We’ll be spending the summer months of 2022 in the Old Testament books of Ezra-Nehemiah. To be fair, this is a bit of a confusing section of Scripture. So here’s a few hints that might help you as we get into things on July 17.
First of all, in our modern English Bibles, the books are separated into two books but they actually form a single, unified book in the Hebrew Bible. They are kind of like two chapters in a single story about the people coming back to their land after having been in exile in ancient Persia and Babylon. The story picks up on some of the themes of the first Exodus (out of Egypt) and forms a bit of a new chapter in the unfolding drama of redemption (the era that spans the post-exile till the first coming of Jesus).
Secondly, the books are not very dramatic. There’s lots of first person speeches and tiresomely specific lists. As modern listeners and learners, we are usually drawn to books that give us big plots or clear principles to live by (which is why the only parts of the book I think I’ve ever heard preached were leadership principles from Nehemiah). But the “book focuses not so much on how to be an effective leader but on how to be a godly participant in God’s story” (Ulrich, 5). There is lots to learn about what faithfulness looks like in the little and in the big areas of life.
The story has a lot to do with how we handle waiting, discouragement, disappointment, disagreements with others and with God. Sounds like the stuff of real life! So join us this summer either in person or online as we dive into a series we are calling “The New Exodus”.
PS - Here's an excellent video overview of the books by the people at The Bible Project