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Immerse: Chronicles Week 6

Rebuilding a Thankful Heart

Rebuilding something takes a whole lot of work. Rebuilding something after it’s been destroyed is even more work. We read in Ezra and Nehemiah how the Israelites returned to Jerusalem after being uprooted in exile. They go to rebuild their lives as they were supposed to be. They rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, they re-establish the temple, and they restore their hearts to God. But rebuilding a spiritual people – not just a physical nation – takes a lot of work. Here’s how they did it:
They Rebuild
With Nehemiah leading the charge, the Jews begin work on rebuilding and re-establishing Jerusalem, starting with the physical location. We see later on in the book that as the people are led in the re-building of Jerusalem, they are also being led to reform their hearts and return to God in the same way their ancestors did.
They Remember
Their reform begins by the reading of the law. I’m always touched by the section where Ezra reads the law. He read from sunrise until noon. the people were so moved by it, they lifted their hands, bowed down, and worshiped God. They observed it as a holy day, and some were so touched upon hearing the law again, they were weeping. And on this holy day, the Israelites are led by their leaders to remember what they should have been doing to follow the law, and they do it. They confess their sin of forgetting God’s commands and disobeying.
They Confess
Their confession doesn’t actually start with confession! It starts by praising God and recognizing what God has done for them as a people: He kept His promises, saved them from slavery and suffering, did not abandon them, had great compassion on them, sustained them, and gave them victory over enemies. Then they move on to recognize how they failed to remain under God’s authority and keep their promises to Him.
They Promise
After they confess, the Israelites move on to make promises to God on how they’re going to remain in Him. Some of it has to do with laws they had promised to follow in the first place; another had to do with giving to the temple (tithing), and other promises had to do with caring for the temple and the priests. They close out their covenant by promising not to neglect the house of their God.
I find great significance and imagery in this part of Israel’s history. When I read about how Nehemiah leads the charge to rebuild the temple, I think of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead: He nullified the need for a physical temple and rebuilt His temple in us, His people. When Israel remembers all the good God has done for them, it compels me to remember how God has rescued, promised, sustained, and saved me as well. When Israel lists all their sins and remembers each of them, I lean in to the promise of God to remove my sins so I don’t stand in front of Him accused, but forgiven.  And when Israel makes their own promises to God on how they’re going to do better, I am thankful Jesus gives me chance after chance to keep building and re-building my trust in Him, and for the strength to continue living in faith and under His grace. As you read on, I pray you, too, will recognize all the good things God has done, and be thankful!