There is an era in our American past called the Reconstruction Age and it took place right after the end of the Civil War. The goal was to right the wrongs of slavery by allowing all people -regardless of color - to be full citizens in the United States, free men and women. By the end of the Age, even though certain positives happened, there was still oppression based on race and color. The “change” didn’t stick and a more lasting change wouldn’t come for another 100 years. This Age was supposed to be a Reinstruction of what the founding fathers wrote about 100 years prior, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But many people refused to acknowledge the worth of men and women created in God’s image and continued to enslave and hurt.
Even though we feel like we are more smart or enlightened than that, these events happened in our not too distant past. As a church, we’ve been looking at how God’s people were continually disobedient so they were disciplined by being taken into a foreign land, losing their freedom. After 50 years, God allowed the king of the land to take pity on them and many returned to Jerusalem in freedom. And after 20 years of work, they rebuilt the Temple to worship God. You would think that after the time in bondage they would be ready to truly change; but no dice. Since they are humans, just like us, they are creatures of habit and fell right back into the same way of doing things – doing whatever they wanted to do. It is for this reason that God sent along Ezra and Nehemiah.
Through Nehemiah, God rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem. This gave His people a safe place to dwell and begin anew the process of restoration in their relationship with Him. Hand-in-hand with this reconstruction was reinstruction on what it meant to be a community of God. Ezra read from the Torah (the Bible) and the people chose to follow God with their whole hearts. They were transformed! And this lasted…but only for a little while because they went right back to doing what they wanted, when they wanted.
So, you see, we are not much different than our human counterparts 2500 years ago. It’s astonishing how many times God allows us as humans to go through the process of reconstruction, reinstruction, rebellion, disciplining, and restoration. We just never seem to truly want to change. But He is a patient God, there is no doubt about it. He just keeps reaching out.
So where are you in this cycle? What do you think God is trying to say to you?