This is our final chapter in the book of Nehemiah.
In this last chapter, we begin once again with the separation of the foreigners from Israel. They have been reading from the book of Moses and hear that it is written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God. (1-3)
Then we find Nehemiah returning to Jerusalem from serving the King in Babylon for a while.
What he finds when he returns is a people who have begun to slip back into their old ways, their old habits. Tobiah has taken a room in the temple. In fact, it’s the room where the offerings were supposed to be kept. He discovered that the portions that were to go to the Levites had not been given to them so the Levites and the singers returned back to their fields so that they could have a living. Nehemiah corrects these issues. He throws out Tobiah and brings back the offerings and sets up treasurers over them and calls the Levites and singers back and they are given their portion again and set back to their stations in the house of God.
They had also fallen back to selling their wares on the Sabbath bringing heavy loads into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So, Nehemiah had the gates closed the night before the Sabbath and people gathered outside them and Nehemiah warned against this.
Nehemiah also found that intermarriages had resumed. He noticed that the children didn’t speak their father’s language, so he beat some of them and made them all take oaths not to give their daughters to foreigners or take their daughters.
He then cleansed them from everything foreign. After each of these he offered a prayer to God that he be remembered for the good he was trying to do.
Remember me, O my God … my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service.
As I read all this, I couldn’t help but contrast it to Jesus and what he came to do – to make a change. Nehemiah was very much into following the letter of the law. Of course, it was something they were being reminded of after years of not really hearing it. They were trying to find their way back again. He was afraid of it all being lost again through the intermarriages. He feared a generation that didn’t know the faith, that didn’t know God. He feared for the temple, for the city and what it would mean if it was all forgotten again.
The womaen most likely did most of the teaching those early years and they taught their native language to the children. They probably taught their faith or religion as well. It makes me wonder though about the fathers. It was probably the time they lived in but if they wanted their language and faith taught, why didn’t they teach it too?
I thought of Jesus turning the tables of the money changers and sellers in the temple (Luke 19:45).
But I also remembered Jesus healing on the Sabbath and saying that people were more important than the rule of doing nothing. I’ve always sthought that it was the essence of the rule, or law, or commandment that was important. I mean yes, rules are needed to guide us but not to the point that they hurt others, or leave others hurting, such as in Mark 3:1-6; Luke 13:10-17; Luke 14:1-6.
The End… What did you think?
So we have now finished reading Nehemiah! What did you think? What did you think of today’s reading? What did think of the entire book? Share your thoughts! I’d love to hear from you! I’ll be starting something new soon so stay tuned!