Monday, November 12, 2012


Then I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come and guard the gates, to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember this also in my favor, O my God, and spare me according to the greatness of your steadfast love.
Nehemiah 13:22

The final chapter of the book of Nehemiah shows a series of tests to Nehemiah's leadership as the new commitment of the Jews to the covenant is seriously tested. While Nehemiah was away to the Persian court on official reporting business as governor, the people of Jerusalem began to stray away from their faith's demands. It began with the priests making an allowance for a gentile within the temple walls. Other offenses included clear Sabbath violation as well as intermarriage with foreign wives. Nehemiah confronts each issue with a seriousness, pointing out its error, illustrating God's judgment in the past, actively confronting those leading the sin, and demanding repentance in new actions.

Time is the test of all spiritual commitment. And great leaders are moved by a long term view of the steadfast love of God. Nehemiah fell on the longsuffering mercies of God for the nation as he led them once again to do the things that showed their commitment to be the people of God. God was faithful in His steadfast love even as Israel still struggled. Nehemiah's leadership again turned them back to God.

Often ministry is about leading people to do the right thing over and over. And that was the real value of what Nehemiah did. He committed himself to a faithful God even as he had to keep admonishing a less than faithful people. The result was regular repentance and renewal. And that is often what it takes for a group of people to know their God is at work among them.

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