And vice versa.
No sooner does Nehemiah go back to Babylon to serve Artaxerxes, then the people in Jerusalem start to slide away from God (see Nehemiah 13: 6-31).
So their august leader returns and sets things straight.
It seems to me that all through Judges, Kings, and Chronicles that as the leader goes, so go the people. Sure, there are some who remain faithful, but it amazes me what an impact the leader has on the faithfulness of the people as a whole.
Nehemiah asks God three times to “remember him” as he recounts his efforts to restore faithful practice in Jerusalem and at the Temple:
- Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services. vs. 14 NIV
- Remember me for this also, my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love. vs. 22b
- Remember me with favor, my God. vs. 31b
At first it seemed to me that Nehemiah was asking God to remember him based on his good works. Oops.
But on reflection it strikes me that Nehemiah relies on God’s mercy and great love – not his efforts – to ensure that God remembers him. [And there are a bunch of other “remember” prayers in the book of Nehemiah.]
Maybe that position – one that does not demand, but waits on God’s favor – is why Nehemiah successfully built the wall… and brought reform.
Today’s Readings: Nehemiah 12:1-13:31, Psalm 89:30-37, Proverbs 22:3-4, Romans 1:1-32. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).