Nehemiah 9:19

“Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go.”

In uncertain times, there is One Who is constant, One on Whom we can and should depend. That One is the LORD Jesus Christ.

The verse above is from a particular time in the history of Israel. Because of their idolatry, the LORD had scattered them to the nations around them. After 70 years, they returned to the Promised Land. The book of Nehemiah recounts part of the story of those who returned. In a prayer of confession to the LORD, the priests told the history of the nation from when they left Egypt up to their present day.

This verse is the second part of a sentence, the first part of which tells that Israel worshipped the golden calf. Up to that verse, the priests told of God’s myriad blessings in bringing them out of Egypt, and His provision to meet their needs on the journey.

Given God’s blessings, and Israel’s turning away from God’s commands, one might suspect that God would reject them. On a human level, if we did many kind things for somebody, and they refused or rejected us, we would be inclined to stop our kindnesses, and perhaps count that person as our enemy. Would God do the same in the case of Israel? Who would blame Him if He did?

But the verse above tells that God continued His blessings to the Israelites. In spite of their having disobeyed Him, He provided continued guidance in their travels, by the pillars of cloud by day and fire by night. He did not forsake them! The next verses after this tell that He continued to provide them with food and water during 40 years of travels, and maintained their clothing and shoes, so that they did not wear out!

Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, are sinners. Because of this, many worry about their status before God. In the prayer recorded in Nehemiah 9 we see that in spite of their neglect of God’s commands, He continued to maintain Israel and care for them. In spite of their behavior, He did not forsake them. So, for the true believer in Jesus Christ, this example from the Old Testament reveals something about God. He said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5). But let us never forget Who it is that we hold to. He will never forsake us, but also tells us, “Go, and sin no more.” Praise His name we are forgiven through Jesus Christ. We must seek to honor Him with our lives.

Events of life cause us to worry, and can cause us to doubt. But God has never lost control, neither is He surprised. In Matthew 6:31-33 Jesus is quoted as saying, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Admittedly, the context is food, drink, and raiment (just like the Israelites, described in Nehemiah 9), but the phrase to note is, “your heavenly Father knows that ye have need of all these things.” He knows us thoroughly. He knows that we need food, drink, and covering. He knows what is necessary for our health. Not even a virus can invade us without His knowledge, or affect us outside of His will. And when, in His will, our time comes to die, He promises to never forsake us.

Sadly, many do not believe on the LORD Jesus Christ as their Savior. For them, there is no assurance like what has been described thus far. As Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:18, “He that believeth on (the Son) is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” At the time of Israel’s early history, many other nations were not blessed by God like they were. Egypt suffered God’s wrath. So it is with many people to this day. They ignore Him and His ways, yet expect that He will bless them anyway. We all will have to answer to God. If He is not your Savior and LORD, you are “condemned already.” Let the uncertainties of these days cause you to turn to the LORD Jesus Christ.

I sing of the love of my Father,
Who chose me, — I cannot tell why;
He might have condemned me,
but rather He sent His Beloved to die.


O wonderful, wonderful love of my God
Redeeming my soul at the cost of the blood!
I cannot conceive it, but O I believe it ?
This wonderful love of my God!

I sing of the love of my Savior,
Who left heaven?s glory to be
A ransom for sin, that God?s favor
Might justly be given to me.


I sing of the love of the Spirit,
My Comforter, Teacher and Guide,
By whose gracious pow?r I inherit
The blessings Christ bought when He died.


I sing of God?s love ? O receive it!
God loves the whole world, He loves you!
For you Jesus died, — O believe it!
This wonderful love is for you.

Chorus (W. R. Newell)

Exodus 25:8, 9

“And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.”

Up to this point, the history of mankind was spiritually dark. In the comforts of a perfect environment, Adam and Eve were given what would seem to be a simple commandment; Do not eat from that tree. It was a command that they soon disobeyed, not regarding Who it was that had given it. From that time, until the release of the Israelites from Egypt, the scripture reveals continued lack of interest in God, because of which there was, for example, the judgment of the flood. Death reigned over all of mankind from Adam’s fall until the day of the above words, and its reign continues up to today.

Not long after the LORD’s words above, the Israelites made and worshiped a golden calf. This was against God’s command, which they had heard with their ears only a few days before. As they travelled from Egypt, the Israelites complained about God’s provision. They complained about the lack of water. They complained about the manna that came in a miraculous way. They even wished to go back to Egypt, where they were so harshly treated. The LORD delivered them from oppression in Egypt, and they wanted to return.

Even worse was their idolatry. They brought idols from Egypt with them. Instead of honoring and worshiping God, the One Who performed miracles to bring them out of Egypt, they worshipped those idols. This not only revealed the condition of their hearts, but shows the condition of every human heart.

But, the words above, which were spoken by the LORD, reveal something about God’s heart. In spite of the history of Israel, which He fully knew, He wanted to dwell among them. So, He gave them instructions about the dwelling place they were to make for Him. The details were very specific. Particular materials were to be gathered. Specific designs were given. The orientation of the tabernacle to the points of the compass was given. The only way to have God dwell with them was His way. But it was what He wanted! He told them what to do so He would be able to dwell among them.

God’s desire to dwell with His people is also seen in the days of the creation. Where was God the day that Adam and Eve broke His commandment? In Genesis 3:8, 9 we read, “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” God was seeking for Adam and Eve, though He knew where they were and what they had done. They were used to being in His presence. But, after they disobeyed, they ran from Him, knowing something was different. But, He went looking for them.

Long after Israel arrived in the Promised Land, King Solomon built a temple for the LORD. It took him seven years to finish. In 1 Kings 6:12, 13 the LORD told Solomon, “Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father: and I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.” Again, a promise to dwell among His people. This is God’s heart.

In Hebrews 13:5, the LORD is quoted as saying, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Jesus told His disciples in John 14:23, “… If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” He still desires to dwell among His people.

At the end of the world there will be a new heaven and a new earth. We read in Revelation 21:3, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” That coming day will include God dwelling among His people. Later, in Revelation 21:22, we read, “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” In the new Jerusalem, there will not be a tabernacle, such as the Israelites were told to build, neither will there be a temple, such as Solomon built. But God, Himself will be the temple; God will dwell among His people.

Since the beginning of creation, God’s desire has always been to dwell among His people. With Israel, with the followers of Jesus Christ, the church, and one day on this earth, God has and will make provision to dwell among His people. And so shall we ever be with the LORD!

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake. (John Rippon)