The Book of Nehemiah begins and ends with faith. Faith, no matter its size, can remove mountains and it can restore broken walls. Take this Journey to learn how to restore your city through prayer and God’s Word.
19I ordered the gates of Jerusalem to be closed on the eve of the Sabbath and not to be opened until after the Sabbath had ended. Then I put some of my own men in charge of the gates to make certain that nothing was brought in on the Sabbath. 20Once or twice some merchants spent the night outside Jerusalem with their goods. 21But I warned them, "If you do this again, I'll have you arrested." From then on, they did not come on the Sabbath. 22I ordered the Levites to make themselves holy and to guard the gates on the Sabbath, so that it would be kept holy. God is truly merciful, and I pray that he will treat me with kindness and bless me for doing this. Read More
Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem roughly 12 years after the restoration of the wall. He finds that the citizens have broken their vows and have fallen back into sinful practices that would surely displease God. In this passage, the Sabbath is being desecrated as merchants, including fishmongers, from other towns, peddled their wares in Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Even when told this is wrong, some merchants arrived on the Sabbath with their goods, and stayed outside the city gates all night, waiting for the Sabbath to be over to begin selling.
In addition, the high priest has allowed Tobiah, one of their enemies, to live in a portion of the temple where the tithes were to be stored; the people were no longer faithful in bringing their tithes, so the Levites who should have been serving full-time in the temple had to find regular jobs. Furthermore, the people were intermarrying and the Hebrew language and culture was being lost because the children could no longer speak their native language. Nehemiah responded harshly and quickly to these infractions. He threw out Tobiah and all his furniture from the temple and ordered it to be cleansed, he reinstituted the tithes, he put an end to intermarriage, and he threatened the merchants with arrest and put guards along the city gates to guarantee enforcement that the Sabbath would indeed be kept holy.
Examine each of the four infractions Nehemiah corrected on his return. Can you see how disobeying God’s laws, even in the simplest ways, will eventually lead to committing a full-blown offense?
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Lord, let us not be lukewarm in our worship and obedience to you. Set our hearts on fire that we might follow your precepts with zeal.
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