Many years ago God had a very different relationship to humanity– there were different systems. He was distant. But soon God changed that. Making Himself not about rules, but about a relationship.
Recently I have been spending a lot of time on the book of Nehemiah, and he has become one of my personal heroes and stands out to me for this very reason.
Nehemiah was the cup bearer to the King Artaxerxes of Persia, as an exile from Jerusalem. When he heard that Jerusalem was in ruins and the people were struggling, he was moved to ask leave of the king and restore Jerusalem’s wall and people. He returned and faced lots of opposition. But he prevailed.
The reason that Nehemiah intrigues me so much is this. He understood the idea of a personal God even before God had changed the system. He was still living in laws, but he knew that God was more than a temple-worship-routine. Here are a few of ways that I have seen it:
- “Our God” Nehemiah refers to God with very intimate speech. I am used to hearing “the Lord” or Jewish names for Him. And I believe they have power, but I was startled when I saw Nehemiah referring to God as “Our God.” It has a very different feel from some of His other names. Nehemiah knew that his God was personal, He was “Our God.”
- Trusted God When there were threats, or opposition, of which there was much, he turned as a first reaction to God. His prayers are so raw and genuine, Nehemiah isn’t making loud long prayers to impress or follow a religious tradition. He honestly asks his friend, God, for help.
- Relied on God Many times his enemies tried to trick him into either dishonoring God, or into falling for their plot. He was so grounded in God that he knew what they wanted was wrong, even when it came from a “prophet.” He was able to hold up under so much because he relied on his God.
Nehemiah was really ahead of the times with his relationship with God and that is something that I want to follow as well. God wants us, not our religion and patterns. Just like a friend wants you and not a false front.
So, how is your relationship with God?