READ THE BIBLE IN 2022: This past week, May 22 through 28, we read Ezra 4 - Nehemiah 11. While Ezra is focused on rebuilding the temple and worship, a focus in Nehemiah is rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem, yet an important theme we find in both of these books of the Bible is prayer. Ezra’s prayer is prompted by the sin of intermarriage. God called Israel His own. They were to keep themselves from the idols of the surrounding nations. Marriage to an idol worshipper was synonymous with accepting their foreign gods—breaking the First Commandment. Ezra’s prayer was a prayer of confession. He acknowledged their sin and that God is faithful even when His people are not. When Nehemiah, still an Exile, heard of the conditions in Jerusalem, he prayed a prayer of confession for their sins and intervention for their success in rebuilding the city of David. By the hand of God, Nehemiah then returned to Jerusalem and led the people in many reforms, including rebuilding the walls of the city. Together with Ezra and the Levites, Nehemiah reestablished the reading of the law, the Feast of Booths, and the Mosaic Covenant. During this time, the Levites’ prayer of praise, repentance and obedience to God helped to put God back in the center of the Israelite way of life. This week (May 29 - Jun 4) read Nehemiah 12 through Job 13.