INTERESTING FACTS : Gouverneur Morris, REVOLUTIONARY OFFICER; MEMBER OF THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS; SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION; "PENMAN OF THE CONSTITUTION"; DIPLOMAT; U. S. SENATOR
"There must be religion. When that ligament is torn, society is disjointed and its members perish? [T]he most important of all lessons is the denunciation of ruin to every state that rejects the precepts of religion."
DAILY READING : NEHEMIAH 7
TEXT : Neh 7:1 Now it came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed, Neh 7:2 That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many. Neh 7:3 And I said unto them, Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them shut the doors, and bar them: and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one to be over against his house. Neh 7:4 Now the city was large and great: but the people were few therein, and the houses were not builded. Neh 7:5 And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein,
THEME : FAITHFULNESS
The Temple is finished and so are the walls of the city. Yet, the people are few and their homes are not built. In this, we see, once again, the work of God is fraught with difficulties. The people are instructed to have "watches" [guards] over the city and their houses. This tells us there was imminent danger from the enemies of Israel. Hanani, Nehemiah's brother is appointed by Nehemiah to be in charge of these vital duties, and he is chosen because he is a responsible and loyal man both to God and to country. He also fears God more than most.
"My brother Hanani - This was the person who gave Nehemiah the account of the desolate state of the Jews, Neh_1:2. He is now made ruler of Jerusalem, probably because Nehemiah was about to return to the Persian court. And he found this man to be one in whom he could trust:
1. Because he was a faithful man - one who had a proper belief in God, his government, and his protection; and being devoted to the interests of his people, would be faithful in the discharge of his office.
2. Because he feared God above many - was the most religious person in the congregation; would govern according to the laws; would take care of the interests of pure religion; would not oppress, take bribes, nor abuse his authority; but act in all things as one who had the fear of God continually before his eyes. These are the proper qualifications of a governor." [Adam Clarke]
In every generation, God always has a remnant of people who stay faithful to Him and His Word. Hanani is obviously above the rest. He is one of those who stayed faithful to God. It is encouraging to know, in every age, God always has those who are loyal. We see an example of this in the life of the apostle Paul when he was at Corinth.
Act 18:9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: Act 18:10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
Also with Elijah, who was led to believe he was the only prophet left who was faithful to the LORD.
1Ki 19:9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? 1Ki 19:10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 1Ki 19:11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 1Ki 19:12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 1Ki 19:13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? 1Ki 19:14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 1Ki 19:18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
There are times when we think we are the only ones left to serve God due to the many who neglect to remain faithful to the LORD. Yet, it is encouraging to know that God never leaves Himself without a witness to His might and mercy. Nevertheless, there are plenty of difficulties to overcome. The Temple and the city walls were greatly opposed by the Samaritans. Now, the people are few and their homes yet remain to be restored.
"The people were few - The number of those who returned with Zerubbabel was no more than 42,360 Neh_7:66. Less than 2,000 people had come with Ezra Ezra 8:1-20." [Albert Barnes]
At times, it seems the Church is small and insignificant. The world and all that is contains- its religions, philosophies, science, etc. - outnumbers the Christian substantially. Yet, it pleases God to use a few in order to show Himself stronger the strongest, and wiser than the wisest. Israel is forever an example of what the Almighty God can do with a small, and tiny nation. Israel was chosen by God because they were few in number, and the LORD could prove Himself the One True God through them.
Deu_7:1 When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; Deu 7:7 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: Deu 7:8 But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Thus, we can be encouraged to know no matter how few we may be, no matter how great the odds, no matter how hard or impossible God's plan will always prevail. Further, His plan is for all of us who are born of His Spirit to inherit His everlasting Kingdom.
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "WE MUST REMAIN FAITHFUL TO THE FAITH OF CHRIST "!
The Apostle Jude had to write and exhort the early Church to contend [this word means - "to struggle"] for the faith delivered to them by the LORD and His Apostles.
Jud_1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
If faith were easy, everyone would believe. However, faith is a fight, and many lose heart and no longer remain faithful to the LORD or to His cause when the "going gets tough." Yet, Jesus told us the life of faith in Him would be full of temptations and trials. Therefore, Jesus told us to "count the cost." This is not often mentioned in the pulpit today for fear it will scare people away. Nevertheless, it is true, and if we do not realize that true faith in God involves struggles as we read in Nehemiah, the professing Christian is apt to quit through discouragement, disillusionment, apathy and weariness.
Luk 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Luk 14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. Luk 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Luk 14:29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Luk 14:30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Luk 14:31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Luk 14:32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. Luk 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Luk 14:34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? Luk 14:35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
"This parable represents the absurdity of those who undertook to be disciples of Christ, without considering what difficulties they were to meet with, and what strength they had to enable them to go through with the undertaking. He that will be a true disciple of Jesus Christ shall require no less than the mighty power of God to support him; as both hell and earth will unite to destroy him." [Adam Clarke]
"Those that intend to build this tower must sit down and count the cost. Let them consider that it will cost them the mortifying of their sins, even the most beloved lusts; it will cost them a life of self-denial and watchfulness, and a constant course of holy duties; it may, perhaps, cost them their reputation among men, their estates and liberties, and all that is dear to them in this world, even life itself. And if it should cost us all this, what is it in comparison with what it cost Christ to purchase the advantages of religion for us, which come to us without money and without price?" [Matthew Henry]
Let us learn from those who went before us that stayed faithful to the LORD. Further, let us not shy away from the work of the LORD because there are adversaries and enemies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rather, let every man, woman, and child be prepared for a lifelong warfare and discipline themselves to stay at their post doing their duty until we are properly relieved. That is, let us keep serving the King of Kings, and LORD of LORDS until He comes again. May all of us hear Him say - "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."