Both Ezra and Nehemiah suffered from the sin of the Jewish people. Ezra suffered because the Jewish men rejected a holy marriage and married pagan women. The post exile Jewish families were worshiping idols and even their children were speaking the language of the pagan community. Pagan wives would eventually cause the elimination of the Jews like the 10 lost tribes of Jewish history. Nehemiah suffered because externally the walls of Jerusalem were still destroyed. The physical enemies laid claim to the land that the Jews lost because of the exile. The enemies of the Jews were contemptuous and manipulative, always striving to keep the returning Jews under their control and to maintain a multi-religion community that also looked like the 10 lost tribes. As the drama to the two books builds, Ezra (within) and Nehemiah (without) suffered a perfect storm of sin.

What to do? Both Ezra and Nehemiah learned obedience through suffering by recognizing their sin, repenting and restoring. Let us make Ezra and Nehemiah’s type of problems personal. We can learn from their example.

Recognize our sin. Know our sin. Claim it as our own. Name it and grieve over it. Both Ezra and Nehemiah spent an extended time with God recognizing the people’s sin. Let us do the same.

Repent. Agree with God. Remove the sin by confessing and experiencing through Jesus your forgiveness. Then personally come up with a Biblical plan to restore you and your family to follow the Lord. Repenting is difficult and painful. It sometimes requires submission to godly leaders. Externally step out and rebuild the wall right in front of you. In obedience to your Father in heaven, reject your enemies that desire to tempt you. Seek Godly friends. Move forward and God gives you strength - but you have to move.

Restore. Restore by practicing and experiencing the righteousness of God working in you. Personally we continue to “keep short accounts” to recognize our sin nature and to take each thought captive. Externally, we avoid toxic people and toxic environments. We rejoice in our daily relationship with God - one brick at a time. So let’s pray constantly like Nehemiah and see God work to enable us to live obediently for Him. Every day is a day to restore. Rebuild the wall!

by Steve Sagué, Elder

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