After the Scriptures talk about the dedication of the wall, and then the gathering of the singers, the next verse, Nehemiah 12:30, talks about purification. “Then the priests and Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, the gates, and the wall” (NKJV).
The Hebrew root word for “purified”, thr, means to be clean, to be pure, and it is used in many contexts in the Old Testament, including those with the idea of being morally pure and clean before God.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7-9, NIV). What does this text teach us about 1 human nature, 2 God’s forgiveness, and 3 God’s power in our lives?
The Temple and its services were crucial components of the religion of ancient Israel. But the Temple and its services were a means to an end, not an end in and of themselves. And that end, of course, was to lead the people into a saving relationship with their covenant God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to know His cleansing power in their lives. And it’s the knowledge of what God has done, what the Lord has saved us from, that leads us to love Him and to worship Him. That’s one reason why, over and over, the ancient Israelites recounted what God had done in their past. It helped them to know the goodness and love of the Lord, which was central to the joy and thanksgiving that was to permeate their worship experience.
For us today, the experience and appreciation of forgiveness for sin should come out of gratitude to God and a sense of hope and joy. Then it is easy to praise the Lord and express appreciation for the beauty of His character. And what greater revelation of God’s character can we have than seeing Jesus on the cross, bearing the punishment for our sins so we don’t have to bear that punishment ourselves?
|Regardless of your past sins or your present character, at the cross you can have complete forgiveness- and right at this very moment, too. Why not claim the forgiveness that Jesus offers you right now?|
Often in eastern religions you are required to remove your shoes when you visit one of their temples. In essence you are removing your dirty worldly shoes behind at the door of the temple and walking in their holy space with clean feet.
While the action is largely symbolic, the notion of leaving your impurities at the door of the church is a good one and perhaps we need to consider what baggage we carry into church when we go there ourselves.
It is interesting to note that modern orthodox Jews still take purification rites very seriously. When I studied educational sociology at university our lecturer had done his research on the Hasidic Jews. They ran a school in Melbourne where I was living at the time. Our lecturer taught in this school while he did his research. He described the problems that the school had with mixing with other schools for activities like sports and debates etc, because one of their big concerns was the avialability of water and utensils for the ritual purification of their hands before meals. This was a big deal for these students and arrangements had to be made in advance on any school outing to ensure that this ritual cleansing could take place.
One may argue that the Hasidic Jews have gone overboard on the symbolism, rather than the simple message of hygiene that was the orginal intention of the ordinance.
How good it would be for us, if we were to leave our baggage that we usually carry into church at the door? We used to start our religious services with silent prayer. I am not sure whether many churches still follow that tradition but perhaps we should revive it at a personal level and ask God to take away our impure baggage at the commencement of worship. Perhaps it would mean that we are a lot less critical of church worship when we leave. Only recently I heard a comment by a minister that every Sabbath he gets a lot of emails critical of what went on during the church service. Perhaps that is evidence that some us are carrying baggage into church with us.
Rogers knew that pools continued to refuse entry to black people in 1969 and that racial tensions were rising — Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated a year earlier. So he sent a deliberate message on the May 9, 1969, episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. During the show, Rogers asked Officer Clemmons, a black police officer played by François Clemmons, if he'd like to cool his feet with Rogers in a children's wading pool. Clemmons initially declined the invitation, noting he didn't have a towel — but Rogers said Clemmons could share his.
The actions in episode 1065 weren't complex: two men took off their shoes and socks, rolled up their pants and then swished their feet together in a shallow pool on a hot day. But Rogers and Clemmons demonstrated that a black man and a white one could peacefully share the water. When Clemmons had to go, he used Rogers' towel to dry his feet, as promised. Rogers left the pool directly after Clemmons and proceeded to use the same towel. Their casual intimacy exposed the bigotry of denying black citizens access to pools, or any other place in society.
True washing of the feet took place by Mr. Rogers action.
The purity of the gospel against race was displayed by a man who simply went about doing good.
How have you demonstrated the purity of the gospel?
Today's lesson focuses on purification and forgiveness.
