I hope you’ve been encouraged by what you have read in the book of Nehemiah and some of our staff’s commentary on this lovely Old Testament book. I know I have. I also know that the book doesn’t end on such an encouraging note, so hopefully you’re on that spiritual, emotional high before it all comes down in the last chapter.
We have seen how Nehemiah has rebuilt the city of Jerusalem and how the people of God got serious about His Word and His will again. But this all falls apart (again) when we see Nehemiah return back to the king after the reforms he had made. During this time, Eliashib the priest did evil by not administrating the tithes and offerings the way God asked (v. 4-9). The Levites were also neglected their offerings so they left town (v. 10). The people of Judah broke the Sabbath and the Jews started marrying people outside of their faith.
After working so hard, it had to seem like everything fell apart when Nehemiah left and he was angry when witnessing all of this after coming back. He confronted these sins and even threatened some of the people who desecrated the fresh reforms that were put into place. This had to have been discouraging for Nehemiah and it’s interesting how the book ends with him saying “Remember me, O my God, for good.” I believe he said this because as the leader, he probably felt the heavy weight and responsibility of these sins after working so hard in leading these people back to God and having it all fall apart after a short time away. Many people feel that same way about their own sin or the sins of those that they are entrusted to lead. We remember the bad more than the good. I bring this up because one particular verse stands out to me over all other verses in this chapter that can sum up all of the bad things this book ended on after the great steps that Nehemiah and God’s people made in the first 12 chapters.
“….yet our God turned the curse into a blessing.” (13:2c)
This verse is referring to how God used the Israelites disobeying Deuteronomy 23 by allowing Ammonites and Moabites into the Temple (ex. Ezra 6, Ruth) but I believe that God used this last chapter which sets itself up as a curse into a blessing as well. I say this because I think you and I can read this and get hung up on all of the sin and wandering away from God more then the good He has done or that we have experienced as well and that a lot of that can be turned into a blessing.
Nehemiah closes out on a sour note but that’s not what the book of Nehemiah is remembered for. In fact when you hear about Nehemiah, you are reminded of his bold leadership and fearless reform in Jerusalem glorifying God once again. We worship a God that remembers the good in us because He only sees a good Jesus as our defense when we do go back to the sin He has saved us from.
- Do you focus on the bad instead of the good in your life?
- What supposed “curse” in your life can God turn into a blessing?
Feel free to comment below.
By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor