I was so ready to move on from this chunk of verses and into the rest of the chapter and book, but the Lord spoke something to me yesterday that I just had to share: He always reveals to restore.
I’m constantly praying for things to be revealed or uncovered. I want the scales to fall off of people’s eyes and for them to see situations and people as they really are. I, personally, don’t like being blind to issues and problems and I want those in authority to be aware of the problems that I see. But here’s the thing: I don’t always want things to be revealed so restoration can happen. A lot of the time, I want things to be revealed so that someone will be put in their place or I will be asked to fix the problem (i.e. to be the hero) or that people’s lives will improve. Rarely do I think of the uncovering of an issue as an opportunity for restoration. And restoration is exactly what happened in Nehemiah 5.
The chapter begins with the people telling Nehemiah about their struggles and how they were being taken advantage of by the rulers and officials. Nehemiah empathizes with them and then is moved to action.
A few days ago, I wondered how long the group of people had been down in the dumps about their dire situation. But today I’m wondering a different question: how long did the Lord hold off before he shone a light on this situation?
That puts a different spin on things!
I wonder how long he had been nudging the hearts of the officials and rulers about their unjust practices. How many times did someone think about restoring the fortunes of the people only to be talked out of it by someone else? How long did they ignore that still, soft voice? How many opportunities did the Lord give them to repent silently before calling them out in public?
We will never know. But what we do know is that these men changed their ways. How incredible is that?!
“Then they said, “We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests and made them swear to do as they had promised. I also shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.” Nehemiah 5:12-13 (ESV)
These men restored what had been taken from the people. But so much more happened in this moment. They were restored to God and the community. The pride and greed that had consumed their hearts and minds were uprooted that day. That wall of animosity was broken down between the rulers and the people so trust could be rebuilt again.
I fully believe that the Lord orchestrated that confrontation so that he could show off his character as a restorer. And I believe he wants to do the same thing for us.
The other day, I had a bad day at work and was consumed by this thought that I am a failure—a thought I had been thinking unconsciously for weeks. The Lord didn’t expose that thought process to shame me or beat me up. He did that so he could restore my identity. It was an invitation to understand that I am more than what I do.
I wonder how many things he is currently revealing to us because he wants us to be restored to him and to others. And I wonder how our lives would change if we dared to lean in just a little closer and let the hand of the master restorer work.
What has the Lord been revealing to you? What do you think he wants to restore?