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Monday, September 22 2014

Nehemiah 9: Israel's Journeys Along The Fertile Crescent

"Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees"

The area known as the "fertile crescent" extends between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers of Babylon (known today as Iraq), through Syria, along the land of Israel and into the Nile delta and valley of Egypt. It was a natural civilization, agricultural and travel route that avoided the vast desert areas of Arabia (see also Paul's Geography Lesson). It became the route of Israel's origin (see A Biography Of Jacob: The Jacobites Of Syria), as well as the back and forth routes of the subsequent history of Israel and Judah.

Ancient Mesopotamia

When the people of Israel and Judah became corrupt, the LORD (Who was and is Jesus Christ - see Genesis 1: In The Beginning Was The Word and The Kingdom Of The LORD God) sent them back to where their ancestors came from - Babylon. The "lost ten tribes" of Israel have yet to return (see When Will The United Kingdom Be Restored?), while the people of the Kingdom of Judah (the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi), for the sake of the coming Messiah, were given to return after a prescribed seventy-year exile in Babylon (see Why Was It Desolate For Seventy Years?). All of the exiles and returns happened along the fertile crescent.

When the work of restoring the city of Jerusalem was completed (see The Fifty Two Days of The Wall and The Water Gate Reading), the people of Judah acknowledged their history along the fertile crescent, from Babylon to Egypt.

"9:1 Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them. 9:2 And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. 9:3 And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God. 9:4 Then stood up upon the stairs, of the Levites, Jeshua, and Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani, and cried with a loud voice unto the LORD their God.

9:5 Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. 9:6 Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee." (Nehemiah 9:1-6 KJV)

It began with Abram (see A Biography Of Abraham: The Genealogy Of Abram and the Fact Finder question below).

Abraham's Journey

"9:7 Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham; 9:8 And foundest his heart faithful before thee, and madest a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Jebusites, and the Girgashites, to give it, I say, to his seed, and hast performed thy words; for thou art righteous:" (Nehemiah 9:7-8 KJV)

The Israelites originated as the children and grandchildren of Jacob (see A Biography Of Jacob: The Jacobites Of Syria and The First Census Of Israel). They grew into multitude in Egypt (see I Will There Make Of Thee A Great Nation, How Long Were They Slaves? and The First Sinai Census).

"9:9 And didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red sea; 9:10 And shewedst signs and wonders upon Pharaoh, and on all his servants, and on all the people of his land: for thou knewest that they dealt proudly against them. So didst thou get thee a name, as it is this day. 9:11 And thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and their persecutors thou threwest into the deeps, as a stone into the mighty waters. 9:12 Moreover thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go.

9:13 Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: 9:14 And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant: 9:15 And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them.

9:16 But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments, 9:17 And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not. 9:18 Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations;

9:19 Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go. 9:20 Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst. 9:21 Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not." (Nehemiah 9:9-21 KJV)

The nation (i.e. the people) of Israel became a country (i.e. a people with a sovereign territory) in the time of Joshua (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Joshua).

"9:22 Moreover thou gavest them kingdoms and nations, and didst divide them into corners: so they possessed the land of Sihon, and the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan. 9:23 Their children also multipliedst thou as the stars of heaven, and broughtest them into the land, concerning which thou hadst promised to their fathers, that they should go in to possess it. 9:24 So the children went in and possessed the land, and thou subduedst before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gavest them into their hands, with their kings, and the people of the land, that they might do with them as they would. 9:25 And they took strong cities, and a fat land, and possessed houses full of all goods, wells digged, vineyards, and oliveyards, and fruit trees in abundance: so they did eat, and were filled, and became fat, and delighted themselves in thy great goodness." (Nehemiah 9:22-25 KJV)

The fertile crescent was a "two-way street" for the people of Israel. When they failed to live up to the reason that they were taken out of Babylon, they were sent back to Babylon.

Fall of Jerusalem

"9:26 Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations. 9:27 Therefore thou deliveredst them into the hand of their enemies, who vexed them: and in the time of their trouble, when they cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand of their enemies.

