Nehemiah and Peter

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There is an interesting comparison to be made in Nehemiah 2 and Acts 12.

Nehemiah is granted official permission to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. It doesn’t take long for local opposition to rise up against him.

Peter is arrested by Herod (whose popularity seemed to increase after he had the apostle James killed by the sword. Spreading the gospel, for the early church, quickly brought the very persecution that Jesus warned them about.

Both Nehemiah and Peter were used to strengthen and build up God’s people. They both did this in the teeth of strong opposition by various hostile men.

Both of these men found themselves in danger (though Peter’s danger maybe seems to be more of an extreme case, or at least more immediate).

Both are unflinching in their faithfulness and loyalty to the living God that they served.

The same God is behind both situations, of course.

For Nehemiah there are no miracles, no mighty displays of power, no angels in the night. There is only a great deal of risky and courageous work.

By contrast, Peter’s situation is much more restricted. He has been arrested and is in prison awaiting execution. Since James has already been killed, Peter has no reason to think he will escape the executioner’s sword. Peter is rescued by an angel; the chains fall away from him, the doors open of their own accord.

The lesson seems (by comparing and contrasting these two situations) to be that God’s servants do not have the same gifts, the circumstances, the same success, or the same degree of divine intervention.

D.A. Carson comments, “It is partly a matter of gifts and calling; it is partly a matter of where we fit into God’s unfolding redemptive purposes. Has he placed us in times of declension, for example, or of revival; of persecution, or of major advance?”

Let God be God; let all his servants be faithful.

Lord, help me to turn circumstances (and the outcomes to those circumstances) over to you, my all-knowing, all-powerful, sovereign God who is working out all things for your name’s sake, which is always also for my good.

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