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JOB SERIES: CHAPTER 1 – USED TO PROVE

Though the book of Job is placed with the books of poetry, many biblical scholars believed the story of Job possibly took place during the patriarchal period. No matter when it took place I believe God inspired the writer to record Job’s life and allowed it to be included in the bible so that we the readers could gain insight into how to respond to oppression, ridicule and suffering.

Job a perfect and upright man who feared God and avoided sin lived in the land Uz. Job and his wife had ten children (seven sons and three daughters) for whom Job consistently offered burnt offerings to cover them if per chance they had sinned or cursed God during their times of incessant feasting and family celebrations. Furthermore, Job was known to be an extremely rich man for he had land, servants, and livestock.

As the story goes Satan appeared before God along with other angelical beings and God questioned his activities. After hearing his response God speaks to him about the righteous character of Job which Satan then attributes to God’s provisional hand of favor, protection and blessings in Job’s life. God gives Satan permission to attack all that belongs to Job and thusly in his maneuvers Satan stole, killed and destroyed as Jesus said in John 10:10.

The definition of the word oppression is to crush or burden by abuse of power or authority, to burden spiritually or mentally, to weigh heavily upon, physically to press down on (someone) with harmful effects, to smother, crush, to keep down by force, and to make sad or gloomy. Other words that relate to oppression are to be overwhelmed, bothered, burdened, dejected, depressed, discouraged, dispirited, encumbered, hampered, bullied, exploited and harassed. Consequently, as told in this chapter, Satan employed these tactics of oppression in the life of Job by orchestrating a series of calamities.

All in one day, a firestorm from the west (Mediterranean) burnt up his sheep, marauding nomads from the south (Sabeans) and north (Chaldeans) stole his oxen, asses and camels, and a whirlwind from the east (desert) collapses the home of Job’s oldest son and kills all of his children who were assembled together. Additionally all the servants are killed except one from each incident who escapes and reports the disastrous news to Job. Job life was attacked from every direction and he no doubt was overwhelmed.

However, upon receiving all of the life altering news Job assumes the stance of an individual who is grieving but he also worships and blesses God. Plus, he recognized God gives and takes, he was born with nothing and he will die the same way. The last verse of this chapter ends stating, “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” If only we believers could do the same!

At the end of each blog that I do in this Job series I will conclude with some reflections. So, here are my reflections for chapter one:

  1. You can live a godly and righteous life.
  2. Being godly does not exempt you from suffering.
  3. The godly will suffer persecution at the hands of the enemy.
  4. You may never know why you have been targeted to suffer.
  5. At the end, everyone will be held accountable for their actions on earth.
  6. God is omniscient. He knows if you are trustworthy.
  7. Satan is limited; he is not omniscient, nor omnipresent.
  8. Satan is on the move.
  9. Satan must get permission from God to interfere in your life.
  10. Satan questions man’s motives for serving God. He believes man is mercenary.
  11. God is our protector and provider.
  12. Despite what you are going through, bless and worship God.
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NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 13 – RECTIFYING THE PROBLEMS

After being in Jerusalem for twelve years Nehemiah had returned to Persia as he stated he would to King Artaxerxes in Nehemiah 2:6. Now he has come back to Jerusalem to resume the governor’s position only to find to his mortification and regret that many of the Jews had reverted back to practices that were not pleasing to God. As a result, there were five main areas of concern which Nehemiah addressed and rectified in this chapter. They were:

  1. Eliashib the high priest had permitted Tobiah the Ammonite access to a room in the temple which had been designated as a storage chamber for temple treasures and objects used in the temple service by the priests and Levites. Nehemiah threw out Tobiah and his belongings, had the room cleansed and returned to its designated purpose.
  2. The Jews had been negligent in their tithing and offerings which was necessary for the support of the temple staff; thusly, many of staff had return to farming. Nehemiah rebuked the rulers, reinstated the dispersed Levites, and appointed trustworthy individuals to administrate the temple treasury and care of temple staff.
  3. Some of the Jews were neglecting to observe the Sabbath by working, buying and selling on it. Nehemiah questioned the nobles, closed the gates of Jerusalem from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, and threatened the merchants who attempted to sell their wares outside the city gates during this time.
  4. Once again the Jews were intermarrying with the women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. For the intermarriage offenders Nehemiah cursed, whipped, and shaved of the hairs. He also made them take an oath to cease allowing themselves and their children to marry heathens.
  5. Eliashib the high priest had a grandson who married a Samaritan which was contrary to the instructions that God gave for marriages by priest (Lev. 21:14). Nehemiah excommunicated this man and asked God to judge this man’s rebellious action.

