Old Testament reading: Nehemiah 12-13
In Nehemiah 12, the finished wall is dedicated with great fanfare and joy. The priesthood with its various duties is restored and consecrated. In the opening lines of Nehemiah 13, the Book of Moses is read to remind the people who was permitted to enter into the assembly of God. The remainder of Nehemiah 13 closes this marvelous book with “Nehemiah’s plea for remembrance.” Nehemiah concludes his record with a litany of reforms and rebukes given to the people in an effort to make complete the restoration of the Law. Three times, Nehemiah pleads with God to remember his deeds, closing with a great summation that everyone should make at the close of our lives, “Remember me, O my God, for good!” Though Nehemiah was a faithful man insofar as our accounts speak of him, we should remember that all men can be remembered for good if they close out their life in faithfulness to God (Eze 18:21). This includes Nebuchadnezzar, the man who initiated Judah’s captivity and the destruction of Jerusalem (cf Dan 4:34-37).
New Testament reading: Matthew 10-12
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor 5:10). Today’s reading is filled with references to the great Judgment. Matthew 10:28 warns us to preach the word without fearing the judgment and punishment of man. Rather, let us fear God in all things, as He alone controls matters of eternity. Matthew 11 reminds us that, regardless of whatever condemnation and consequence of sin one might receive in this life, everyone will be at the Judgment together to receive a final verdict and sentencing. After speaking of the Judgment in comparing the impenitent cities to Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom (11:21-24), Jesus says the city of Nineveh (found in Jonah) and the Queen of the South (who lived well before Jonah) would rise in the Judgment “with this generation” (12:41-42). The resurrection of the dead will include all men from Eden to those living when Jesus returns – no exceptions (cf Hebrews 9:27). I cannot help but be struck by Jesus’ statement that the deeds of Jesus were great enough to bring repentance to a city as depraved as Sodom.