Rebuilding the Temple
Nehemiah 1:1 to 13:31
1:1 Hi, my name is Nehemiah. I am a totally loyal servant to the king of Persia. It is my job to bring the king a cup of wine now and then. It’s a pretty important job so I’m a pretty important guy.
2:1 One day I brought the king a cup of his fav, something bold and fruity, but balanced, not too forward or overbearing. This day the king was feeling kind of chatty. So we were talking, just the king and I, about Jews and temples and things like that. That's when I sort of convinced the king that the rebuilding of the old Jewish temple in Jerusalem was a good idea, you know, that construction should continue. The king agreed with me that this was an utterly superior idea that I had, and he sent me to personally to supervise progress at the job site.
So I show up at the old temple site and let me tell you, it was in pretty bad shape. Most of it had been torn down or burned up. It was pretty sad to look at, a total loss. It was all broken and blackened and stinky like burnt stuff always is. I cried. I cried a lot. But I told the Lord that I understood why he let this happen. The people for the most part had been jerks. I cried some more because the people were jerks. When the people you love are bad people, you just have to let some other people that you hate come and enslave the ones you love, and burn all their stuff. That’s just how it is. But then people are willing to admit they have a problem and swear they'll try to do better from now on. So I told the Lord about that too. These Jews rebuilding the temple are afraid of the Lord, terrified really, just as every good Jew should be. Like me.
7:1 Upon careful investigation I discovered that the construction of the new temple was being repeatedly interrupted by haters, so I had half of the team work with their hammers and what not while the other half stood guard with their swords. Haters gotta hate but that doesn't mean we can't stab 'em. All of the workers kept a handy weapon or two in their toolboxes just in case of protesters.
8:1 The walls of the new temple finally went up and everyone was so pleased of course. Hey, I do good work. Everybody knows that, just ask around. Anyway, your better Jews all gathered at the new temple to celebrate. Then Ezra himself showed up and brought out a huge book of the rules on what it means to be a good Jew. He read it to the group. Afterward he stressed racial and ethnic purity again. The good Jews were then forced to get rid of everything they owned that Ezra considered non-Jewish.
10:1 I have written down this rather long list of names of the wealthier more powerful and awesome Jewish families that had been sent into slavery in Babylon, but have now returned to help reestablish a good and proper Jewish community here in Jerusalem. So now days I read the list of wealthy families and otherwise babble on about them to anyone bored enough to listen. The families on the list are all really good Jews, really excellent Jews, like me. They don’t let their sons marry foreign women like those other Jews, the bad Jews who stand in the back and snicker.
Excuse me. I have to take the king another cup of wine. It’s a pretty important job.
Next: Hang 'em High
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