The gleaning points that I have received from this chapter are:

  1. God’s laws/instructions are often generational.
  2. The enemy seeks to move into unoccupied spaces.
  3. An evil thing is an enemy in God’s house.
  4. Don’t permit the enemy to store his goods in God’s house.
  5. Refuse to fraternize with the enemy.
  6. The enemy should be evicted from God’s house.
  7. Our sins should grieve us.
  8. Exorcise the impure.
  9. Fill God’s house with the proper things; the things that belong to Him.
  10. Ministry needs support in order to survive. Without it ministers will seek other means to live/survive.
  11. When leadership is lacking people will do what they want.
  12. Leaders are to be held accountable for their actions.
  13. Use the faithful.
  14. Strong leadership is needed to keep people on track
  15. There are consequences for sinning.
  16. The enemy seeks to allure you to do the wrong thing.
  17. Take charge of the atmosphere within and without.
  18. Your speech identifies you.
  19. When evil alliances take place an ungodly life-style will occur.
  20. Sin causes us to be absorbed, dominated and controlled by evil influences.
  21. Always stand for what is right.
  22. Sometimes it is necessary to confront leaders.
  23. You can ask God to remember what you have done in His house.

NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 12 – DEDICATING THE WALL

Nehemiah chapter 12 opens by listing the priest and Levites who accompanied Zerubbabel from Babylon to Jerusalem and then it shares the preparation and dedication ceremony of the Jerusalem wall.

Prior to the dedication a ritual purification was done by the priests, Levites, people, and to the gates, and the wall. Following this the celebrants from the entire province which included the princes of Judah, leading authorities, Levites, singers and a vast concourse of people were organized into two processions. Ezra led one group and Nehemiah led the other. Ezra and his group marched on the right side of the wall, while Nehemiah and his group went in the opposite direction on the left side of the wall with both groups engaged in united praises and meeting up and assembling in the vicinity of the temple. Upon their arrival a joyous celebratory dedication service of great sacrifices and thanksgiving commenced with singing and the playing of cymbals, psalteries and harps. It was also noted that the rejoicing of this service was so great it was heard even afar off.

The chapter ends with attention being once again given to the maintenance of the temple personnel which consisted of priest, Levites, gatekeepers, porters and singers with offerings, first fruits and tithes by appointed overseers.

The gleaning points that I received from this chapter are:

  1. When goals have been achieved and things are successfully completed it is time for a joyous celebration.
  2. Remember to give thanks.
  3. Offer praise thankfully and joyfully.
  4. Don’t be a spectator, be a participant.
  5. Everyone should worship not just worship leaders.
  6. See that none is excluded in worship; let the whole family be included.
  7. Everyone has a right to enjoy the fruits of their committed labor.
  8. Work done by all should be celebrated by all.
  9. To receive the complete benefits of worship and to effectively worship it is necessary for self-purification.
  10. Levites had singing assignments, they were appointed to sing.
  11. When building, build strong.
  12. Build your walls strong enough to handle the weight of the people.
  13. When you praise God openly for what He has done your enemies will both see and hear.
  14. Believers should willingly give to the support of the ministry.
  15. Everyone is not qualified to handle the treasury, appoint responsible persons to do the job.
  16. Your actions live on beyond your lifetime; think generationally.

NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 11 – THE DWELLERS OF JERUSALEM

The surrounding walls which would provide protection for Jerusalem were rebuilt; however, as previously stated in chapter seven Jerusalem was large, spacious and barely occupied. So, to assist in the reestablishment of Jerusalem and to join the political and religious leaders that were dwelling there it was decided by the casting of lots which families (with the percentage being one in every ten) would come and live within the city. Also, others made a sacrifice and volunteered to join this group

The list of families that is recorded in this chapter is basically the same as found in 1 Chronicles 9:2-17. Plus, in this chapter the inhabitants of the countryside are listed by their villages.

The gleaning points that I received from this chapter are:

  1. People are needed to preserve and guard a city.
  2. There are people that will sacrifice themselves for the interest and well-being of others.
  3. Everyone has an assigned location and a purpose.

NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 10 – THE COMMITMENT OF THE SEALED

At the close of chapter nine the Israelites renewed their commitment to obey God’s covenant and now chapter ten reveals the terms of the covenant and those that sealed it.

The leaders that sealed the covenant were: Nehemiah, Zidkyah his secretary, twenty-one priest, seventeen heads of Levitical households, forty-four heads of leading families and the rest of the people who were not named.

The terms of the covenant stated they agreed to keep the laws given to Moses by God, they would abstain from intermarriage with Gentiles, they would keep the Sabbath day and Sabbatical year obeying the restrictions set forth for that day and year, they would give offerings (wood, firstfruits, firstborn) to the temple for its maintenance, they would give tithes and offerings to the priest and Levites, and lastly they would not forsake the house of their God.

The gleaning points that I received from this chapter are:

  1. Leaders lead; they are to be the first partakers.
  2. Knowledge and understanding requires and promotes action.
  3. People should act according to their knowledge and understanding.
  4. Loyal followers will follow leadership.
  5. Believers are in this world but not of this world; there must be a separation.
  6. Believers are to support the work of the ministry.
  7. After all is said and done, don’t forsake the house of our God.

NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 9 – NATIONAL DAY OF REMEMBERING, REPENTING, AND RENEWING

In this chapter the people have willingly separated themselves from individuals who were not of their lineage and now it is the twenty-fourth day of the seventh month, the second day after the Feast of the Tabernacle and the people are engaged in a solemn fast. For three hours they listened to the reading of the law and for the next three hours they worshipped God, prayed and confessed the past sins of their forefathers and their present sins. During this time eight Levites interceded, while another eight exhorted the people to bless the Lord.

This chapter contains one of the longest prayers in the bible which the Levites prayed to God. It rehearsed in the hearing of Israel significant events in their history which highlighted God’s awesome power and continual unfailing mercy toward them despite their repeated rebellion and obstinacy. It spoke of the call of Abraham and God’s promise to him, Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt and their journey through the wilderness with divine provisions, the giving of the commandments, laws and statues which Israel disobeyed, conquering and possession of Canaan, and the period of the judges and prophets. Verse 34 – 35 summarizes this chapter best, “Neither have our kings, our princes, our priest, nor our father, kept the law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them. For they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them, neither turned they from their wicked works.” Accordingly, the prayer ends with a request that God would look on their afflictions and once again deliver them.

Furthermore, the chapter concludes with the people humbly making a renewal commitment to obey the Law of Moses.

The gleaning points that I received from this chapter are:

  1. Humbling oneself is a valuable component of fasting.
  2. Let your voice be heard praising God.
  3. Levites encourage people to praise God.
  4. Without God nothing would exist; He is our sustainer.
  5. God is a giving God.
  6. God sees our affliction and He hears our cries.
  7. God will make Himself known to the heathen.
  8. Believers can go through areas safely while their enemies fall into disaster.
  9. God’s direction is available all day long.
  10. God will provide direction for your success.
  11. God stands ready to forgive
  12. God supplies our every need.
  13. God will give you the riches that previously belonged to your enemy.
  14. Delight in God and not in the things that can be obtained in this world.
  15. God warns us prior to punishing us.
  16. God will chasten you as needed.
  17. People who do not learn from failures of the past are subject to repeat them; therefore, learn from history.
  18. A tragic pattern in the lives of men is forgetting God when they are no longer in trouble.
  19. When you refuse to heed God’s Word you suffer.
  20. God is long-suffering, merciful and gracious.
  21. All have sinned; acknowledge yours.
  22. The result of sin is bondage.
  23. Kings control your life.
  24. The key to covenant renewal is understanding the God’s nature.

NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 8 – HEARING AND OBEYING

In this chapter Ezra who had come to Jerusalem approximately thirteen years prior to Nehemiah’s arrival and who was sent there by King Artaxerxes to teach the people the law, statutes, and judgments was once again being utilized as a scribe (Ezra 7:10-14, 25)

On the first day of the seventh month which was designated by God to be the Feast of the Trumpets, a Sabbath and day of holy convocation, the people gathered themselves together in the square before the water gate and requested Ezra to read the book of the Law of Moses. While the people stood in reverence to the Word, Ezra complied with their request and stood on a wooded platform and read the Word from morning to midday. The reception of the Word by the attentive people was described in verse 6, “And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”

Additionally, on the platform accompanying Ezra were thirteen priests, plus the Levites that were present, helped to give the people complete comprehension of what was spoken by explaining the meaning of the things that Ezra read. When the people realized they had not adhered to the Word they were convicted and they wept; however Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites said, “This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep” (8:9). Nehemiah told the people to celebrate the feast by drinking, eating and sharing their substance with the poor, which they did. He also reminded them “For the joy of the Lord is your strength” (8:10)

The officials were not satisfied with what they had heard for Nehemiah 8:13 states, ‘On the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers, of all the people, the priests, and the Levites unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law.” This desire to know what God was saying produces further revelations as stated in verse 14, “And they found written in the law which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month.” Since it was the seventh month, specific instructions for this celebration were published throughout the land and the people enthusiastically followed them as they observed this feast with great rejoicing.

The chapter ends with verse 18 that states, “Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner.”

The gleaning points that I have received from this chapter are:

  1. Comprehension of the word is paramount in the life of God’s people.
  2. Necessary in every assembly are those who are able to rightly divide and teach the Word.
  3. Giving attention to the Word is always beneficial.
  4. When applied effectively, the Word brings conviction and leads to repentance.
  5. The Word cuts and heals.
  6. More public reading of the Word is needed in or churches.
  7. When people are truly sincere an immediate application of the Word will follow.
  8. The Laws of God must be continuously read, rehearsed and taught.
  9. Revelations come when you search the Word.
  10. Doing the right thing cause joy.

 

NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 7 – SAFETY, REPOPULATION AND GENEALOGY REHEARSED

This blog will be short due to the content of chapter 7 which mainly rehearses the genealogy of the inhabitants of Jerusalem as revealed in Ezra 2.

With the work of the walls completed and his departure to Shushan imminent the safety and repopulation of the city concerned Nehemiah. Therefore, before he leaves Nehemiah places Hanani and Hananiah men of integrity who fears God in charge of the city, he establishes rules for opening and closing the city gates, and he appoints sentinels for the evening watches who will guard the city and their properties. Additionally, in a desire to fill the city with inhabitants Nehemiah decides to take a census of the Jews but before he began he found the register recorded by Ezra with the data he desired. Thusly, verses 5-72 repeats the genealogical record of the returning Jews that was first recorded under the tenure of Zerubbabel, and this chapter happily ends with the people dwelling in their assigned cities.

The gleaning points that I have received from this chapter are:

  1. For continued success place men with integrity in position.
  2. The requirements for leadership are faithfulness and fear of God.
  3. Walls without watchmen are a poor defense.
  4. Be prepared for a surprise attack from the enemy.
  5. Keep a secure record of family statistics; someone may need it in the future.
  6. Leaders should be seen giving.
  7. Everyone has a place of assignment.
  8. When you are not in your assigned placed, proper grow is hindered.

 

NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 6 – PERSISTENT OPPOSITION

Chapter 5 revealed some of the issues that Nehemiah encountered within the community of Jews while rebuilding the walls and now chapter 6 continues to share the problems and attacks from without.

When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem and unnamed enemies heard that the walls were built Sanballat and Tobiah sent a letter to Nehemiah requesting him to meet them in Ono which was 25 miles northwest of Jerusalem or equivalent to a day’s journey. Nehemiah sensing their duplicity replied to them, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” and he had to send this reply four times because Sanballat and Tobiah continued to send him the same request.

