Reading for Today:
- Nehemiah 6:1–7:73
- Proverbs 21:28
- Psalm 89:5-10
- Acts 27:1-26
Nehemiah 6:5 open letter. Official letters were typically rolled up and sealed with an official signet by the letter’s sender or one of his assisting officials. An open or unsealed letter was not only a sign of disrespect and open criticism, but also suggested the information therein was public knowledge. The goal of this document was to intimidate Nehemiah into stopping the work.
Nehemiah 6:10 secret informer. When the open letter failed to intimidate Nehemiah into stopping the work and coming to a meeting, his enemies decided to try intimidation from within. They hired a false prophet (v. 12), Shemaiah, to lure Nehemiah into the Holy Place in the temple for refuge from a murder plot. To enter and shut himself in the Holy Place would have been a desecration of the house of God and would have caused people to question his reverence for God. Shemaiah was the son of a priest who was an intimate friend of Nehemiah. This plan would give them grounds to raise an evil report against Nehemiah, who was not a priest and had no right to go into the Holy Place (6:13). It could also make the people question his courage (v. 11).
Nehemiah 6:16 this work was done by our God. While modern readers might be tempted to exalt the leadership qualities which brought the work to completion, Nehemiah’s conclusion was seen through the eyes of his enemies, i.e., God works through faithful people, but it is God who works.
Acts 27:1 we. The use of the pronoun “we” marks the return of Paul’s close friend Luke, who has been absent since 21:18. He had likely been living near Caesarea so he could care for Paul during his imprisonment. Now he rejoined the apostle for the journey to Rome. centurion of the Augustan Regiment. A cohort (regiment) of that name was stationed in Palestine during the reign of Agrippa II. Julius may have been on detached duty, performing such tasks as escorting important prisoners.
Acts 27:10 end with disaster. Because of the lateness of the season and the difficulties they had already experienced, Paul wisely counseled them to spend the winter at Fair Havens.
Acts 27:17 used cables to undergird the ship. A procedure known as frapping. The cables, wrapped around the hull and winched tight, helped the ship endure the battering of the wind and waves. Syrtis. A region of sandbars and shoals off the coast of Africa, much feared as a graveyard of ships. struck sail. This phrase could best be translated “let down the sea anchor.” The sailors undoubtedly did both, since putting out an anchor with the sails up would be self-defeating.
DAY 27: What parts of the Old Testament and what people were active in the events surrounding the return of the Jews from exile?
Five historical books (1 and 2 Chr., Ezra, Neh., and Esth.) come from or cover events after the exile. Three prophetic books (Hag., Zech., and Mal.) come from the same period. The term “postexilic” is often used to describe these books and people.
First and Second Chronicles provide a summary of history viewed from the final days of the exile. Ezra and Nehemiah journal the thrilling and trying days of the return to Judah and the rebuilding of the nation. Haggai and Zechariah were prophets active during the time recorded in Ezra 4–6 when the temple was under reconstruction. Malachi wrote and prophesied during Nehemiah’s revisit to Persia (Neh. 13:6).
Although part of the purpose of these books confirms God’s continued covenant with the house of David and the unbroken kingly line, the emphasis shifts from royalty to other servants of God. A scribe, a cupbearer, and prophets become God’s central agents. Even Esther, although a queen, had to rely on God rather than her position and power to accomplish God’s role for her in preserving the Jews in Persia.
All of this sets the stage for the mixed expectations that surrounded the birth of Jesus, the fulfillment of God’s covenant with David, God’s personal involvement in the history of salvation.
From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.