Studying Nehemiah this past year with my church was breaking new ground for me. I honestly didn’t know how it ended. I avoided reading summaries to avoid spoilers and was carried along in the suspense. I kind of expected the book to conclude with the wall built and the choirs singing. Turns out, the wrap-up in the last few chapters is more of a sobering wakeup call for my own pattern of turning to “broken cisterns” instead of God.
In Jeremiah 2 it says,
“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
That can hold no water.”
This pattern of turning back to sin sounds too familiar…because it reminds me of ME. Human flesh fails. Walking after emptiness, we will be empty. The people in Nehemiah’s day forsook their vows and it is disappointing. But it magnifies how we serve a God of mercy and how He is our only good.
When I learned that the book of Malachi was likely written in Nehemiah’s absence after the wall was built, I camped out in these words full of hope to console myself about the not-happy ending.
“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who ]fear the Lord and who esteem His name. They will be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.” Malachi 3
“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the Lord of hosts.
“Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel.”
“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” Malachi 4
I’m so thankful (and astonished) by His mercy and promise that we have the sun of righteousness who rose with healing in His wings! May we “remember the statutes and ordinances.” He restores hearts!
“And You have fulfilled Your promise, For You are righteous.”
And now, because of His Son, who rose with healing in His wings, I wear His righteous robes even though I do NOTHING to deserve it, and am invited to obey God and enjoy the joy of walking in His righteousness and His healing!