Nehemiah 13 - Re-direction

Nehemiah 13:1-9 - I'm unclear on the time line here. Verse 1 seems to indicate that they discovered the part of the law about associating with the Ammonites and Moabites on the same day as the events of chapter 12. Verse 4 inidcates that Tobiah was given the room before that, but the rest of the paragraph seems to indicate that Nehemiah had been away for some time and this had happened then.

So, was this just more reform that Nehemiah participated in, or was a a slip into old ways after Nehemiah left?

Nehemiah 13:10-13 - This passage seems to support that Nehemiah had returned to the King for a time and returned to find that people had slipped into their old ways.

It points to a challenge any leader has. Nehemiah's heart was for God's honor in all this, that seems to be what motivated him. It was a dishonor for the wall of Jerusalem to be broken, that lead to further restoration of the temple practices, following the law, etc. While he restored all these actions and behavior, based on what happened after he left, it's clear that he didn't instill in them the passion he felt for God and His honor. Those practices seemed good to them at the time, but once Nehemiah left and took his conviction with them, they felt no conviction to maintain them.

The bottom line is that it is easier to use your passion to create change in behavior than it is to create a change in heart. but a change in heart produces the change in behavior on its own, even if you leave.

Nehemiah 13:18 - Once again, they've forgotten the consequences of the sins of their fathers and are perpetuating them, thinking the same will not befall them.

Nehemiah 13:23-27 - The people had forgotten who they belonged to, they forgot the price that was paid by their ancestors and by God in His bringing Israel to the promised land and removing the pagan peoples from it for them. They no longer saw themselves as chosen, but simple another resident of the land. The blended in.

As disciples of Jesus in America, we do this all too often. There is no difference between us and the non-believers. We intermarry with them, thinking nothing of it. We allow our children to build unhealthy relationships with those who have no fear of God at all. We forget the price that was paid for us and in doing so we act just like Israel. The answer is not forming communes or closed, isolated communities, but we live a long, long way from that.

Nehemiah 13:14, 22, 29, 30 - Four times Nehemiah pleads for God to remember what he has done on His behalf. You can almost hear the frustration and the pleading. I can understand it, he's trying his best and the people aren't getting it. But I wonder if maybe there's something in that repeated plea (and it's happened elsewhere in Nehemiah too). Perhaps his focus was to much on the doing instead of teaching them to want to do on their own. It's hard to say, but I wonder if perhaps he had done more to instill his passion on a few leaders if perhaps they could have carried the torch while he was away, and instilled that passion in a few more. Then they would do the same and the passion would spread leading to a longer lived revival.

Sound familiar?

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