Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day 7: Encouraged by the promise of a new beginning

So the wall was finished in the twenty-fifth day of the month Ellul… (Neh. 6:15)

(Note: today is the 25th of Ellul on the Jewish Calendar)

It’s been said that nothing in the Bible is there by accident, and this certainly applies to times and dates as much as anything else. In what is probably more than a coincidence, many significant events in Jewish history and in the history of salvation have occurred on the same dates of the Jewish calendar down through the centuries. Seeing the dates on which the events of Nehemiah’s project unfolded, the people would have been greatly encouraged to think that God was working with them. Nehemiah had arrived 55 days earlier, on the first day of the Jewish month of Av. This was a day that symbolized a coming change, that the time of judgment was beginning to end, for the First of Av was the day that Noah saw the tops of the mountains breaking through the waters of the Great Flood as they finally began to recede. After three days of reconnaissance by Nehemiah, there were 52 days of labor which resulted in the wall being finished on the 25th of Ellul. This was a day of even greater significance. According to Jewish tradition, Adam was created on the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah). But of course God had actually made the world five days earlier on – you guessed it – the 25th of Ellul! What better day to celebrate a new beginning than on the anniversary of the day the world itself was made? No doubt the religious leaders took this as a sign from God that just as He had done long ago, He was again creating something beautiful for his people.

God, help us to remember that, truly, there are no coincidences – there is only Your Hand, guiding and shaping the world and even the events of our lives. We, like the people of Jerusalem before us, ask You to use Your mighty power to create something of beauty that will display Your glory to the world.

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