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Repairing The Walls

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Nehemiah chapter three is one of those chapters that we are prone to skip over because of all of the names. I pray that you don't do this in your reading. As we read and apply the text to our lives today (Rom. 15:4), whether or not we pronounce the names correctly isn't the point. The point is to understand what was happening and how this affected the nation of Judah.

First, we see that when Nehemiah encouraged the people to “build up the wall of Jerusalem,” the people responded by saying, “let us rise up and build” (Neh. 2:17-18)! Nehemiah three records that these people were more than just “talk”! They went into action! They didn’t allow days and months to go by before they started. They started repairing the walls immediately!

A second thing we see is that these people did the work in pieces that could be handled by each respective family. One family didn’t rebuild one-half of the wall or take on more than they could handle. Each family took a section that they could handle and began the work! There was much to do, and as the old saying goes, “Many hands make for light work.” This was the case here. All the people united in a common goal and made the work much easier to handle.

Nehemiah 3:12 mentions the fact that Shallum’s daughters worked with their father to help rebuild the walls. I think this is significant. These daughters deserve special praise for the work they did in helping to finish a job that God wanted them to do.

I hope that these statements will stir our minds to make applications to ourselves. No, we don’t have a wall to rebuild, but we do have work to do in God’s kingdom (I Cor. 15:58). We have daily work that needs to be done, and we need to make the effort! It’s one thing to “talk” about what needs to be done in the Lord’s kingdom, and it’s quite another thing to do it (Jas. 2:18-26)! Examine yourself, friend. Are you active in the Lord’s service, or are you just good at pointing out what needs to be done? Don’t be like the Pharisees (Matt. 23:3-4)!

Similarly, let’s remember that we all have work to do in the Lord’s kingdom (Gal. 6:9). It’s not laid at the feet of the preacher or elders or deacons alone. Yes, these men have work to be done in God’s kingdom just as everyone else does! We mustn’t shirk our duties, though, thinking someone else will do them. Our lack of action may be the point of weakness that Satan needs to tear down and destroy a life, or a family, or a church! Don’t be the weak link!

Just as Shallum’s daughters went out and worked as the sons did, let’s remember that in Christ, we are all one (Gal. 3:28). Yes, we have different roles to fulfill at times, but everyone who is a child of God is loved and respected by God and needs to be busy in His work! Far from being misogynistic, Paul speaks highly of his sisters in Christ. Let’s encourage our sisters and our brothers in the Lord to do the work God demands.

You won’t get out of this world alive, but you can leave this world ready for the next. Are you ready (II Cor. 6:2)? What do you need to do to get ready (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38)? Do as the Jews in Nehemiah’s day did (Neh. 3). Stop wasting time and get busy with the Lord’s work!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

Nehemiah: The King's Cupbearer

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Only once in the book of Nehemiah does he refer to his work in the king’s court. Nehemiah does not have a “regular” job. His job is exceptional because, among other things, it places him in the king’s presence daily. He has been bestowed with a very honorable and trusted position. To be the king’s cupbearer is equivalent to being his food-taster! To work in this capacity means he could be trusted with the king’s life! R.A. Torrey describes it this way, “The office of cup-bearer was one of great trust, honour, and emolument, in the Persian court. To be in such a place of trust he must have been in the king's confidence; for no eastern potentate would have a cup-bearer to whom he could not trust his life, poison being often administered in that way. It was an office much desired, because it gave access to the king in those seasons of hilarity when men are most disposed to grant favours” (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge).

The term “cupbearer” is not found anywhere else in the Bible, but we see a description of the same work when we read about the “chief butler” who worked for the Pharaoh in the book of Genesis. We remember that while in prison, he had a dream about doing his job. Notice how closely this resembles the work of a cupbearer (Gen. 40:9-13). Again, this was a position of trust. This trust would mean something when the chief butler finally remembers Joseph after two years and refers him to the Pharaoh as a man capable of interpreting his dreams (Gen. 41:9-14).

