Have you noticed that the inner and outer worlds we live in are often a reflection of each other? Look at the state of your desk or your office and it will often be an expression of the state of your mind. We have been looking, from a workplace angle, at the world of Nehemiah and seeking to find connections with his mind. We have reached a point where he outlines a list of promises. There are at least ten of them. As we observed in the previous edition, the first promise had to do with the treatment of daughters. Although couched in the culture of the day, the promise gives a glimpse of a more timeless issue which we can now see as a jewel set in the ring of history. If this were a passing reference you might not make a big issue of it. For Nehemiah it is clear that this issue was top of his list of mental promises and that it caused him great anger when it was mishandled. On the surface it is about his concern for maintaining a pure national blood line by avoiding inter-marriage with surrounding nations. We have seen already that the surface is never the place to stop. Nehemiah’s concern was not so much with racial purity but with spiritual clarity. To give your daughter, at that time, to another nation was, ultimately, to give her to another god. It was to disobey the God of your fathers and create a mixed spirituality which would create further confusion. This is a vast subject in its own right and not our main focus. I would like to ask you to focus on a big principle that Nehemiah’s mind was stumbling upon. Read the context; he is telling you that they had spent hours and hours reading the books of Moses. Do the same and you will find what he found, namely, that all humans were created in the image of God, male and female. That image, built into us all, had male and female characteristics. In the mysterious moments of creation, which Nehemiah was reading about, he would have seen the breath of God breathed into every human being and described as an image- both male and female. Come to his era and you will see him passionate about the treatment of the female image, specifically of daughters. In fact, if you go to the end of the last chapter of his journal you find him furious at what appears to be the mistreatment of daughters yet again. Now apply the general principle of inner and outer worlds and you will see something essential. Nehemiah, not necessarily consciously, has been stirred by what he sees around him but what he feels within himself. He has an inner daughter. There is a part of the image of God which is inside Nehemiah which is “daughter”. Now can you see his priorities? To give your daughter away inappropriately was to give something of himself away. To give a daughter to an idol was to relinquish his own cherished inner daughter to an idol. Before you press delete, look around yourself and within. Look around especially where you work. If that “daughter” is not allowed to be part of the board, whatever that board means, it is the inner daughter that is denied. If that “daughter” is denied education it is the inner daughter who remains ignorant. If that “daughter” is patronised or abused then that inner daughter carries the wounds. This is not just theological or psychological theory, this is being played out in workplaces all over the world every day. The power struggles between male and female are as old as human kind, but watch the places where nation building, economic building, business or infrastructure building is taking place and you will see the centrality of the treatment of daughters as a measuring scale for the ultimate health of the project. Sadly, from time to time, a murder of a young girl hits the headlines. Someone’s daughter has died. What does not hit the headlines is that the inner daughter of the killer has also died. Conversely, there are men and women from all walks of life, from the arts to business, seeking to honour the female image of God in us all. For Nehemiah it has risen to the top of his list in the phase of nation building that we are studying. Perhaps you would like to see where it is on your list in what you are building. Perhaps you would also like to look inside and see whether you are freeing or suppressing the daughter in you. Nehemiah did not necessarily know how important his inner daughter was to his own well-being, nor how important it was for all those around him and all those he was leading. But he could feel it – as can you. Bible Section Nehemiah 10:30 “We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons”.
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