Flowers on the Wall?

           Scripture Resource Passage: Hebrew Bible, Nehemiah 1-11

You ask, “Why read the Old Testament books?” Thanks for asking.

             The books are the only Bible Jesus ever read. 

            And the stories are compelling. The truths are startling. There is brutal daunting punishment. The earthy and graphic stories are also ones Jesus would have heard. 

            I choose to not walk away from these stories for they tell of God moving His people from the grave to the garden. They were spiritually dead and God intends for them to come to the Garden. Yes, there were flowers in that Garden. Sadly, there are no reports of zinnias or roses growing in Nehemiah’s construction zone. Here’s how to begin this multi-week study: find the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Nehemiah.

            If it’s hiding from you there’s this wonderful device at the front of each Bible—a Table of Contents—which will speed you toward the hiding place. Or, use your search engine and you’ll quickly arrive in the long ago, ready to discover 21stcentury resources.

            Each week of this study you’ll discover patterns of spiritual discernment and wisdom. Here’s how this week, in a L, P, then A pattern works out. I strongly encourage you to read the Scripture passages noted in the parentheses.

            First, the ‘L’ is for listening—when I am very attentive to the words of others, I am watching for both what is and is not said. Nehemiah listens well by bringing his full self to these moments (Nehemiah 1:1-3). The reports are challenging. The disaster ominous.

            Second, the ‘P’ is for prayer—Nehemiah’s strong passion in a leadership-prayer calls to be heard in our generation (Nehemiah 1:4-11). In ways similar to Jesus, Nehemiah also pleads for the support of Heaven (Matthew 26:36-46).

            Third, the ‘A’ is for action—after the ‘L’ and ‘P’ strategies are implemented, Nehemiah moves to action, believing in the ongoing presence of God (Nehemiah 2-13). Chapters 2-13 of the book are the action story. Could the L, the P, then A model work for you? 

Life Applications

            Listen to the reports of those around you.

            Pray with the intensity of Jesus and yes, Nehemiah.

            Act with the determined strength of Heaven as your companion.

Consider enriching your listening by reading a legitimate background article from an Old Testament specialist. Many are available online. Or, read along with Eugene Peterson in his Bible paraphrase—The Message. Peterson loved language and The Message is a resourceful commentary on the Book of Nehemiah. 

If not the work of Eugene Peterson, consider adding a copy of the Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures, produced by the Jewish Publication Society. Your goal in reading this translation would be hearing Nehemiah’s story even as Jesus might have heard the account. You might discover flowers on the wall.

Published by Andrew Simkins

Dr. Andrew Simkins provides spiritual direction for individuals and small groups through the regular blog posts found on this site. He resides in northwest Indiana with his beloved, along with nearby children and grandchildren who are the adornment of his life.

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