Highlights In Today's Reading:
After Nehemiah had returned to Babylon for about 11 years, upon arriving back in Jerusalem he finds the people once again ignoring the Word of God and returning to sinful practices. Verse 13:30 sums up his final accomplishments.
Before Nehemiah left Jerusalem and returned to Persia, he had restored the priests and Levites to their responsible positions of spiritual leadership in Jerusalem.
Eliashib, the high priest, had been a co-worker with Nehemiah in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. Nehemiah had committed to return to his influential position with the King of Persia. As the years passed without the influence of Nehemiah, Eliashib associated with Tobiah, the Ammonite, probably because of a marriage relationship even though Tobiah had been one of the enemies who had tried to stop Nehemiah from completing the walls years earlier.
Eliashib even went so far as to prepare Tobiah a place to live in the courts of the House of God (13:7). Eliashib had erred exceedingly in disobeying God's Law that said: The Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever (13:1; II Kings 23:3-4).
When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, the Levites were working in the fields instead of serving in the Temple. The tithes that were designated to support the Levites remained in the people's hands, the House of God was forsaken, and the Sabbath day was desecrated by the majority.
Nehemiah again took a firm stand for the Word of God and would not consent to their compromising attitude toward sin. He would not tolerate dishonoring the Sabbath day or intermarriage of idol worshipers with Israelites (13:15-28). His reforms were resisted by an influential group of Israelites whose children had intermarried with Moabites or Ammonites.
Too often Christians compromise with the world. Because they lack knowledge of the Scriptures, they excuse disloyalty to God by saying they don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. But where there is obvious opposition to what is clearly stated in God's Word, we must take a positive stand for Christ.
The Aposte Paul was led of God to warn us: The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts . . . they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; . . . they . . . turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (II Timothy 4:3-4).
Thought for Today:
To resist worldly influence calls for tough decisions to be made in order to remain faithful to God's Word.
By Nehemiah who cleansed the priests and Levites and defined their duties (Nehemiah 13:30). Christ cleanses us from all our sins when we confess them (I John 1:9). Through Him we have been made a royal priesthood to serve the Lord (I Peter 2:9).
13:17 contended with => confronted, rebuked; 13:26 outlandish => foreign; 13:30 strangers => foreigners; wards of => duties for.
Pray for Arabic, English, and Spanish International Shortwave Radio Broadcasts sponsored by Josephine Onyon • Staff: Bernice Rathbone • Government Officials: Rep. Michael Arcuri (NY), Rep. Mike Conoway (TX), Rep. Charles Rangel (NY), and Rep. Rick Renzi (AZ) • Country: South Africa (42.6 million) on the southern tip of the African continent • Major languages: Afrikaans and English • Religious freedom • 76% Christian; 1% Muslim; 1% Hindu; 15% Traditional; .5% Jewish; 6.5% None/Other (Baha'i, Jain, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Confucian) • Prayer Suggestion: Intercede in prayer for those who forsake or disappoint you (II Timothy 4:16).
Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 13
Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Corinthians 1:7