Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tongue Twisters…Nehemiah 7

Skipping Without a Rope
My dad taught me all about how to take a simple piece of flat shale and using just the right wrist movement and fling, that thin piece of dark shale would joyfully skip across the surface of the flat calm surface. If it didn't work the first time, you just kept trying until you got it. Not sure why exactly, but what an enjoyable activity. Once I learned that, I would look for any rock flat enough (only if there was no shale of course) to skip across any water surface. Some would work, some went kerplunk. Oooh, remember Kerplunk? Hmm, but I digress. But don't ya just like saying that word though? Okay, back to the matter at hand, skipping rocks. Turns out, I also skip proverbial rocks across the Bible as well. What do I mean exactly?
Well,  don't know about you, but when Craig and I come to those chapters in the Bible that are all about the genealogies and/or names that tend to twist the tongue in the Bible (not to mention knowing how to pronounce them), we skim across the surface to get to the next chapter. I wouldn't feel too bad about it. But then, during last week's group study, our leader told a couple of us who were reading passages out loud, to not bother finishing the verse because of the difficult names in it. It was then I felt convicted about skipping across the names in our personal studies. After all, this is God's Word we are reading, not some history book or novel. If those names are in there, there's a reason. On that note, here we are today, chapter seven of Nehemiah, the chapter of names.

It's All About Genes
Just like other passages in Scripture, this chapter is not just about who's related to who (or is it whom?), but the names of some individuals who were tasked with specific duties. There were those who basically did the security watches. There were singers appointed and porters, Nehemiah's brother, Hanani, and someone named Hananiah, the ruler of the palace, were both placed in charge over Jerusalem.  
In verse 7:5, Nehemiah was lead by God to gather the nobles and rulers together, as well as the rest of the people to document or record their genealogy. I think we all know genealogy is whose parents are who or who begat who. In the case of a report like this, it is also to record as well, just how many of them there are. He actually found a register or document with the information. It would appear to be somewhat of a census, so they would know who the people of Israel were since they returned to Jerusalem. (just my guess as to why?)

The document is specific and in some places breaks the people down into specific categories, such as singers and porters. What is a porter you ask? As far as I can tell, they are the gate keepers. Hmmm, think maybe of the Porters that work in Hospitals and Hotels and such….Hope that helps.

[Neh 7:43-63 KJV] 43 The Levites: the children of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, [and] of the children of Hodevah, seventy and four. 44 The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred forty and eight. 45 The porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, an hundred thirty and eight. 46 The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hashupha, the children of Tabbaoth, 47 The children of Keros, the children of Sia, the children of Padon, 48 The children of Lebana, the children of Hagaba, the children of Shalmai, 49 The children of Hanan, the children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, 50 The children of Reaiah, the children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, 51 The children of Gazzam, the children of Uzza, the children of Phaseah, 52 The children of Besai, the children of Meunim, the children of Nephishesim, 53 The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur, 54 The children of Bazlith, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha, 55 The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Tamah, 56 The children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha. 57 The children of Solomon's servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Perida, 58 The children of Jaala, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel, 59 The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Amon. 60 All the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants, [were] three hundred ninety and two. 61 And these [were] they which went up [also] from Telmelah, Telharesha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer: but they could not shew their father's house, nor their seed, whether they [were] of Israel. 62 The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred forty and two. 63 And of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai, which took [one] of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite to wife, and was called after their name.
Then it appears (if I have this correctly), there were some who were priests but when it was discovered that they didn't have the proper genealogy or DNA, they were removed from priesthood.

[Neh 7:63-64 KJV] 63 And of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai, which took [one] of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite to wife, and was called after their name. 64 These sought their register [among] those that were reckoned by genealogy, but it was not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.

Sacred Decision Making
In Craig's synopsis, he noted that in verse sixty five, someone named the Tirshatha, also known as the Governor (In this passage, Nehemiah used that title, it was a title used by the Persian Governor) then said that they shouldn't eat of the most holy things until there was priest with Urim and Thummim. Urim are called "lights" and are stones kept in the high priest's breastplate, that he used to determine God's will regarding certain decisions. The Thummim, which means "perfection," they were stones provided for the purposes of achieving a sacred lot used in conjunction with the Urim, to know God's decision on a matter. 
Think drawing straws, well, sort of. No, this does not endorse gambling as some assert. Using these methods to know His will, were ordained by God Himself and are not games of chance. It was God who let the specify rock/s "speak" or be selected. 

Not only did they total the specific number of male and female singers, but the horses, mules and camels were counted as well…

[Neh 7:67-69 KJV] 67 Beside their manservants and their maidservants, of whom [there were] seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and they had two hundred forty and five singing men and singing women. 68 Their horses, seven hundred thirty and six: their mules, two hundred forty and five: 69 [Their] camels, four hundred thirty and five: six thousand seven hundred and twenty asses.

