We have three interesting readings today. Nehemiah describes how “all the people were attentive” (8:3) when the books of Moses were read to them. They answered, “‘Amen, Amen,’ lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD” (verse 6). They were told, “this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (verse 10).

This is the strength we will need in the last days as prophesied in Joel. Chapter 3 starts “behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land” (verses 1,2). It is evident we live “at that time” for the Lord has restored the fortunes of His people in our days, and the divided Holy Land is a bone of contention (and a trigger for impending events).

God will “judge all the surrounding nations” (verse 12) “for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened …” (verses 14,15). How close are we to the time when, “The LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But the LORD is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel. So you shall know that I am the LORD …” (verses 16,17)?

2 Thessalonians 3 is a sequel to the first two chapters; it is a petition for faith in view of the coming evils described. It starts with a prayer “that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honoured …” – and so it has been – but is so no longer. May we be even more “attentive” to that word that “we may be delivered from wicked and evil men” (verse 2), fully realizing, as Paul then states, “the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil … May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (verses 3,5) because we continued to be genuinely “attentive” to His word.