And all to Jehovah’s glory: “When all our enemies heard of it, all the nations round about us feared and fell decidedly in their own esteem; for they perceived that this work had been done with the help of our God.”—Neh. 6:15, 16, An Amer. Trans.
The wall being completed, Nehemiah then gave his attention to the work of organizing the temple servants. Next he placed two men in charge of the city, one of whom he describes as “a faithful man” and one who “feared God more than many”. He also gave instructions regarding the opening and the closing of the city’s gates and the guarding of them.—Neh. 7:1-3, An Amer. Trans.
Now was a suitable time for assemblies, and so Nehemiah arranged for a series of these to be held in a comparatively short period of time. Each of these furnished an opportunity to advance the worship of Jehovah; and Nehemiah made good use of them. At the first one he checked the genealogies and arranged for contributions for the temple service. Nehemiah set a good example, and the heads of the families and the rest of the Jews responded to the extent of more than one-third of a million dollars. (Neh. 7:5-72) Another assembly featured instruction from the law of God. The people were told to rejoice for “the joy of Jehovah is your strength” (Am. Stan. Ver.). This assembly led to the celebration of the feast of tabernacles, which lasted for eight days.—Nehemiah 8.
Two days later Nehemiah called the people together for another assembly, to which they came clothed in sackcloth, and fasting. In a prayer to Jehovah the people heard the record of his loving-kindness and mercy from Abraham’s time to their own day, and a covenant was proposed to which they all subscribed. They bound themselves to faithfully keep the law of God, not to intermarry with the heathen, to observe the sabbath day and year, and to bring their offerings to the temple. (Nehemiah 9 and 10) After this lots were cast and one out of ten dwelt in Jerusalem.
The dedication of the walls called for another assembly. For this Nehemiah summoned all the Levite musicians, both singers and instrumentalists with their harps, cymbals and lyres. Two groups were appointed to give thanks to Jehovah, each under the direction of a leader. “They offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced; for God had made them rejoice with great joy; . . . so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.”—Neh. 12:27-43, An Amer. Trans.
After twelve years of governorship Nehemiah returned to Shushan the palace, but not to stay there. “After some days” he again asked leave of the king and came back to Jerusalem. And what a condition he found! Israel had backslid; the temple was being polluted, its service neglected, the sabbath was being profaned and there was intermarrying with the heathen. He cast all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the great temple chamber that that enemy of the Jews had appropriated for himself with the connivance of a priestly relative; had the temple chambers cleansed and the vessels and offerings returned to them. Noting that the Levites had gone back to their farms because of lack of support, he brought this to the attention of the rulers, recalled the Levites and provided for the faithful distribution of the tithes. He also enforced the keeping of the sabbath and took punitive measures against those who intermarried with the heathen, especially the priests and Levites, not mincing matters one bit.—Neh. 13:4-30.
Nehemiah was indeed an alert, discreet, fearless and unselfish servant of Jehovah God. With zeal he ‘made the most of his opportunities’ to build and to fight, and to organize the true worship and to keep it pure. At all times he looked to God to direct his ways and ascribed all honor to him. Soon God will answer his prayer, “Remember me, O my God, for good,” by giving him a resurrection to life on earth, with princely service in the new world. (Neh. 13:31) Are you, as Nehemiah did, making the most of your opportunities?
September 16, 1949
Answering yours of September 6 concerning the article “Like Lightning and Noah’s Days” appearing in the July 15 issue of The Watchtower:
The book “The Time Is at Hand”, published in 1889, explained the Greek word “astrapé” in Matthew 24:27 to mean the sun as the ‘bright shiner’, because there Jesus mentioned the “astrapé” as coming out of the east and shining even to the west. (See said book at pages 155-157.) However, never in sacred Scripture nor in classical Greek literature is “astrapé” used to refer to the sun of our solar system. At Luke 17:24 Jesus makes a parallel statement, but does not designate any particular direction from which the lightning flashes, saying: “As the lightning [astrapé], that lighteneth [verb astrápto] out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.” Notice that expression “under heaven”, which befits lightning which occurs under the sun in the heavens obscured by the clouds. In this verse Jesus uses the verb-form from which “astrapé” is drawn. In classical Greek this verb is used to mean “lighten, hurl lightnings, flash or glance like lightning, consume with lightning”. Hence at Luke 24:4 this verb is used in describing the flashing garments of the two angels that appeared at Jesus’ tomb after his resurrection. Matthew 28:3 says the countenance of the angel that descended and rolled the stone away was “like lightning”, and not shining like the sun as is said of another angel at Revelation 10:1. Luke 11:36 speaks of the flashing light of a lamp of those days as “astrapé”; in other literature it is used of the flashing of the human eyes, and is also combined with a verb to mean “hurl lightnings” or “carry lightnings”.
Jesus said he saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. (Luke 10:18) And at Revelation 4:5; 8:5; 11:19, and Re 16:18 “astrapé” is always spoken of in the plural number and is associated with thunders: For example, Revelation 4:5 says: “Out of the throne proceeded lightnings [astrapé] and thunderings and voices.”
It would therefore be wresting the sense and associations of the word “astrapé” to interpret it to mean the sun at