Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Bethany Bullet - Week of August 21, 2016

“The Narrow Door”

Let me tell you it is good to be home.  To cross the threshold of your own house, to sleep in your own bed, to be with family, it is always so good to be home.

Last week I crossed the threshold of Bethany for the first time in weeks and it was good to just sit and worship with no responsibilities.

I did the math and in the past 6 weeks I have spent just about the same number of nights away from home than at home.  I’ve spent time in New Orleans, Louisiana working with the Lutheran National Youth Gathering and in Alaska with our annual mission team.

To make things more challenging I have been battling a lasting upper respiratory infection for three of the last six weeks and am only now starting to feel like myself again. And, yes, my back is still sore. 

But enough about me, let’s dive into the topic for today.  Our Gospel lesson for today is from Luke the 13th chapter and in many Bibles is titled “The Narrow Door.”

I found this great definition of a door this week…Doors are providers of welcome, protection, and passage. 

There is one door I want to talk a little about before we continue.  It is called the “Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica”, also known as the “Porto Sancto.”  It is a special door within the walls of the Vatican that is only opened every 25 years during a special jubilee.  It is said that pilgrims who cross the threshold of this door are granted special mercies by God.  It is as if they are passing into the presence of God himself where He welcomes them and protects them. 

Now, I’m not convinced that a door in Italy has that much power but I do know about one from Bethlehem that does.

Let’s dive into the text starting with verse 22, I’m reading from God’s Word Translation, “Then Jesus traveled and taught in one city and village after another on his way to Jerusalem.” (Luke 13:22)

Let’s get a little context.  Back at the end of chapter 9 Luke tells us that “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51)

Now “resolutely” doesn’t seem to mean direct as it takes 10 more chapters before Luke describes the Triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  This journey that Jesus is on is more than the quickest way into a city. 
On the way He stops to teach and to heal.  But there can be no doubt as to the ultimate goal.  Jerusalem will finally be reached and in the city the salvation of the world will be accomplished.

It was salvation that as on the minds of those with Jesus in our text today so let’s continue with verse 23, “Someone asked Him, ‘Sir, are only a few people going to be saved?” (Luke 13:23)

It was an honest, yet probing question.  Contrary to the teaching heard in many of the synagogues of the time Jesus answers, “Try hard to enter through the narrow door.  I can guarantee that many will try to enter but they won’t succeed.  After the homeowner gets up and closes the door, it’s too late.  You can stand outside, knock at the door, and say, ‘Sir, open the door for us!’ But he will answer you, ‘I don’t know who you are.  Get away from me, all you evil people.’  Then you will cry and be in extreme pain.  That’s what you’ll do when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets.  They’ll be in the kingdom of God, but you’ll be thrown out.  People will come from all over the world and will eat in the kingdom of God.  Some who are last will be first, and some who are first will be last.” (Luke 13:24-30)

Now, in the scope of the message today we are not going to be able to address all of Jesus’ response but today I want to focus on one phrase, “Try hard to enter through the narrow door.” (Luke 13:24)

Once again Jesus describes salvation as some sort of banquet or feast.  Here we see that entrance to that feast is a narrow passage or door.  It’s interesting to note what a narrow door would provide.

A narrow door prevents a great crowd from entering all at once.  The door to the eternal banquet is only wide enough for one to enter at a time.  Credentials are to be checked, an encounter with the one at the door is guaranteed. 

And I think the first thing we can take away from this text is that salvation is something deeply personal and intimate. It comes in the context of relationship.

But just how are you to enter?

Jesus’ first few words have generated questions and have caused confusion throughout the years. 

Is Jesus saying, try hard, do your best, follow the law, and paradise is yours?

If so, have you done enough?

Other translations say, “Make every effort” or “Strive” to enter.

So, have you made every effort to enter? Are you one to strive hard to get in?  Well, I’ll give you this much, you are here.  That’s more than I can say about those who are not.

The Greek word Luke uses here is the root of the word to agonize.

