Following Jesus, fulfilling His mission

Nehemiah – Building beyond ourselves – covenant promises 7

Covenant people of God – God entered into a series of formal relationships with various human partners in order to ultimately rescue the world through Jesus.

Romans 15:4 (NLT) Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. They give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises.

Nehemiah 8 is a transition phase of the book

Without any doubt the most theologically distressing event of the history of Israel was the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and the deportation of the covenant people to far-off Babylon.

I’ve used the word ‘covenant’ – you see, it was not the physical displacement that was so tragic, but the breakdown of the covenant that had bound God and His people together for nearly a millennium.

What would happen now? Was the Lord through with Israel?

Was there any prospect that the ancient promises could be renewed, and the exiled nation restored?

2 Chronicles 36:18–23 (NLT) 18 The king took home to Babylon all the articles, large and small, used in the Temple of God, and the treasures from both the Lord’s Temple and from the palace of the king and his officials. 19 Then his army burned the Temple of God, tore down the walls of Jerusalem, burned all the palaces, and completely destroyed everything of value. 20 The few who survived were taken as exiles to Babylon, and they became servants to the king and his sons until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21 So the message of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled. The land finally enjoyed its Sabbath rest, lying desolate until the seventy years were fulfilled, just as the prophet had said. 22 In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom: 23 “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are his people may go there for this task. And may the Lord your God be with you!”

God’s people had fragrantly broken their covenant vows but the commitment of God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob remained.

Israel would fail again and again but the Lord would remain faithful. His covenant obligations to His people were as certain as His very Name and reputation.

With this in mind, Nehemiah led his people in one of the most well-documented and significant ceremonies of covenant renewal in all the Old Testament (Neh. 8–10).

All that was needed was for the people as God’s special priestly nation to repent and to reaffirm their allegiance to the covenant’s requirements.

What we see in the covenants is that God entered into a series of formal relationships with various human partners in order to ultimately rescue the world through Jesus.

So for Nehemiah and the nation of Israel, this was so much more than just the rebuilding of the wall. It was the rebuilding of the people of God that would lead to the fulfilment of the promises of God through Jesus Christ.

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