The book of Nehemiah explores the rebuilding of both the Physical walls of Jerusalem as well as the internal moral boundaries of God’s law for the betterment of the Jewish people. For all practical purposes, the Jews of Nehemiah’s day were seeking to rebuild the Jewish faith in a post-Jewish world. Such an undertaking required an honest evaluation of their reality, a firm conviction in their identity as God’s chosen people and a commitment to remain faithful to God’s will, even in the face of opposition. Many leading scholars are openly acknowledging that Christians in the West are now living in what can be described as a post-Christian world. The influences in our society are no longer tied to Christian moral values, and the idea of Christendom (the central role of Christianity in society) is no longer dominant. So where does that leave the Church? Much like Nehemiah, we too are faced with a daunting challenge of rebuilding, renewing and restoring. We are often stuck in remembering the past while longing to return to a world that no longer exists. Such backwards fixation can lead to despair and hopelessness. However, our current reality is also overflowing with possibility and promise if we have eyes to see. Can we, like Nehemiah trust God to give us eyes to see what is and what can be? Can we, like Nehemiah trust God to sustain us and inspire us to more than we ever asked or imagined possible? Can we, like Nehemiah, persevere in the face of opposition and find new solutions to current troubles?
Inspiring action while confronting opposition
July 25, 2021 • Pastor Chris Pappenfus • Nehemiah 2
August 8, 2021 • Pastor Chris Pappenfus • Nehemiah 8—10
In Nehemiah Chapters 8-10, we are given a glimpse into the spiritual rebuilding that Governor Nehemiah desired for his fellow Jews. As mentioned before, the rebuilding and the repairing of Jerusalem’s walls and gates is a metaphor for the spiritual rebuilding of the Jews as God’s chosen people; a light to the rest of the human race illuminating the One True God. Nehemiah believed that the true strength of the Jewish people was not realized in the fortifications of the Holy City, but in the faithfulness of their God as the people responded in faithful obedience. So, as the completion of the building project draws to a close, the priest, Ezra, takes to the stage and God’s word (given through Moses) is read for the people. They, just like us, must confront their own sin, embrace the gift of God’s grace and mercy, experience the joy of redemption, and finally covenant with God to live in faithful obedience.
Restoration begins with Repentance
August 1, 2021 • Pastor Chris Pappenfus • Nehemiah 5
Nehemiah was called by God and sent by the King of Persia to rebuild and repair the walls and gates of Jerusalem during the post-exile period from 444 to 432 BCE. The wall, though important, is in many ways a metaphor for the internal boundaries God's people needed to incorporate in order for future generations to live as God’s chosen among all the other nations of the world. The foundations of the Jewish faith being laid during this period would become the religious climate in which Jesus would minister 400 years later. Last week we learned how Nehemiah inspired the Jews to take action and face opposition in carrying out their task. Their enemies were strong and well organized, but easily identified. However, the biggest threat to Nehemiah and the remnant community was actually hiding in plain sight and would prove to be one of Nehemiah’s greatest challenges as a leader. This Sunday we will look at Nehemiah chapter 5 and explore how power and privilege intersect with responsibility and repentance, and how Nehemiah provides today’s church with a compelling call to action.