By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: Nehemiah 10-13
Key Scripture Verses: Nehemiah 13:14 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.”
Nehemiah was an effective leader and a devoted man of God who returned to Jerusalem with a group of the exiles, after some of the exiles had already returned and rebuilt the temple by then. He was distraught that the wall around Jerusalem had not been restored and saw to it that Jerusalem was protected by its enemies by rebuilding the wall. At this point in the scriptures we read of the completion of the wall and its dedication to God. Nehemiah had effectively built the wall in record time and had created an atmosphere of spiritual renewal and rededication to God among the Jews in Jerusalem. For a brief while after the wall was built, Nehemiah was called back to Babylon by King Artaxerxes, but when he returned to Jerusalem, he was displeased to find some things going on that were not of God’s will and had additional reforms to make.
While still in Jerusalem when the wall was completed, Nehemiah had observed the re-established choirs making music in worship to God; King David’s music was again played at the temple and people were worshiping with praise and thanksgiving—spiritual revival was taking place in a grand way. So, when he returned to Jerusalem and found that people who should not be in the temple at all were admitted there and that God’s laws were being broken, he realized he had more work to do.
God had clearly indicated that “all who were of foreign descent” should be excluded from Israel (Nehemiah 13:3, referencing Deuteronomy 23:3-5), Ammonites and Moabites specifically being named in the laws in Deuteronomy, because of their evil practices. Yet, when Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, he found that Eliashib the priest, having married the daughter of an Ammonite named Tobiah, had created a special room for his father-in-law inside of the temple. So, Nehemiah had to have Tobiah removed.
Additionally, Nehemiah found that the Levite priests had not been taken care of by the people, were not given the portions allotted to them, and had gone back to working in their own fields to support themselves, and, thus, were neglecting duties at the temple. Nehemiah had to re-establish the priests back to their stations in the temple and to make sure that the priests were allotted their due portions of the tithes.
Nehemiah had to re-establish trustworthy attendants to distributing supplies to the Levites from the tithes of grain, wine, and olive oil that were stored in the storerooms.
In all that Nehemiah did in building the wall, in spiritual revival, in reform at the temple, he kept vigilant in prayer and worship of God. The profile of Nehemiah in the NIV, Life Application Bible says that Nehemiah never failed to consult God or to pray to God in all that he did. He was able to be honest and blunt with the people when necessary in his leadership. He was a dedicated, devoted man of God who was able to discern God’s will and effectively bring it to the people in such a way that they were receptive to his leadership, thus, his prayer: “Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.”
Are we able to trust God in all that we do in our jobs? Are we able to lean on him, consult him to lead us to do what needs to be done at all times? May we maintain our faith when we know we are doing God’s will, even when we have conflicts to resolve, even when we have people working against us. If we are dedicated to doing God’s will and we are in prayer and worship, making sure that we are not doing our own will but his, we may be surprised what God can do through us.