The most literal meaning is to compete for a prize, not unlike what has been going on down in Rio the past two weeks at the Olympic Games.
The figurative meaning is to contend with an adversary, to struggle with difficulties and dangers or to endeavor with strenuous zeal to accomplish something.

So I ask you again, have you agonized to the point of being worthy to cross the threshold of the narrow door and enter into the marriage feast of the lamb that has no end?

Take a long look inside you.  Are you worthy to cross the threshold?  Are you good enough to enter through the narrow door?

If you think you are, listen to the words of Jesus again, “I can guarantee that many will try hard to enter, but they won’t succeed.” (Luke 13:24b)

One of the things we do when we are faced with a part of scripture that is either unclear or difficult, we go to other parts of God’s Word and we let Scripture interpret Scripture.

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians describes in detail all of the qualifications that he had to qualify him to cross the threshold into eternity.  He was born to the right family with privilege of birth.  He followed the Laws of God perfectly.  His actions were in line with his convictions.  Yet he lays it all down as he writes, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” (Philippians 3:7-9)

All the goodness Paul agonized for, strived for, worked hard for, he describes as loss and rubbish.  Paul actually uses some colorful language that we translate as “rubbish.”  Talk to me out in the Friendship Square after for the real definition. 

You see… entering the narrow door is not a set of actions.
It is not something that comes as a birthright.
It is not given as a reward for a job well done.

The narrow door is a person, and his name is Jesus. 

He is the one who agonized. 

He is the one who strove, who worked hard, and who contended with the adversary, Satan.

He struggled against difficulties and dangers, sin and even death itself.

Yet He endeavored with strenuous zeal to accomplish the salvation of the world.

He is the only one worthy to cross the threshold and enter the feast.

Yet, in an act of love, He becomes the narrow door and grants you access.

Indeed, John in his Gospel records the words of Jesus when he said, “I am the door.” (John 10:9)
Narrow enough to come face to face with you, personally and He desires to forgive you of your sin and have you enter the feast through Him. 

He is the one who provides a welcome, protection and passage.
You see, it’s not about crossing a threshold, but it’s the threshold of the cross!

The threshold Himself ushers you into paradise.  He offers forgiveness for all the acts that shut you out and He asks nothing from you for payment.  His forgiveness is a free gift given to all, won on the cross, and secured when He rose on Easter.

While this would be a wonderful place to end, the text says something else important for us today.

At some point the door will be closed.  When?  We don’t know.

There will be undoubtedly some who are outside and how terrible it will be for them, the text is clear on that.

So, while the door to heaven lay open in Christ we CAN make every effort, we can strive, we can work hard to tell others of the door, who desires to have a relationship with all and who stands ready to usher His children into the feast to provide welcome, protection and passage, for all eternity.

-Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, August 22, 2016

The One Year Bible- August 22nd



When I was in fourth grade I was in a school musical called “Esther and the King of Persia”. Now I was only in the chorus, but I had a ball. It was my first time on stage and the first time I remember hearing about the story of Esther. I remember an eighth grader named Johnny, who played to part of the king was awesome and I was scared of the guy who played Hamen. Since that day I have loved the story of Esther. I can still recall many of the songs we sang and some of the hand motions too. It was great to read an entire book in just a few days this week. This will happen again when we get into some of the smaller books of the Old and New Testaments. On to the study...
Seth’s Thoughts
The Old Testament
Like I mentioned last week, the events in the book of Esther take place before Nehemiah. This book was hotly contested when it was time to determine what books were in and out of the scriptures. In about 200 BC, Esther was almost taken out of the scriptures by Jewish theologians. There is no mention of YAHWEH or overt mention of God at all. Many believed it to be a secular historical account of the beginnings of the festival of Purim. One of the big things in the book of Esther for me is the idea that God is moving in history. By His guidance, both Esther and Mordecai were in the right place at the right time. They were used by God to bring about the deliverance of the chosen people and made for sure that the remnant would return. This took place so that prophecy about the Messiah would be fulfilled. Esther gives us insight into how God continues to act in this world for His will to be done. A lasting event from the story of Esther is the celebration of Purim. I found this on Wikipedia:
Purim (Hebrew: פורים Pûrîm) is a joyous Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of Persian Jews from the plot of the evil Haman to exterminate them, as recorded in the biblical Book of Esther. It is characterized by public recitation of the Book of Esther, giving mutual gifts of food and drink, giving charity to the poor, and a celebratory meal (Esther 9:22); other customs include drinking alcohol, wearing of masks and costumes, and public celebration. Purim is celebrated annually on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar. As with all Jewish holidays, Purim begins at sundown on the previous secular day.
                                        
