Nehemiah 9:20 “You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst.”
This whole section is about the blessings of the Exodus. They finally had enough historical perspective to appreciate it properly! Often we fail to understand what’s going on, but years later we can look back and see God’s hand in various ways. I said, “often,” but it would be more accurate to say, “almost always.” We are strictly temporal in our outlook, seeing only the moment we are in and that not very well. That’s why God has to give us His Spirit, as it says in this verse. The NIV says, “to instruct them,” but the Japanese says, “to give them enlightenment.” Often we can be told stuff and it simply doesn’t penetrate, so God has to speak it directly to our spirit. That’s “enlightenment.” In this same verse it says that their physical needs, for food and water, were met, and in the next verse it says their clothing didn’t wear out. That brings to mind Jesus famous teaching in Matthew 6:25-34, where He talks about seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness and leaving everything else in His hands. Our biggest problem in doing that is precisely our lack of perspective, because we have great difficulty grasping what is really important. We are consumed with the perceived needs of the moment, not realizing that all we really need has already been provided, and so becoming anxious and doubting. As has been said, those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it. Looking back, at the Biblical and historical record and even at our own lives, we should be able to see that Jesus’ words are true, and so rejoice to do what He says.
Perspective is one of the biggest advantages of age, but a lot of people don’t seem to make use of it. Cathy and I have been through a lot with God, and that makes it easier for us to trust Him than it is for some people to do so. However, we aren’t to put people down for their shallow faith, but rather encourage them. We are to share our experiences of God’s faithfulness, but never in a boasting way. After all, God has been faithful in spite of us! We must remember that we no more know the future than anyone else does, but as the song says, we are to talk about the One who holds the future. From the perspective of our experience, we are to assure people that the future will be good indeed, regardless of the rough spots along the way.
Father, thank You for all You are doing here. Thank You for the brother who came by yesterday, completely unexpectedly. Thank You for the rich fellowship we could have, and that he felt so blessed as a result. Thank You for the meeting I’ll be attending today. I’m sure You have similar encounters planned in that. Help us expect You to act, in, around, and through us, so that we won’t miss any of the blessings You have for us even now, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!