Nehemiah 4; Nehemiah 5; Nehemiah 6; Acts 2:22-47

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Nehemiah 4

1 When Sanballat heard we were rebuilding the wall, he became enraged and made fun of the Jews.
2 In front of his allies and the army from Samaria, he said, "What do these miserable Jews think they're doing? Can they rebuild it by themselves? Are they going to offer sacrifices? Can they finish it in a day? Will they get the stones out of the rubbish heaps, burned as these stones are, and give them new strength?"
3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was beside Sanballat, said, "Even a fox would make their stone wall collapse if it walked on top of what they're building!"
4 [Nehemiah prayed,] "Our God, hear us. We are despised. Turn their insults back on them, and let them be robbed in the land where they are prisoners.
5 Don't ignore their guilt, and don't let their sins disappear from your records. They have insulted you in front of these builders."
6 So we rebuilt the wall, which was rebuilt to about half its [original] height. The people worked with determination.
7 When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the people from Ashdod heard that the repair work on the walls of Jerusalem was making progress and that the gaps were being filled in, they became furious.
8 All of them plotted to attack Jerusalem to create confusion.
9 But we prayed to our God and set guards to protect us day and night.
10 Then the people of Judah said, "The work crews are worn out, and there is too much rubble. We can't continue to rebuild the wall."
11 Our enemies said, "Before they know what is happening or see a thing, we will be right in the middle of them. We'll kill them and bring the work to an end."
12 Jews who were living near our enemies warned us ten times that our enemies would attack us from every direction.
13 That is why I positioned people by their families behind the wall where it was lowest and most exposed. The people were armed with swords, spears, and bows.
14 I looked them over and proceeded to tell the nobles, the leaders, and the rest of the people, "Don't be afraid of our enemies. Remember how great and awe-inspiring the LORD is. Fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes."
15 When our enemies heard that we knew about their plots and that God had prevented their plans from being successful, we all went back to the work on the wall. Each person performed his own job.
16 From that day on, half of my men worked on the wall, and the other half were wearing body armor and holding spears, shields, and bows. The leaders stood behind all the Judeans
17 who were rebuilding the wall. The workers who were carrying loads did the work with one hand and held their weapons with the other,
18 and each builder had his sword fastened to his side. The man who was supposed to sound the trumpet alarm was with me.
19 I told the nobles, the leaders, and the rest of the people, "So much work has to be done in different places that we are widely separated from one another on the wall.
20 When you hear the trumpet, assemble around me. Our God will fight for us!"
21 So we continued to work. Half of us held spears from early dawn until the stars came out.
22 At that time I told the people, "Every man and his servant should stay overnight in Jerusalem so that we can set a guard at night and work during the day."
23 My brothers, my servants, and the guards assigned to me never changed their clothes. Neither did I. We each kept our weapons at hand.

Nehemiah 5

1 Then some of the people, the men and their wives, complained publicly about their Jewish relatives.
2 Some of them said, "We have large families! We need some grain [if we are going] to eat and stay alive."
3 Others said, "We've had to mortgage our fields, our vineyards, and our homes in order to get some grain because of this famine."
4 Others said, "We've had to borrow money to pay the king's taxes on our fields and vineyards.
5 We have the same flesh and blood as our relatives. Our children are just like theirs. Yet, we have to force our sons and daughters to become slaves. Some of our daughters have already become slaves. But we can't do anything else when our fields and vineyards belong to others."
6 I became furious when I heard their complaint and what they had to say.
7 After thinking it over, I confronted the nobles and the leaders. I told them, "You are charging interest on loans made to your own relatives." I arranged for a large meeting to deal with them.
8 Then I told them, "We have done our best to buy back our Jewish relatives who had been sold to other nations. Now you are selling your Jewish relatives so that we have to buy them back again!" They were unable to say anything.
9 I added, "What you're doing is wrong. Shouldn't you live in the fear of our God to keep our enemies from ridiculing us?
10 My brothers, my servants, and I are lending money and grain to the poor. But we must stop charging them interest.
11 You must return their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their homes today. Also, you must return the interest on the money, grain, new wine, and olive oil you've been charging them."
12 They responded, "We'll return it and not try to get it from them [again]. We'll do what you say." Then I called the priests and made them swear to do what they promised.
13 I brushed off my clothes and said, "In the same way, may God brush off from home and work everyone who refuses to keep this promise. In the same way, may everyone be brushed off and left with nothing." Then the whole congregation said amen and praised the LORD. The people did what they had promised.
14 During the 12 years that I was governor of Judah, from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes' reign to the thirty-second year of his reign, my brothers and I never ate any food that was paid for by the governor's food allowance.
15 Those who were governors before me had made life difficult for the people by taking from them food and wine plus one pound of silver. Even the governors' servants took advantage of their power over the people. But I didn't do that, because I feared God.
16 Instead, I put my best effort into the work on this wall, and we bought no land. All my men gathered here for work.
17 I fed 150 Jewish leaders and their people who came to us from the surrounding nations.
18 Preparing one ox and six choice sheep was necessary every day. Poultry was prepared for me. Once every ten days a supply of wine was ordered. Yet, in spite of all this, I never demanded anything from the governor's food allowance, because these people were already carrying a heavy load.
19 Remember me, my God. Consider everything that I have done for these people.

