Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host for this daily challenge. It’s Thursday, the day we try to apply and live out what we’ve learned this week from the Bible. This week we’ve been studying the Book of Nehemiah, the story of a leader who rebuilt the city of Jerusalem after a dark period in Israel’s history.

We saw yesterday that the rebuilt temple and city were celebrated with a reading of the law, and the people recommitting to living under God’s law.

This was a huge part of Jesus’ ministry, as well.  His teaching, he said, was the fulfillment of the law.  In times where the law had become an oppressive end unto itself, his teaching reminded people of what God’s law was really about.  He invited people into a new covenant with God, written on their hearts.

The temple, the building process, and the worship and obedience of the people in Nehemiah’s story were imperfect, and full of failures.  They were pointing us forward to how Jesus would rebuild the perfect temple, and we would worship him perfectly.  Near the end of his life, Jesus said the temple would be destroyed and rebuilt in three days – but he wasn’t talking about a building anymore, he was talking about himself.

Jesus was God’s presence on earth, as the temple had previously been known.  When Jesus “rebuilt” his body, rising from the dead after three days in a tomb, he made the presence of God accessible to every human being who would welcome and invite him in.  First, through his Holy Spirit, the presence of God in the heart of a believer, and second through his invitation to the Kingdom of God, where we can fully know and experience the presence of God even after death.  The Kingdom of God would be where God would be perfectly worshipped and obeyed, in a perfected “New Jerusalem” unlike the old.

This is a great place to end our series on the Old Testament, because it brings us full circle.  The story began with Adam and Eve, all of humanity at the time, in close personal relationship with God in a perfect garden.  The rest of the OT is how they threw away that amazing opportunity, and how God gave opportunities for humanity to return to him in holy obedience, that humanity could never manage.  They ended up exiled from their land, with no temple or governance.  But this final week, we see the new temple and restored city, and a renewed covenant with God.  There is hope for Israel – and after a few hundred years pause without any new books being added to the Old Testament, the fulfillment of that hope arrived in the person of Jesus Christ who ushered in the kingdom of God, the new Jerusalem.  Here’s how John described it at the very end of the Bible:

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.(Revelation 21:2-3 ESV)

Challenge: Renew your promises to God, whether it’s for the first time, or perhaps after a time away from worshipping and learning to follow him.  Below are some baptism promises.  In a prayer, commit to each of these things.  If you’ve never been baptized, or want to make these promises with the support and encouragement of a caring church community, contact Ryan today.

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship,
in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?
 With the help of God, I will.

Will you persevere in resisting evil,
and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
 With the help of God, I will.

Will you proclaim by word and example
the good news of God in Christ?
With the help of God, I will.

Will you seek and serve Christ in all people,
loving your neighbour as yourself?
With the help of God, I will.

Will you acknowledge Christ’s authority over human society,
by prayer for the world and its leaders,
by defending the weak, and by seeking peace and justice?
With the help of God, I will.