August 17

Nehemiah 12:27–13:31

What a joyful time it must have been – after all that had happened in Jerusalem, after all that hard work, the walls were completed and now it was time to dedicate those walls to God. Nehemiah appointed two large thanksgiving choirs. As they marched around those walls the singers sang loudly (Nehemiah 12:42). And the celebration continued. Afterwards we read in:

Nehemiah 12:43 (NKJV) “Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off.”

Things were coming together. Nehemiah even mentions the way the Temple was organized with leaders to oversee the tithes and offerings for the priest and Levites to be stored in rooms, set apart for that purpose. The people had a heart to give.

We once again have a public reading of the Law of God. This time they came across the passage in Deuteronomy 23:3-4 that no Ammonite or Moabite was allowed into the assembly of God, so they put God’s Word into practice. Our lives should be as simple as that, “God said it, that settles it.”

Just as quick side-note, I’ve always loved the comforting truth of Nehemiah 13:2, how God is able to turn the curse into a blessing (in reference to the words of Balaam – Numbers  24:10; Deuteronomy 23:5). God will take even what is meant for evil, and use it for good in the lives of His people (Genesis 50:20).

Nehemiah rewinded a bit, to a time before the organization of the storerooms in the house of God. It’s hard to imagine, but when Nehemiah was gone for a season, at least two years in 432 B.C., the High Priest Eliashib was allied to Tobiah! Can you believe that? This is the Tobiah that was the enemy of the LORD and the people of the LORD, here he is LIVING in the Temple! While he’s there the Levites and singers had gone back to work, they were no longer supported by the people for the place where their portions were to be stored was occupied by the enemy! This can happen at any church or ministry. Nehemiah drove him out. He contended the rulers and appointed a faithful treasurer over the storehouse.

Nehemiah also restored the Sabbath to the nation. They had been violating it in many ways, treading the winepress, working the fields, bearing many burdens – on the Sabbath, even allowing foreigners to come in and have swap-meets on this day that was to set apart to God. Nehemiah contended with the nobles of Judah and reminded the people that this was the reason they went into captivity in the first place!

Nehemiah 13:17–18 (NKJV) “Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? 18 Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”

Nehemiah set guard and threatened to lay hands on anyone who spent the night around the walls with the intention of selling merchandise on the Sabbath day.

One final act of cleansing was required, for the people of the land had married non-believers. 

How quickly things can go south. After all the good work of God through Nehemiah, the moment he leaves – the nation backslides. It goes to show how important a godly influence and presence is.

Nehemiah did everything he could to clean house. He (once again) contended with the people, slapped some, pulled their hair, and made them swear they would not allow their children to marry non-believers. He reasoned with them from the Scriptures:

Nehemiah 13:26–27 (NKJV) “Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless pagan women caused even him to sin. 27 Should we then hear of your doing all this great evil, transgressing against our God by marrying pagan women?”

Even the priestly line had been tainted with a non-believing enemy – Nehemiah drove this family out! (Nehemiah 13:28) We read his words:

Nehemiah 13:30a (NKJV) “Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan…”

Eight times in the book of Nehemiah we have that word “Remember.” Nehemiah wants the people to remember the LORD (Nehemiah 4:14). But he also wants the LORD to remember the people, and even to remember him (Nehemiah 5:19; 13:14, 22, 31).

Praise God. We do know He remember us. We may not be doing things perfectly, but He sees our earnest efforts to serve Him and His people. He sees, and He remembers, and one day He will rewards us. 

May we learn from the life and ministry of Nehemiah, a man with great conviction and a great calling to a great work in a great city…for He served a great God – and we do too.

1 Corinthians 11:1-16

Paul begins with a challenging command, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” The Greek word translated “imitate” is the derivative of our English word “mimic.” Paul said something similar in: 

Philippians 3:17 (NKJV) “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.”

The Greek word translated “pattern” is the origin of our word “type,” or “typology.” As we read of the life and ministry of Paul we have an example of a Christian – he wasn’t God in the flesh – he was a fallen man just like you and me and yet look at what God did through his life. Let’s “mimic” him in his love for the Lord.

Paul writes about women praying without head coverings. This was a cultural issue, back then and there. The only women who didn’t cover their heads in such a setting would be the rebellious women or the prostitutes. It’s hard to conceive of that nowadays, being so disconnected from such a culture, but that was the context of this letter to the Corinthians. Even Paul himself was part of that setting and he gives us the reasoning behind it, that the covering was a symbol of authority (submission).

Yes, God does have an order, a structure. Jesus is submissive to His Father. The husband is to be submissive to Jesus. The wife is to be submissive to her husband (1 Corinthians 11:3). It doesn’t mean that the husband is any better in essence or nature, because he’s not; just as Jesus is equal in essence and nature to His Father – but there is a structure in the Godhead, just as there is a structure in the family. The head-covering symbolized all of this, so Paul asks the ladies to respect that – BUT – in the end he doesn’t make it mandatory (see 1 Corinthians 11:16). The reason being, this was a cultural practice and not a Biblical mandate.

Sandy Adams put it this way, “Paul is not teaching that women today must wear a veil to pray. All he is saying is that a Christian woman should be aware of how her society will interpret her actions. She should respect the customs of her culture.”

I would add that both men and women need to respect the customs of our culture unless it clearly violates the commands of Scripture. So (just in case you’re wondering) head coverings are not mandatory for us as American Christians.

Psalm 35:1-16

David once again is praying for God’s protection.

Psalm 35:1 (NKJV) “Plead my cause, O LORD, with those who strive with me; fight against those who fight against me.”

David the soldier gives God the details on how to fight for him, suggesting shield, buckler, and spear; chase them away Lord, let the angel of the LORD pursue them.

More than likely this was a Psalm written when David was on the run from Saul. David had done nothing wrong – he was innocent.

Psalm 35:7 (NKJV) “For without cause they have hidden their net for me in a pit, which they have dug without cause for my life.”

David had only done good for Saul – even praying for him…and this was how he thanked him?

Psalm 35:12–14 (NKJV) “They reward me evil for good, to the sorrow of my soul. 13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; and my prayer would return to my own heart. 14 I paced about as though he were my friend or brother; I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother.”

O, the heart wrenching lessons in life. It doesn’t seem fair, or right, or make any sense at times – but keep praying, keep trusting. God will indeed work it all out for good.

It’s a sobering thought to think that our enemies “plot” to hurt us (Psalm 35:4). We therefore need to be on guard, to watch and pray. But it’s also a beautiful thought to think that God plans to bless us – His plans are good (Jeremiah 29:11) so let’s seek Him, with all of our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13).

Proverbs 21:17-18

Proverbs 21:17 (NKJV) “He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”

2 Timothy 3:4, speaks of how in the last days this gets worse, how people will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

NET Notes, “The participle “loves” (אֹהֵב, ’ohev) indicates in this context that more is involved than the enjoyment of pleasure, for which there is no problem. The proverb is looking at “love” in the sense of needing and choosing, an excessive or uncontrolled indulgence in pleasure.”

BKC, “…does not argue for a dismal, stoic life, but against living only for pleasure and self.”

Proverbs 21:18 (NKJV) “The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the unfaithful for the upright.”

Proverbs 21:18 (NLT) “The wicked are punished in place of the godly, and traitors in place of the honest.”

This doesn’t always happen on this side of time, but it will in the final judgment and analysis of God. 

We have the example in Haman who built a seventy-five foot high gallows to hang Mordecai. In the end, he himself was hung upon it! And not just him, his ten sons. For a man who wanted to take Mordecai the Jew down  – and all his people, this would definitely be considered poetic justice.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

Leave a Reply