, stars, the earth and preserves ALL!
How God brought Abram from Ur, changed His name (to Abraham) and promised to give Abraham land, and well as multiply his seed for his faithfulness and righteousness.
God saw the affliction on the Israelites in Egypt and answered their cry.
The Israelites saw many signs and wonders while being delivered from Pharaoh and their oppressors. God parted the Red Sea for them to walk across and took care of their enemies with that same sea–right before their eyes!
God led them by day as a cloudy pillar and a pillar of by night so they knew where to go.
He gave them right judgements, true laws and good statutes and commandments
God provided food, water and gave the Israelites water and promised land possession.
This is WONDERFUL, right? Look at all the BLESSINGS poured our on God’s people! As we pause here, can we name the times God saw is on our oppression, sickness, depression, joblessness, family situations–whatever it was—Think about how God and GOD alone delivered us from those situations! How He took care of the enemy for us! And even in the midst of the trial, the hard time, the grief, the pain, He provided us both spititual food (a Word to refresh, correct, redirect and encourages us), and natural food to strengthen our bodies. God is GREAT and greatly to be praised!
We see a turn of events with verse 16.
Nehemiah’s people read the their ancestors “dealt proudly, ” “hardened their necks” and “hearkened not” to God’s commandments. Let’s stop here and talk about hard necks. That means stubborn and not “leadable”.
In those days, typically two oxen did the plowing and the plow master had an “ox-goad” to help steer the animal to where he wanted it to go. An ox-goad was a light pole with a spike on it, used to prick the animal on his neck to speed him up or to go in a straight line. If the oxen didn’t obey, he was labeled stiff or hard-necked–what we usually call “hard-headed”.
So after being in bondage, captivity and free again—looking at ALL those blessings, God is now dealing with a prideful, stiff-necked group of people who refused to obey. The nerve of them, we say? Not so fast, BCU Family!
Now before we judge the Israelites too harshly, let’s put ourselves in their place. Two paragraphs ago, we were rejoicing about how God blessed us through our turbulent, crying, stressful times. How quickly after God heard our cry did we walk in disobedience?
Did we deal with God in our pride–maybe refusing to give Him glory for something He did? Touting our denominational pride, rather than humbling thanking God for saving you and lovingly witnessing to others? Not asking God for any help–trying to do things on our own?
Did we not harken to his commandments regarding handling the situation at work or home His way? Did He command us to “hold our peace” (keep quiet), but instead we said what we wanted because it had to be said?
How stiff were our necks when it God reminded us that we are to love our neighbors (co-workers, cashier, strangers) as ourselves? Did we heed the urge to help them or to say a kind word? Did our necks stiffen when we were prodded to stop and pray? Did we tell God, “but, I’ll be late!” “Just let me answer this call.”, “I’ll read the Word later”.
These are just a few of the ways we mimic the Israelites–whether intentional or not. Once we recognize areas that we have not surrendered to God completely, that’s our opportunity to do just that—we DO NOT have to continue walking contrary to God’s Word–that’s why Jesus came! He took all of our sins and nailed them to the cross, making an open show of them triumphantly! (Colossians 2:14-15). And when we have the Holy Ghost down on the inside (see Acts 2:38), we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us yield who God wants us to be–more like Him! Amen? Amen!
God gives us time, space and opportunity to be transformed to His likeness–because He is merciful. In an upcoming podcast, we’ll take a look at how the people of God realized how far off they were, the magnitude of God’s mercy and the result of willful disobedience. I’m looking forward to that post and hope you are as well!
In the meantime, we’d love hear what YOU took away from what we talked about today, so please leave a comment in the designated section below.
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Thank you SO much for stopping by. God bless, keep and make His face to shine upon you as you #StayOnTheWall!