4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king.
4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
3Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as far as the Tower of Hananel.
4 The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 5 Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: “You are just in these judgments, O Holy One, you who are and who were;6 for they have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.”
Merry Christmas everyone! Today’s reading is not exactly good Christmas reading, at least on the surface. You won’t find any mention of gift giving, the birth of Christ, Santa Claus, or required church attendance. You will find reference to other things that might be good to remember during this holiday season, so I will do my best to summarize the concepts here.
Nehemiah was a praying man. His prayer wasn’t for himself. He prayed for his brothers and countrymen who were servants of God. He prayed for success in doing God’s work. Nehemiah was focused on God’s purpose not his own comfort. He was the King’s cup bearer. I’m sure this was a prestigious position and had quite a bit of job security associated with it. Yet, he chooses to give it up, to go and do God’s work of repairing the wall. Nehemiah was able to overcome those who mocked him and ridiculed him. He knew exactly what his purpose was and was one hundred percent committed to getting it done. We see his success in chapter 3 as the wall is repaired. The story of Nehemiah supports the big three concepts found through out scripture; Love God, Love your Neighbor, Die to Self. Most of us will spend more time focused on these three at this time of year than we do with the other eleven months combined. That is the power of the Christmas season!
Our reading in Revelation shows us the justness of God’s judgement on mankind. Regardless of what the actual meaning of the seven bowls of God’s wrath is, we know that God is just in his judgements. Even though the description of these judgements sound horrible I find relief in knowing that as a believer in Christ I am saved from these horrible judgements. I find peace in knowing that God will always be just in his judgements, that Christ has given me freedom from God’s wrath. God I thank You for the wonderful gift of Your Son.
Father God, my prayer this holiday season is that You grant Your servants success in spreading the Gospel to all who are in need of being saved from Your judgement. Help us go forth this season and share the peace of Christ with all who are missing the truth of redemption. Holy is Your Name!