We started the book of Job this week as well. I will spend more time in the coming weeks on this book. The one thing I want you to watch out for is you need to know who is speaking. At times it is Job but other times it is his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar or others. Make sure you know who is speaking while you read. We did read about why Job is the way he is. He was a rich man with a big family and a good life. In one day all of that is taken away. This was not by chance, but by a character named Satan (the accuser). Satan talks with God and gets the O.K. to test Job. In Job 9:33-35, I wonder if Job is thinking of Jesus. Read it and let me know what you think. I don’t want to give away too much today but pay attention to how Job reacts at the beginning and how he reacts towards the end of the book.
The New Testament
In our readings from 1 Corinthians, Paul addressed some big issues. Paul warns the church about the divisions that are in it. He mentions that the meal that they share together (called the Lord Supper here) is causing divisions. It is unclear if this was a full-blown meal that the believers shared or if it was just communion. It seems as if Paul thinks it is a full meal. Paul tries to set them straight by reminding them what the Lord’s Supper is all about. He tells of its importance and it is not something to be done lightly. Paul then continues on answering the questions that the church has brought to him. Paul then spends a lot of time talking about spiritual gifts. I think the key comes in when Paul writes, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7 NIV). That is indeed what they are for. They are not to show that one believer is better than another. They are all useful. To show his point, Paul uses the analogy of the human body. This would have worked well for the Greek thinkers in the Church. Like the parts of the body, we all have our place, our unique function within the whole. But most importantly, we need to have love. 1 Corinthians 13 is one of the most famous passages in the New Testament because of its content. Love is the key to how we live our lives. It was what drove Jesus to the cross, and what motivates us today. Two more things Paul addresses: speaking in tongues and the resurrection of the dead. It seems like the Corinthians had some sort of obsession with the gift of tongues (some in the church today to as well). In one of the best one-liners in the New Testament, Paul lays out his belief on the subject, “But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” (1 Corinthians 14:19 NIV). Way to go Paul!! I can’t agree more. On to the resurrection of the dead; it seems that there was some influence from either the Sadducees or some Greek thinkers who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead. Paul tackles this issue with some good logic. “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.” (1 Corinthians 15:13-15 NIV). Good point Paul.
Bits and Pieces
The New Testament
We will finish off the book of 1 Corinthians and move on the 2 Corinthians. Here are the vital stats for the book:
PURPOSE: To affirm Paul’s ministry, defend his authority as an apostle, and refute the false teachers in Corinth.
AUTHOR: Paul
TO WHOM WRITTEN: The church in Corinth, and Christians everywhere
DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 55-57, from Macedonia
SETTING: Paul had already written three letters to the Corinthians (two are now lost). In 1 Corinthians (the second of these letters), he used strong words to correct and teach. Most of the church had responded in the right spirit; there were, however, those who were denying Paul’s authority and questioning his motives.
LAW THEMES: Divisions in congregations; false apostles; human frailty; poverty in sin; generosity; suffering; self-examination.
GOSPEL THEMES: Comfort in Christ; restoration through forgiveness; reconciliation; wealth in Christ; God’s sufficient grace.
KEY VERSE: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20)
KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Timothy, Titus, false teachers
KEY PLACES: Corinth, Jerusalem
SPECIAL FEATURES: This is an intensely personal and autobiographical letter.


