The people, priests, leaders, make a promise to follow the law. High in the list is racial purity, they won’t let their children marry outside the race. Also tything and the year of jubilee, cancellation of debt every 7 years.
Turning over a new leaf, new year’s resolutions. In middle age is tempting to be cynical about the prospect of change, because you have done it and failed so often by then.
I’m fairly deep in cynicism this week because I am facing up to disappointment in the direction the new minister is taking our church, and our domestic arrangements feel stuck on the tread mill.
There are lots of things we need to change but reasons why so many cannot. Frustration everywhere. And the daily grind turns unyieldingly on.
Nehemiah is a depressing book if you are feeling like that because you know it doesn’t work. They don’t keep the law, Jerusalem falls again.
But what they are doing is pleasing to God. I’m working on a song based on Psalm 24, which talks at one stage about the high standards required for meeting God: clean hands, pure heart, no idols. But then it switches and says God blesses those who seek him.
That’s what the Israelites are doing here, seeking God. Responding. That makes it about the moments, the journey, not the destination. Seek.