Consequences

This morning as I read through the devotional reading from MyDailyBible app, (DailyPlan : one-year-tract : 2020-01-14 #Bible https://www.mydailybible.org/dp/esv/one-year-tract/2020-01-14.htm) some verses from Nehemiah chapter 4 got my attention and needed clarifying.

Nehemiah 4:10-12  In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” 11 And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” 12 At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.”

So as I read through the commentaries on these verses a very clear picture of what was going on came to me. I could relate to what these verses were saying on multiple levels. I thought about what it felt like facing the clean up and repair of my homes after the damage caused by hurricanes in my life. Occasionally having a home flooded by the stinky muddy water of a hurricane was “normal” life living “on the bayou” in Chauvin Louisiana where I spent the first half of my life. After my houses immediate needs were addressed I would go and help someone else to clean up their mess to begin the process back to normal.

When you’d first start the cleaning up you would be full of optimism and energy but as you found damaged or destroyed possessions and were still in the “ripping out” stage of the cleanup it would take its toll. The optimism and energy level would drop and drop until at times it seem like “wow this is worst than I first assessed it to be.”

That’s what I understood the commentaries to say about verse 10, In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.”

But on another level I could relate to a different kind of storm cleanup I have had to face in my life. It’s the devastation caused by willful sin that affected the people I loved the most. It seems a lot like the hurricane cleanups, at first I was filled with optimism and energy to repent of my sinful ways, make things right where ever I could and just “get back to normal” life again. But like in the cleaning up of the stinky muddy water of a hurricane, over time I began to see that some things were badly damaged and some things had been destroyed. Hope, faith and prayers to God were even answered in miraculous ways. I saw God’s hand of intervention so undeniably having it’s effect on me and those I’d hurt but I learned something in that over time. God’s hand of intervention in someone’s life won’t override their will to choose.

Ever since the garden of Eden, God has given mankind the option to choose their behavior, even over His Sovereign suggestions. In the Sovereignty of God, He can at Will override our behaviors and bring about His blessings upon our life anyway. The life of Joseph and the evil his brothers plotted against him bears this out. Joseph made it clear to his brothers in last weeks Torah Portions, https://www.119ministries.com/resources/torah-portion/t12-vayechi/  that what they did was “evil.”

Genesis 50:18-20 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of Elohim? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but Elohim meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Joseph didn’t try to sugar coat it and say “it was all God’s plan” to save many people. He said what y’all plotted against me was “evil.” And so it is in our lives that at times we commit evil and if we ask or Dear Heavenly Father to forgive us and repent of that evil, at times, He will turn the situation around. Understanding the fine line between the Sovereignty of Almighty God in the affairs of men and the choices they make to cooperate with or against God is complex to say the least.

In our lives, at times it would seem we can come out of situations where God intervenes on our repentant behavior without even the smell of smoke like in the story from Daniel,

Daniel 3:27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

But often times it’s not that way. God allows us to learn our lessons and leaves us with a reminder of what the lesson costed us to learn as with Jacob.

Genesis 32:24-30 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”

But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” 27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.”

28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” 31 Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.

And while dealing with the attitude of our heart to the intervention of God’s Sovereign Hand upon our lives, in the consequences of our choices, we too have to face the same thing that Nehemiah faced in his day.

I thought about how many times Nehemiah’s workers must have consider what things might have been like if Judah and Jerusalem had wholeheartedly followed God’s ways and not their own sinful ways. Even though they couldn’t change the past they could learn from it and from the scars it left in their mind and hearts’.

Nehemiah 4:11-12  And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” 12 At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.”

The enemy of our soul never lets up and only intensifies his attacks on us at our times of weakness. There is no compassion or sympathy in him so he looks for a “coup de gras” not for mercy’s sake. He is pure evil and his only purposes for a humans life is to kill, steal and destroy.

The commentaries pointed out that the enemies of Nehemiah, Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, Ammonites and Ashdodites were taunting and threatening the work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. It wasn’t bad enough that they are worn out physically from cleaning out the burned out lumber and stones and destruction that the sins of Judah had brought upon them. They also had to fear being attacked by their enemies who don’t want to see Jerusalem and Judah rise back to power.

Verse 12 brings another element to the fear the enemy was bringing against the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem. Men from the towns all around Jerusalem had come as workers to help in it’s rebuilding as told in Nehemiah chapter 3.

Now the Jews of those towns are hearing the threats of the enemy to attack and kill them and the work going on in Jerusalem. In fear they’re going to Jerusalem and asking “and said to us ten times” repeatedly for their townsmen to return home to defend their families against any attack of the enemy.

This was but another way the enemy was working to bring an end to the reconstruction of the walls of Jerusalem. He is relentless in his efforts to destroy the work and people of God but what was Nehemiah’s plan to oppose the tactics of their enemy.

Nehemiah 4:16-18 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, 17 who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. 18 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 

Maybe you wonder, “what’s our sword” our weapon to fight the enemy? I’m glad you asked.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

Ephesians 6:14-18 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

And for how long are we to do this????? Wait for Nehemiah’s trumpet to blow,

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Our Dear Heavenly Father is the Sovereign of the universe. Even from the garden of Eden He makes us fully aware of His “suggestions” for how and what we should or shouldn’t do. God leaves the choices of our response to those suggestions to us. God being the Almighty God and Sovereign of the universe means that in every situation He ALONE had the Final say of what the choices of mankind will bring forth.

At Passover, when evil and wicked men plotted and killed Jesus Christ, Yeshua Hamashiach, they weren’t fulfilling the will of God for their own lives. It would be impossible for God to take pleasure in the sin, downfall or destruction of a sinner. God, being God knows the end from the beginning. Everything that will ever happen is fully known to God. Time and space have no confines on God, that thought alone should blow your mind to God’s sovereignty. God is HOLY, HOLY, HOLY. Set apart, set apart, set apart from anything we can ever imagine Him to be. Foolish men try to put God in a box and think, “if I do a, b & c God has to do ***”

Thankfully, God has told us and shown us that His Lovingkindness and Tender Mercies are ever offered to us as the verse for today Jan. 14 says in my YouVersion app,

Through the Lord ’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22‭-‬23 NKJV
https://bible.com/bible/114/lam.3.22-23.NKJV

Happy Birthday today to my maternal Grandfather, Vincent Defelice (1906-1998) who was almost like a father to me. He and my grandmother Eva taught me a lot about faith in God and living a righteous life that trusted and tried to please God. Nothing in their life was done without adding, “if God says the same.”

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