05 August 2008

Nehemiah 9.26 – 6.20.08

The events recorded in the book of Nehemiah center around a Jew who has returned from captivity in Babylon to rebuild the now desolate city of Jerusalem. Its ninth chapter could be included in a long list of passages that recount Israel's national history – beginning with the call of Abraham, moving on to Egyptian bondage, the exodus, wilderness wanderings, the eventual conquest of Canaan, the glorious kingdom, the divided kingdom, the captivity, and so on.

The record seems to climax in verse 26, Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations.

This vicious cycle repeated itself over and over again. God gave Israel the law. They covenanted to keep it with all their hearts. Before one generation had passed, the people were worshipping idols. God would send a man to warn the people of impending judgment. The people would ignore him. The judgment would fall. The people then got mad at God but eventually they'd figure out they had no one to blame but themselves. So they'd repent, return to the Lord, and renew their dedication to the law of God. And then it'd start all over again.

I hope that same cycle doesn't aptly describe our own Christian lives, but I'm afraid many times it does.

Personally, I found the description found in Nehemiah 9:26 to be very interesting. The Bible says that when faced with warnings from God in the mouth of His prophets, the people of Israel rebelled and cast God's law behind their backs. In the midst of the disobedience that brought such judgment on their nation, God's way was the furthest thing from their minds and hearts. Why? They wanted to go their own way. The commandments stood in the way of their "progress."

And so the very law that would be the source of their success and prosperity and peace and longevity as a people became discarded and disrespected and disregarded. And this could only provoke the righteous fury of Jehovah.

Now, compare Israel's actions with the words of Psalmist in Psalm 18:22 & Psalm 119:30. For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me. I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.

Which would better describe the condition of your heart? Do you always have God's pleasure in sight? Or is His way set aside when it crosses what you'd like to do? I implore you, don't cast God's law behind your back; set it always before you.

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