Broken Promises - On Marriage

The Israelites had made a covenant to cease the practice of intermarriages with idol-worshipping neighbours. But they continued to marry women from the neighbouring states of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab (Nehemiah 13:23), which may lead them to embrace idol-worship.

ODB: When to Sacrifice

In February 2020, as the COVID-19 crisis was just beginning, a newspaper columnist’s concerns struck me. Would we willingly self-isolate, she wondered, changing our work, travel, and shopping habits so others wouldn’t get sick? “This isn’t just a test of clinical resources,” she wrote, “but of our willingness to put ourselves out for others.” Suddenly, the

Broken Promises - On Sabbath

Another major lapse that Nehemiah discovers among the people when he returns from Susa is their blatant disregard of the weekly Sabbath.

ODB: A Time to Speak

For thirty long years, the African American woman worked faithfully for a large global ministry. Yet when she sought to talk with co-workers about racial injustice, she was met with silence. Finally, however, in the spring of 2020—as open discussions about racism expanded around the world—her ministry friends “started having some open dialogue.” With mixed feelings and pain

ODB: Insight from the Spirit

As the French soldier dug in the desert sand, reinforcing the defenses of his army’s encampment, he had no idea he would make a momentous discovery. Moving another shovelful of sand, he saw a stone. Not just any stone. It was the Rosetta Stone, containing a listing of the good things King Ptolemy V had done for his priests and the people of Egypt written in three scripts. That stone (now hou

ODB: Living Well

Free funerals for the living. That’s the service offered by an establishment in South Korea. Since it opened in 2012, more than 25,000 people—from teenagers to retirees—have participated in mass “living funeral” services, hoping to improve their lives by considering their deaths. Officials say “the simulated death ceremonies are meant to give the participant a t

Broken Promises - On Giving

It hurts when people break their promises. In today's reading, we see that Nehemiah is in for some big disappointments. Seeing that everything is in order, and having completed his mission, Nehemiah returns to his old job in Susa (Nehemiah 13:6).

ODB: God’s Plans for You

For six years, Agnes tried to make herself the “perfect minister’s wife,” modeling herself after her adored mother-in-law (also a pastor’s wife). She thought that in this role she couldn’t also be a writer and painter, but in burying her creativity she became depressed and contemplated suicide. Only the help of a neighboring pastor moved her out of the darkness a

Dedicated From Within

Today, we come to another high point in the narrative: it is time for the dedication service for the completed wall of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 12:27). Joy permeates the account.