June 11

Read Nehemiah 13

In Today's Reading:

Reading of the Law; separation from the heathen; tithes given; Sabbath-breaking forbidden; mixed marriages condemned.

Verse for Today:

(Nehemiah) obtained . . . leave of the king: And . . . came to Jersualem (13:6-7). On that day they read in the Book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever (13:1).

After about 12 years in Jerusalem, Nehemiah returned to his duties in Persia as he had promised King Artaxerxes (see Nehemiah 2:6). During Nehemiah's absence from Jerusalem, the Israelites neglected reading the Scriptures (9:32 -- 10:39). This led to serious disobedience to God. Eventually, worship of God on the Sabbath was ignored. Intermarriage with Canaanite idol worshipers and the usual worldly interests were again taking place. In all this time I (Nehemiah) was not at Jerusalem . . . and after certain days obtained I leave of the King (13:6). Nehemiah was grieved over the disregard of the Law of God and took a firm, uncompromising position to return the nation to honoring God.

The greatest evils were committed by those who held the highest positions of spiritual leadership. Priests had married Canaanite women and had defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood (13:29). One of Eliashib's grandsons had married the daughter of Sanballat, the Samaritan (13:4,28).

Added to these sins, Nehemiah learned of the evil that Eliashib (the High Priest) did for Tobiah (the Ammonite), in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the House of God (13:7), which was in violation of the Law of God (Deuteronomy 23:3-4). Tobiah was given the rooms that were reserved for the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites (Nehemiah 13:5). This grieved Nehemiah and he cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the (Temple) chamber (13:8-9). Tobiah had persistently opposed Nehemiah's work earlier (2:10,19; 4:3-8; 6:17-19). Then [Nehemiah] contended . . . with the (religious) rulers, and said, Why is the House of God forsaken? (13:11).

Even though he faced much opposition to his leadership, Nehemiah continued his reformation. He warned the people: You shall not give your daughters to (marry) their sons, nor take their daughters to (marry) your sons. . . . Did not Solomon King of Israel sin by these things? . . . even . . . did outlandish (pagan) women cause [him] to sin (13:25-26). This was the reason God gave for the destruction of the united kingdom under Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-11).

Even today, some religious leaders live lavishly like the world, divorce and remarry like the world, and then assume that, since they are popular with the world, the Lord is pleased with their service. The two reasons Nehemiah was so mightily used of God was that he knew the Scriptures and refused to compromise.

Draw nigh to God. . . . and purify your hearts, ye double minded (James 4:8).

Christ Revealed:

Through Nehemiah who cleansed the priests and Levites from everything foreign (heathen) and defined the duties of the priests and Levites (Nehemiah 13:30). Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9) and through Him we have been made a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).

Word Studies:

13:17 contended with = confronted, rebuked; 13:26 outlandish = foreign; 13:30 strangers = foreigners; wards of = duties for.

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Gov. Parris Glendening (MD) and Rep. Charles Rangel (NY) · Pray for one another · Country: India (1 billion) in southern Asia · Major languages: Hindi and English · Religious freedom, but increasing harassment and persecution of Christians by religious radicals · 78% Hindu; 12% Muslim; 2% Protestant; 2% Roman Catholic; 2% Sikhs · Prayer Suggestion: Pray that God will move His people to give faithfully to His work (Malachi 3:8-10).

Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 13

Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Timothy 3:16