Lest We Forget

Bible Book: Nehemiah  13
Subject: Spiritual Decline; Forgetting
Introduction

This message could have several titles: "Guess who is living in the temple?", "time to clean house", or "the righteous indignation of a reformer".

Being the last chapter of the book saddens my heart, for I have loved walking and sharing with Nehemiah. What we have read and preached thus far has been glorious and victorious without exception; however, the Bible is a book about humans with a divine author. And, lest we forget, humans fail. I wish that I could leave this wonderful book by telling you, without qualification, that Nehemiah and his friends lived happily ever after.

Walter F Adeney, in his book on Nehemiah, wrote so perceptively when he said, "The chapter that seems to be rounded off with a perfect conclusion always leaves room for an appendix, which in its time may serve as an introduction to another chapter. Ezra and Nehemiah's work seemed to have reached its climax in the happy scene of the dedication of the walls. All difficulties had vanished; the new order had been greeted with widespread enthusiasm; the future promised to be smooth and prosperous. If the chronicler had laid down his pen at this point. His work might have presented a much more artistic appearance than it now wears. And yet it would have been artificial, and therefore false to the highest art of history. In adding a further extract from Nehemiah's memoirs that discloses a revival of the old troubles, and so shows that the evils against which the reformers contended had not been stamped out, the writer mars the literary effect of his record of their triumph; but, at the   same time, he satisfies us that he is in contact with real life, its imperfections and its disappointments."

This text serves as a perpetual proneness of the human heart to wander from the ways of the lord. Remember in chapter 10 how the people pledged with a "sure covenant" to God.

They pledged -

1. To maintain the house of God.
2. To provide for the priesthood.
3. To preserve the Sabbath.
4. To abstain from intermarriage with the heathen.

In Nehemiah 7:2 and l3: 6, we learn that after Nehemiah finished the project, he returned to Babylon as he had promised the king. In Nehemiah's absence, the old evils returned as the people were gripped by permissiveness, "a condition of society which permits the open practice, without shame, rebuke, or chastisement of what was once regarded as wrong."

Proverbs 14:34 reads, "Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." Thomas Jefferson's famous observation was, "eternal vigilance is the price of freedom."

It is important for you to know that the city of Jerusalem was not without witness during Nehemiah's absence. The prophet Malachi was a contemporary of Nehemiah's and you will find that he bore strong opposition to their sin. Let's note what Jerusalem forgot.

I. They Forgot Their Pledge To Separation vs. 1-9

A. Declaration
B. Deviation

Vs. 4 "allied" - it is a sad thing when the servants of God compromise with the enemies of God. Vs. 5

Understand that Tobiah, through his craftiness, was able to establish his central headquarters in this very strategic place. Eliashib had prepared Tobiah an apartment in the house of God. According to vs. 5 this chamber had previously been used as a storehouse for the tithes and offerings.

C. Determination

It was necessary for this courageous saint to face sin honestly and judge it; righteous indignation.

D. Desecration

The chamber had to be decontaminated for pollution. Nehemiah removed the evil and cleansed the room.

E. Dedication 9b

II. They Forgot Their Pledge To Support vs. l0-l4

A. The Cause 10-11a

God's servants were being neglected by a self-seeking people, and unable to support those dependent upon them - the Levites and the singers - who a little before had willingly offered themselves for the service of the house of God, had gone back to their fields, toiling for daily bread. The results - the House of God was forsaken. The people no longer gave their time, talents, or treasures. With the lapse of spiritual training the people became lax in practical righteousness.

B. The Cure 11b-13

Remember Malachi: Malachi 3:7-l0 Vs. 11 "set them in their place"

Vs. 13 Faithfulness is a requirement for service.

C. The Call 14

"Remember me" - He just wanted the assurance of his face to satisfy him that he had not labored in vain.

III. They Forgot Their Pledge To The Sabbath vs. 15-22

Now there are 3 cheers in hell - once again the enemy was strongly entrenched in Jerusalem. Nehemiah knew that God's purposes depended upon a holy people.

A. The Argument 15-17

While we do not believe that the Lord's day today is the same as the Jewish Sabbath, we do feel that God's people ought to set apart the Lord's day and use it to glorify him.

In Nehemiah 10:31 note:

B. The Admonishment 18

Jeremiah 17:19-27 tells us of Israel's disobedience in the past and how it led to Babylonia captivity for 70 years.

C. The Action 19-22

IV. They Forgot Their Pledge Of Sanctification VS. 23-31

(Remember Malachi 2:11, "Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a foreign God.")

A. Explanation 23-24
B. Indignation 25
C. Clarification 26-27

Do you expect to fare any better than he?

D. Justification 28-31

The grandson of the priest is married to Sanballot's daughter - "all in the family"

Conclusion

we must be aware of the craftiness of the enemy. And we must be aggressive in confronting the enemy.