Nehemiah 13:11 Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place.
The people had great success. Nehemiah obtained permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. Through it all they were oppressed by the enemy, but in spite of it all, in 52 days the wall was completed. Now, in spite of it all, the house of God had been forsaken. Nobody went, even the priests. Why? I’d like to give some reasons.
In verses 1-9 we see the lack of separation among the people. Between chapters 12 and 13 Nehemiah returned to his job with the king. After a year or so Nehemiah asked for permission to go back. He found the people weren’t keeping separation as they should. The priest had made an alliance with an enemy (Tobiah) and moved him into the chamber of the house of God. Nehemiah threw him out and cleansed the house of God. We find reasons today for the house of God being forsaken. Some years ago statistics showed that even ministerial students didn’t believe the Bible as they should. They didn’t believe all the Bible and what it says about creation, miracles, heaven and hell. These people are filling pulpits in America today. We wonder why America is going the way it is. This is one reason. I don’t understand all the Bible, but I believe it all from cover to cover. It’s the infallible, inherent Word of God. We are to have no fellowship with the Tobiah’s of this world.
The house of God was forsaken because of a lack of giving. Verses 10-14 show this. The priests had to go work in the fields because the people hadn’t been tithing of their substance as instructed. This was their system of taxation, amounting to about 23%. I don’t like paying taxes, but we’re instructed to render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s. The New Testament system of giving is not the same way. The Bible says in First Corinthians 16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. God has blessed us. He told us how much to give–as God has prospered. Jacob set a precedent of 10% which many still use today. The New Testament doesn’t say 10%, but it’s a good place to start. Second Corinthians 8:12 says we are to do it with a willing mind. Verse 5 of this chapter says the first gave themselves to the Lord.
The Sabbath was being broken. We see this in verses 15-22. It had no significance. The day was business as usual. Merchants came to Jerusalem to sell. Nehemiah got angry and commanded the gates to be shut. For two weeks they came anyway. He rebuked them and they didn’t come again. The Sabbath was a shadow of things to come. That shadow was Jesus. While the Old Testament Jews observed Sabbath on Saturday, New Testament believers observe the first day of the week. The resurrection occurred on Sunday. Jesus met with them the next Sunday. The Day of Pentecost occurred on Sunday. It is a day of rest and worship. We’ve seen things change. Do you remember “blue laws” when hardly anything was open on Sunday and even what was didn’t sell alcohol. Look now. People are so preoccupied with the world that they go to church when there is nowhere else to go. Church is not first. If it fits in with their schedule, they will go.
The people were in unscriptural marriages. We see this in verses 23-25. Jews married women from heathen nations. Nehemiah used extreme measures to stop it. The children were confused. Unscriptural marriages cause confusion.
Nehemiah said a few times in this chapter “remember me, O God, for good.” How will the Lord remember you? As wishy washy? As a backslidden hypocrite? I want God to remember me for good.