Perspective 1- Barb Miles

The Israelites are moving back to Jerusalem, the temple is rebuilt and the walls are being reconstructed.

Can’t you see generations of Israelite families sharing their lower stories of their wandering, good times and bad times, hunger or having plenty of food to eat?  Several weeks ago public television had a series of programs on the Dust Bowl.  The Dust Bowl lasted 8 – 10 years through which time they also experienced periods of the unknown, when would they have clean air to breathe, how to keep their food clean, not knowing when the wind would stop blowing.  Through this period of the unknown they went also through periods of faith and periods of disbelief, as the Israelites.

When Nehemiah organized the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem, the lives of  God’s people were also rebuilt.  When the Dust Bowl finally lifted, people had to rebuild their lives.  The span of time was different in each case, but in both Lower Stories people wondered when God’s promise of bringing them back to their land or reestablishing the land for growing crops would happen.  Would God would see them through this terrible dust storm?

God is faithful!

Perspective 2- Pastor Phil

As I was reading this chapter one spot made me stop and think. The temple was back up and it was the first day they gathered for worship. The people wanted to hear the Law of Moses or the Torah. This is what happened:

“So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.”

Did you catch all that? Daybreak till noon…and all the people listened attentively. No sporting event to worry about, no choir, dance recital to make sure they were out of church on time. In that moment they were ready and hungry to hear the Word proclaimed.

Have we become desensitized to the hearing of God’s Word? Are we really at the place in our worship lives that anything over an hour is too much? What would it look like if we were to sit all morning till noon and attentively listen to the Word?

May God rejuvenate a hunger for His Word in people today that drives people to the Word instead of the temporary trappings of the world.

Perspective 3- Dan Petrak

Perspective 4-Heather Robarge

“The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”  This sentence made me chuckle a bit because I am absolutely one of the Jews in this passage.  Again, I identified with them, “Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, ‘Wherever you turn, they will attack us’.”  I get so worked up when I am overwhelmed, scared, or unsure of the future that I forget who is ultimately in charge!  Thank goodness for the calm steady voice, like that of Nehemiah, who reminds me who I belong to and who is the boss.  It’s as if Nehemiah, jumps in and says, “Hey everybody, chill out!  We have nothing to worry about; remember who’s in charge?”

I get frustrated that I need to be reminded of something that I already know, but I am so glad that I have awesome people in my life (My Nehemiah and Ezra’s) that are willing to give me a God smack every once in a while.  When that smack comes and I snap out of it, the relief is overwhelming.