Rebuilding any wall isn’t easy, but rebuilding a humongous wall around an entire city while surrounded by people who could potentially kill you is a different story. It’s Nehemiah’s story, actually. And it’s part of a bigger story of how the Jews established their presence – once again – in Jerusalem. It took the help of every man, woman and child to accomplish this task, and the work became so drawn out and laborious that it became a part of their daily lives. This was a time in each of their lives when they would look back years later and say, “Remember how we had to carry our swords on us 24/7 when we were rebuilding the wall?” or “Remember when I didn’t change my clothes for 72 days because I was afraid to take my sword off for even a second?”
I was late doing my Bible study this morning because I was in the middle of a fantastic chat with my former high school classmates. We have a Facebook chat group, and lately, we’ve been blowing it up with chatter. We talk about memories, make confessions, pray for each other and fill each other in on present-day shenanigans. I think we all realize NOW that everything THEN had a purpose, and we are seeing those purposes fulfilled today. This is kind of how I feel about today’s reading. The Jews were tired. They were getting angry. They were frustrated. But they stuck it out – together. And while we don’t get to read about it today, and without giving any spoilers, we sorta kinda know that their efforts will pay off.
I was kind of thinking about my classmates, too, when I read verses 4 and 5 today. Why? Because look at this prayer, would ya? It’s petty. It’s a young person’s prayer that basically says, “Make us rubber and them glue, so what they say will bounce of us and stick to them! And make them get kidnapped! Yeah, God! Don’t let them get away with talking bad about you!” It’s a prayer I would have prayed in seventh grade when I was really mad at somebody. It’s kind of a hateful, vengeful prayer, and I wanted to highlight it because it goes unanswered, at least in this chapter anyway. But this prayer also serves as an example of how people can take one paragraph out of the Bible and skew it to their advantage. If you read this prayer on its own and had read nothing else about the situation or Nehemiah or God’s people, what conclusion would you draw?
Writing prompt: conclusion
Read Nehemiah’s prayer again on its own and pretend you know nothing else about him or anyone else in the Bible. Then write about how you feel about it.