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Bible Commentaries

John Brown's Commentary on Selected Book of the Bible
Nehemiah 13

 

 

Verses 1-31

John Brown

Nehemiah 10-13

It"s Not How You Start

I. INTRODUCTION

II. Nehemiah 13:1-31 (NKJV) On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people, and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God,

2because they had not met the children of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing.

3So it was, when they had heard the Law, that they separated all the mixed multitude from Israel.

4Now before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the house of our God, [was] allied with Tobiah.

5 And he had prepared for him a large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which were commanded [to] [be] [given] to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers, and the offerings for the priests.

6 But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king,

7 and I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God.

8 And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room.

9 Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.

10 I also realized that the portions for the Levites had not been given [them]; for each of the Levites and the singers who did the work had gone back to his field.

11So I contended with the rulers, and said, "Why is the house of God forsaken?" And I gathered them together and set them in their place.

12Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse.

13And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouse Shelemiah the priest and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah; and next to them [was] Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were considered faithful, and their task [was] to distribute to their brethren.

14Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for its services!

15 In those days I saw [people] in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all [kinds] [of] burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned [them] about the day on which they were selling provisions.

16 Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold [them] on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.

17 Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, "What evil thing [is] this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day?

18 "Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath."

19 So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath. Then I posted [some] of my servants at the gates, [so] [that] no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day.

20 Now the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice.

21Then I warned them, and said to them, "Why do you spend the night around the wall? If you do [so] again, I will lay hands on you!" From that time on they came no [more] on the Sabbath.

22And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, [concerning] this also, and spare me according to the greatness of Your mercy!

23In those days I also saw Jews [who] had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, [and] Moab.

24And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke according to the language of one or the other people.

25 So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, [saying], "You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves.

26 "Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless pagan women caused even him to sin.

27 "Should we then hear of your doing all this great evil, transgressing against our God by marrying pagan women?"

28 And [one] of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, [was] a Song of Solomon -in-law of Sanballat the Horonite; therefore I drove him from me.

29 Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.

30 Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan. I also assigned duties to the priests and the Levites, each to his service,

31and [to] [bringing] the wood offering and the firstfruits at appointed times. Remember me, O my God, for good!

A. Nehemiah had agreed to return to the court of the king of Persia after the wall was built.

1. Twelve years have passed and the people have entered into the same sins that ruined them before the captivity!

a) They had failed in separation with other nations.

b) They had failed in their commitment to sanctification.

(1) They had entered into marriages with ungodly people.

c) They had failed in their service to the Lord.

B. SEPARATION

1. Tobiah the Ammonite was an enemy, who had opposed the building of the wall.

a) Now he was living inside the court in a nice large room that was supposed to house the tithes, offerings, and firstfruits.

2. As long as Nehemiah was there "watching" over everything, the "things of the Lord" were clear in the people"s mind!

a) But, soon after he left, friends became enemies and enemies became friends!

(1) There is an old hymn that says, "Cast your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his beauty and grace."

(2) The opposite is also true! If there is anything or anyone "propping us up" in Christ, then as soon as that thing or that person is gone, the things of God will grow strangely dim, and the things of earth will become our focus!

(a) Committed Christians will become "less fun" and we will begin making "room" for Tobiah in the places that were once dedicated to the Lord!

C. SANCTIFICATION

1. One of the sons of a priest had married the daughter of Sanballat.

a) The same man that had ridiculed, scorned, threatened, and opposed the work of the Lord!

b) By this time many were married to godless people.

(1) Nehemiah 13:23 (NKJV) In those days I also saw Jews [who] had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, [and] Moab.

c) There can NEVER be a marriage between Holy and Un-holy!

(1) Jesus and satan do not mix! There cannot be an amalgamation!

(a) 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 (NKJV) Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?

16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among [them]. I will be their God, And they shall be My people."

17 Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. . . ."

d) Please notice that Eliashib was a Priest, but because the enemy was "kin", he chose family over the things of the Lord!

(1) Matthew 7:6 (NKJV) "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

D. SERVICE

1. All kinds of business was being conducted on the Sabbath except the Lord"s!

a) They had forgotten the house of the Lord!

(1) Nehemiah 13:10 (NKJV) I also realized that the portions for the Levites had not been given [them]; for each of the Levites and the singers who did the work had gone back to his field.

b) If we are "propped up" by another and not individually committed to the things of the Lord, support of His work will be the first to go in our lives!

(1) If we find ourselves cold and indifferent, it"s not our spouse, nor our kids, nor our church that"s the problem!

(a) It is much closer to home than that. It is our own individual relationship with the Lord that has gone wrong!

(b) Do you find that going to church and being around God"s people is no longer a priority?

c) Here in Nehemiah , the people cared so little for the work of the Lord that the Ministers of the Temple had to go back to secular employment!

(a) When we get our eyes off the Lord, supporting the work of the Lord will have a very low priority in our lives!

(i) We will either give Him a token gift once-in-a-while or we will forget Him completely!

III. NEHEMIAH"S RESPONSE

A. To their failure in separation.

1. Nehemiah 13:8 (NKJV) And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room.

B. To their failure in sanctification.

1. Nehemiah 13:25-28 (NKJV) So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, [saying], "You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves.

26 "Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless pagan women caused even him to sin.

27 "Should we then hear of your doing all this great evil, transgressing against our God by marrying pagan women?"

28 And [one] of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, [was] a Song of Solomon -in-law of Sanballat the Horonite; therefore I drove him from me.

C. To their failure in service.

1. Nehemiah 13:15 (NKJV) In those days I saw [people] in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all [kinds] [of] burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned [them] about the day on which they were selling provisions.

IV. CONCLUSION

A. It is not how we start, but how we finish!

1. How is our separation, sanctification, and service?

a) Is there a Tobiah in our lives, pulling us down or away from the things of the Lord?

b) Have we tried to "marry" some of the ideas and concepts of the world into the holy things of the Lord?

c) Have we stopped supporting the service of the Lord?

(1) Has "business" as usual become too important to put God first?

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Brown, John. "Commentary on Nehemiah 13:4". John Brown's Commentary on Selected Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jbs/nehemiah-13.html.

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