SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15TH, 2015
NEHEMIAH, PART 2
BUILDING WALLS, RESTORING LIVES.
This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
God is a Redeemer! Do you know anyone that needs to experience this? The basic meaning of the word redeem refers to a transfer of ownership. It was originally a word from the world of commerce. But as we look at our text today we will see that a commercial word was adopted by the Jews to refer to the wonderful work that God can do in our lives. God is a Redeemer!
This week is part 2 of our new series. If you missed last week please either pick up last week’s TB or listen to the message to get the necessary backdrop to understand context.
Big Idea: God is a Redeemer!
Text: Nehemiah 1:5-11
V10- Note how this word “redeemed” is being used. Who are the redeemed? How are they described? How were they redeemed? What redemption event is Nehemiah referring to? Check out Exod. 6:6; Deut. 7:8,9
This exodus event is the great OT picture of redemption. God transferring ownership, by freeing his people from slavery, the whips and brute strength of the Egyptians, and setting them free to be the people they were called to be. This historic event has served to provide a rich backdrop for understanding God’s ultimate act of redemption seen in Christ. Check out 1 Pet 1:18,19, Gal 3:13.
What do we learn about redemption from Nehemiah’s prayer?
Redemption does not mean we get an exemption from “messy”! (“mess” is living in a way that is contrary to our title as the redeemed.) Note the disparity between their title and their experience. They are the redeemed but looking pretty “messy” at this point - exiled, discouraged, disobedient!
One writer has said, “In my lifelong study of the Bible I have looked for an overarching theme, a summary statement of what the whole sprawling book is about. I have settled on this: “God gets his family back.” From the first book to the last the Bible tells of wayward children and the tortuous lengths to which God will go to bring them home. Indeed, the entire biblical drama ends with a huge family reunion in the book of Revelation.”
But even when God gets his family back… messy can still erupt! The same is true in God’s redemptive work in our lives through Christ. Our redemption does not mean we won’t, at times, find ourselves living in a season of disobedience. It is messy because as the redeemed we are to be walking in the ways of God. Check out Galatians 6:1,2 on how we are to handle messy Christians.
Got any messy chapters in your walk with Christ? What do those chapters look like?
Praying for anyone who is a Christian and they are in a messy chapter?
Redemption means holiness matters.
Whether in the Old Testament or New Testament a follower could look back and see the date, the event that was the moment of their redemption. However a moment in time results in a journey of a lifetime where God works out His redemptive purposes in our lives. Think of the purchase of a house. There is the transfer of ownership - redemption. But then what often happens is that new owner goes from room to room – “redeeming” each room - aligning what that room looks like with the new owner. God works out his redemptive purposes in our lives - room by room, day by day, and chapter by chapter. This is a lifelong journey. Holiness matters.
One writer has said “…there is the tendency to overlook the fact that the NT as well as the OT sees redemption, or salvation, in terms of the total human situation.”
We have other theological words that expand on this- sanctification, transformation, renewal.
Eugene Peterson points out that “the root meaning in Hebrew of salvation is to be broad, to become spacious, to enlarge. It carries the sense of deliverance from an existence that has become compressed, confined and cramped.” It is a working out of new ownership!
Because the children of Israel are redeemed, they are now being held to account for their disobedience. There are all kinds of rooms in the “house” that do not reflect the new ownership. This will involve specific repentance for the decrees, commands and instructions that they have ignored. Note v6, 7. Our holiness matters to God because we are a redeemed people.
The same is true in the NT. Jesus walks through the “house” He owns and challenges us to align each “room” with who He is, not the previous owner. He desires to work out his redemptive purposes in every area of our lives.
Got any locked doors into rooms you know you need to allow God to redeem? In title He is the owner but in practice we need to acknowledge that fact.
Have you opened any doors lately where you could say that something is deeply broken but is being fixed?
Praying for anyone these days, praying that they would unlock a certain door?
Redemption is based on the work of God.
Whether we are referring to that moment in time when God redeemed us and transferred our ownership to Himself or to the ongoing process of redemption, God’s strength and power are essential! Note how v.10 refers to God’s strength. Also note v6,11. Nehemiah realizes that unless God “shows up”, nobody is getting fixed.
How many of us could identify a situation (personal or involving someone else) where you would say “unless they experience the power of God, the work of God, they may not get free!”
What happens when we fail to realize how necessary God’s strength is in redeeming people’s lives? This may apply to someone coming to faith or walking out their faith (one answer is that we can push people away because our desire to help actually hinders).
Because Nehemiah realized his need for the power of God, what did he do? For a clue, what one word summarizes what Nehemiah is doing from v.5-11?
Here is how I would sum up our big idea - God is a Redeemer Who is in the mess, challenging us on issues of holiness, and Who is present with power!
As you pray this week, engage with God our great and awesome Covenant Keeper (week 1) and Redeemer!
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