What does it mean (and therefore involve) for a person to be purified?
What role does forgiveness play in the reality/experience of purification?
Is forgiveness all that is needed for purification - or is there more to the picture than that?
David knew he needed purification after his sin with Bathsheba. So he prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." Ps. 51:10.
David knew, as we should, that there was nothing he could do to purify himself. All he could do was to yield himself fully to God so that the Holy Spirit could accomplish the purification within him.
Fully yielding to God is definitely the foundation - for apart from abiding in God, we can do nothing (John 15:5).
And incase anyone thinks that yielding fully to God is a process where we merely ask God to do everything for us while we sit back passively, have a look at Psalm 119:1-18. In this passage, David asks "How can a young man keep his way pure (Psalm 119:9)?" The rest of the section give various dimensions that David unpacks in specific regard to this question.
And then there is Paul who says that we need to "workout" our salvation using the enabling/empowering that God gives us to will and to do (Philippians 2:12,13). God gives us the empowering to live a purified life - to reshape our character. But we must put that God-given power to work, not to merit anything, but because it is necessary.
What might David have needed to do in his mind and with his eyes next time there was an opportunity to look upon a woman in an inappropriate way?
What a privilege to get things right in a moment! Thank God we can still find Him! I personally can use His pardon right now. I owe Him my life!
Holy Spirit wash me without and within. Cleanse me from my impurities.
In the Bible Purification is used in two different ways: Outward and Inward.
Outward means literally with soap and water, the Israelites were told to wash themselves (whether bathe or shower), as well as to change their clothing. See Lev 8:6; 13:45-48, 58; 14:8 etc. 3 John 1:2 Behoved, I wish above all things............prosper and be in health....... The Lord is not only interesting in our spiritual well-being but also in our physical well being. It is said the best way to prevent the spreading of disease transfer from people to people is by hand washing. How many people sneeze, do not wash their hands then shake others hands. Coming in contact with the dead required cleaning. Some people have all sorts of communicable diseases and go to church, in bible times it was not allowed. The washing of the feet was another in Bible times.
Inward cleaning see Isa 59: 2-5, 7, 12. Ps 51: 7. John 13: 8. Hen 9:19.
Todays lesson reminds me of one of my familiar and favorite hymns.
"When we walk with the Lord, in the light of His word, what a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey."
It would be good to recite verse 2-4, or take the time to read or sing. Page 590 in our hymnal. As this song sheds a lot of light on our lesion today.
Verse 5. "When in fellowship sweet, we sit at His feet..."
May our worship of you Lord take on what you ment it to be, on a daily and weekly basis.
How a door and a wall are purified?
Diego, good question, how could gates/door and wall be purified?
That text helps us to understand the depth of the meaning of the term purified.
I believe it includes being dedicated to, belonging to, the LORD, and becoming perfect like Him, removing all defects and blemishes.
Diego, the "gates" and "wall" (Neh 12:30) are symbolic depictions of the leadership of God's people. God places no moral responsibilities on physical, inanimate objects therefore inanimate things have no intrinsic need for purification.
In Rev 21:9-15, the angel shows John "the Bride, the wife of the Lamb" (Rev 21:9). the angel continues the revelation by depicting the "WIFE of the Lamb" as "the HOLY CITY Jerusalem coming down out of heaven FROM GOD" (Rev 21:10). Please take note here that God does not give an inanimate object to His Son for a wife, even if such an object is "holy". But the angel continues his revelation by depicting "the WIFE of the Lamb" as having "twelve GATES", each with "the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel" (Rev 21:12). The angel continues the depiction of "the WIFE of the Lamb" as having a "wall" of "twelve foundations" having "the twelve names of the TWELVE APOSTLES OF THE LAMB" (Rev 21:14). These are prophetic declarations of God's future plans for His true people--the Church (Eph 5:25,27,29-30,32; Mt 22:2; Rev 21:1-2). This would have literal fulfillment when Christ established His Church (Mt 16:18), and left it within the care of His Twelve (Jn 21:15-17; 1 Pt 1:1)--John himself also being one of Jesus' Twelve (Rev 1:1,9; Mt 19:28).
