Bible Reading and Commentary for the week  December 25 – December 30, 2017

Bible Reading and Commentary for the week
 December 25 – December 30, 2017
NEHEMIAH — Nehemiah, as Ezra, returned to Jerusalem after their exile in Babylonia. Through his leadership, the walls of Jerusalem are rebuilt. He foreshadows Jesus’ ministry. While Nehemiah brought physical and spiritual restoration to Israel, Jesus, many years later, far surpassed that. He restored peace between us and God. Through His perfect atonement, Jesus opened to us again life forever in heaven.
Monday, December 25, Nehemiah 1-2
Chap. 1:4-11 — As Nehemiah’s prayer points out to us, our spiritual survival is not because of us. As Israel did, we, too, sin. We sin every day, sometimes very wickedly (v. 7). Our hope for survival is that God has redeemed us through His son, Jesus Christ (v. 10). Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, we prosper spiritually and do have God’s favor and peace (v. 11; Rom. 5:11)
Chap. 2:20 — Nehemiah reminds Sanballet, the governor of Samaria, and his allies that they had no political or religious right to Jerusalem. Religiously they had forsaken the God of Scripture and Artaxerxes had given Nehemiah the authority to rebuild Jerusalem (vv. 4-9).
Tuesday, December 26, Nehemiah 3
Vv. 3, 6, 13-15 — The city gates were strong, roofed towers which contained a number of guardhouses inside. The gates were one of the most vital parts of the fortification. Through the dung, gate garbage was carried to a dump outside the city.
Vv. 5, 12 — When it comes to doing things at church, some work, others drag their feet. Foot-draggers are weak in faith or could be hypocrites. In either case, they need encouragement to be more faithful to the Word and Sacrament. It alone is the power that spiritually motivates us to live an energetic, Christian life.
Wednesday, December 27, Nehemiah 4
Vv. 4-5 — This seems like a harsh prayer and in opposition to the Gospel. We do pray every day that the Gospel be spread to all people in this world and that God’s enemies be converted. But we also pray that God’s enemies are overturned in their plans to destroy His kingdom. Read Ps. 7 and Rev. 6:10. In our prayers we always leave this up to God’s judgment. The petitions in the Lord’s Prayer involved here are “Thy Kingdom Come” and “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Vv. 23-23 — These Jews were really dedicated to doing God’s work. Such dedication inspired others, in spite of the opposition. It works that way today, too. In these verses is also a picture of the militant church. We are to be a fighting church. Our battle gear is the Sword of the Spirit, the Gospel. It alone converts and brings us and others the hope of eternal life. (Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12)
Thursday, December 28, Nehemiah 5
v. 13 — Dishonesty, greed and exploiting the weak were rampant sins in Jerusalem. They still are problems today. Nehemiah’s condemnation of their action was by shaking out the fold of his garment. The folds near the waist were used as pockets. Today it would be like turning your pockets inside out. Nehemiah is saying, “Change your ways or God is going to empty you of everything you have.” Think how easily that can happen today, too, through sickness and tragedy. Let’s heed the words of Nehemiah and deal generously with others as God daily does with us both spiritually and materially. Read Ps. 37:25.
Vv. 15-19 — What a tremendous, humble Christian spirit of generosity and love filled Nehemiah! God expects that of all of us! (Gal. 6:10)
Friday, December 29, Nehemiah 6
Vv. 2, 9, 13-14 — Nehemiah here teaches us how to face dangers within and without the Christian Church. With both, he turned to God in prayer. That no further problems arose from Sanballet and the false prophets would indicate to us that God answered his prayers. God’s Word is true in Ps. 50:15, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you will honor Me.”
Saturday, December 30, Nehemiah 7
v. 3 — “Until the sun is hot” probably was midday. The gates of the city weren’t opened until then to guard against sneak attacks. Cities in ancient times had walls around them. The only way in and out was through the city gates. Heaven is sometimes called the new Jerusalem. Its gates stand closed to the unrepentant, but wide open to all who put their trust in Jesus..

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