Nehemiah has taken a back seat to God’s reformation of Jerusalem, more so than he already had. Scant evidence of Nehemiah is found in a large portion of the book. His story is like that of other great men and women of God – little is known, if anything at all, of them and their daily life. Nehemiah had a job to do, did it, and then surrendered the limelight of story, never really wanting it in the first place.
In the later chapters of the book, we find genealogies, vain things for people at times. Here, only two of the twelve Tribes of Israel (three if you count the Levites) can be named. The destruction generations before of Israel, and the exile of Judah has taken it’s toll on the the Jewish people, with some finding no loyalty to Jerusalem. Only a a relatively few families decided to return to build the Holy City of God, and fewer chose to settle there.
Suddenly, with the establishment of security for what essentially was a colony, the priests began to become prominent once against. We see this with Ezra, who led the people in their new covenant with God. Upon the dedication of the walls of the City, the priests came from all over Israel to purify the people, the gates, and the wall.
We see again, Nehemiah rejoining the story, leading the leaders of Judah to the top of the wall are organizing the choir, but he was not the leader – God’s priest Ezra was. Nehemiah followed the choir, singing and praising God. All where equal in the praise of God. All who could understand, women and children were not excluded, praised God and offered sacrifices.
A tithing system for the benefit of the Temple and the Priests were established. Things were getting back on track for the Holy City.
Returning to a previous part of the story, we learn that foreigners where excluded from the service. These foreigners where the descendants of people who had denied the children of Israel food and water as they marched in the wilderness. God did not forget the hiring of Balaam, and demanded that His people be pure of these curses. This was, after all, what had led Israel into bondage – mixing with foreign gods. But, some didn’t learn – a pagan was granted permission to have a store room within the Temple.
Nehemiah, when he returned to Jerusalem after twelves years back in Persia, immediately put and end to this. He purified the room once more, and returned the things of God to it. Here was a man who had spent years rebuilding and restoring the city, only to see some return to their previous ways. He found quickly that the Temple of God was being neglected. The Levites, instead of working int he Temple had to work in the fields. He sought to preserve the Sabbath which had again fallen into dispair.
Upon his return, he found again that people were intermarrying with pagans. Nehemiah got rude – beat people, pulled out their hair and had them promise that they would not let their children intermarry. This was returning to Solomon’s sin – and he would have no part in it.
In the last chapter of the book, we find four prayers:
- Remember the faithfulness to the Temple
- Remember the good deeds regarding the Sabbath
- Remember those who have defiled the vows of the priests
- Remember the holiness which Nehemiah tried to bring about
He was a man who sought only the things of God, and desired nothing but to have God – not man – remember him for that.
We should do not less.