Pastoral Commentary for Nehemiah 13
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
The final chapter of Nehemiah records further reforms that were instituted under Nehemiah's leadership. At this time, Nehemiah returned to Babylon, perhaps to give an account of his stewardship as governor. While he was gone, Tobiah was given a room at the temple, in spite of his opposition to Nehemiah and the Jews. Upon Nehemiah's return he threw out Tobiah's household goods and purified the room for its proper use. In addition, the provision for the Levites had been ignored, so that they had returned to their own houses and fields, and the house of God was neglected. Nehemiah called the Levites back to their posts and put new leaders in charge of the allotment for the Levites. Nehemiah observed that some of the Jews were violating the Sabbath by engaging in commerce. He confronted the nobles of Judah and reminded them that God had brought calamity on their forefathers for this same sin. To prevent further violations, Nehemiah ordered the city gates to be locked on the Sabbath. Nehemiah also learned that certain men had violated the covenant regarding intermarriage. Nehemiah rebuked these men harshly. Things had gotten so bad that one of the sons of the high priest had married a daughter of the principle enemy of God's people, Sanballat. As a result, Nehemiah drove this man out from the people of God. With every reform, Nehemiah prayed asking God to remember his faithfulness. Thus, the history of God's chosen people from beginning to end was a history of unfaithfulness, even after the exile, when the people of Israel should have known better. But God was faithful to raise up leaders like Nehemiah to call His people back to Him. God's faithfulness is in stark contrast to the unfaithfulness of His people. His grace was all-sufficient, and only because of His grace did a remnant remain through whom the Messiah would come. Jesus asked, "when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" We need to pray that God will grant us His Holy Spirit to keep us faithful until the day of Christ's return.