7 Years Old
The race is on
Your 7 days?
“Next to him, Hananiah son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, reparied another section. Next to them, Meshullam son of Berekiah made repairs opposite his living quarters.”
Last time we looked in on two rebuilders & their names’ meanings, remembering to listen as we all belong to each other. And putting our ultimate hope in the One Who hears all. Today we see 3 new names and their corresponding rebuild sections.
First is Hananiah (Chananyah) whose name means “Yah has favored.” It comes from the root word chanan – to show favor, grant graciously, to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior. I’ve been thinking so much about discipline as school is back in session. How desperately kiddos in school need to know we care first, before they’re going to have ears to hear our rules. Especially if they have had any sort of trauma.
Makes me think of the way God worked miracle after miracle on behalf of the Israelites before He gave them His commandments. They needed to know deep down He was for them, not against Him. And because He is always good, His commands are always, only for our best. His people could look back at their track record with Him and trust His heart toward them going forward.
What a God. The ultimate in power and Highest Authority, yet how graciously He deals with His children. How He bends in kindness to us, in love. Any command He gives we can trust. Every wound we can walk through with Him. He really has got this, friends.
This is who I esteem:
He Who is humble and contrite in spirit
And trembles at My Word. (Isaiah 66:2)
I love that I read this morning in Esther about the Queen and Mordecai’s decree when in power in the vast empire of Persia. They sent letters to the provinces calling for yearly remembrance of God’s deliverance for His people – in words of peace and truth.
Peace and truth.
How we can’t neglect one or the other. He has walked me through too much for me to not trust Him and His Word. But no one will want to hear it from me if I don’t have a track record of love and service – or if I feel somehow superior to others (Jesus help me) and have not dealt with that pride by kneeling down in kindness to wash feet. To sit with wounds of others and grieve. To lay down fear. To point to the One Who covers all shame.
Such love came at a cost to Him, you know. True love is always sacrificial. In fact the last rebuilder listed in our verses today is Meshullam whose name comes from shalam – to make amends, to finish, to be safe in mind, body, estate.
Yes. He finished it all. He bore what deserved wrath so we can be ultimately safe. We all know that may not be true right now, here. But it is true in the way of the Kingdom. The Kingdom that has begun now as yeast works through dough, as finders sell all to buy the Pearl of Greatest Price. For the One Who always defends orphans and widows; Whose commands include caring for the foreigner and alien. Who regularly works through the underdog and warns us of pride.
This is our God. Let’s bow down.
Good morning! Have you been praying for Houston?
For those most vulnerable?
For the elderly or those with disabilities?
For those without insurance and those with infants?
And can we pray this unites us? As fellow human beings? For God to be big, the Church to serve, and humanity shine?
All our love right now, Houston. Let’s keep eyes open for practical ways to serve, give, and pray.
“Next to them, Zadok son of Immer made repairs opposite his house. Next to him, Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, the guard at the East Gate, made repairs.”
Last time we met the priests who built near their own homes – and focused on ways in which the internal state of our soul affects our outward reach. Today we see two new builders, Zadok and Shemaiah, working on their sections.
First, Zadok (Tsadoq) whose name comes from tsedeq, meaning rightness, righteousness, to be just. What a word for us in our day. It seems that to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God is a necessity right now as Believers. And again we see our rebuilder working right near his house.
But today let’s expand that. Because the truth is those of us who have decided to let go of living for ourselves and committed to follow Jesus are all family. Members of the household of God. We belong to each other simply because we are human beings made in the image of our Creator. But how much more those of us given the right to be called His children?
What if we asked God to enlarge our hearts so that anything affecting our brothers and sisters would translate to something very near our house? In our own strength and capacity, it would overwhelm. But in His strength and by His Spirit? We could look like the global Body of Christ caring for one another that we were designed to be before a watching world.
Our second rebuilder listed is Shemaiah (Shemayah) which means “Yah hears.” It is from the Hebrew word shama – to listen intently, diligently discern, completely comprehend. Oh yes, this must happen for the above to be our reality. If we want to care about others we must listen. If we truly want to understand how we’re all connected, we have to ask for discernment. If we are going to weep with those who weep, we need proximity and His Spirit to completely comprehend what we are each going through.
But the most beautiful part? It is Yah Who hears. Ultimately, only He can handle every bit of our concerns. Only praying to the One in control can we release our need to fix or manage in our own strength. With this room for the Spirit to move among His people, we will actually listen more attentively. We can lay down any guilt and simply be present to each other. We can lay our guards down and ask Him to show up.
Did you catch what our rebuilder Shemaiah’s job is? He’s the guard at the East Gate. Feel free to scroll back up to the map to see this gate’s location. I have to remind myself that on this map, North is to the left. And our East Gate would be the one facing the rising sun each day. In fact, the Hebrew for east is mizrach – the place of the sunrise. It comes from the root word zarach – to rise, come forth, shine. And Shemaiah’s job? To guard this place. Guard is shamar – to keep, to watch, to carefully attend.
That we as God’s people would carefully attend His glory in this way. What rises and shines forth on this broken, weary planet. And may we guard our calling to reflect His light in this world.
It is a hope desperately needed.
If you’re like me and not a person of color, continually putting in front of your face what you’re learning will be essential. And as we learn, I think it’s important to remember we are only scratching the surface of white privilege’s systemic depth. We keep on learning.
How to move forward?