Chapter seven ends with details on how much gold and and other valuables were given to accomplish God's work, one being the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Then, by the seventh month (I looked it up, it is October during this calendar period) everyone had settled down in their cities and towns. I am assuming that they mean they returned to where they lived prior to the Babylonian captivity.

Ha, Craig pointed out that here we are, studying this in October! Cool.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Conspiracy Fact

Conspiracy Theories
Believe it or not, Craig and I enjoy researching conspiracy theories to learn which ones are conspiracy fact. Unsure about what a conspiracy theory is, keep reading… 

It is pretty common that when you tell someone what you believe really may have happened regarding say, the JFK assassination or September 11, 2001, they look at you like you are out of your mind. It gets worse when you tell them about how secret or elusive societies such as the Freemasons, the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group, or the Bohemian Grove and such, seem to really exist. It is why we usually only discuss it between the two of us :o)

Merriam Webster Dictionary's definition of conspiracy is "a secret plan made by two or more people to do something that is harmful or illegal and conspiracy theory   definition: "a theory that explains an event or situation as the result of a secret plan by usually powerful people or groups." 
Basically, conspiracists don't tow the party line that the mainstream media presents us with, regarding explanations for events and subjects, such as mentioned above. Usually we reject what we've been told in most cases because the evidence just doesn't stack up. When that happens, those who want a more acceptable answer or in many cases, those who really want to know the truth, do detail research on whatever it is. And then there are those who come up with the ideas or theories on the truth. 
Based on what we have learned thus far, there are legitimate conspiracies that prove to be true and those that, well, appear to have a tad too much time on their hands. For example look at what some conspiracists came up with when the Malaysian Air Flight MH370  couldn't be found or the theories about how the deaths of some celebrities such as, Robin Williams have been illuminati sacrifices. So I can understand why one might roll their eyes…
However, if you choose to not take all "news" word for word,  often enough, you will discover that there is plausible evidence to discredit what we believe to be true. Asking questions is always a good thing.

For sure, the age of the internet has helped give a voice to anyone who wants to express a thought, including ones that should probably be kept to oneself. Regardless, conspiracy theories can not just be entertaining but quite sobering as well. 

If you are now, a tiny bit curious, feel free to check out a sampling of what is available regarding some of the mentioned topics that I have posted on my Pinterest account. (click)

Believing Without Seeing
We may have learned to question all we hear and see in the media or even from the government, but, we can rest in knowing beyond all doubt, that all we read in God's Holy Word can be taken at face value. Word for Word, God's Truth is reliable and solid. Go ahead and ask questions if you want, God's Word is not questionable - there is nothing to doubt. That includes this conspiracy that we read today in Nehemiah Chapter six!

Here are my notes from reading Nehemiah Chapter six. I do confess that after my husband read his synopsis, I added some points I missed. Thanks Craig! It's why we are doing this together :o)

Nehemiah Chapter 6
When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and Nehemiah's other enemies found out that he was done rebuilding the wall, they begged Nehemiah to meet with them. They sent multiple messages. Realizing they were intent on harming him, Nehemiah replied by asking why should he stop working to meet with them. This exchange of messages repeated four times - the exact same words back and forth. However, it was the fifth time when Sanballat sent his servant with a letter that talked about how there was a rumour about Nehemiah and his intentions regarding rebuilding the wall. It was rumoured that the Jews were planning a rebellion and that he wanted to become Nehemiah their king, among other related stories.

Nehemiah replied again, telling him the stories were completely false. The letter challenged Nehemiah to come and talk with their King. He refused to go. 

A Conspiracy  
A false prophet was sent to Nehemiah asking him to basically hide out in God's temple for protection. He told Nehemiah that Tobiah and his cronies were planning on killing him. To hide out in God's House was not something Nehemiah believed was the right thing to do.  He clearly was a bold, courageous prophet of God. Then Nehemiah was given God's discernment and he concluded that this fellow was not of God, but was hired to deceive him, by Tobiah and Sanballat. didn't listen to him. 

In [Neh 6:10-11 KJV] 10 Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who [was] shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee. 11 And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who [is there], that, [being] as I [am], would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.Nehemiah was determined to work even harder on the rebuild because he knew these fellows where trying to intimidate him and tempt him to sin, in an attempt to ruin his credibility, and get him to slow down or stop the work in Jerusalem.

On October 2nd, it was complete. It took fifty two days to complete it. Hmmm, I wonder if that number is significant considering there are 52 weeks in a year??

