Summary: We must keep the commitments we make to the Lord!
Keep Your Commitment!
We now arrive at chapter 13 of Nehemiah, the last chapter in the book. We have seen the great work of rebuilding the wall come to pass. We have learned many great leadership lessons from Nehemiah, a great leader.
At this point in the story, Nehemiah had been away for a while. His first “tour of duty” with these people lasted twelve years. Then he went back to serve the king for probably around one year.
When he returned, it was kind of like Moses returning from the mountain and finding the people up to mischief. He found that all of the commitments that they had made in chapter ten had been broken.
William Booth, the founder of the salvation army told his recruits, “Bear in mind that it is the nature of a fire to go out; you must keep it stirred and fed and the ashes removed.”
It is very interesting to observe that people need a godly leader to keep them walking the straight and narrow path. Without strong godly leadership, we tend to stray.
36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.
That is how much of the world is today. They are weary and scattered because they have no strong spiritual leader to lead them in the ways of God.
Here are the ways the people failed God and broke their commitments:
II. They stopped being Separate
A. Separation in their associations vs. 1-3
God commanded the children of Israel to maintain separation.
3 "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD forever, 4 because they did not meet you with bread and water on the road when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.
This seems very harsh in today’s world. But God is serious about avoiding people who choose to live in sin.
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
God had turned the curses of Baalam’s into blessings. The only way that Israel’s enemies could defeat them was to infiltrate their relationships.
Vance Havner- “Today the world has so infiltrated the church, that we are more beset by traitors within than by foes without. Satan is not fighting churches, he is joining them!”
B. Separation in their friendships vs. 4-9
Their friendships with ungodly people had led them to compromise. The priest Eliashib “was allied” with a man named Tobiah who was a foreigner. He had made special provision for this man to live in God’s House! Here was a foreign man allowed to live in a place where the holy things of God had been kept. They had moved aside God’s things to make room for a man!
We must watch our friendships carefully. Our alliances with people must all be submitted to our supreme alliance with God!
Nehemiah said that this “grieved him bitterly.” It should grieve us when our friendships are more important than God.
Our priorities in relationships should be:
1. God first
2. Mate Second
3. Children Next
4. Friends Next
C. Separation in their marriages vs. 23-31
Lack of separation had now gotten into their most intimate relationships, their marriages!
God wasn’t against the people because they were just of another race. God is not a racist. God was against the mixture of these people because the foreigners worshipped other Gods! A lot of people question mixed race marriages. I think God’s issue is not mixed-race marriages, is mixed-faith marriages.
Ezra plucked his own hair out, but Nehemiah jerked the offender’s hair out and struck them. I may use this tactic in my ministry now seeing that it is Biblical.
Nehemiah pointed them to the example of Solomon who married many foreign wives. These wives led even this great king to sin!
III. They stopped their Support of the Lord’s work vs. 10-14
The people had stopped giving to the work of the Lord. You can find out how spiritual they are by observing their giving.
We hold some standards in reference to giving to the Lord’s work. Some say, it’s none of your business. But it is the business of church leadership to know who gives before people are put in leadership positions!
The priests had to go back to the fields to work because God’s people were not supporting them. This was a problem!
The Ponca Indian tribe has an interesting tradition. When a loved one dies, the family and friends meet to share with one another. They share not in the form of words, but in the form of giving. Now you may think this not too interesting until you hear who does the sharing.