Monday, September 29, 2014

Nehemiah 8-9

(September 29, 2014)
                There are times when the Old Testament is a struggle to try and make applicable to my life, but this is not one of those times.  As I read these chapters, I really felt a great deal of applicability of what I was reading into what I am experiencing in my life right now.

                First, I was struck by the languages of Ezra and others concerning their reading of the Law to the people of Jerusalem.  The people, recognizing their sins and wickedness before God (having received the Law, and understanding how significantly they had deviated from it), were justifiably sorrowful for their actions.  But Ezra, being wiser, taught them that they should not weep.  After all, this was a day of joy – it began with them in wickedness and in ignorance of the Law, and it ended with them having understanding.

                I have felt to weep for my mistakes as well.  But, while I am often mournful about my situation I don’t often mourn my mistakes the way that I thought I should.  In fact, I actually have felt guilty about not feeling as guilty as I thought I should – my mistakes were plentiful and significant.  But I realize, reading this chapter, that I am experiencing just what Ezra was teaching the people of Jerusalem – yes, my sins were significant, but today is a day of rejoicing rather than regret, because the Law that I was violating I now understand and am keeping.

                This made my think of my own life and the pattern of the children of Israel.  I have often done this with the Book of Mormon, but never as much with the Bible.  But I see how appropriate it is.  Like the Israelites, I was blessed to be in a covenant relationship with the Lord.  But I didn’t live that covenant like I should, and I violated it in ways big and small for a long period of time.  The Lord would send people to teach me (like the prophets in ancient Israel), and I would from time-to-time turn back to Him, only to return to my sins later.

                Eventually, the Lord for my benefit ceased to protect me from the consequences of my sins.  I was fully taken into bondage, and everything that I once valued I lost.  Like the Israelites, I realized in bondage just what I had squandered – I was fortunate enough to turn to the Lord in my extremity rather than turning away.  Over time, He has brought me back and freed me from my bondage.  What was lost may never be regained, but I am nonetheless blessed beyond measure by Him.

                Finally, I took note of the language that the Lord has done right and we had done wickedly.  I have had some problems in the past (though less so lately) with feeling bitterness towards people who placed me in the situation I am in – a false witness against me that did incalculable damage.  But I realized reading this that the matter of their actions are between them and the Lord, and that the Lord has done right and I must focus only on the ways that I have done wickedly (and I have).  Whether it is Judah taken into captivity by the Babylonians or my situation brought about by false witnessing, in either case the Lord has done right.  The Babylonians and my accusers will need to deal with the Lord themselves, but for me I need to just focus on continuing to draw myself ever-closer to the Lord.

No comments:

Post a Comment