9:28 But after they had rest, they did evil again before thee: therefore leftest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them: yet when they returned, and cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and many times didst thou deliver them according to thy mercies;

9:29 And testifiedst against them, that thou mightest bring them again unto thy law: yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (which if a man do, he shall live in them;) and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear. 9:30 Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands. 9:31 Nevertheless for thy great mercies' sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God." (Nehemiah 9:26-31 KJV)

The people of Judah in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (see A History Of Jerusalem: Ezra And Nehemiah) were born in Babylon during the seventy-years exile. They made the same journey that Abraham did - not for their own sake, but for the sake of the coming of the Messiah.

"9:32 Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy, let not all the trouble seem little before thee, that hath come upon us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the time of the kings of Assyria unto this day. 9:33 Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly: 9:34 Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them. 9:35 For they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them, neither turned they from their wicked works.

9:36 Behold, we are servants this day, and for the land that thou gavest unto our fathers to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof, behold, we are servants in it: 9:37 And it yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sins: also they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress. 9:38 And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it." (Nehemiah 9:32-38 KJV)

Fact Finder: What was the prophetic Messianic connection between Noah and Abraham?
See The LORD's Seed Covenants With The Two Men Of Iraq


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This Day In History, September 22

66: Roman Emperor Nero created the Legion I Italica (see also Legions Of Men And Angels and Nero's Torches).

904: The Chinese warlord Zhu Quanzhong executed Emperor Zhaozong after seizing control of the imperial government.

1499: The Peace of Basel ended the Swiss (also known as the Swabian War) between the Holy Roman emperor Maximilian I and the Swiss Confederation.

The Salem Witch Trials 1530: The first version of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession was presented to Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Augsburg (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation) after the Emperor had declared that the Confutation (August 3 1530) prepared by the Catholic theologians to refute the Augsburg Confession (June 25 1530) properly presented his Catholic faith. The Emperor demanded that the reformers return to the Catholic church and refused to accept the Apology when it was presented to him. See Emperors and Popes to understand that emperors always (past and yet future) claimed superiority to popes (listen also to our Sermon Constantine's Papacy).

1556: Johann Agricola died at age 72. The "protestant" reformer, a friend of Martin Luther (he convinced Luther to study Roman theology instead of medicine) was an advocate of antinomianism (anti = "against", nomos = "law") - a Satanic blasphemy that falsely claims that Christians are "freed by grace" from the need to obey The Ten Commandments (see Antinomianism).

1692: The last official executions for witchcraft (see What Is Sorcery?) in Massachusetts. During the Salem Witch Trials, 8 people who been falsely accused of witchcraft were hung, bringing to a total of 13 women and 7 men who were put to death over the course of the brief witch-hunt era (see also What Does Wicked Mean? to understand how the word for witchcraft, wicca, is the same as the word for those who make false accusations against innocent people).

1761: George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz were crowned King and Queen of Great Britain.

1784: A Russian colony was established in what is today Alaska. Russia sold the territory to the U.S. in 1867.

1862: Abraham Lincoln issued his first Emancipation Proclamation attempt to free U.S. slaves.

1888: The first issue of National Geographic Magazine was published.

1896: Queen Victoria surpassed King George III (her grandfather) as the longest reigning monarch in British history. Queen Victoria reigned 63 years and 7 months. As of 2013, Queen Elizabeth II has reigned 61 years, the second-longest reign in British history (Queen Elizabeth II is the great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria).

1914: During the First World War, the German submarine SM U-9 torpedoed and sank the British cruisers, HMS Aboukir, HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy on the Broad Fourteens off the Dutch coast. Over 1,400 men were lost.

1918: During World War 1 (1914-1918), British forces in Israel (then known as "Palestine," an English rendering of "Philistine") captured Nazareth and Haifa from the Ottoman (Turkish) forces (see A History Of Jerusalem: The British Mandate).

1949: The Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb, ending the U.S. monopoly of atomic weapons.

1965: The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 (also known as the Second Kashmir War) between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, ended with a UN sponsored cease-fire.

1975: Sara Jane Moore attempted to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford.

1980: Polish workers won the right to form independent unions, from which came the Solidarity movement with Lech Walesa as its elected leader.

1980: The Persian Gulf conflict between Iran and Iraq erupted into full-scale war.

1991: The Dead Sea Scrolls were made available to public viewing for the first time (listen to our Sermon The Dead Sea Scrolls).

2011: CERN scientists claimed a discovery of neutrinos breaking the speed of light.


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