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It is good to hear from friends and relatives in distant lands, especially if that land is the place where our forefathers lived. However the news I received disturbed me greatly. My kinsmen, who had arrived from Judah, told me that the wall of Jerusalem, the holy city, was broken down and the gates had been set on fire and burned.
Even in exile, our people never forget where we belong. It is not too strong a word, to say that I (like Jerusalem) was devastated.
I spent days, fasting, mourning and praying. At last I prayed to God about a plan that was forming in my mind. Although I had an important position in exile as cup-bearer to King Ataxerxes, I realised that I had no power to act unless it was granted me by God and the king.
Praise be to God! The King granted me my initial request and God made me bold in my other requests to the King. Not only did King Ataxerxes grant me leave to go to Jerusalem, he also wrote letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates to grant me safety as I travelled and to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest to provide me with timber for rebuilding the temple and the city gates.
Although I had the goodwill of the king, I also had enemies. These included Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite, who were doing everything they could to disrupt the plans of our people. It took fifty two days to rebuild the wall in spite of their opposition.
Ezra the priest was already in Jerusalem. Once we had completed all the building work, he reminded us of the Law of Moses. The disobedience of the people came as a shock to many of us. We really need to be reminded very often of what our God requires.
My prayer is that God will remember me and show mercy to me because of his great love. Nehemiah 13:22
The Book of Nehemiah is in the Old Testament.
This year for the A to Z Challenge I have taken my 2013 Challenge as a starting point for most of the posts. I have written a post based around something or usually someone from the Bible. Sometimes it is a fictional story, for example when I have added some back stories (as a writing exercise). Sometimes it is a summary.
I hope my readers will be challenged to consider the original texts in more depth. (If only to discover what liberties I have taken with them!)