Nehemiah 10-13 part 6
Last week we looked at chapter 8 and 9 in which Ezra was back on the scene and he reads from the Law of Moses at the water gate. All the Jews listened carefully and they kept the feast of the booths and after the feast the wept and mourned because of the sins. Then the Levites cried out to God and they reviewed part of their history and how God is supreme, merciful and in control. At the end of their crying out to God, they made a written covenant that they would keep the Law of Moses and in Chapter 10 verses 1 Ė 27 all the prominent men of the Jews that sealed this covenant are listed.
The rest of the chapter 10 and chapter 11 teach us how these Jews were starting to live by the Law of Moses. Part of this I am going to read the rest of it I will summarize what they have done.
Nehemiah 10:28 Now the rest of the people -- the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding --† 29 these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God's Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes:† 30 We would not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons;† 31 if the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and we would forego the seventh year's produce and the exacting of every debt.
In these verses we can observe 4 different parts to their covenant they made with God.
1. They agreed to keep all the Laws found in the Law of Moses and if they didnít they agreed to be cursed.
2. They were going to separate themselves from foreigners and they were not going to allow marriages to take place between them. Ezra had already dealt with the problem in Ezra 9 and 10, but these Jews were still trying to do this even though they said they would not.
3. They were going to start honoring the Sabbath, which including not trading or working on that day. Jeremiah 17:21-22 and Amos 8:5 teach that the Jews were not supposed to trade on the Sabbath day.
4. They were going to honor the Sabbatical year, which happened ever 7th year, which was when they would cancel out any debts that were owed them and they would let the fields rest during that year. This can be seen Deut. 15 and Lev. 25.
Nehemiah 10:32 Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to exact from ourselves yearly one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God:† 33 for the showbread, for the regular grain offering, for the regular burnt offering of the Sabbaths, the New Moons, and the set feasts; for the holy things, for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God.
In this instance, they
were reviving what Moses taught in Exodus 30: 13-16 except Moses had all that
were 20 pay half a shekel and this was only done on the rare occasion when a
census was done. Even though the amount is less they were going to pay was less
it work out to be more because it was done every year. In fact this tax
continued on until the destruction of
Now in verses 34 Ė 39 we are told about more of the regulations they put into place. They drew lots for which priests would gather wood for the temple. The people were to bring their first fruits of various crops and herds to the temple for God. They started the tithing process again for the Levites. One thing different here is that a priest had to present when a Levite was taking the tithe from someone, which was probably done to keep the Levite from taking more than he was supposed to.
Nehemiah 11:1 Now the
leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people cast lots to
bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city, and nine-tenths were
to dwell in other cities.† 2
And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at
One commentator said that
the wall around
Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.
God would have a hand in
who stayed in
In Chapter 12: 1-26 we are given information about the priest and the Levites with a list of their names. These verses can be broken up in this way:
Next we are given some more details about the dedication of the rebuilt wall.
Nehemiah 12:27 Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem
they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to
celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with
cymbals and stringed instruments and harps.†
28 And the sons of the singers gathered together from the
When the wall was complete, there was a cause of celebration because they had accomplished their task and Nehemiah was ready to dedicate the wall, so the Levites were called and they purified themselves, the people and the walls and gates. They also got all the singers and musical instrument players so they could celebrate this great event.
Verse 31 Ė 42 tell how Nehemiah took the leaders of Judah on top of the wall and how had two thanksgiving choirs set up to sin. These verses tell us some of the various people that were involved with singing and playing instruments and,
Nehemiah 12:43 Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off.
Anytime you accomplish something great in the name of God, it certainly worth rejoicing over and we can see that these Jews were so happy they finished the wall that you could hear their rejoicing from a great distance away. It is not mentioned, but I wonder if their enemies were close enough to hear all their rejoicing. If they were it would have made them even more discouraged to see that the Jews so confident and happy from their success.
In verses 44 Ė 47, we learn that some had been appointed to collect tithes
for the storehouses in
Chapter 13 is sad chapter because it shows how quickly the Jews could move away from God just because Nehemiah was gone for a little while. This reminds of how Moses left to go up the mountain to receive the Law of God and while he was gone the people started worshipping a golden calf. Lets begin in verse 1.
