October 29, 2017

Adult Bible Study Online

A current connection to each week's session

Godís Covenant with the Returned Exiles
Nehemiah 9:32-38; 10:28-29

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ďBack in My DayĒ

I am a fan of professional and college sports most days. The funny thing about being a fan of such athletics as professional baseball and U.S. college football is that I find myself referencing and even googling past sporting events. Which quarterback completed passes for more than three hundred yards against my favorite team in 1997? I like to sit back and watch the National Football League Network on my television, reminiscing about the times my favorite teams won the Super Bowl. Ah, the golden days of my favorite sports teams are so fun to think about because they are the cherished moments of my youth.

The memories of the good and victorious are not without loss and tragedy. Sports fans are reminded from time to time about their teamsí failures on the field and what could have been. I also remember quite vividly the night one of my favorite NFL players had his life cut short, and I took comfort in prayer and Scripture to get me through that. Memories of past experiences color our perspectives, the way we understand current experiences, and the actions we choose.

When the Jewish people were in exile, they could have found some things about which to be joyful. Nehemiah was praying for the day he could return to Judah and restore the city that had been decimated by the Babylonian empire. Nehemiah prayed that the LORD would remember Godís servant Moses and the promise God gave him: if Godís people would turn away from sin, God would gather them and give them a place where God would be with them (Nehemiah 1:8-9). Godís people had traded in their freedom and relationship with Yahweh in exchange for false idols, money, and military security. In the sixth century BCE, Judeans had enjoyed the benefits of Godís benevolence, but they chose to forget Godís goodness displayed in the redemption of their forebears.

When the second temple was completed and the people were worshiping God in thanksgiving, some confusion arose as to whether it was an event to mourn the first templeís splendor and glory or to be grateful for Godís mercy (Ezra 3:13). The older priests and family leaders pined for the glory days of the temple mount as they had known itóa beautiful building. But these leaders did not live during a time of righteous kings and prophets, so what they were longing for had to do only with outward appearance and not inner peace and righteousness. Nehemiahís act of remembering Godís goodness correctly is a good example for us all. Letís continue to remember Godís redeeming acts.

  • What are some ways your church keeps memories of people and events alive?
  • Is it foolish to wish for the good old days, as a king in exile once said (see Ecclesiastes 7:10)?

—Rod Thomas, miteewarrior@gmail.com

© 2017

Rod Thomas is a child-centered, fair-minded academic; a Christian who sometimes writes; and an aspiring preacher and layperson at University Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. He is actively involved in his congregationís homeless and childrenís ministries and is a syndicated blogger for MennoNerds.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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