1/18 Reading (Nehemiah 10-12; Philippians 3)

Nehemiah 10: The signing of the pledge they made at the end of the previous chapter. Four groups sign it: Governor Nehemiah, priests, the levites, and the leaders of the people. The rest of the chapter focuses on what this covenant means and the things that they agreed to. Many of these come from the Torah.

Nehemiah 11: The first part of this chapter focuses on the people who live there. It is Nehemiah’s census.

Nehemiah 12: The census continues in the first half of this chapter. It then shifts to a dedication of the wall. It was one big celebration. Must’ve been a sight to see.

Philippians 3: We see a return to a theme in many of Paul’s letters: one doesn’t need to follow the old Mosaic Law to be a Christian. This seems to be a point of contention between Paul and other leaders at this time. Paul preached directly to the Gentiles and told that that accepting Jesus as their savior is enough whereas some of his contemporaries wanted the Gentiles to first follow the Jewish laws/customs and then they can become Christian. Below is a sidebar from the CEB study bible, p. 378 NT that explains this pretty well:

Paul and Judaism

Paul then talks about his righteousness and why he has it: because he faithfully follows Jesus. Because he strives to live his life in the glory of God. He makes it clear that his goal is to know Christ and to be like Christ.

This is a lofty goal that I personally think scares a lot of people. I’m not sure if it scares me, but it intimidates me. I feel that if people who are more conservative in their beliefs then me knew how much I question things, they would probably say that I’m not striving for this goal. I would argue that I am. I believe that it’s ok to question things. I question things because I want to better understand the world. Obviously this refers to science but it refers to religion too. I want to better understand what I’m reading. I want to better understand my own faith.  

Paul’s message at the end of this chapter is very timely:

17 Brothers and sisters, become imitators of me and watch those who live this way—you can use us as models. 18 As I have told you many times and now say with deep sadness, many people live as enemies of the cross. 19 Their lives end with destruction. Their god is their stomach, and they take pride in their disgrace because their thoughts focus on earthly things. 20 Our citizenship is in heaven. We look forward to a savior that comes from there—the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform our humble bodies so that they are like his glorious body, by the power that also makes him able to subject all things to himself. (3:17-21)

Paul encourages the people to follow his lead and then addresses those who don’t. Reading this passage makes me think of those who claim to be Christians and then follow the lead of people like Trump. It just completely baffles me. It actually makes me feel like I have to defend my faith, especially on social media. 

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