Humiliated and Scared
The enemies of the Jews were quite bothered by the restoration and could not deny that the Nehemiah and his people had the help of their God. In spite of all this, Tobiah sent many letters to the nobles of Judah who had an alliance with Tobiah, because of certain "social" connections. They would say many nice things about Tobiah to Nehemiah trying to scare him and then would report back to Tobiah whatever he said.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Interest Free Loans

The people cried out against their fellow Israelites because they were worried about the famine or dearth in the King James. 
Dearth is Hebrew for 
1. famine, hunger  A. famine (in land, nation) i) of Jevhovah's word (fig)
B) hunger (of individuals)
They mentioned that they had even mortgaged their homes and land in order to buy food. Even the children were being forced, I assume by their parents, into slavery. I think when they say that because their fields and vineyards belong to others, that is why they have had to force their children into bondage - as a form of payment. It is sad to think that in order to eat, children can be used as payment in some degree. 

When Nehemiah heard what these people were crying about he talked with the nobles and the rulers and convicted them on their usury. They were using the famine as a  means to gain wealth/slaves from their own people who didn't have the means to repay what they owed. Yet if the people who borrowed from them couldn't pay, they would pay with the lives of their youth. Interest on loans being charged among their own people was never acceptable to God. Nehemiah told them to lend without the usury part. 

Usury means in Hebrew: 
USURY means:
1. lending on interest, usury 
2. n Neh. 5:11, the rate of "usury" was only one per cent

Nehemiah asked them to restore to their own people, all they had taken from them, houses, lands, vineyards, olive yards, and the hundredth part of the interest the paid in money well.

The nobles and rulers agreed to restore everything and said they would require nothing from them. Nehemiah made an oath with them to make sure they would abide by what they said.

Nehemiah became the governor of the people. Those who were governors prior to him, were not above board. In fact they were chargeable because they had stolen (from what I read) money and food. Nehemial did what was right because he feared God.

He had his servants help build the wall and he never bought any land. Nehemiah shared his table with an hundred and fifty of the Jews and rulers and some heathen as well.

Nehemiah asked God to remember him for good because of all that he had done for the people of Jerusalem.

Armed, Ready, Build!

Chapter 4 of Nehemiah
Sanballat was livid when he heard that the wall was being rebuilt. He mocked the Jews. He talked to his army of Samaria, asking things about what the rebuild could mean…"will they fortify themselves? Will they make and end in a day?”
Tobiah tried to make fun, by saying that if a fox went on the wall, he would break it down.
Nehemiah prayed to God, saying “we are despised…”
When Sanballat and Tobiah, the Arabians and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were coming along, that all of the breaches were repaired , they were very angry. So angry they conspired all night (verse 4:8) against the Israelites, how to fight them and hinder them.
Nehemiah and the people prayed to God and placed people in places to watch throughout the night and day. Judah was concerned that the strength of the bearers is weakening because there is too much rubbish, to move.“
Their adversaries said, that the Israelites won't know or see us until we come and slay them and make the work on the wall stop.
Jews who lived close by were concerned that they could be attacked from every direction. But when the enemies heard about the plans Judah had to protect every angle and part of the area, half worked on the wall and half held spears, shields, *habergeons and bows - verse 16, God had frustrated their plans.
A Habergeon is: 1.body armour, 2. a weapon, 3. perhaps a lance, javelin
So the enemies plans were all for nothing, God thwarted them. The people got back to work, all the ones who had a spare hand, had their sword by their side. As well Nehemiah was the one to sound the warning alarm (a trumpet) And half of the men held their spears on guard from morning until night, while the other half worked on the rebuild.
Nehemiah told them that the Lord would fight for them when the trumpet blows. He also told everyone who lived outside of the walls to to stay in Jerusalem to help with guard duty and work. None of them ever took off their clothes or went without their weapons, and only took off their clothes when they had to wash.

Who Did What and Who Didn't?

Nehemiah Chapter 3

Chapter three seems to be about listing the names of those who helped with the building of the wall of Jerusalem and even mentioning those who didn't help. Here are just a few notes on what I believe this chapter is about. 

One thing that came to mind was that nothing in God's Word is in vain. Meaning, that even the lengthy lists of genealogies and details have special purpose. So I cheated and googled that thought. Because specific names of gates and areas are mentioned, I thought it would be a good idea to have a diagram of Jerusalem to see where these places and names fit in.

On that note, here's what I saw in chapter three and after that is the link that gives an idea of what all of the details may mean. 

In verse one we are told that Eliashib, who was the high priest, with his brethren the priests, built the sheep gate and sanctified it, as well as setting up the gate's doors. They also blessed the tower of Meah, and the tower of Hananeel I am guessing that each gate or area has a significant meaning which means, I looked it up and found some interesting notes and diagrams at a sight linked here (incase you are interested) 

The rest of this chapter tells us specifically, who built what and who didn't.  
There was the fish gate that was rebuilt, as well as…
Fortified the bros wall of Jersusalem
The valley gate
The Dung Gate
The gate of the fountain

The Tekoites repaired but their nobles did not.

