TODAY’S READING: Nehemiah 1–5
Nehemiah arrived in Israel about thirteen years after Ezra; he was the political leader complementing Ezra’s spiritual role. Nehemiah’s vision was to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, to protect the nation from ungodly influences. At the same time, Zechariah prophesied that Jerusalem was destined to be a city without walls, surrounded by God’s presence and joined by people from all nations. There seems to be a tension between the pastoral defense (let’s preserve purity) and the apostolic offense (let’s invite all the peoples to join). As with all of God’s intended tensions, this union of holiness and harvest is to be managed, not resolved. We can harvest, which requires getting our hands dirty, while keeping our hearts clean. Pastoral care is not wrong as long as it does not become political self-preservation. Pastors, too, must have apostolic hearts; they must compassionately send their best as sheep among wolves. After all God’s heart both loved the Son and sent Him to die. God ordains both suffering and deliverance for us. Paul reminded Timothy of all the persecutions endured and the Lord’s rescue from them all (2 Tim. 3:11). Practical and spiritual, pastoral and apostolic, they are missionally joined.
Different as Ezra and Nehemiah were, they had striking similarities. They were both super passionate about the purposes of God and both reacted viscerally when those purposes were under threat due to folly of the flock. Like Ezra, Nehemiah reacted to bad news with sitting down, fasting, weeping, and praying (Neh. 1:4). Like Ezra, Nehemiah realized that exile abroad among the nations was punishment for not bringing the nations to Jehovah at home. Like Ezra, Nehemiah was not afraid to ask the principalities of the day for help and received favor from God through earthly king’s hands (2:4–6). Two different men with the same passion for the glory of God. How beautiful is our diversity when it’s gathered for the glory of Jesus among all peoples! How beautiful when brothers sacrificially give to care for the nations around them (5:14–17); there is an unbreakable bond in that beauty. Moore and Galloway wrote of the bond formed in battle: “In battle our world shrank to the man on our left and the man on our right and the enemy all around. We held each other’s lives in our hands and we learned to share our fears, our hopes, our dreams as readily as we shared what little else good came our way.”
God uses different forceful personalities to fight for His glory among all peoples. You may be an Ezra or a Nehemiah, or you may be totally unique, but a glory of God is the unity He unleashes on those who band together in their differences for the fame of Jehovah in Laos and beyond. Let’s stay holy as we harvest. Let’s fight alongside, not against, the strong men and women who share our passion for missions, even if they unleash it differently.
 Tim Mackie. Read Scripture: Illustrated Summaries of Biblical Books. Portland: The Bible Project, 2018. 30.
 Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway. We Were Soldiers Once…and Young. New York: HarperPerennial, 1992.