Read Nehemiah 13
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 and the Sabbath were ignored, and intermarriage with Canaanite idol worshipers had taken place. Nehemiah obtained leave of the king: And came to Jerusalem (13:6-7). He was grieved over the disregard of the Law of God and took a firm, uncompromising position to return the nation to honoring God. 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).
The greatest evils were committed by those who held the highest positions of spiritual leadership. Eliashib the (high) priest . . . was allied (through marriage) to Tobiah, the Ammonite. One of Eliashib's grandsons had married the daughter of Sanballat, the Samaritan (13:4,28). Other priests had also married Canaanite women.
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) in disregard 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). The reasons were evident: The nobles of Judah had transgressed against God by marrying heathen women and consequently had defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood (13:17,29).
When Nehemiah threw Tobiah's things out of the House of God, we are reminded of Jesus' Holy anger as He threw the moneychangers out of the Temple (Matthew 21:12; Mark 11:15; John 2:14-16). Even though he was greatly discouraged, Nehemiah continued his reformation while facing much opposition to his leadership. Nehemiah 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 him did outlandish (pagan) women cause to sin (Nehemiah 13:25-26). This was the reason God gave for the destruction of the kingdom (I 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 (I John 1:9) and through Him we have been made a royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9).
Word Studies: 13:17 contended with means confronted, rebuked; 13:26 outlandish means foreign; 13:30 strangers means foreigners; wards of means duties for.
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Optional Reading: II Corinthians 13
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 25:21