First order of business, I have a correction to make: I had spoken incorrectly in my other post. The Jews had returned to their land, and they had settled, but not in Jerusalem. They left Jerusalem empty and ruined, until Nehemiah arrived on the scene and led the rebuilding of the wall. The wall was important. The wall brought boundaries. The wall kept them set apart, the wall upheld their Jewish identity. [Interestingly enough, even after they’d finished rebuilding the city’s wall, he had to resort to a lottery to repopulate the city because everyone had already settled in towns outside of it and they knew that living in a city was dangerous because the city could an easy target.]
Now on to the rest of the post!
I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of remembering as I’ve been going through these Old Testament stories. A lot of them I’ve never really studied in depth before, and I never really had a clear idea of the timeline between Exodus and Malachi. So as I’m finishing up the last of the history-text in Nehemiah, I’ve been thinking, “Okay, great. I know what’s going on now. I got it, check. Moving on…”
But that’s not the point of this. If the point of these books were just so I can read them once, understand them, and move on, then they wouldn’t be here in my Bible. God put them here because He intended for them to be read over and over again. It’s hard for me to get that, and it’s hard to understand why we would need to reread something like Lamentations, poetry of grief about a moment that happened centuries and centuries before Christ. It’s beautiful poetry, and it’s a great literary and historical study, but it’s included in the Bible for more than those reasons alone. I’m not sure what the real reason is yet, but I know that God intended for us to remember these ancient moments immortalized in laments.
In Nehemiah 9 and 10, the people rededicate themselves and their nation to God in a lengthy prayer. The prayer begins with Abram and ends with the return to Jerusalem, recording the people’s continuous rebellion and God’s continuous goodness. This happens a lot in the story of the Israelites: the people have to constantly remind themselves (and God has to remind them too) that their God is the One who brought them out of Egypt and led them into the promised land of their inheritance, the God who sustained them in the desert and gave them all good things. They read and reread the Law of Moses, they retell the stories through the ages.
I am so far removed from those stories. They happened thousands of years ago in a place thousands of miles away, for a people I have no ancestral connection to. But I am connected, through the blood-relation of the Savior. I have been grafted in and become a part of this chosen people. These stories are important to remember. These sins are important to remember, just as it is important to tell and retell how God had mercy upon a fallen and stiff-necked people. Thankfully, though, God also likes to remind His people that He brought them out of slavery, and He questions why they would continue to return to it. These stories are important.
And the stories of my Savior are important to remember too. I’ve noticed that I tend to shy away from rereading the Gospels, and I don’t know why. So my next journey will begin in Luke, to explore and remember how God responded to His people after four-hundred-odd years of Scriptural silence. Here is where the promises of Isaiah, Zechariah, Malachi, and the other prophets are being fulfilled. On the side, I’ll also try to read through 1 and 2 Chronicles, the same history and the same stories I’ve finished reading retold for the returning remnant of exiles.
Because it is important to remember, and these stories are in here to be read more than once. I want to meditate and absorb the Word of God, and I can’t do that without returning to the same stories again and again. Thanks for joining me in the journey. <3