I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of watching a movie or reading a book where the ending surprised us. The book of Nehemiah ends with a surprise and – spoiler alert – it’s not a happy surprise. The wall has been rebuilt and the people have committed themselves to the ways of the Lord. The restored city – walls and people – holds great hope for the fulfillment of the Lord’s purposes in the world.
And yet, when Nehemiah returns after some time he finds the city in disarray. All of the commitments they had made: to keep the Sabbath, to not intermarry with the surrounding people, and to not neglect the house of the Lord – all had been broken. And Nehemiah, ever zealous and direct, sets about bringing the people back to their commitments but with threats and violence. It is all a bit unexpected and, to be honest, a bit depressing. How quickly do the people return to their old ways?! And this raises a more primary question: How will these people be used by God to fulfill his purposes in the world?
The answer to this question is what we’ll be addressing this Sunday as we near the end of our series “Renovation: Rebuilding for Purpose”. I look forward to sharing what I believe the Lord is inviting us to do from this challenging passage.
See you then!