Bible Reading: Nehemiah 9

“You are the LORD, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous.” (Nehemiah 9:7-8)

Have you ever read through the stories of the Old Testament? What do you think you are supposed to learn from it? 

One of the things that God wants His church to remember continually is His story of salvation. From reading the many stories in the Old Testament, God wants us to learn how He is faithful to His people. God wants to bring us to trust in Him that He will continue to be faithful in the future as He has already promised. 

Nehemiah had just been appointed the governor of the rebuilt Jerusalem. The exiles had just returned from Babylon. A fact to notice is that these people who had returned quite possibly had never lived in Israel before. They were second-generation exiles who were born in foreign lands. So for them, this was the first time coming to their homeland. 

A lot of us can probably relate to their experiences as third-culture kids. Their identity was Jewish. Yet, they grew up speaking Babylonian; they grew up playing and learning with Babylonian children. Thus, the culture and Jewish way of life would have been foreign to them, despite their parents’ efforts to teach them their identity. 

So, at the beginning of their return, the new Israelites discovered many new things about who they were as they read the Law. They recalled once again their history. God had called Abraham to the Promised Land and promised that God would make a nation and people of His own from Abraham’s offspring. From Abraham was born Isaac, and from Isaac was born Jacob. Then, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel and from Israel came Joseph. Joseph was sent as a slave to Egypt. However, in God’s providence, this turned out for the good of Israel’s family when famine struck. Then, they all moved into Egypt. Over time, the Pharaoh turned evil, and the Israelites became enslaved. It wasn’t until Moses that God freed them from captivity, remembering His promise of the Promised Land. 

They then remembered how God had led the Israelites through the wilderness and how God still led despite the Israelites moaning to return to Egypt and worshipping golden calves. Finally, God led the Israelites to victory over the nations living in the Promised Land, and God gave the land over to His people as He had promised. However, over time, the people forgot about God, and despite multiple reminders by prophets to turn back to God, they still refused to obey. As a result, they were exiled to Babylon. 

Then all the new Israelites fell down and repented before their God, who had once again given them mercy to repent and return to Him from the exile. They learnt how God was faithful and compassionate, slow to anger and always forgiving. They knew they did not deserve a chance to return to Him after what their forefathers had done. 

God’s History of Salvation does not stop here. Eventually, the story reaches the Offspring, who is Christ. Christ died on the cross so that people from all nations who believe in Him would be forgiven and welcomed into God’s church, His true people. Until today, God is still working to expand His church from the commission He first gave to His disciples (see Matthew 28:16-20). First, Jesus’ disciples spread the gospel to many nations. From there, more people spread the gospel to more places until it eventually reached us in this place. 

God has been working from the beginning of the world to bring people into His Kingdom. God is always faithful and will continue working until He returns and all His children are saved. How good is it to believe in such a God? If God has been faithful according to His promises over thousands of years, will He not keep His promises again in the future? Therefore, let us trust in Him. 

Lord, thank You because You are a faithful God. Thank You because You are a sovereign God. You are in control of all things. May Your Kingdom come, and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Please help us understand Your history of salvation and use us also as instruments in Your grand story. May Your name be glorified. In Jesus’ name, amen.