April 13, 2016
Immigration, the Biblical definition of marriage, morality, corruption by wealthy mortgage bankers, a crumbling infrastructure, and building a wall are all hot topics in our current presidential elections. But did you know that all of these same issues were also controversial 500 years BCE during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah? For the next two Wednesdays, we will be learning about Ezra and Nehemiah, a priest and a layman. They are two books in our Old Testament, but they were originally one book about rebuilding Jerusalem, making it great again, or perhaps making it whole. This Wednesday, we will read about Ezra and Nehemiah’s steps to insure the purity of Jerusalem’s citizens — their inward purity; and the following Wednesday, we will read about Nehemiah’s famous wall, or how to protect your citizens from impurity from the outside — their external purity. These are stories about inward prayer and external fasting, and it is really inspiring to spot some of our modern problems while you are reading, such as overpaying civil servants or the mingling of politics and religion.
There is also a link to Bible Notes on Ezra and Nehemiah. The comment that “the fuller restoration of the house of God goes beyond the Temple to include the rebuilding of the community” certainly reminds me of how rebuilding our churches was a first step in our own city’s restoration after Hurricane Katrina.