Archive for September 24th, 2016

Now that I have your attention!  The daily lectionary readings this past week are from Nehemiah.  The narrative of a the Persian King Artaxerxes’ cupbearer Nehemiah, a Jew.  He was  Jew with his fellow countrymen in exile.  By God’s will, he returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.   Those walls were not primarily to keep foreigners out, just the opposite, from King Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication of the Temple, 2 Chronicles 6: 32-33:

32 “Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for the sake of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm, when he comes and prays toward this house, 33 hear from heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.

 The walls of Jerusalem remind me of “The Mighty Fortress  is our God”.  Jerusalem was a physical reminder of the Lord, our Mighty  Fortress. Israel learned in exile that their strength is the Lord.    In Chapter 9, the people of Israel confess their sins including these closing verses of their confession:

Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law or paid attention to your commandments and your warnings that you gave them. 35 Even in their own kingdom, and amid your great goodness that you gave them, and in the large and rich land that you set before them, they did not serve you or turn from their wicked works. 36 Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. 37 And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress.

Israel confessed they were slaves in their own land because of the heavy taxation. They were heavily taxed because their forefathers did not turn from their “wicked works”.  Maybe we are “slaves” in our own land, a land “amid Your great goodness that you gave…” to  our forefathers, not only in taxation but we are enslaved to our own desires, passions and selves in the land of the selfie.  We are no longer thankful for what we have and only pray to have more. Slavery of body and soul is both evil but slavery of the soul to money has eternal repercussions:  See Luke 16 and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  O Lord, we confess our sin as we confess that You are Lord and Lord alone, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.

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