So Diego, Nehemiah's simple act of purifying the rebuilt CITY'S (or "WIFE'S) "gates" and "wall", and taking the city's leadership there for a "thanksgiving walk" (Neh 12:30-31), held significant symbolism rooted in prophecy (Eze 34:2-4,11-12,22-24; Act 15:14-18).
Diego, the Blessed Saviour stands at the door/wall of our hearts and knocks.
Will we let Him come in and purify?
God would not have us remain pressed down by dumb sorrow, with sore and breaking hearts. He would have us look up and behold His dear face of love. The blessed Saviour stands by many whose eyes are so blinded by tears that they do not discern Him. He longs to clasp our hands, to have us look to Him in simple faith, permitting Him to guide us. His heart is open to our griefs, our sorrows, and our trials. He has loved us with an everlasting love and with loving-kindness compassed us about. We may keep the heart stayed upon Him and meditate upon His loving-kindness all the day. He will lift the soul above the daily sorrow and perplexity, into a realm of peace MB 12.2
So now I am in a realm of peace. The door, (to have a door there has to be a wall). Ok, I am in a realm of peace, He has lifted my soul,the door/wall is purified.
Regarding the last sentence of lesson 10, “...Jesus bearing the punishment for our sins...” Could the meaning be that Jesus revealed God’s character by selflessly refusing to use power to defend himself from “death”, the consequence of sin, and then further revealed more truth about God by demonstrating power over death?...God’s love is His power which is power over all? And, that power is available to us?
Does it seem that the goal of Jesus’ death was much more than simply “an innocent man being punished for everyone else’s crimes”, (sins).
Sickness, physical and mental, can certainly affect one's ability to "serve" God. We now know that certain illnesses, brought on by micro organisms, can leave the victim lethargic, dejected, confused or even delirious. While, to some degree, ritual acts of OT purification addressed the maintenance of physical health, it also indirectly, but to a lesser degree, addressed mental health because of the close psychophysical design of our bodies (3 Jn 1:2 NLT). Having acknowledged the close relationship between the physical and the mental/spiritual, it is our personal responsibility to maintain both in health. Clearly, the methods of maintaining the cleanliness of each, while sharing some things in common, are very different.
Scripture has a lot to say about our human ability to speak, and it's relationship to physical and mental/spiritual health (eg Lev 19:16; Ps 140:2-3; Prov 18:7-8,21). Curiously, I've not been able to find any OT purification ritual for the lips/tongue/mouth speech-complex! This is no light matter in an age when electronic media is being weaponized over short and long distances to swindle and deceive to despair, bully to suicide, and radicalize to terror! Scripture, OT and NT, consistently counsels regarding the power of speech to heal (Prov 25:11-12) or to harm (Rm 3:12-14).
Any religious body, Christian or otherwise, that places a heavy emphasis on ritual purification has misunderstood the human dilemma that is sin. If that body profess to be a disciples of Christ, they have missed a significant teaching of Christ (Mt 23:26). James goes full throttle on the "tongue" in chapter 3 of his epistle (v.1-12). I used to wonder about the apparent dissonance between James' perspective (especially Jam 3:6) and Jesus' (Mk 7:21,23), until it began to to dawn on me that sin is an inherited, centralized problem of my brain, which Jesus called "the heart" (Mk 7:21). Jesus was spot on! If James were accurate, then all true followers of Christ would be instantly recognizable by our disfigured bodies (Mt 5:27-30)! And in the case of adultery, multiple disfigurements would be required!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news indeed (Rm 1:16-17; Act 15:7)! God has made provision, at a great cost, to establish the only sure method of purification for the single, most toxic place in all the Earth--the fallen human brain (Eph 4:17-19; Act 15:8-9; 2 Pt 1:3-4)!
Yes Gary, the more we study the plan of salvation and the story of redemption, the broader our understanding of what He has done for us and all of humanity. In our understanding we must not forget He also died on the Cross for our sins.