A cupbearer had access to the king daily and was considered to have the king’s favor. Thus, when the king notices the look of sadness on Nehemiah’s face (2:2), it was a genuine concern that prompted the king to ask why Nehemiah was sad. He was a loyal subject, and the king was concerned. Further, as we read chapter two, and learn how the king granted Nehemiah’s request to leave and for the supplies he would need in travel, we see that this was a man ready to help a trusted servant. Indeed, a man whom he can trust with his life can be trusted with the work Nehemiah proposes to do in Jerusalem (Neh. 2:6-9)!

In thinking about this event, let us look into God’s mirror (Jas. 1:22-25). Are you a person that can be trusted by others? Can God trust you? Why or why not? Trust is a precious and valuable thing. It is hard to acquire and easy to break. Who among us wants to be considered untrustworthy?

There is an old saying that trust is earned, and this is correct. How is it obtained? We learn to trust others as we hear their words, and as we observe what they do. What has God seen in you? Are you showing yourself to be a trustworthy disciple of the Lord (Jn. 8:31-32)? Are you faithful in your actions (I Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10)? If not, why not? We have the opportunity to serve Someone more magnificent than the king of Persia! We can serve the King of Kings (I Tim. 6:15)! Are you going to take up that work? Become a Christian today and make the decision you will never regret (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

A Reversal Of Fortune

Friday, January 31, 2020

After Haman’s plans for killing the Jews, including Esther, were revealed (Est. 7:6), things moved very quickly. Mordecai’s enemy ended up hanging from the gallows he had made for him (v. 10). Not only this, but the ring Haman once wore was given to Mordecai (Est. 8:2). The position once held by Haman, Mordecai now held. The entire population of Jews, once oppressed, were allowed weapons and to have a fair fight against the Persians (Est. 8:11-12, 9:2-3). Yes, God in His providence caused a complete reversal in the plans of Haman “the enemy of the Jews.”

This is not the only time we read about this happening. When Jesus spoke about the eternal destiny of the rich man and Lazarus, we find another time when things were reversed (Lk. 16:19-31). Specifically, Abraham reminds the rich man, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented” (v. 25). Upon analyzing the context, we see many “reversals” that took place between the rich man and Lazarus. Just like Haman and Mordecai, many things changed between them. I marvel at this because perhaps those five brothers he left behind thought of their brother as a godly man and one bound for eternal bliss. God knew what was going on “behind the scenes,” and this man got what he deserved. In reality, the rich man and Lazarus experienced a true reversal from what they had experienced on earth.

The most significant reversal of all was the reversal Christ performed when He made salvation possible through His death, burial, and resurrection (Matt. 26:28; Col. 1:14, 20; Heb. 9:28; I Jn. 2:2; Rom. 6:2-6, 16-18; I Pet. 3:21). Satan thought that he had won. He had succeeded in tempting the first people to sin (Gen. 3:1-6). They sinned, and we have had to live with the consequences on this earth ever since (Gen. 3:16-24). Satan then tempted Cain (Gen. 4:1-11), Abraham (Gen. 12, 20), Moses (Num. 20), David (II Sam. 11-12), and every other man and woman on earth (Rom. 3:23)! He succeeded in getting humanity to sin and to jeopardize their souls before God.

Satan seemed to be winning until Christ came to earth! At that time, we see a reversal taking place. Christ was tempted like others, but did not yield (Matt. 4:1-11; Lk. 4:1-13; Heb. 4:15). He “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (I Pet. 2:22). Furthermore, when He died, He did not die in sin but died to be a sacrifice for others’ sins (I Pet. 3:18). Where Adam brought death, we see that Christ brings life (I Cor. 15:22). Yes, a complete reversal is possible in Christ!

Are you ready for a new beginning? Are you ready for “light, and gladness, and joy, and honor” (Est. 8:16)? Spiritually, you can have these things by following the Lord and doing what He says. Become a Christian (Acts 11:26; Mk. 16:16). Live faithfully for the Lord (I Cor. 15:58), and you can look forward to Heaven (another reversal from life on earth) when this life is over (Matt. 25:34)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

Is God In Vegas (or Shushan)?

