We pick up 5 chapters into Nehemiah this week and in the remainder of the book, we find Nehemiah rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, setting up guards along the wall and gates, taking a census of the people, having the law of Moses read to the people, leading the people in repenting for their sins and beginning a new covenant with God. After twelve years of hard work, Nehemiah returns to Susa. Later he comes back to Jerusalem and finds that the people have backslid in his absence. So he takes measure to enforce his earlier reforms and asks for God's favor.
Next, we turn to another book of the exile, Esther. The book of Esther is interesting because while the name of God is never explicitly mentioned in the book, God's action is certainly implied. Esther is a Jewish woman living in exile in Persia. When the Persian king Xerses banishes his wife, a contest starts to seek a new queen. Esther is one of the women presented and ultimately Xerses' choice. Tensions arise between Xerses' right hand man Haaman and Esther's uncle Mordecai until the life of all Jews are threatened. My favorite part of the book is Mordecai's question to Esther which spurs her to take a risk: "And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?"(Esther 4:14) You have to read it to find out what happens next.
And that brings us to Job. Out of the history books and into the books of poetry. Job is actually the first book of poetry. In Jewish tradition, Job is understood to be the grandson of Abraham's brother. So chronologically we are going way back into the history of Israel. The book of Job appears to have been written to address the problem of evil and why the righteous suffer. The first two chapters act as a prologue to set the scene and then we move into cycles of speeches between Job and three friends.
It's a lot of territory covered this week. I pray you enjoy the history of Nehemiah and Esther. I also encourage you to hold on to what you know to be true about God's nature as you begin to explore the book of Job at week's end.
Here is the schedule:
19, Sunday - Nehemiah 5-8
20, Monday - Nehemiah 9-12
21, Tuesday - Nehemiah 13 - Esther 3
22, Wednesday - Esther 4-7
23, Thursday - Esther 8 - Job 1
24, Friday - Job 2-5
25, Saturday - Job 6-9