Putting God's Word into Practice…

Notes from Nehemiah (13:10-14)

on January 12, 2015

Flashback to the Israel’s covenant they made in chapter 10:

  • WE WILL NOT give our daughters to godless, foreigners as wives or take their daughters for our sons.
  • WE WILL NOT do business on the Sabbath or Holy Days.
  • WE WILL let the land rest and cancel all debts every seven years.
  • WE OBLIGATE OURSELVES to pay the temple tax.
  • WE OBLIGATE OURSELVES to bring the firstborn and firstfruits of everything to the temple.
  • WE WILL NOT neglect the house of our God.

Unfortunately what we see in chapter 13, is what I often see in my own heart–a complete turnaround from their commitments.  Oh, it is subtle!  Last week, my son and I challenged each other that he couldn’t go a whole week without video games and I couldn’t go a whole week without sweets.  Guess who lost?  Me!  A little craving here, a little sneaky treat there, and boom I was right back to my habits.

The people had committed to giving tithes, taxes and offerings to support the work of the temple and to provide for the workers of the temple.  They promised  not to  neglect the house of the Lord.  But what Nehemiah found upon his return was a forsaken temple and God’s workers forced to return to farming.  God’s house was empty–no one there to sing, teach, make sacrifices, put out the bread, burn incense, light the oil, or bring in the wood for the altar fire.  No wonder there was room for an apartment for Tobiah the enemy Ammonite!

Based on verse 10, the workers were fulfilling their responsibilities, but the people were not.  Interestingly, Nehemiah didn’t call the people into account, but the leaders.  It was their responsibility to make sure the temple workers were adequately provided for, and they neglected that role.  If the leaders did their job, the people’s actions would soon follow.  And that is exactly what happened.  The people were quick to change and restore their commitment to their promises.  Revival starts in leadership!

It is interesting to note that in the chronological Bible, the teachings of Malachi happened during Nehemiah’s absence prior to this confrontation.  In Malachi 3:8-10 the Lord says, “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.  Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until THERE IS NO MORE NEED.”

NO MORE NEED VS. I NEED MORE.  What keeps people from following through with their commitments especially when they involve money, resources, food, etc…? Often it is the thought, “I need it more!”  Give generously and joyfully, and God will supply your need!

Are there any ways I am neglecting my responsibilities to God’s church?  Is my soul–God’s temple now–empty because I have neglected it spiritually?  Have I forced godly things and work out in order to provide for myself or meet my own needs?  Is there any way that I have made what I want more valuable than what God wants for me?  Am I neglecting His work because of my own selfishness?  In Nehemiah 13:10, he asked “Why is the house of God forsaken?”  If my soul is found forsaken, neglected, void of His presence, why???

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