Nehemiah: a commentary
[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_wp_text text=”Nehemiah is famous for rebuilding his city, the City of Peace, Jerusalem.
Jerusalem has become a broken down, ramshackle version of its former self. Annihilated by the Persians under King Nebuchadnezzar, then repopulated by his successor Darius, Jerusalem is home more to rubble and rabble than citizens and businessmen.
Nehemiah cannot stand idly by while the “City of his Fathers” lies desolate. And so he goes to (re)build the city beginning with the wall that surrounds it, Jerusalem’s main defense against military assault.
He (re)builds the city with the blessing of King Artaxerxes, successor to Darius and friend of Nehemiah; He (re)builds the city with the strength of the common people; He (re)builds the city in spite of intimidation, oppression, and treachery.
And as I read his memoirs, I can’t help thinking that there are plenty of cities that need people like Nehemiah. We need people of the city, called and commissioned by God, to bring hope and life and future protection inside the urban walls.
The reason the city is so important—so full of power—is because of what it represents. The City is the Home of the People.The City is where the People begin to understand who they are, where they find protection from outside aggressors, where they come for anonymity and identity, for a sense of themselves free from the gossipy nonsense of village life.
The reason Jerusalem in particular is so important is because it is supposed to be the shining City of God—the one city in the world free from the backassward political and economic agendas of the privileged and powerful.
Jerusalem is supposed to be like Heaven.
But Heaven is a ghetto, and Nehemiah senses God’s call to rebuild.
Through his memoirs (and the official documents accompanying them in the book, penned by Ezra the Priestly Scribe) we see exactly how crucial, and how difficult, it is to (re)make Heaven on Earth.
We see the struggle to bring something whole out of something broken. We see the courage to repair what others are keen to destroy (again). We see the passion of true belief and rare conviction, hammered out in the narrative of one of Israel’s most successful leaders.
We see all of this . . . and we also see Hope. Hope for our cities. Hope for our futures. Hope for us, our children, and all those who come after us testifying that we lived as Nehemiah.
Hope that we will be remembered for good.”][/vc_column][/vc_row]