Nehemiah 6

1 Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that no gaps had been left in it (although at that time I had not yet hung the doors in the city gates).
2 Then Sanballat and Geshem sent this message to me: "Let's meet in Hakkephirim on the plain of Ono." They were planning to harm me.
3 I sent messengers to tell them, "I'm working on an important project and can't get away. Why should the work stop while I leave to meet with you?"
4 They sent the same message to me four times, and I answered them the same way.
5 When Sanballat sent me the same message a fifth time, his servant held in his hand an unsealed letter.
6 In it was written: It has been reported throughout the nations, and Geshem has confirmed it, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel. That's why you're rebuilding the wall. According to this report, you want to become their king.
7 You've appointed prophets to announce about you in Jerusalem, 'There's a king in Judah!' This report will get back to the king. So let's talk about this.
8 Then I sent someone to tell him, "None of your accusations are true. You are making them up out of your own imagination."
9 They were all trying to intimidate us. They thought we would give up and not finish the work. But God made me strong.
10 [One day] I went to the home of Shemaiah, son of Delaiah and grandson of Mehetabel. Shemaiah who was confined to his house, said, "Let's meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and close the temple doors. Some men are coming at night to kill you."
11 But I asked, "Should a man like me run away? Would a man like me go into the temple to save his life? I won't go."
12 Then I realized that God hadn't sent him. Instead, Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him to prophesy against me.
13 He was hired to intimidate me into doing this so that I would sin. Then they could give me a bad reputation in order to discredit me.
14 [Nehemiah prayed,] "My God, remember what Tobiah and Sanballat have done. Also, remember the female prophet Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who have been trying to intimidate me."
15 The wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Elul. The wall took 52 days to finish.
16 When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence. They realized we had done this work with the help of our God.
17 In those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah sent many letters back to them.
18 Many in Judah had promised to support Tobiah because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah, Arah's son. In addition, Tobiah's son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam, Berechiah's son.
19 The nobles were singing Tobiah's praises to me and reporting to him what I said. Tobiah kept sending letters to intimidate me.

Acts 2:22-47

22 "Men of Israel, listen to what I say: Jesus from Nazareth was a man whom God brought to your attention. You know that through this man God worked miracles, did amazing things, and gave signs.
23 By using men who don't acknowledge Moses' Teachings, you crucified Jesus, who was given over [to death] by a plan that God had determined in advance.
24 But God raised him from death to life and destroyed the pains of death, because death had no power to hold him.
25 This is what David meant when he said about Jesus: 'I always see the Lord in front of me. I cannot be moved because he is by my side.
26 That is why my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices. My body also rests securely
27 because you do not abandon my soul to the grave or allow your holy one to decay.
28 You make the path of life known to me. In your presence there is complete joy.'
29 "Brothers, I can tell you confidently that our ancestor David died and was buried and that his tomb is here to this day.
30 David was a prophet and knew that God had promised with an oath that he would place one of David's descendants on his throne.
31 David knew that the Messiah would come back to life, and he spoke about that before it ever happened. He said that the Messiah wouldn't be left in the grave and that his body wouldn't decay.
32 "God brought this man Jesus back to life. We are all witnesses to that.
33 God used his power to give Jesus the highest position. Jesus has also received and has poured out the Holy Spirit as the Father had promised, and this is what you're seeing and hearing.
34 David didn't go up to heaven, but he said, 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Take my highest position of power
35 until I put your enemies under your control."'
36 "All the people of Israel should know beyond a doubt that God made Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
37 When the people heard this, they were deeply upset. They asked Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?"
38 Peter answered them, "All of you must turn to God and change the way you think and act, and each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins will be forgiven. Then you will receive the Holy Spirit as a gift.
39 This promise belongs to you and to your children and to everyone who is far away. It belongs to everyone who worships the Lord our God."
40 Peter said much more to warn them. He urged, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."
41 Those who accepted what Peter said were baptized. That day about 3,000 people were added [to the group].
42 The disciples were devoted to the teachings of the apostles, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.
43 A feeling of fear came over everyone as many amazing things and miraculous signs happened through the apostles.
44 All the believers kept meeting together, and they shared everything with each other.
45 From time to time, they sold their property and other possessions and distributed the money to anyone who needed it.
46 The believers had a single purpose and went to the temple every day. They were joyful and humble as they ate at each other's homes and shared their food.
47 At the same time, they praised God and had the good will of all the people. Every day the Lord saved people, and they were added to the group.