“23 Moreover, in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. 24 Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, and did not know how to speak the language of Judah. 25 I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God’s name and said: ‘You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves. 26 Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women. 27 Must we hear now that you too are doing all this terrible wickedness and are being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?’28 One of the sons of Joiada son of Eliashib the high priest was son-in-law to Sanballat the Horonite. And I drove him away from me.29 Remember them, my God, because they defiled the priestly office and the covenant of the priesthood and of the Levites.30 So I purified the priests and the Levites of everything foreign, and assigned them duties, each to his own task. 31 I also made provision for contributions of wood at designated times, and for the firstfruits.Remember me with favour, my God.” NIV
And so with our 107th reading in Nehemiah we bring our look at his book to a close. Tomorrow we will take a break for one day. There will be no notes appearing, so don’t think anything has gone wrong! We will resume with another series on Monday, God-willing.
For today, note the same approach as in yesterday’s passage. The sin was different, but we see Nehemiah just the same: willing to rebuke, able to apply the Scriptures, and ready for action. (But although he is a great example in many ways, I can’t recommend his strong arm tactics as being appropriate for the average elders meeting!! Verse 25. However, what we should see reflected in his behaviour is the serious of the sin, and his burning zeal for the honour of God and the purity of the land. Also, he was concerned for its safety. He did not want them to again bring judgment down on their own heads).
I leave you with these words from Tom Hale – apposite as ever:
‘Twenty-five years earlier, Ezra had dealt with this same problem of intermarriage with non-believers (Ezra Chapters 9-10); now the problem had recurred in the current generation. Once again it was necessary to deal with the problem decisively. The kingdom of Israel had been split in two because Solomon had married pagan women (1 Kings 11:1-13). He had been a great king in many ways, but this one sin had been his – and Israel’s undoing (verse 26). Why couldn’t the Israelites learn?…One might say this whole chapter is somewhat discouraging: here Nehemiah has had to face four problems that had already been dealt with earlier. But the chapter reveals an important truth: reforms made in one generation do not necessarily continue into the next. Each generation is responsible for its own actions. And each generation needs to be converted, revived and renewed. This is the task of each new generation of Christian leaders, and to help us in this task Nehemiah has given us a powerful example of effective and godly leadership.’ ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.767.
PRAYER: Lord, please help us to serve the purpose of God in our generation.