Ezra and Nehemiah tell the story of the exiles returning from captivity to resettle the promised land. They come back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple and the walls of the city. These rebuilding projects are external signs of a deeper inward rebuilding project. That project is the rebuilding of a holy people to the Lord. God isn’t as interested in walls for protection…they didn’t work the first time. They were torn down because God had disciplined them for their rebellion and impurity. They knew this time they had to get things right with God again. So Ezra-Nehemiah also tells the story of the rebuilding of a holy people.
As the story progresses it moves from uncertainty and fear to certainty and security. In preparing for my sermon on Sunday I did a search for the words for thankfulness in Ezra-Nehemiah and found that they were all in two of the last three chapters of Nehemiah (Ezra-Nehemiah had at one time been just one book). In chapters 11-12 the word appears 7 times, the first time in chapter 11 in the context of prayer and then 6 times in the context of praise.
I realized just how hard it is to be afraid when I am thankful.
I realized just how hard it is to be afraid when I am in prayer.
I realized just how hard it is to be afraid when I am singing praise.
The people in Jerusalem are no longer afraid of the very real enemies who surround them and who have threatened them. Instead, they have determined their direction and that involves prayers and songs of thanksgiving.
When you kids get scared what do you do? You hold them…you sing over them…and you pray over them. The beautful thing, as a child of God, is that our heavenly Father does that for us. He holds us close. He sings over us and he speaks to us words of comfort and peace that bring us back to a place of thanksgiving where we can return the songs and that prayers right back to Him.
There is no need to fear. If you feel afraid try singing. Try praying. Realize God holds you close. Remember, do not be afraid for God is with you and the one who is with you is greater than those you fear.