NEHEMIAH DISCOVERED what God had known for centuries (well, since the beginning of time, actually): His people were a stubborn lot.
After returning from a visit to the Persian king Artaxerxes to report on the work that had been done in Jerusalem, Nehemiah discovered that the reforms he and Ezra the priest had instituted, a return to the Law given to Moses, had already been forgotten. Jerusalem was open for business on the Sabbath, with people buying, selling, and working through their day of rest.
Worse, Tobiah the Ammonite had exploited a family connection to the priest in charge of the temple storerooms to get a chamber for his own use in the Temple—a room that had previously been used to store temple vessels, frankincense, and tithes of grain, wine, and oil.
We discuss Nehemiah’s response to this, move on to a passionate Psalm about the return to Zion, and then begin our study of the final book of the Bible, Malachi, which may include a veiled prophecy of Islam.
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