READ Nehemiah 11
I am going to be completely honest; when I read this chapter I did not understand it. I couldn’t comprehend how, now that the holy city was re-built, there weren’t masses of Jews flooding back to live there. I couldn’t understand why, in order to repopulate the city, they had to cast lots to coerce 1 in 10 men into relocating back to where God’s temple was. I couldn’t understand why those who voluntarily did so, voluntarily moved closer to the place God’s presence dwelt, deserved the pat on the back they got. I didn’t understand. Surely this was a privilege not a duty.Then I put myself in their shoes and all of a sudden it became clear. If these men were to move back into the city it was going to cost them something. First of all they were going to have to uproot their families and rip them out of the communities they had settled in. That isn’t easy. Next it would cost them financially, as they would have to build up whatever business they were involved in from scratch. They would have to farm new land and sew new seeds in what had been a desolate place. That was going to take effort. Finally it would cost them in terms of their sin. The laws of God were followed closely in the city. Those who lived there would be held to a higher standard of behaviour, than those outside the walls. Moving nearer to God’s presence was going to cost.
It still does. God opens up the gates, just like in Nehemiah’s day and invites his people in closer. But if we are to move closer to God it will bring change to our families. We will very quickly have to teach them the sacrificial way of the cross. It will cost us financially at times as God takes hold of our possessions. It will most definitely take time and effort. And it will demand changes in our behaviour. But once the cost is counted, and we compare it to the prize of his presence, surely it seems small. What price will you pay for the deep presence of God?
God, make me willing to press closer to you at any cost. Amen.