Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. [Nehemiah 2:17-18]
In its simplest, most basic form, history tells us what happened. But history can do more: it can waken us, inform and inspire us.
In about 445 BC, Nehemiah, then in Babylonian captivity, hears about the sorry state of Jerusalem’s wall. It is in complete disrepair, broken down, exposing the city and its people to constant danger. Nehemiah, hearing this, decides to do something, to move towards what is broken, to be a repairer and restorer. He senses God is with him.
So what do we make of the stories of the past, and their meanings for now? How can this piece of history speak to us? As we follow what happens to and through Nehemiah, perhaps our imaginations will come alive to our present needs, and present possibilities.
series Scripture reading: read the book of Nehemiah, of course; and if you are ambitious, you might also take a look at the book of Ezra, its companion.