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Ray Stedman - December 31, 1988
The Ways God Works
From Series: "Nehemiah"
Ezra, Nehemiah and Zechariah were written after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity. Nehemiah tells us about the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem in the midst of variegated and ongoing opposition. "But Nehemiah did more than rebuild a wall, as we will learn. This book is also the story of the restoring of a people from ruin and despair to a new walk with God. Jerusalem is not only an historic city which has for centuries been the center of the life of the nation of Israel (and, in fact, the center of the biblical record), it is also a symbolic city. Jerusalem is also used in a pictorial sense throughout the Scriptures. What it pictures is the place where God desires to dwell. When the city was first designated to King David as the place where God wanted him to build the temple, he was told that this was the place where God would dwell among his people. Jerusalem therefore, throughout the Old and New Testament, has pictured the place where God seeks to dwell. However, it is only a picture---it is not the actual place where God dwells for according to the New Testament man is to be the dwelling place of God. God seeks to dwell in the human spirit. That is the great secret that humanity has largely lost today but which New Testament Christianity seeks to restore. The apostle Paul's great statement in the letter to the Colossians is, 'Christ in you, the hope of glory.' This is God's provision and desire for man. Jerusalem in ruins, therefore, is a picture of a life that has lost its defenses against attack and lies open to repeated hurt and misery. If you are at all acquainted with the world in which we live today, you will know that every time you turn your television on you are exposed to the hurt and misery of people whose walls have been broken down. Jerusalem in ruins is a vivid picture of their danger and despair. The book of Nehemiah depicts the way of recovery from breakdown and ruin to a condition of peace, security, restored order, and usefulness."