Todays readings… Nehemiah 13, Amos 5, 2 Timothy 2.
Today we completed reading the book of Nehemiah. For some reason (13 v.6) the Persian King had caused Nehemiah to leave Jerusalem. This happened “in the thirty second year of Artaxerxes (12 years after Nehemiah first came)… and after some time I asked leave of the king and came to Jerusalem, and I then discovered the evil that Eliashib (“the priest” v.4) had done for Tobiah, in preparing for him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. And I was very angry and threw out all the household furniture of Tobiah …” [v.6-8] Nehemiah’s good work was being undone through a failure to obey God’s decrees. They had previously “found written in the book of Moses … that no Ammonite … should ever enter the assembly of God” [v.1] and Tobiah was an Ammonite (2 v.10). This is a lesson in the need for faithfulness in correctly following what God has decreed. Following this Nehemiah makes the plea, “Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service.” [v.14. ]
Nehemiah then finds they are “profaning the Sabbath day”. Nehemiah warns them (v.15). Tyrians, “who lived in the city brought in fish and all kinds of goods and sold them on the Sabbath” [v.16] Nehemiah “confronts the elders of Judah” [v.17] over allowing this.
A day of “rest”, which is what the word Sabbath means, has been a valuable practice in human life. When we were young no sport was played on Sunday and none of the shopping centres opened. Sunday was observed as the Christian day of rest; it was the day when Christ rose from the dead. Nehemiah then asks, “Remember this also in my favour, O my God, and spare me according to the greatness of your steadfast love” [v.22]
Each generation must learn the true ways of living and believing for God will “remember.” His word abounds with examples of failures, especially among following generations.
Paul is anxious at the end his life to train Timothy to carry on his work for the Lord, so that his achievements are not wiped out. We read today his words to Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” [2 Tim. 2 v.15] Let us follow Paul’s advice today, and then the Lord will remember this in our favour.