So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. Nehemiah 6:15-16
It is difficult for Christians to imagine not being able to come to the house of the Lord and worship on Sunday morning. Most of us have the opportunity for regular worship and life among God’s people. There are, however, places around the world where the people of God are prohibited from public expression of their faith and gathering in worship. In many ways, these persons are in exile, yet God is with them just as He was with the Israelites in exile so long ago.
Following many years of captivity, the children of Israel finally returned from exile to the land God promised their ancestors. The book of Ezra records for God’s people the fulfillment of God’s promise to bring His people home. Under the leadership of Nehemiah and after many years of construction, adversity and determination, the walls of the great city Jerusalem were built and foundation of the temple was laid. The people of Israel had indeed returned to their homeland. It would be many years still until the temple unto the Lord was completed, but with Nehemiah as governor and Ezra the scribe, public worship and reading from the Book of Moses were restored.
Throughout the history of Israel, we see how God has reached out to his people, extending to them His love, mercy and grace. Keeping His promise to restore the people to the Promised Land, God demonstrates His faithfulness in keeping His promises. As public worship resumed, so too did the proclamation of God’s prophets concerning the promise of the Messiah. Just as they were kept from worship for so long, for another four hundred years, the people of God would wait for the announcement of the angels concerning the birth of Christ.
Through the gift of Christ Jesus, God continues to demonstrate the lengths He will go in order to deliver His people. Throughout the history of Israel, God reached out in love to a people fallen into sin. With them even in exile, God delivered His people once again and restored them to the land promised them so long ago. Throughout time and space, God reaches out to those who suffer from the consequences of our human condition. Through the gift of Jesus, God kept His promise of a Savior. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, God continues to keep His promise to be with His people. Now, as Advent people, we continue to look for the coming of our Lord in glory and God’s keeping of His promise to bring us into His kingdom forever.
Saving God, as we continue to walk in the darkness of a sinful world, we know that through Christ, you have brought light and life to a fallen humanity. Keep us steadfast in your Word and strengthen our faith, as we await the coming of your Christ. Bring us into your kingdom where we may worship and live with your forever. Amen.