As mentioned, the gates of Jerusalem have both a personal and prophetic aspect. I’ll use a table to display this so that you can read which ever column you want.

The Gate of Jerusalem Personal Significance Prophetic/Historical Significance

Sheep Gate'
the House of Eliashib
the Water gate
the Wall of Ophel
The priests their own houses
the East Gate
Individuals repaired their own chambers and homes
The gate Miphkad

Here is the article the diagram was taken from if you want to hear someone's interpretation about Nehemiah's Jerusalem (click here).

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Nehemiah Chapter 1 and 2 - A Plan to Rebuild

Chapter 1
My synopsis is from reading the New American Standard Bible and the King James. I totally endorse the King James Bible, but the way my brain works, I just have a very difficult time understanding what I am reading at times. So to help explain it, I do reference some other translations. However, the KJV, I believe, is the number one standard to use. I know that sounds confusing and makes little sense- if I believe it is the best Engish translation, but, it is where my head is at for now. 
As visual artist/creative person that I am, reading the KJV, is sort of like solving math problems. Might I say, my first semester of math in grade nine was 29%! I think old english accesses the left lobe of the grey matter, like math does. My right lobe, never shuts down, but the left…well, all I can say is, I hope that makes some sense.
I don't believe it is a sin to use another translation, but I do think it gets too confusing when we do not have one standard to use as a plumb line. On that note, here are the notes from the study my husband and I are doing (well my notes anyway) We decided, instead of just reading the Bible out loud, while I doze off (it's his soothing voice that does it), we could both take 30 minutes, read the chapter and write what we believe it was about. Thought it would be fun to post it in this blog. You know, since I didn't keep up with my earlier "inductive" study plans.

Chapter 1 (we are doing Nehemiah because our Bible study leader is going to take us through it this year- thought it would be good to do home work ahead of time, instead of winging it the night of.)

Nehemiah is cupbearer to the king Artaxerxes.
The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, the gates burned with fire. And there is a remnant who escaped captivity and are in distress.
When Nehemiah heard about this he was distraught and prayed to the God of Heaven, fasted, wept and mourned for days. 
Nehemiah confesses sins, on behalf of his people Israel, as well as those within his own house. He says that they have basically rebelled against God by not following the Lord's commandments that He gave to Moses. And Nehemiah does acknowledge that God warned them that His people would be scattered if they were unfaithful to Him.

However, Nehemiah points out that God said *even though your outcasts are in uttermost parts of Heaven," (verse 9), He would gather them and bring them to the place where He has has chosen to make His Name dwell there.   Of course if they repent, keep His commandments and turn from their sins, back to the true God then he will restore them.

Nehemiah 2
It was the month of Nisan, (I looked it up and Nisan means: Nisan = Nisan = 1. "their flight" or 2. the 1st month of the Jewish calendar corresponding to March or April)

Nehemiah was giving wine to the king and the king asked why he was so sad, after all he was not ill or anything. Nehemiah hadn't displayed such an emotion in front of Artaxerxes before .

Nehemiah explains to the king how he is basically heart sick for his people because their homeland lies in ruins and also, many have perished. The king asks him what does he want to request of him? Nehemiah prayed to God to  give him favour with the king, to release him, in order to be able to go and rebuild Jerusalem. The king (and his queen was present) asked how long he would be gone? When Nehemiah told him, he was thankful for God granting him favour with the king, because he was letting him go to rebuild. He also asked for special letters from the king that I assume, authorized him to pass through certain places in order to safely get to his destination. As well he was given a letter to the person in charge of the forest, so he could obtain timber for the rebuild of Jerusalem.

As Nehemiah journeyed with some officers of the army and horsemen, there were two men he encountered who were not happy with the favour and care being given to the Israelites. Sanballat the Horonite (a Horonite is Horonite = "native of Horonaim" an inhabitant of Horonaim in Moab
the designation of Sanballat, the opponent of Nehemiah)
and Tobiah the Ammonite (Ammonite = see Ammon "tribal"
descendants of Ammon and inhabitants of Ammon)

He got through and stayed in Jerusalem three days but had told no one what God had put in his heart to do.  All he had was his horse with him. He inspected the walls and gate. When he went to the Fountain Gate and the King's pool, apparently his horse wouldn't fit. Not sure if this was a gate or not. The officials (I assume the Israelites in Jerusalem) didn't know where he had gone or what Nehemiah was up to. In fact these would be the ones he expected to do the work - the priests, nobles and officials and the rest.
He lets them know about the favour God has given him with the King and what his plans are for rebuilding. They agree to do it but those two opposing fellows, Sanballat and Tobiah and an other, called Gesham the Arab find out about and they give them a really hard time, despising them, asking if they are rebelling against the king?

Nehemiah tells them that the "God of Heaven will make us prosper, and we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem."