Nehemiah 13:1, 4–5, 8–12, 15–18comment (0)
January 25, 2007
By John A. Nixon
Related Scripture: Nehemiah 13:1, 4–5, 8–12, 15–18
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Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Nehemiah 13:1, 4–5, 8–12, 15–18
Nehemiah was a great and godly leader. He had God-given convictions and commitments. Moreover he did not compromise — no matter what.
In this lesson, we see Nehemiah once more leading the people to stay committed to God. He directed them to believe and obey God’s Word.
In the end, however, the people failed to trust and obey the Lord.
Obey God’s Word & Honor God’s House (1, 4–5, 8–9)
The book begins with Nehemiah’s concern for the disgraceful condition of the wall and gates in Jerusalem (1:3–4). The story now ends with a description of the dedication of the wall (12:27–43). There is no more “great trouble and disgrace” (Neh. 1:3) in Jerusalem.
Instead the people “offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy,” and this “rejoicing was heard far away” (Neh. 12:43). The writer comments that the celebration and worship in Jerusalem was performed as it was in the days of David and Moses (Neh. 12:46–47).
In addition, the people were led to keep their commitment to God (Neh. 13:1–3). They read God’s Word and applied it to their lives: “They separated all those of mixed descent from Israel” (Neh. 13:3; see Deut. 23:3–6).
The writer points out that one of the priests had prepared a room in the temple for Tobiah, “the Ammonite servant” (Neh. 2:10, 13:4–5). Nehemiah, however, was not in Jerusalem while this was happening (Neh. 13:6). When he returned to Jerusalem and saw “the evil,” he threw Tobiah out of the temple storeroom, purified the room, restored it to its intended use and rebuked the corrupt officials (Neh. 13:7–9).
Nehemiah obeyed God’s Word and expressed zeal for the house of God. He teaches us that we must not compromise our obedience to God.
Obey God’s Word & Honor God’s Workers (10–12)
Chapter 13 tells us that the people had not continued to trust God and to walk in His ways after Nehemiah left the city.
The Lord intended for the people’s tithes to support the Levites so that they could devote themselves to the work of the temple (Num. 18:21). The people, however, had not supported the Levites and the singers.
As a result, they turned their back on the house of God. Nehemiah corrected this disobedience. He gathered the Levites from their fields to their proper stations and led Judah to bring its proper tithes so that the Levites could once again focus on serving God (10–14).
The point is clear: God’s people have an economic responsibility to support the worship and service of the Lord (cf. 1 Tim. 5:17–18). To be sure, this responsibility itself is an act of worship and service.
Obey God’s Word and Honor the Sabbath Day (15–18)
The failure of the people continues through the end of the chapter. For example, Nehemiah also saw that the people had stopped honoring the Sabbath day. He rebuked the leaders and enforced the observance of Sabbath laws (15–22). His actions show his passion for trusting God and walking in His ways.
The Book of Nehemiah shows that he was a great and godly leader, yet it ends somewhat in failure.
While God remained faithful, the people failed to trust and obey Him. God used Nehemiah to liberate the people from exile in Babylon, but Nehemiah could not save them from the power of sin.
In short, the Book of Nehemiah points to our need for more than a wise leader; we need a Savior — someone who can rescue us from our sins.