Monday, August 15, 2016

The One Year Bible August 15th



With the calendar still showing August it is hard to think that fall is right around the corner. I am looking forward to fall. I love the cooler evenings, and the regular pace of life that begins once school is in session. Fall brings a new school year, new pencils, new challenges and in our Old Testament readings we will be getting into some new territory. The main narrative story of God’s people is over. We will see some more narrative in the prophets but for a while we will have new things, like the books of Esther, Job, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. We will get into the prophets by the second week of September, but for now, enjoy the change of pace and see what God will reveal to you through His word. On to the study…

Seth’s Thoughts
The Old Testament
We finished up the book of Ezra and began the book of Nehemiah this past week. Ezra was a book about a priest and served as a theological perspective to the return of the Exiles. Nehemiah is more of a political book. Nehemiah was in the service of King Artaxerxes as a cupbearer. This was no small job; it was very important. Nehemiah was one of God’s people in exile. He had heard of the return of some of his own people back to the land to rebuild the temple and now he too desired to go. He asked for and received permission from the king and he went back with the purpose of rebuilding the walls of the city so it would be safe from foreign enemies. This was not popular with the governors of the area and they tried to stop the rebuilding of the walls many times. But God’s plan was for the wall and the city to be rebuilt because of his ultimate plan of sending the Messiah to fulfill prophecy. It took just 52 days to finish the wall and after it was completed, the Law (remember Law = writings of Moses) was read to the people and they all rededicated themselves to the LORD. Nehemiah gives us a good history lesson along the way as he reminded the people of the grace of God and his love for the people in spite of their disobedience. For as important as the ministry of Ezra was to the spiritual lives of the people, Nehemiah was to the political life of Jerusalem. The stage was set, the pieces have been put in place, everything was ready for the events to come to pass just as the prophets had foretold. All that was needed was for the fullness of time and the promised Messiah would come.

The New Testament
In our readings in 1 Corinthians we finished up Paul’s introduction with a message on legal matters. His advice is to stay out of the courts when you have a disagreement with another Christian. It just makes you look bad and is a very poor witness to Jesus. In fact it does not honor God when, in the public eye, Christians can’t get along. Paul then moves on to the questions that the church asked him. We do not have a copy of their letter to Paul but we do know how he answered some of their questions. Paul spends a lot of time dealing with marriage. He does not condemn marriage, but he does give some warning about how the desires of the flesh can get us off track spiritually as well as in our relationships. Paul then spends quite a bit of time on the issue of food. Food is something very important to a person of the Old Testament. Food laws were abundant and issues regarding food came up often in the early church. The root of the problem stems from the fact that the early church was multicultural. There were Jews and Gentiles together who had vastly different ideas about food. What was clean and unclean according the groups differed. God had made it perfectly clear that what ever He made clean was clean. This did not mean the people could go “hog wild” (no pun intended). In fact the church needed to be very careful about what it ate. Some people had a hard time with eating foods sacrificed to idols. They wanted to know if they ate the food were they honoring that idol. Then there was the whole problem of what would people think if they saw a believer eating that food. This is a complex issue. Paul tries to break it down, “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” (1 Cor. 8:13 NIV). And in the next chapter he says, “We put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.” (1 Cor. 9:12b NIV). The bottom line is, if it causes someone to stumble or struggle in his or her faith we should try to avoid it at all costs. This has implications for us today. Do we have freedom in Christ? Yes! Can we do whatever we want? Yes, but not everything is beneficial. We must be careful of what we do and how that reflects Christ to the world.

Bits and Pieces
The Old Testament
We will read the entire book of Esther next week. We will also get into the book of Job.

