This is Most Certainly True
by Mary Alice McGinnis
In today’s reading, we get plopped into the story of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was one of the many Jews who were living in foreign lands because the Children of Israel had been exiled from their homeland. It is estimated that at the time of Nehemiah, it had been nearly 150 years since the first Jews were sent into captivity. Many of them had made new lives for themselves, some had even risen to places of influence.
Nehemiah had been serving as the cup bearer to the King of Persia. For some reason, he was feeling drawn back to Jerusalem, the land of this heritage. When he heard Jerusalem was literally a wreck, it says Nehemiah wept bitterly.
He gets permission from the King to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall, at the King’s expense. Nehemiah gathers other Jews who had returned to Jerusalem and bands them together in this seeming impossible task. They are met with opposition after opposition. Yet with God’s divine hand upon them, they persisted. The wall was rebuilt in a miraculous 52 days.
That brings us to today’s reading. The wall had just been completed. And the people, having seen all the God had done for them are now anxious to hear MORE.
They ask Ezra the priest to read to them from the book of the Law – the Torah – the first five books of the Bible. They listened for six long hours as Ezra read to them.
I can’t imagine listening to someone reading for six hours. It caused me to wonder, what captivated them?
The Book of the Law included the stories about how God had chosen the Israelites, despite themselves. They were often hardhearted, stubborn, and wayward. He gave them the Ten Commandments, and before Moses even comes down the mountain, the people had already sought after another god of their own making.
What are some of those Old Testament stories that come to your mind?
Here are a few I thought of:
God using the malfeasance of Joseph’s brothers to set up a rescue plan for them and the whole nation of Israel.
God calling the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt through the Exodus.
The Angel of Death Passing over them because the were marked by the blood of a spotless lamb.
The care, provision, and patience of God as He led them through the wilderness for 40 years.
Their entry into the promised land.
The Day of Atonement – which provided a way for His people to be forgiven of their sins and have their relationship with God restored.
Story after story in the Old Testament explode with all the WONDERS of what GOD had done for His people.
These Divine acts of love toward His people, even when they did not deserve it, is what caused Ezra’s heart to burst with praise. And the people responded, "Amen! Amen!"
According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, the Hebrew word amen means truly, verily. Amen can be equated with steadiness, trustworthiness, and TRUTH.
Martin Luther exchanged the word amen with "THIS IS MOST CERTAINLY TRUE!"
The people moved by the Word of God, saw in a new light the TRUTH about themselves and about God. They saw how sinful they were – which deeply grieved them.
Ezra points them back to the truth of how glorious God is.
vs. 8 - "This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."
As children of God, we dare not put our hope or trust in ourselves. We cannot fix things, repent enough, turn over a new leaf, or follow God’s law to earn God’s favor. We are hopeless lost without Jesus.
Hebrews 12:2-3 says, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
May we ever hold fast to proclaiming AMEN to the truths of what God
- HAS done,
- IS doing,
- and ALL He WILL yet do.
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.
Pray this prayer with a loud AMEN! This is most certainly true!
Jesus, you told us that YOU are the vine, and we are the branches. You told us to remain in Your love, and promised that just as the Father has loved You, so You have loved us! Show us anew how you have worked in our past, how you are working in our present, and how You will continue to work in our future, even into eternity. You laid down Your life for us. We can now also lay down our lives for others.
Fill us full to the brim with YOUR overflowing JOY, which is our strength!