Sunday, January 26, 2020

My wife recently reminded me of an old television commercial where the tagline was: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” The point of the ad was that if people came to Las Vegas, they could be free to do what they wanted without any guilt. It is as if the people were saying that God isn’t in Las Vegas (Ps. 139:7-12), or He cannot see what we are doing there (Prov. 15:3)! Las Vegas was giving people a “license to sin!”

It concerns me when I hear about Christians who think that taking a vacation means taking a vacation from being a Christian as well. Some Christians have been known to go to another county or another state to engage in sin. They think they are “safe” from “prying eyes” if they go somewhere that no one knows them. Of course, they are just fooling themselves because, as we noted above, there is nowhere they can go that God is not there and sees them!

It is for this reason that people like Joseph and Daniel, as well as women like Vashti and Esther, stand out to me. They stand out because Vashti and Esther lived in the King’s palace. They could justify any behavior they wanted by referring to where they lived, or by saying, “The King made me do it. I had no choice!” Yet, these two ladies, just as the others named, did not use their location as an occasion for sin!

When Vashti was called into the King’s presence, she did not yield to her husband’s drunken demands (Est. 1:10-12). She could have easily justified sin by saying, “The King has called me,” but she didn’t. We do not know Vashti’s origin, but we know she had morals and was not going to compromise them for anyone. Where she lived made no difference to her! Right was right, and wrong was wrong.

Esther did not allow fear to overcome her (Est. 4:16-7:10). We know she was raised well under the guidance of her cousin, Mordecai (Est. 2:5-7). Yet, when she was brought into the King’s palace, she did not allow her location to hold her back from speaking when she needed to speak up for her people! She had the opposite issue from Vashti, in that the King had not called for her for a month (4:11). She might have justified her silence by saying, “I can’t go until he calls me, and so there is no point in trying. No one will know if I spoke to the King or not, anyway.” These ladies knew they had responsibilities. The God of Heaven is in Shushan, just like He is in Jerusalem, and He must be respected!

What excuses do we make to justify our sins? Do we justify our sins based upon where we are and who saw or didn’t see us? Remember, God sees all of humanity and knows our hearts (Heb. 4:12-13). We are not going to get away with sin just because we did it out of town! Don’t fool yourself into thinking that godliness only applies at home! Take a lesson from Vashti, Esther, Daniel, Joseph, and so many others who served God faithfully even when they were away from home.

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

A Changed Life

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Esther 10:3 reveals that Mordecai, in his new role, was “great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.” What impresses me is that there is nothing said about Mordecai taking vengeance on the Persians. Nor do we read that he stole money or somehow made himself rich in his position. He used his power for the betterment of his people.

The change of fortune recorded in the book of Esther is quite astonishing. Mordecai went from being a servant living with a death threat on him to second-in-command over Persia (Est. 3:5-6, 9:4, 10:3). He was like Joseph, Daniel, and many others who rose to prominence after suffering much for the Lord. Thankfully, he remembered who he was, and remained faithful to God even as his social status changed.

Those who become Christians (Mk. 16:16) witness a change in their lives. The difference is so radical that Christ compares it to a birth (Jn. 3:3). Then, “as newborn babes,” we need to feed upon the word (I Pet. 2:2). We must continue to mature in the Lord (Heb. 5:12-14) and be faithful to Him (I Cor. 15:58).

Have we ever considered, though, that this change brings with it many spiritual blessings that lost people do not enjoy (Eph. 1:3)? In one sense, Christians are like Mordecai. He rose from slavery to being second-in-command. Have we not done the same thing in Christ? When we obeyed the Lord’s plan of salvation (Acts 2:38), we went from being slaves to sin (Rom. 6:16, 7:14b), to being free from sin (Rom. 6:18)! Christ made us “kings and priests” (Rev. 1:5-6; I Pet. 2:9)! We are now “joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16-17)! As good as Mordecai’s change was, ours is better!

Have you made that change for the better? If not, become a Christian today (Acts 22:16; Col. 2:11-13). If I can help you, please contact me.

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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