The book of Nehemiah is about building . . . building a wall for the city of Jerusalem, building up the population, building up the kingdom of Israel. Yet chapter 1 of Nehemiah begins with brokenness.
The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 587 BC. When the Persians conquered the Babylonians, Cyrus of Persia allowed a group to return to Jerusalem, but many chose to stay in Babylon. Others moved to the Persian capital of Susa. It is in Susa that we find Nehemiah, the cupbearer to the king, over 70 years after the edict of Cyrus.
Nehemiah’s brother Hanani had visited Jerusalem, and when he returned, Nehemiah asked for a report. The report was not good. “The survivors there in the province who escaped captivity are in great trouble and shame; the wall of Jerusalem isbroken down, and its gates have been destroyed by fire” (1:3).
Broken walls, broken gates, a broken city. Nehemiah sat down and wept. Wasn’t it supposed to be different by now? Shouldn’t the groups that had gone back to Jerusalem have rebuilt it? Hadn’t the prophets promised a restored Zion?
We in the church weep at the brokenness we see around us. Jesus said that the kingdom of God is among us (Luke 17:21), but when we look around us, we see brokenness. We see hunger, crime, and suffering. We find strife and broken relationships. Christians have been around for two thousand years. We in the Wesleyan tradition have been building the kingdom for almost three centuries. Wasn’t it supposed to be different by now?
Today with cities, towns, churches, people and many of us all experiencing brokenness, Bishop King, wants to lead us to growth and rebuilidng by examining the lessons of Nehemiah.
Let us begin to study:
Will you read through Nehemiah?
Will you write about your own thoughts and discoveries from the reading?
Will you discuss your reflections in a group of believers, so that ideas can be shared and insights gained?
Bishop King and the Cabinet will spend time this year studying Nehemiah. Would you join us today?
If you have questions please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org