My family loves stories, and, together, we have read our way through everything from Laura Ingalls Wilder to J.R.R. Tolkien, either on the living room couch, at the dining room table, or in the car. For this reason, our brood is quite story-savvy, and it is not unusual to hear someone announce at some point in the narrative, “That’s a foreshadowing!” By this, they mean that there is something happening that may not appear to be significant at the time, but, in retrospect, it will prove to have importance to the story flow.
Maybe all this talk of foreshadowing (we’re listening to a Louis L’Amour western in the mini-van right now), is the reason that I’m not bored when I read Nehemiah 3. The rhythm of “next to him” thrums under the list of names until even this introverted defender of the space bubble has to relent and see the point of it: we are one. Everyone has a role to play, and every gift, every pair of hands is needed. The sharp distinction between clergy and laity, nobility and commoner, male and female is crumbling in Jerusalem even as the shattered walls and charred gates are being rebuilt.
Isaiah spoke of a time when the shekinah glory would no longer be contained within the temple, but would rest over a people:
” . . . then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night.
Then, Zechariah chimes in like a choir boy in his final verses:
“In that day ‘HOLINESS TO THE LORD’ shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the LORD’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the Lord of hosts. “
God’s glory will break out of the building. Every nation and people group will be eligible to behold His glory (“Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands,” Isaiah 19:25).
Until this point in redemptive history, the presence of God had been clearly attached to a place: the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, the Temple. Follow the narrative arc into the New Testament and the presence of God hunkers down and wizens up and walks the broken ground of Palestine. When Jesus’ death ushered in the tearing of the veil and the unleashing of an immanent, indwelling Spirit, the rebuilding began again only this time God is the Builder, cobbling together a temple made out of living, breathing, and, for now, quite wobbly stones.
In this era of God-with-us, my work is made holy, not by its glamour-quotient or by its visibility, but by its Object. The meatloaf for tonight’s dinner is made holy by my love for God and for His good hungry boys who will eat it. In the making of it and in the serving of it, I am blessed. My family and I are filled as we eat together, and I, handling and scrubbing the pots which are holy to the Lord, am doing His work.
To read earlier posts on Nehemiah 1-3, click here: https://michelemorin.wordpress.com/tag/nehemiah/
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the miracle of God-with-us in your every day life. Feel free to leave a comment!