Nehemiah 13:1 On that day they read from the Book of
Moses in the hearing of the people, and in it was found written that no Ammonite
or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God,† 2 because they had not met the
children of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse
them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing.† 3 So it was, when they had heard
the Law, that they separated all the mixed multitude from
One of the major problems the Jews had was when they would make friends
with the world. When they allowed foreigners to come in with their teachings
about other Godís and other ways, they caused the Jews to start following after
their false way. This is why God wanted the Jews to remain pure and separate
themselves from the world. Some of these foreigners like the Ammonites and
Moabites were specifically named. Instead of greeting the children of
When bad things happens to us and we put our trust in God, if we look hard enough, we will be able to see how God will bring about good from that situation. When these Jews heard the Law read about separating themselves from the foreigners, they did it.
But before this happened, we are told what took place earlier as we start in,
Nehemiah 13:4 Now
before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the
house of our God, was allied with Tobiah.† 5 And he had prepared for him a
large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the
frankincense, the articles, the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which
were commanded to be given to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers,
and the offerings for the priests.† 6
But during all this I was not in
Nehemiah left and went
This shows us what can happen if you have leader in place that is friends with the world. They have no problem turning the hearts of the people against Godís way or implementing things that will make them look more like the world. When Nehemiah found out about this, he didnít just shake his head and go on. No, he dealt with the problem and he had all the things in that room that we set up for Tobiah thrown out, and he had room purified and then all the things that were supposed to be in there were restored.
As we examine ourselves today, if we find that we are doing to make ourselves look more like the world or other denomination, we need to do some house cleaning and remove those practices, and only do those things that God has commanded us.
Nehemiah 13:10 I also
realized that the portions for the Levites had not been given them; for
each of the Levites and the singers who did the work had gone back to his
field.† 11 So I contended with
the rulers, and said, "Why is the house of God forsaken?" And I
gathered them together and set them in their place.† 12 Then all
Not only had the house of God been defiled by the high priest, the rulers and the people had stopped paying their tithes and Nehemiah didnít ignore this problem and hope that it would go away, no, he asked them why they had neglected the house of the Lord. Once again Nehemiah got the back on track on the giving of their tithes. No doubt Nehemiah was frustrated and sad that his people had undone everything he worked so hard to put in place, and this why we see him praying to God to remember all that he done to make the people get back right with God. Now if you put yourself in his shoes, you can imagine how disappointed you would be to see all that you worked hard for in the name of God falling a part because of the weak of faith of the people.
Nehemiah 13:15 In
those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath,
and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds
of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I
warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions.† 16 Men of
Again, we can see that
the Jews who had swore to keep the Sabbath Holy were doing just the opposite.
They were working on the day of rest and trading with foreigners. Once again,
Nehemiah got the people on tract and he had them close the gates so no one
could go in or out to trade on that day. This was a practice the Jews continued
to do until A.D. 70. This is why Jesus told His disciples in Mat. 24:20 that
they should pray that when the destruction of
Again Nehemiah prays to God to spare him from what the Jews were doing.
Nehemiah 13:23 In
those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and
These Jews had married
these foreigners and some of their children couldnít even speak the language of
Then he gave them the example of Solomon and how he sinned against God because he married all those foreign women and he allowed them to influence him to set up buildings and alters for their various false Gods.
One basic principle we should learn from this is that we should never think that we can handle the temptation of a sin without allowing it to influence us. Some Christians think they continue to hang around with sinful friends and not engage in the sinful activities even though itís all around them. Now, you might hold out for awhile, but eventually, your will power will give in, this why we are taught to avoid the evil way and keep it away from us.
Nehemiah 13:28 And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite; therefore I drove him from me.† 29 Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.† 30 Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan. I also assigned duties to the priests and the Levites, each to his service,† 31 and to bringing the wood offering and the firstfruits at appointed times. Remember me, O my God, for good!
The prophet Malachi prophesied about this corruption of the priesthood in Malachi 2. These priests had intermarried with their enemy and had made them their ally. Nehemiah ran Joiada off because of this unlawful practice. Once again, Nehemiah prays to God that he will remember these men who had corrupted the priesthood. He made all the priests get rid of any foreign mates from their families, and he got the priesthood back to what it was supposed to be doing.
Then one last time Nehemiah prays to God that He will remember the good that he had done. Even though Nehemiah got the Jews back on track it didnít take long for the priesthood to become corrupt again and for the Jews to move away from Godís Laws. By the time Jesus came to earth, the Jews were divided in different groups and they were not keeping the Law as they should.
As we come to the end of Nehemiah, I think we can all agree that it teaches us a strong message of how important it is that we have a strong leadership and that Godís people must have mind to work. We have learned how important it that we listen to Godís Word and live by it and we should never let the world influence us to compromise Godís truth.