…our God turned the curse into a blessing.
– Nehemiah 13:2 NASB
After the glory days of the kings David and Solomon, Israel experienced a series of ups and downs with a succession of good and bad kings – mostly bad – that ultimately resulted in the nation being conquered and exiled by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Then, after being held in captivity by Bablon for seventy years, some of the Jews were allowed to return to Israel and try to rebuild the nation they had lost.
God had brought Israel out of captivity in Egypt and gave them the promised land of Canaan. Although enjoying some success along the way (such as that with David’s military victories and Solomon’s building programs), the people’s behavior ended up with them back in captivity – this time in Babylon. The Canaanites had lost their God-given right to the land by their ungodly behavior, and the Israelites ended up being as ungodly as the Canaanites – thus squandering their right to the land as well. Israel rose…then fell.
In spite of their disastrous decline and eventual fall, God was not through with Israel. Remember: He had promised to send Messiah. Until Messiah came, Israel still had a role to play. Therefore, Ezra, Nehemiah, and others returned to the promised land to rebuild – though in humbler fashion – the city that had enjoyed such glory in the time of Solomon…preparing it for the much greater glory that would come when Messiah finally appeared.
Nehemiah was a governor of the people. To encourage them, he reminded them of how God had worked for them in the past – and how He had turned a curse into a blessing. This is the kindness of God. Our sins bring curses upon us, but God plans for our deliverance! As two other Old Testament verses say:
…God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from him.
– 2 Samuel 14:14 NASB
God is to us a God of deliverances;
And to God the Lord belong escapes from death.
– Psalm 68:20 NASB
The greatest case ever of God turning a curse into a blessing is when He, through His work as Christ, re-routed the destination of death from Hades (Sheol) below to heaven above. Death used to be a curse – now it’s a blessing!
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, my life will only improve when I die. Let me therefore spend every remaining day on earth to serve others…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.