Friday, January 7, 2011

Faithful Friday Faves: Nehemiah

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I love Nehemiah...somewhere in our video archives, I have a very, very amateurish video made during Vacation Bible School something like 18 years ago in which my junior high class enacted several scenes from Ezra and Nehemiah in hastily thrown-together costumes. One of my favorites was of 'Nehemiah' throwing 'Tobiah's household goods' out of the 'temple' of the kids heaving anything we could lay our hands on that could withstand a little rough treatment out of one of the church side doors. Nehemiah was quite a contrast to Ezra...where Ezra fasted and prayed and mourned over the people's sins, Nehemiah...well, Nehemiah took a more, um, forceful approach.

But the verse in Nehemiah that always makes me smile is chapter 8, verse 10:
...Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, [KJV: eat the fat and drink the sweet] and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

We tend to associate Christianity and living a properly disciplined lifestyle with a continual denial of pleasure; this verse is a reminder that we are to enjoy life as we live it. Strength doesn't come from strict discipline...strength comes from a life lived in joy and celebration of God's goodness.

There is a time for fasting and denial, that's true, and we are heading into that season at church; Monday beings a 21-day time of prayer and fasting. I'm not sure how I will be participating this year; I'm currently taking some medication that requires food (just an antibiotic that I'll finish in a week and a half; doggone sinus infection!), so I won't be doing a really strict food fast, not in the beginning, anyway. But I will be doing my annual geek fast...staying off the 'net for everything except email and weather reports.

This is a fast that I *need* on so many levels...but, as Nehemiah reminds us, I will be celebrating God's goodness again with joy after the time of fasting.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ezra Postscript

I've re-read Friday's post a couple of times since I wrote it, and, you know, something occurred to me that I decided I had to share.

All along, I've just thought it was really cool that God gave the Jews favor with the Persian kings who let them go back and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, but, well, some little links connected in my head and suddenly I saw something.

In the research Darius ordered to determine whether or not the Jews had been authorized to rebuild the temple, he no doubt discovered some other things that had happened in that same time frame...
such as, one of the high administrators in the kingdom being sentenced to death on trumped-up charges, who miraculously survived a night cooped up with hungry lions ( the 'Darius' in Daniel's story was Darius the Mede, who was a predecessor of Darius I, who issued the orders for the construction of the temple to resume).

It's no wonder, then, that Darius I instructs the folks to aid the Jews however necessary so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons. (Ez. 6:10)

See, God's protection of Daniel wasn't just for Daniel's also caused the Persians to fear and respect the God of Israel enough to expect that prayers offered to Him on their behalf would be beneficial, so they ordered the construction and completion of the temple.

Like ripples in a pond, God's deliverance of Daniel became part of His restoration of His people.

I *love* seeing how all those Bible stories that we learned as just self-contained stories...actually all fit together!