Putting God's Word into Practice…

Notes from Nehemiah (13:23-29)

on January 19, 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.

As we have seen throughout chapter 13, upon Nehemiah’s return he found the people and the city in a sorry state of spiritual compromise.  Everything they committed themselves to, they reneged on.  In this case, the Jewish marriages were mixed between those who belonged to God and those who were considered enemies of God.  They were raising children who neither spoke Israel’s language nor knew Israel’s God.  This inter-marrying was not about racial purity but about spiritual purity.  Marrying someone who was not part of God’s family was considered a treacherous–disloyal, unfaithful, backstabbing–act against God.  1) God desires His children to be pure and holy, and spiritual inequality in marriage leads to compromise and sin.  Nehemiah reminded the people that King Solomon had wives of different faiths and it ushered in his downfall and affected their whole nation.  It eventually drove to Jerusalem’s destruction and the people’s exile.  Would they be so foolish as to let that happen again after all God had done for them in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem? 2) Marriage reflects a covenant between God and His people.  He promised to provide for, protect, cherish and love them.  Their intermarrying was most likely for political strategy, military alliances, and financial gain.  They were putting their trust in other nations to do what God promised He would do for them!

Isn’t that true of us!  We let relationships change us morally.  And we put our trust in relationships for our intimacy, protection and provision instead of trusting Jesus.  Who we physically bond ourselves to here on earth is a big deal!

Nehemiah’s response to this treachery was intense.  In verse 25 it says, “And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them take oath in the name of God, saying, ‘You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves’.”  He punished and shamed them for their sinfulness.

When I read the words “confronted,” “cursed,” “beat,” and “pulled out their hair,” it reminded me of Jesus.  In Isaiah 50:6 it was prophesied:  “I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.”  And we see that fulfilled in Matthew 27:28-31 and Mark 15:16-20. When the Lord found us in our sinful state–married to the world, sharing our lives with the enemy–he could have punished and shamed us.  Instead, he let the punishment and shame fall on His own Son.  His wrath against our treacherous hearts was spent on Jesus.  If we believe that truth and accept Jesus, we can be purified without being punished–that’s grace my friends!

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