When the opposition saw their plan was not working, Sanballat sent a letter to Nehemiah containing three rumors concerning him. First, he was leading a rebellion against the Persian government. Secondly, he was trying to become king over Jerusalem and thirdly, he hired prophets to spread the word of his elevation to kingship. All of these rumored charges were denied by Nehemiah, and he took this matter to God in prayer.

Then Shemaiah a son of a priest was hired to speak lies to Nehemiah and cause him to lose his credibility by luring him into the temple which was against the Law. Once again Nehemiah discerned the plan of the opposition, declined to act in fear and leave his wall rebuilding assignment. Additionally, Nehemiah prayed and asked God to deal with the opposition.

Despite the opposition’s insidious plans and continued plotting in fifty-two days the rebuilding of the wall was completed which caused them to be dishearten and having to admit the God of Nehemiah helped His people to complete this momentous task.

The chapter ends revealing the antagonism did not cease, for letters continued to go back and forth between Tobiah and his Jewish loyalist relaying information that would endanger and demoralize Nehemiah and the returned Jewish remnant.

The gleaning points that I received from this chapter are:

  1. Your opposition is aware of your achievements.
  2. When one plan fails Satan has another one to replace it.
  3. Your enemy wants to eliminate you or discredit you.
  4. Watch for hidden agendas.
  5. Resist distractions, know your priorities.
  6. Don’t allow the enemy to stop you from doing your God given assignment.
  7. Fear is a major tool of the enemy.
  8. Discernment and determination is necessary in the life of a leader.
  9. Your opposition loves to spread rumors concerning you. He will slander your reputation.
  10. When you feel weak pray, it is your sustaining power.
  11. The response to slander is prayer.
  12. No matter what men may say, follow God’s laws.
  13. A false prophet will contradict God’s word.
  14. Don’t merchandise your anointing.
  15. With the help of God things can be accomplished quickly.
  16. In the life of a believer opposition is on-going.

NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 5 – TROUBLE WITHIN

Throughout the Old and New Testament there are instructions on the treatment of individuals who are poor. Also, lest we think that the existence of poor individuals in this world is temporary Jesus informs us differently in the words He spoke to his disciples in Mark 14:7a, “For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good.” In chapter 5 this issue of poverty and the treatment of the poor in the Israel community arose. Despite the laws concerning the poor (Exodus 22, 23; Leviticus 19, 23, 25; Deuteronomy 14, 15, 24) given to Israel by God via Moses there were greedy, disobedient, wealthy individuals who were oppressing their fellow countrymen. Thusly, Nehemiah had to address and rectify this problem.

Three groups had come to Nehemiah and informed him of their suffering due to hunger, famine, working on the wall instead of harvesting their crop and the Persian taxes. Also, children were being enslaved and exorbitant interest was being paid to the rich.

This report greatly disturbed Nehemiah who first reflected on the matter before he took any action. Then Nehemiah chided the rich Jews who were exploiting the poor and using himself as an example shared his practice of buying back and releasing the Jews that had been sold into slavery.

After being addressed by Nehemiah the guilty parties agreed to rectify their injustices and restore all that had been taken without penalty. Additionally, Nehemiah made them take an oath before the priest to seal their pledge and he gave them a symbolic illustration of what would happen to them if they disobeyed their oath.

The chapter ends with a short synopsis of Nehemiah’s tenure as governor, how he served the people, cared for those in his household, and his desire for God to bless him for his actions.

The gleaning points that I have received from this chapter are:

  1. When people are in oppressive situations they will cry.
  2. People want to be fed.
  3. Disobedience results in hardship.
  4. Think before speaking.
  5. Speak directly to wrongdoers.
  6. When you are wrong don’t attempt to justify your wrongdoings.
  7. Don’t give the world reasons to criticize or judge you.
  8. Restoration is needed to rectify injustices.
  9. Be true to your words.
  10. Your actions reveal your servanthood qualities.