Sometimes the basics can keep us from getting overwhelmed and give us hope. This is all so do-able. We can be patient with each other and learn. We can certainly pray in Jesus’ powerful name. We can love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We can love our neighbor as ourselves.
“Above the Horse Gate, the priests repaired the wall. Each one repaired the section immediately across from his own house.” Nehemiah 3:28 NLT
Last time we looked at Pediah, the temple servants, and the Tekoites taking their place in the rebuilding effort, remembering how God uses the harsh bondage of this world to show Himself a Redeemer. And we His rescued ones ready to promote His goodness.
Today we see a group of priests each repairing a section of the wall directly across from their own house. Our family is blessed to be in the middle of helping our good friends, two different families, move. One family recently took possession of their new house which is in need of some TLC. Sometimes Tender Loving Care includes demolition, amen?
Sometimes things just need to be broken down so they can be built back up. Other times walls need to come down simply because they’re not needed. Freedom and openness are the goals.
Then some walls we may want to take down but they’re needed. They’re load-bearing, helping to support the weight of the building, keeping it from toppling. Fortunately, the Word only ever points to One able to bear the entire load of this universe. We don’t have to try or pretend to be Him.
But there is a place for us to help each other bear our burdens. There is no way we can be truly loving our neighbor as ourselves if we aren’t willing to help support the load that overwhelms at different points in life. And often that looks like throwing in on rebuilding efforts of a larger scale. We will stand before God and be asked how we obeyed during our time here. May we be faithful seek His face and join with wisdom where He is at work.
Now let’s talk about how each priest – responsible for serving in Temple, interceding for the people, and helping to establish a communal identity among the people – worked directly opposite his own home. This is obviously for practical purposes in the rebuilding effort. There is no way the Temple workers could continue to hold sacrifices and worship each day and work on a section of the wall at the opposite end of the city.
But how about for us? I’d like to suggest if we aren’t focusing on our own home, our own hearts, our rebuilding “out there” will suffer. If you, too, are heartbroken over the gaping wound of racism in our country right now, what kind of work are you doing in your own life? Is there a sense of confusion over how the sin applies to you if you weren’t alive during the beginning? Or can you see your complicity in the present?
What if your eyes have been opened to how you have been part of the problem, but you have bitterness in your heart toward someone for other reasons? Or pride and superiority toward people? Or a sense of entitlement?
Friends, this cannot be. He Himself broke down that wall of hostility on an instrument of torture so we no longer have to torture each other. He took it all. He really did. We can take each other off the hook. We can repent, reconcile. And keep on reconciling.
Believers, we are His Temple now. No walls of hostility needed.
Friend Birthday Party
Date Night at home
Your 7 Days?
I’m positioning myself as a Note-Taker right now. After all, as discussed in this podcast, I want to be an ally to my brothers and sisters of color. And an ally doesn’t show up and take over. They show up and follow the lead of those who already know what they’re doing.
So, in case you want to take a peek at my notes, here are some things I’m pondering after Charlottesville.
Grace is scandalous. Let’s figure out where we are on this walkway, friends. And then let’s not take over. Let’s be like the group of white allies that stands in the front of a people of color’s non-violent protest and says, “You have to get through us to get to them.”
After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh and the temple servants living on Ophel repaired to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower. After him the Tekoites repaired another section opposite the great projecting tower as far as the wall of Ophel.
Nehemiah 3:25b-27 (ESV)
Last time we saw some builders working on the angle, corner of the wall – remembering He alone is our Cornerstone. Today we see one new builder along with two groups of volunteers. They are working opposite the Water Gate on two separate sections.
What is something you would be beyond grateful to be delivered from by any means? If things are going pretty well, what is something from which you desire another to be ransomed? More pointedly: what would you like to see redeemed in our current world scene?
Friend, whatever you just thought of is likely how He plans to use you. If you are in the fight of your life, what do you think your desire will be as He walks you through it? Usually that area becomes something we can’t stop running our mouths about. When we’re delivered, we want to share about our Deliverer.
If your loved one is broken, you are now part of the club that understands the idea of “if only it could be me instead of them.” It truly can be harder to watch and feel helpless, huh? But if He shows you something, you can believe He wants to include you in how He’s working there. So pray. Pray like the persistent widow. Don’t stop praying. He really does care.
And in our current world scene? There are likely several things that could pop in your mind just from the last week. Poverty, systemic racism, human trafficking, threats of war, brokenness and addiction and loneliness.
Here’s where we should together remember a word from our definition above: release. We will be released from all this one day. And as He draws all people to Himself, He often does it by releasing them from their bondage in this harsh world. Hallelujah.
This man whose name points to a Redeemer had a group of people helping him out: the temple servants living on Ophel. If you glance back at our map you’ll see Ophel labeled near the temple. It was a fortified mound or hill inside the city. The servants living there had easy access to their place of service. And so do we. As we consider the people He has put in our lives and the areas of bondage in our world, we can know opportunities for service are right at our front door.
The second group of volunteers listed are the Tekoites. Tekoa is a city of Judah, best known for being the prophet Amos’ hometown.
These men traveled back to Jerusalem to throw in on the rebuilding effort. Their section was near the great projecting tower. This tower has been listed twice in the previous few verses, but this is the first time the word great was used to describe it.
Great here is gadol – high, prominent from gadal – grow up, advance, magnify, promote. And it is in reference to migdal – tower, podium. Oh could we? Could we grow up into Him Who is the Head in order to use any podium He hands us for His promotion?
It seems to be the way we throw in during our tenure here as He continues to make all things new.