May 27, 2024

Thomas McNeilly

Jesus Christ is King

HOW to understand Nehemiah Chapter 11: List Fever and Isaiah 43:18
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The leaders of the people all live in Jerusalem, and the people themselves cast lots so that a tenth of them will end up living in Jerusalem. People who offer to go voluntarily (without casting lots) are blessed. Kind of like when you voluntarily offer to check your carry-on baggage, Virgin America lets you board with Group 1. Nehemiah lists the Benjaminites and Judahites who lead the province and live in Jerusalem. The leaders of the towns actually live in the towns. He also lists the leaders of the priests and Levites, and also briefly mentions gatekeepers, singers, and important people like Pethahiah, a guy who helped the king in matters related to the people. Sort of an ombudsman. Nehemiah concludes with another medium-longish list of all the places and villages where the people lived, including Ono—the valley of the artisans and rumored birthplace of Yoko. This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, The God who summons horses and chariots and armies— they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’ —the coyotes and the buzzards— Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sunbaked earth, Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.