Nehemiah 12 & 13

Nehemiah 12

There is something unique in the first 27 verses of this chapter. Reverence is made again to those who came to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel in the first return. While no specific reason is give, it would seem that God would have these men in remembrance because they fulfilled their service with true-hearted devotion. They are now held up to their offspring as examples, encouraging them to walk in their fathers’ footsteps.

From verse 27 to the end of the chapter we have the account of the dedication of the now completed wall of Jerusalem. This was a time for rejoicing, the city and the temple were now separated from the heathen nations around.

v. 27—Note the joy which accompanied this occasion.

v. 30—A solemn truth has been impressed upon me. Before service was engaged in, the priests and Levites purified themselves, then those who were pure, purified the people, the gates and the wall. God can only use sanctified vessels. His blessing can only come in its fullness when the whole company of believers is holy.

v. 31—After the ceremony of purification was completed, then the dedication began. Nehemiah and Ezra led companies around the wall. Trumpets blazed, musical instruments played, and the people sang and gave thanks.

This was a day long to be remembered. They offered great sacrifices and rejoiced. God made them rejoice with great joy. The women and children joined in, and the joy of Jerusalem was heard at a great distance.

v. 44-47—The servants of the Lord were not forgotten, for the people brought their tithes and offerings into the storehouse.

One is reminded here of the two-fold offering of Hebrews 13:15-16.

These two offerings should never be divorced—thanksgiving going up to God from grateful hearts and fellowship in kind flowing toward men, the practical expression of that gratitude.

Nehemiah 13

After the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem Nehemiah went back to Persia for a considerable time. When he left there was great rejoicing, possibly after the events of chapter 12.

During Nehemiah’s absence things deteriorated. Certain sins crept in which grieved Nehemiah.

Vigilance versus declension. In this chapter we have the striking contrast between the spiritual vigilance of Nehemiah in detecting and dealing with various forms of declension, and the ever-present tendency to drift away from obedience to the written Word on the part of many people.

Sanctification on the other hand, in its practical aspect, is the result of reading the Word and applying the revealed truth to our lives. 2 Corinthians 3:18.

v. 1—“On that day” refers to the day of Nehemiah’s return to Jerusalem.

When he saw the sinful condition of things he called the people together for another reading from the Word. The reading was from Deuteronomy 23:3-4. Ther is nothing that I know of that corrects wrongs quicker than the reading and application of the Word to the life.

The nation who in chapter 9 had separated themselves from all foreigners were once more intermarrying the heathen around. Some had sinned more grievously than others, and they had married Ammonites, Moabites, and women of Ashdad. All this in flagrant disobedience to the Word of God.

Consider how spiritual verities were disregarded. Eliashib the priest (v. 4), probably the same man mentioned in verses 7 and 28, had allied himself to Tobiah the Ammorite, one of the chief hinderers to the building of the wall. He had brazenly provided a large room in the courts of the temple for him.

v. 8—When Nehemiah heard of this “it grieved him very much.” He cast everything out.

v. 9—Then he purified the chamber from the desecration. After this total expulsion and cleansing we never read of Tobiah making any effort to gain a foothold in Jerusalem. 1 Corinthians 5:6-7.

v. 10—Nehemiah’s further investigation revealed that the tithes had not been collected. Consequently the Levites and the temple workers had not been supported. This forced them to leave their service in the house of God and return to their fields. See 10:39. Nehemiah contended with the rulers regarding this.

v. 11-14—In the final analysis, withholding our substance affects not only the work of God, but God Himself.

v. 15-22—Nehemiah detected another abuse, the desecration of the Sabbath, the Lord’s holy day. Treading grapes in the winepress, bringing grain, wine, grapes, and figs into the city to sell.

v. 16—Gentiles also were bringing in fish and all kinds of goods to sell. They obviously found ready buyers. Nehemiah warned them that violation of the Sabbath was one of the sins that had brought captivity upon their ancestors.

v. 19-22—Nehemiah turned his attention to the gates. It is important to watch the gates. The Levites cleansed themselves.

v. 23—The tragedy of mixed marriage. They may have excused themselves, as many are doing today, on the plea that they might lead them to know and worship the one true God. It was all a delusion. The children were a mixture of heathen and Israelite, and they could not speak in the Jewish language.

v. 25—Nehemiah was indignant at such conditions.

v. 26-27—He warned them of how Solomon was led into sin by the same practice.

v. 28-31—One case of especially flagrant character was uncovered by Nehemiah. A grandson of Eliashib had actually married one of Sanballat’s daughters. The grandfather’s failure and example influenced the conduct of his grandson. Nehemiah was filled with righteous indignation and “I chased him from me.” Probably exiled him.

v. 29—He commits them to God for retribution.

v. 30—“Thus cleansed I them from all foreigners.”

We leave the book of Nehemiah in the midst of the eternal conflict between good and evil.

The fight continues today. May the spiritual among us emulate the example of Nehemiah. May we keep ourselves unspotted from the world. James 1:27.

This should be our attitude in doing the work of the Lord. We should be uncompromising to the world and worldling on one hand, and on the other, we should be separated and obedient to God’s Word.