July 13 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 7–9; Acts 18
Even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen.
READ Nehemiah 1:5–11
When Conner and Sarah Smith moved five miles up the road, their cat S’mores expressed his displeasure by running away. One day Sarah saw a current photo of their old farmhouse on social media. There was S’mores in the picture!
Happily, the Smiths went to retrieve him. S’mores ran away again. Guess where he went? This time, the family that had purchased their house agreed to keep S’mores too. The Smiths couldn’t stop the inevitable; S’mores would always return “home.”
Nehemiah served in a prestigious position in the king’s court in Susa, but his heart was elsewhere. He had just heard news of the sad condition of “the city where my ancestors are buried” (Nehemiah 2:3). And so he prayed, “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, . . . ‘if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my ’ ” (1:8–9).
Home is where the heart is, they say. In Nehemiah’s case, longing for home was more than being tied to the land. It was communion with God that he most desired. Jerusalem was “the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.”
The dissatisfaction we sense deep down is actually a longing for God. We’re yearning to be home with Him.
By Tim Gustafson
REFLECT & PRAY
What’s your idea of home and why? In what ways do you sense yourself longing for God?
Father, help me understand that only You can satisfy my longings. Help me be at home with You, no matter where I am.
The prayer of Nehemiah about the state of affairs of the Israelites who’d returned to their homeland (Nehemiah 1:5–11) rehearses the circumstances that both led to Israel’s exile and their return to the promised land (vv. 8–11). God’s faithfulness to His promises were the key to both events—He promised exile if Israel broke faithfulness with Him and return to the land if they repented and came back to Him. The Israelites had returned to their homeland, but the city gates and walls were still in ruins. After rehearsal of these events, Nehemiah asks God to grant him favor as he presents his case to the king (v. 11).