Here are the vital stats for Esther:
PURPOSE: To demonstrate God’s sovereignty and his loving care for his people.  To record the Lord’s providential deliverance of the Judeans from destruction by their enemies in the Persian Empire.
AUTHOR: Unknown, possible Mordecai. Some have suggested Ezra or Nehemiah because of the similarity of the writing style.
DATE WRITTEN: Approx. 483-471 B.C.
SETTING: Although Esther follows Nehemiah in the Bible, its events are about 30 years prior to those recorded in Nehemiah. The story is set in the Persian empire, and most of the action takes place in the king’s palace in Susa, the Persian capital.
KEY VERSE: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such as time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NIV)
LAW THEMES: Weakness before one’s enemies due to disobedience; the Lord thwarts grudges and hatred.
GOSPEL THEMES: Preservation of God’s people from whom Jesus would be born; the Lord works constantly for the deliverance of His people.
KEY PEOPLE: Esther, Mordecai, King Xerxes I, Haman
KEY PLACE: The king’s palace
SPECIAL FEATURES: Esther is one of only two books named for women (Ruth is the other). The book is unusual in that in the original version, no name, title, or pronoun for God appears in it. This caused some church fathers to question its inclusion in the canon. But God’s presence is clear throughout the book.

Here are the vital stats for Job:
PURPOSE: The Lord shows He is our Redeemer, despite what we may suffer in life.  It addresses the question, “Why do the righteous suffer?”
AUTHOR: Unknown, possible Job. Some have suggested Moses or Solomon.
DATE WRITTEN: Unknown. Records events that probably occurred during the time of the patriarchs, approx. 2000-1800 BC.
SETTING: The land of UZ, probably located in northeast Palestine, near desert land between Damascus and the Euphrates River.
KEY VERSE: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25 NIV)
LAW THEMES: People suffer unduly in a sinful, broken world;  no one can justify himself or herself before God; Satan can tempt people and inflict suffering.
GOSPEL THEMES: God accomplishes His righteous purposes amid and through suffering; the Lord is our Redeemer; the resurrection of the body.
KEY PEOPLE: Job, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite, Elihu the Buzite.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Job is the first of the poetic books in the Hebrew Bible. Some believe this was the first book of the Bible to be written. This book gives us insights into the work of Satan. Ezekiel 14:14 and James 5:11 mention Job as a historical character.

Monday, August 08, 2016

The One Year Bible- August 8th



Time sure is flying.  It is hard to believe that the school year is right around the corner.  I have seen the “Back to School” mailers in my house and the stores are filled with pens, pencils, and paper just waiting to get used. Summer is winding down. School will be in session soon and before you know it, it will be Christmas time. The narrative story of God’s people in the Old Testament is winding down as well. We are almost done with the story. It doesn’t seem possible does it? We have made it over seven months now and all I can say is that it has gone by quickly. Before it goes by too fast, let’s stop and spend some time studying and meditating on this week’s readings.

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
We finished up the book of 2 Chronicles and like I said last week, we miss a big part of the story. We miss about 70 years while the people are in exile in Babylon. We will catch some of this story when we read through Daniel a bit later this year. For now, we see that the LORD is working to set up the people so that a “remnant” will return and be ready for the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah was prophesied to return to the Promised Land. He was to be born in Bethlehem, of the house of David (the prophets will tell us this). Therefore there must be a plan to bring the people back. To get the people ready, God uses Josiah. Josiah gets the people back on the right path and during his reign, the book of the law was found. This was no small thing. The book of the Law was the foundation for the entire society. Without the book of the law it is no wonder that the people kept going their own way. Under Josiah, the people renewed their covenant with the LORD and promised to remain faithful. The people also celebrated the Passover again. But the people fell away under the leadership of some more bad kings and eventually the people were taken into captivity in Babylon. This should have not come as a surprise to the people, both Isaiah and Jeremiah had warned them. But God used King Cyrus of Persia to bring a remnant back to the land. That is where the book of Ezra begins. Jeremiah has prophesied that a remnant would return and it was so. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel and others, the first wave of exiles returned home to rebuild the temple as well as the city of Jerusalem. The people that were living in the area tried to stop it but they were unsuccessful. Did you catch that this was the time of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah? Make sure you remember this context when we get to these books. Ezra led the second wave of people back to the land. Ezra was a scribe and a teacher of the law. He was given the job to make sure the law was taught to the people who returned. In chapter seven the writing changes from third person (he, she, they) to first person (I, me, we). This is now the story of Ezra. The first bit was the history of the first wave of exiles to return. Ezra brings with him more people and more gold, silver and other riches from the King of Babylon. God sure was blessing the people in their return. But, Ezra soon learns that not all is well back home. The people have started to intermarry with the locals (again!!). This causes him great distress. He prays to God for mercy and forgiveness and is ashamed that even in the midst of grace, the people sin. Sounds like today. We live in the midst of grace every day, yet we seem to fall victim of the grip of sin.

