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April 22, 2023 - Ezra 10 - Nehemiah 2

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah, in many ways, constitute one narrative with Nehemiah arriving in Jerusalem thirteen years after Ezra’s arrival. The book of Ezra ends with, “While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly” (Ezra 10:1). One man, Ezra, had seen the disobedience all around him. One man made confession. One man prayed. One man wept and cast himself down before God. And then . . . many, many people began to do the same!

The book of Nehemiah begins: “I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4). In Jerusalem, Nehemiah reported to the people: “Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem” (2:17), and the hand of the Lord was with him, and the people worked, and the walls were restored.

When reading these two books I am always struck by this reality, i.e., that, in each case, one man saw a need. One man prayed. One man called his people to obedience. One man surveyed the need and called others to come alongside him. And the job got done. One man! How good to reflect on our own lives in view of these two men and the words of Thomas Pollock.

We have not served thee as we ought;

alas! the duties left undone,

the work with little fervor wrought,

the battles lost or scarcely won!

Lord, give the zeal and give the might,

for thee to toil, for thee to fight. --Thomas Benson Pollock (1889)

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