Just One Thing: Reforming

In a meandering, three-way conversation with far-away friends, we began to ponder the term:  just exactly what does it mean to be “reformed”?  Without thinking, certainly with no editorial or theological censors in place, I said, “I would, actually, rather say that I’m reforming!”  After that conversation, the statement lingered in memory and wafted its way into my study time.  It drifted behind the sound of Nehemiah’s antiphonal choirs and the aroma of roasted temple meat.

Leaning forward out of the darkness, Jerusalem had experienced national and personal reformation.  Today, we might even call it a revival.  While the exact chronology of the dedication ceremony is murky, we know for sure that Nehemiah governed Jerusalem from the 20th year of King Artaxerxes’ reign until the 32nd year when he was summoned back to Susa and his duties there. “Then, after certain days,” (13:6) he returned to Jerusalem, surprised to find a point-by-point declension of the reforms that had been instituted and celebrated in chapters ten through twelve.

Reformation Decline
Unequal yokes “We will not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons . . .”  10:30 “In those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab . . .”  13:23
Provision for worship in the Temple “And at the same time some were appointed over the rooms of the storehouse for the offerings, the first fruits, and the tithes, to gather them from the fields . . . for the priests and the Levites . . . “  12:44-47 “I realized that the portions for the Levites had not been given them  . . .”  13:4-10
Commitment to keep the Sabbath “If the people of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we will not buy it from them on the Sabbath . . .”  10:31 “In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves and loading donkeys with wine . . . which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day.”  13:15

How did it feel to construct this table and mark the slippage?  It makes my heart tired.

Is this really how the book of Nehemiah ends? Sure, Nehemiah threw out the merchants who had besmirched the Sabbath, and he grabbed a few guys by the beard to remind them of their promises to God, but how long before yet another housecleaning is needed?  Nehemiah’s words and actions expose his tired heart.

Could it be that, in the wisdom of God, He chose to end the book this way to show us our own hearts?   Like Israel, we are a people in need of continual reform.  R.C. Sproul calls it semper reformanda — always reforming, for the reformation of the people of God is never over until the last enemy, death, is defeated, and we dwell in the New Jerusalem, the City of the Great King.  In the meantime, until the Gospel is consummated, we, too, lean forward out of the darkness, and we join Nehemiah in his closing prayer (13:31):

“Remember me with favor, my God.”

The only difference is that, in Christ, we know that He has, and that He will.

We made it!  This is the twenty-fifth and final post from the book of Nehemiah!  Thank you for traveling with me and my Sunday School class.  If you want an overview of our progress, here’s the link:  https://michelemorin.wordpress.com/tag/nehemiah/.  What’s next?  For the summer, we will be reading and studying the Psalms of Ascent.

I link up with these communities on a regular basis:  Soli Deo Gloria Connections, Inspire Me Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Live Free Thursdays, Faith-Filled Fridays, Grace and Truth, Fellowship Friday, Still Saturday, The Weekend Brew, Sunday Stillness, Faith and Fellowship, Blessing Counters, Women with Intention, Sharing His Beauty, Monday Musings, Motivate and Rejuvenate Monday.

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

5 thoughts on “Just One Thing: Reforming”

  1. Praise God that He never gives up on His people! I saw myself in your chart and how in need of reform I am constantly. “Remember me with favor, my God”. Loved your words here and the reminder of Nehemiah’s ministry. Thank you for sharing.


  2. Indeed, in Christ He has and He will remember us with favor. May we be faithful to yield to His reforming work in us! Thank you for linking this with us at Grace & Truth.

    Liked by 1 person

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