Yesterday Nehemiah gave a listing of the people who rebuilt the wall. This included Shallum and his daughters, and two named goldsmiths, merchants, priests and Levites. The residents of the land opposed to the construction were threatening violence, so the people armed themselves and had men on guard at all times. Nehemiah and his men stayed fully armed at all times, and in the last verse of chapter 4 NLT says ‘even when they went for water’— which I take as a euphemism for going potty. That little phrase is very obscure in Hebrew, and GNT translates it in a different way.
It was interesting to find this verse near the beginning of Isaiah’s beautiful chapter 35:
35:3 GNT Give strength to hands that are tired
and to knees that tremble with weakness.
This verse was probably in the mind of the writer of Hebrews in chapter 13. And in fact, the Holy Highway and its destination is very much like the ‘place’ we ‘come to’ in Hebrews 13!
Today we start on the prose portion of Isaiah from chapters 36-39.
I have found deep meaning and great spiritual help from the portion around verse 13 in chapter 3. And I am certainly not alone in that. Here are some of the most quoted verses in this letter:
Php. 3:13 NLT No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved [perfection//it], but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
15 Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things...
I would like to point out that twice in this chapter Paul points us to heaven. One is in the verses I just quoted, and the other in verse 20, where he says, “We are citizens of heaven.” Note that he calls all of us to keep our focus forward and lengthen our stride as we run toward heaven. All of us! There is no other destination for believers ever mentioned in the Bible. Wherever Jesus is, that’s where we’ll be. And that’s why Paul says repeatedly, dying is better and would simply bring him nearer Christ. If as Revelation portrays, the New Jerusalem comes down to earth, then that is heaven and that’s where we will be. There is no such thing as a Purgatory. And neither is there a separation of believers, where the really holy ones get to go to heaven and the not so good ones stay on earth. There is only hell and heaven. And if you are a believer in Christ, you are a citizen of heaven and you will be right where Jesus is.
NLT Translation note:
Php. 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about [such/these] things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
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