Nehemiah 13 Commentary

Nehemiah 13 Commentary

The first section of chapter 13 presents a problem for the New Testament reader. We particularly remember one important Moabite woman who carried within her womb the seed. The blood of Ruth would run through generations of Israel’s kings until the time of the King of kings, the LORD Jesus Christ. And Israel’s mandate to be a blessing to the nations would not exactly fit Nehemiah’s actions here. But who can fault Nehemiah’s zeal for the name of the LORD?

But Tobiah is a different case. He is an enemy of God’s people. His hosts must have known better. His presence had displaced the supplies for the priests. No wonder they starved and abandoned their posts. When the church decides to host a Tobiah and do so at the expense of room for the offerings and other supplies for the priests, then you immediately know there is a huge problem. Ministry suffers. Church workers scatter.

Nehemiah is upset with the officials. He has a point. Why should workers in the church suffer so much when God’s people have faithfully given to the LORD? Expel a Tobiah and appoint godly men and women to handle this very important ministry department. Let the church workers have enough to feed their families. The solution can be this simple. Every church leader must reflect on this example from Nehemiah.

The LORD is interested in both: individual righteousness and communal righteousness. Human laws and regulations and policies are important for public righteousness to prevail. Nehemiah legislates laws to protect the sanctity of the Sabbath. The New Testament reader knows that their righteousness depends on another law: the very word of the LORD. It is always beautiful when human laws mirror the Law of the LORD as found in the Scripture.

Nehemiah is horrified by men who freely married foreign women. One of them was a priest! The example of Solomon’s sin because of his multiple marriages with foreign women helps us understand Nehemiah. He is a student of history. He knows the presence of sin in the community, either by marriage or by external contact can easily become a problem for the saint.

If the saint is blessed with the zeal of Nehemiah, and if they can get close to doing what Nehemiah did, why not; they can pray: “Remember me with favor, my God”.

Nehemiah ends here. Thanks for loving God’s word. Esther is next.

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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