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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
(412)822-7255
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Pastor's Pen - May 29, 2007
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May 29, 2007

Nehemiah 12-13
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Nehemiah
Chapter 12
  1. Now these are the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,
  2. Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,
  3. Shechaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,
  4. Iddo, Ginnetho, Abijah,
  5. Miamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,
  6. Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah,
  7. Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chief of the priests and of their brethren in the days of Jeshua.
  8. Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, which was over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren.
  9. Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brethren, were over against them in the watches.
  10. And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim also begat Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada,
  11. And Joiada begat Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua.
  12. And in the days of Joiakim were priests, the chief of the fathers: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah;
  13. Of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan;
  14. Of Melicu, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph;
  15. Of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai;
  16. Of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam;
  17. Of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai;
  18. Of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan;
  19. And of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi;
  20. Of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber;
  21. Of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethaneel.
  22. The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers: also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian.
  23. The sons of Levi, the chief of the fathers, were written in the book of the chronicles, even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib.
  24. And the chief of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brethren over against them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, ward over against ward.
  25. Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the ward at the thresholds of the gates.
  26. These were in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor, and of Ezra the priest, the scribe.
  27. And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps.
  28. And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem, and from the villages of Netophathi;
  29. Also from the house of Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth: for the singers had builded them villages round about Jerusalem.
  30. And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.
  31. Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks, whereof one went on the right hand upon the wall toward the dung gate:
  32. And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah,
  33. And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam,
  34. Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah,
  35. And certain of the priests' sons with trumpets; namely, Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Michaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph:
  36. And his brethren, Shemaiah, and Azarael, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethaneel, and Judah, Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God, and Ezra the scribe before them.
  37. And at the fountain gate, which was over against them, they went up by the stairs of the city of David, at the going up of the wall, above the house of David, even unto the water gate eastward.
  38. And the other company of them that gave thanks went over against them, and I after them, and the half of the people upon the wall, from beyond the tower of the furnaces even unto the broad wall;
  39. And from above the gate of Ephraim, and above the old gate, and above the fish gate, and the tower of Hananeel, and the tower of Meah, even unto the sheep gate: and they stood still in the prison gate.
  40. So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and the half of the rulers with me:
  41. And the priests; Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets;
  42. And Maaseiah, and Shemaiah, and Eleazar, and Uzzi, and Jehohanan, and Malchijah, and Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer.
  43. Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.
  44. And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited.
  45. And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son.
  46. For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.
  47. And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron.


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Nehemiah
Chapter 13
  1. On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever;
  2. Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing.
  3. Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.
  4. And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah:
  5. And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests.
  6. But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king:
  7. And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God.
  8. And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber.
  9. Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.
  10. And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.
  11. Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place.
  12. Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.
  13. And I made treasurers over the treasuries, Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah: and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah: for they were counted faithful, and their office was to distribute unto their brethren.
  14. Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof.
  15. In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.
  16. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.
  17. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day?
  18. Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath.
  19. And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day.
  20. So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice.
  21. Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath.
  22. And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy.
  23. In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab:
  24. And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people.
  25. And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves.
  26. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin.
  27. Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?
  28. And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son-in-law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me.
  29. Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites.
  30. Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and the Levites, every one in his business;
  31. And for the wood offering, at times appointed, and for the firstfruits. Remember me, O my God, for good.


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Thought for the day:
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 I see a character trait of Nehemiah's in this passage of Scripture. That trait is that he never quit serving the Lord. We have seen repeatedly through Kings and Chronicles men who started off on the right path, but went astray later in their lives. Nehemiah appears to be a man who never wavered in his faith, never compromised his convictions, and never stopped working for the Lord. In Chapter 13, verse 6 we see that, after all the great decisions that the Jews had made in chapters 9-10, Nehemiah returned to the palace of Artaxerxes. All told he was probably gone for a year. When he returned he found that Jerusalem had once again fallen back into its old sinful lifestyle. Unfortunately, this points out a character flaw that many believers have - they only serve the Lord as long as there is someone standing over them telling them what to do. Once their authority is gone, they go back to their former ways because they do not have enough character to stand on their own.

 These are the people that Nehemiah encountered when he came back to Jerusalem. When he saw what was going on, it bothered him and he did something about it. Nehemiah had behaved this way when he first learned about the conditions in Jerusalem, and after all this time he still reacted to problems the same way. It would have been easy for him to decide that he had done his part, and that someone else could take care of the new set of problems. He could have decided that, if the people weren't going to do what he said when he was gone, that he would just give up on them. But rather than get discouraged, or sulk, or quit, Nehemiah immediately went back to work doing the same things that he had done before. He began by throwing the Ammonite Tobiah out of the Temple. It was forbidden for foreigners to be in the Temple, yet the priest had gone so far as to take the Lord's vessels out of the Temple so that the heathen Tobiah could move in. Nehemiah threw Tobiah and his belongings out, and then cleansed the Temple so that the vessels of the Lord could be brought back in. Note here that it was the priest who brought Tobiah into the Temple. Sometimes the world comes into our churches not because of those in the pew, but because of those in the pulpit. Those of us in leadership need to beware.

 Next Nehemiah saw that the priests and the house of God were not being taken care of properly, and he corrected this (11-14). There are three occasions in this chapter where Nehemiah asks the Lord to remember him. This is the first. The second occurred after Nehemiah set out to re-establish the sanctity of the Sabbath. Once again the Jews had determined that commerce was more important than holiness, and they had refused to sanctify the seventh day as they had been instructed by God. Work was being done and heathen merchants were being entertained at a time when the people of Israel should have been focused on Jehovah. Nehemiah went straight to the rulers, and placed the blame squarely upon them. Note here that there is no evidence given in this chapter that says that the rulers themselves were violating the Sabbath. However, Nehemiah blames them because they were allowing it to happen under their watch. Here we see the principle that those in leadership are held responsible for what those under their authority do. Hebrews 13:17 teaches that those in authority must "give an account" for those they lead. Nehemiah knew that if he brought the rulers under control, the rest of the nation would follow. Finally, Nehemiah once again had to step in and stop intermarriages and also purify the priesthood. Her had done it before, but because he knew it was right he did it again.

 Because of these things, Nehemiah asks the Lord to remember him. Nehemiah devoted his life to the Lord, and he felt the liberty to ask God to provide for him because of his faithful service. I believe that this is certainly an acceptable prayer request, but it is particularly appropriate because of the attitude with which Nehemiah approached Jehovah. He does not say, "Lord, I am such a great guy that I deserve for you to take care of me." On the contrary, listen to his prayer in verse 22,

"Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy."
Nehemiah asks God for His blessing not because Nehemiah is great, but because God is merciful. He realizes that after all he has done, he is still a humble, sinful, servant, and that it is only by the grace and mercy of God that he can accomplish anything.

 May we learn from Nehemiah what it means to see a need, get a burden, go to the Lord, act upon His direction, stand strong in difficulties, see the job through to the end, and ultimately give all the glory and honor to Him.

Pastor Dr. Mark J Montgomery

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