It's the last chapter! You did it! You went through the entire book of Nehemiah, and chewed on it! Tomorrow night I will post a wrap up, but tonight we will just focus on Chapter 13. This chapter is kinda famous to me, and maybe those who have been in the House of Prayer movement for a while, for the part of verse 10 that says, "the Levites and the singers went back to his field". We have often referenced this verse in comparison to those that are called to the house of prayer, primarily the singers and musicians, having to go work in the local coffee shops because they aren't being paid in the temple.
I have a few thoughts on this chapter to share, but first, go ahead and read through it. As you are reading, take time to stop on any key things that stand out to you. There is a lot to look at in this one.
READ NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 13
Here is an overview of Nehemiah's Reforms from Dr. Constable:
In Chapter 13, we find out that Nehemiah has left and gone back to the King of Persia for an unknown amount of time. He then returns to see the people have ALREADY broken the laws he had JUST re-established! Ahhh! How frustrating!!! It reminds me of that scene in The Incredibles movie when they are fighting the bad guys at the beginning and one of them says, "I just cleaned up this mess! Can't we keep this city clean for ten minutes!" Or something to that effect. If you're a mom you probably can relate to that as well. It must have been a horribly disappointing feeling to return to Jerusalem and find the people, who had just vowed and signed a document promising to obey God's laws, already forgetting. This is the human condition. We are frail.
Let's look at the situation with tithing (giving 10% to the temple priests, Levites, and services) Below is an excerpt from www.soniclight.com:
It is interesting, though we don't really know what part of the culture/laws deteriorated first, I would submit that it probably started with money. So think about this- outsiders come in to sell on sabbath. The people see the opportunity to make more money by working on sabbath. Greed sets in, and perhaps they are too busy working or whatever circumstances happen- the stop giving money to the temple. Can you see how each of these situations relates to each other? Even the intermarrying had to do with greed and politics. Most scholars suggest Nehemiah was only gone 1 year - 18 months, can you imagine things falling apart that bad in such a short amount of time? Crazy.
We could look at several details throughout this chapter, but the one key thing that seems to be resounding to me is the necessity of administration. Nehemiah was not a priest, king, or prophet. He was an Administrator. Can I speak plainly? This is the blaring truth of what I see; You remove the administrator, and everything goes to heck. I used to think that if I set something up and then walked away and it fell apart it was my fault for not administrating it well. But what I see here, is that you have to have someone anointed in administration to govern the work. You can't just walk away from a work you pioneered and leave it to just anyone. I mean, just think about the history of the kings of Israel!
So, where does that leave us in chapter 13? Well, the chapter ends well. Nehemiah whips everyone back into shape and gets all the paganism out of the city. The key thing here, that is really key, is that in order to further the kingdom, restore the Tabernacle of David, we need anointed Administration at the center- and that "administration" is just as "spiritual" as "prophet" or "pastor".
REFLECTIONS FOR TODAY
1. Today I am wondering if there is anyone out there who has felt like "administration", or we can use the word, "marketplace", in ministry has felt like a "lesser-than" anointing? Sometimes the priestly ministry stands out as the "real" anointed work of the ministry. Perhaps you are an "administrative-type" or in a business/marketplace position and asking the Lord where is the value? Do you see how Nehemiah, the Governor, worked very closely with Ezra and Malachi (his contemporary Priest & Prophet) and in his unique function he actually was the "glue" that held it all together?
2. What things does Nehemiah's governing leadership show you about the importance of administration? And how can you apply that to your life?
Lord, today I ask for all those who may be reading this, that they would sense Your presence encouraging them in their calling for which You have called them. I pray to day that You would open the eyes of our hearts and help us to see what You see in us. Help us to see the gifts You have given to us and our unique purpose and working together with the saints in the body of Christ for the furthering of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God. Lord, teach us how to walk confidently as the leaders You have designed us to be, in Jesus Name, Amen.