1/16 Reading (Nehemiah 4-6; Philippians 1)

Nehemiah 4: Opposition to the construction of the wall grew considerably as the people became more organized. Enough to the point that Nehemiah set up guards to protect the workers and prayed to God for his help. The opposition pulled back because they realized it would no longer be easy to destroy them.

I must admit that it is really interesting reading about Nehemiah’s efforts to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem while Trump continues to talk about the wall he wants to build between us and Mexico. I get that this is different. During the time of Nehemiah all areas were building some type of structure for safety purposes. Interesting how all this works out.

Nehemiah 5: This chapter is a shift from the first four. Up to this point Nehemiah has focused on protecting Jerusalem from outside dangers. Now, we read about his efforts to address internal issues. He is asked by the people to address social and financial grievances. Once he hears of all the problems the people are having to deal with because of the richer class, he tells all of those who are hurting people to stop, return their property and family members, and don’t do this anymore. They all agree. In essence, he changes the culture as a way to address social inequality. If only it were that easy now. One last thing, as Governor Nehemiah has a chance to use money set aside for him and his family. He chooses not to because of the issues the people were/are facing.

Nehemiah 6: Now his enemies are angry at all of his successes, so they try many different ways to stop him. Initially they want to meet with him and he knows they intend to harm him. They then threaten to use propaganda against him. They were going to spread the false information that he was doing all of this as a way to start a rebellion and establish himself as the new King. They then plot to assassinate him. All of this fails and the people complete construction of the wall. This makes all those outside of Jerusalem afraid.

Introduction to Philippians: The introduction makes me excited about reading this book. According to the CEB study bible, Philippians is

known for its emphasis on joy. This joy or gladness isn’t just happiness of the moment. It’s a confident disposition rooted in hope. It shows trust in God’s faithfulness to preserve believers for salvation. Believers have this gladness because they know that having problems, or even enduring harassment, doesn’t mean God has deserted them. (p. 373 NT)

That’s refreshing to read. Later the intro mentions that hardships and difficulties people may experience aren’t because God is angry. The text states that “believers should expect this kind of treatment from those who reject the gospel” (p. 374 NT). Finally, according to the notes, the main ethical message that Paul gives to the Philippians is “putting the good of others before their own” needs (p. 374 NT). Again, that’s refreshing. I just don’t feel like we see that very much by our leadership.

Philippians 1: This letter starts in a similar fashion as his other letters: a greeting followed by a prayer for the audience. Paul then talks about his imprisonment and how this actually advances the gospel. His argument to support this is that people know he is in prison because he preached about Jesus and this has led to others have more confidence about speaking about Jesus. Good attitude to have. He talks about no matter the outcome, everything will be ok. If he lives, he can continue to do Jesus’ work. If he dies, he will be with Jesus. It’s a win-win situation to him. Yet, he makes it clear that he plans to stay alive for them. To help them. He ends this chapter encouraging the Philippians to “live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel” (p. 376 NT).

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