The New Testament
We finished up the book of Romans with a long list of names. We don’t know too much about these people in the list. One name has been seen before in the New Testament. Mark mentions a Rufus who was the son of Simon of Cyrene, who carried the cross for Jesus. Is this the same guy? We don’t know for sure, but it would be a compelling story or conversion. Paul ends this letter with a wonderful phrase of praise to God, To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (Romans 16:27 NIV)

To understand Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth we need to get some background information.  The Christians in Corinth were struggling with their environment. Surrounded by corruption and every conceivable sin, they felt the pressure to adapt. They knew they were free in Christ, but what did this freedom mean? How should they view idols or sexuality? What should they do about marriage, women in the church, and the gifts of the Spirit? These were more than just theoretical questions; the church was being undermined by immorality and spiritual immaturity. Living as a Christian in Corinth was difficult and some of them were failing the test.  This is the situation and the reason for the first letter to the Corinthians. Paul is concerned with this church and he wants to try to help them through the difficult times. Paul confronts them (and us) with sin and the need for corrective action. Paul talks a lot about the foolishness of being a follower of Jesus. This is not meant as being a slam on those who believe, but as a way to help those understand why those who believe do so. It does not make sense to believe in Jesus from the world’s point of view. Grace does not make sense to our rational brains. Why would God do such a thing as send his only son to die for us? It makes no sense.

I especially like Paul’s analogy in chapter 3, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-8 NIV). At times in our lives, God has called us to sow the seeds of salvation. At other times we are called to water those seeds. It is rare that we get to see the fruit from beginning to end. When I worked at Arrowhead Lutheran Camp I sowed a lot of seed. At times it was frustrating. I didn’t get to seem much fruit. A few years after leaving camp, I received a letter from a camper who said that because of camp and the Bible studies she was a part of, she know has a close walk with Christ. She thanked me for all my work and says she still prays for the camp and me every day. This letter brought tears to my eyes. I know that it seems that at times we are just spinning our wheels, but let me tell you, the Holy Spirit is doing more than you know.

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will finish up Ezra and move onto Nehemiah next. Here are the vital stats for
Nehemiah:
PURPOSE: Nehemiah is the last of the Old Testament historical books. It records the history of the third return to Jerusalem after captivity, telling how the walls were rebuilt and the people were renewed in their faith.  This book shows that all things are possible by God’s gracious and providential care.
AUTHOR: Much of the book is written in the first person, suggesting Nehemiah as the author. Nehemiah probably wrote the book with Ezra serving as editor.
DATE WRITTEN: Approx. 445-432 B.C.
SETTING: Zerubbabel led the first return to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. In 458, Ezra led the second return. Finally, in 445, Nehemiah returned with the third group of exiles to rebuild the city walls.
KEY VERSES: “So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.” Nehemiah 6:15-16
LAW THEMES:  Exile due to sin; illegal marriages; broken faith by failing to keep God’s Word.
GOSPEL THEMES:  God fulfills His promises of grace; God’s providence; restored atonement at the temple; God’s hand guides history and the lives of His people, the remnant.
KEY PEOPLE: Nehemiah, Ezra, Sanballat, Tobiah
KEY PLACE: Jerusalem
SPECIAL FEATURES: The book shows the fulfillment of the prophecies of Zechariah and Daniel concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls.


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