Nehemiah 13, Renew Your Commitments To God
1. Renew Your Commitment To Holiness (v4-9)
2. Renew Your Commitment To Stewardship (v10-14)
3. Renew Your Commitment To Worship (v15-22)
4. Renew Your Commitment To Discipleship (v23-31)
Nehemiah 13, Renew Your Commitments To God
Nehemiah 13, Renew Your Commitments To God
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As we get into Nehemiah Chapter 13 this morning, it's time for a public confession.
Roman, would you stand up?
No, I'm just kidding.
Public confession is mine.
I did a really bad job at representing God at work this week.
And experienced some challenges as a result.
Now it wasn't.
Crazy big deal.
Don't get me wrong, but I overlooked an important piece of information that put.
Couple of our sales reps in a bad spot.
They were trying to wrap up things and there was some shipping information that was lacking and we had to scramble greatly to be able to get it to happen to really kind of pull it off and actually I still don't know if we did because you know.
The weekend happened and so hopefully tomorrow we get the good news that the leftover pieces from the trade show.
Were shipped out in the way that they were supposed to be, but I I did a bad job.
I overlooked information.
I kind of failed at this real important responsibility that I have, and you know, that is something that is important for us as believers in the workplace.
I I like this sentiment that is expressed by a woman named Dorothy.
There's and an old poem or essay or poetic essay that that she wrote, called why work?
Essentially, here's what she says.
The message to Christian carpenters many times is all wrong.
That what the church tries to teach carpenters to do is not really what they need to focus on.
Here's what she says.
The very first demand that religion makes upon a Christian Carpenter is that he should first make good tables.
The first responsibility of a Christian Carpenter is to make good tables to be diligent and excellent in the work that you do, and that's an important thing to consider for us, and I didn't do that this week.
I I didn't.
I wasn't so great at my job.
I let some things fall through the cracks and.
That wasn't the real major issue.
The major issue was the way I handled it when when I found out because boy do I not like to fail.
And so my attitude was really challenging and difficult.
And I think that I have some apologies to make tomorrow.
I'll probably be taking some Donuts to work tomorrow to kind of give that opportunity to express that sentiment of man.
I was grumpy.
I was depressed.
I was upset.
I was just.
Man, I did such a bad job, but then what was worse was the way that I behaved as a result and I broke the commitment that I made to honor the Lord and to represent God in the workplace.
That God has called me to.
Well, I bring that up not because I have to get it off my chest, but I bring it up because it's important for us to understand and consider what is it that we are to do.
When we find ourselves.
Having broken commitments that we've made to God.
What is it that we are called to do when when there's commitments that we've made when there's things that we know that God has called us to?
When there's paths that we've gone down and and yet then we stumble, we fail, we fall short.
We go astray.
What are we to do?
Of course we're not to just give up and run away from God, right?
And and also, we're not to put ourselves on time out and stay away from God because we have failed.
No, this morning I want to suggest to you that when we have broken our commitments to God, what we need to do is renew them, not run from them, not try to avoid them, not try to pretend like nothing happened, but to acknowledge what happened and then renew our commitment to God and so that's what I've titled the message this morning.
Here in Nehemiah chapter 13, renew your commitments to God.
And I want to encourage you to think back in your life.
What are the things that you have committed?
To God, one of the ways that we often express the idea of being born again believing in Jesus Christ for the first time we say I gave my life to the Lord.
That's a commitment that we make to God, right?
I give God my life my whole life, from front to back, top to bottom I give God.
My life that's a commitment I'm sure there's other areas that God has ministered to you in throughout your time with him and your exposure to him.
And you've responded to God's call in your life and and you've made commitments to serve him in this way, perhaps, or to serve him in some other capacity too.
Develop this discipline or this relationship to walk with him in certain ways and and there are those commitments that God has placed upon your heart throughout your time with him.
And this morning, perhaps as you look back to those things, there is the need for renewal.
Those things have languished and fallen by the wayside, and there needs to be a stirring up once again, of those things that God has previously spoken to you about and called you too.
Here in Nehemiah chapter 13, as we finish off the book, it's the final chapter of the book.
Look, it's interesting and different than the rest of the book, because chapters one through 12 are all really in sequence of Nehemiah.
Hearing about the troubled state of Jerusalem asking permission of the king of Persia, going to Jerusalem, rebuilding the walls, establishing the city of Jerusalem, and.
Really, bringing about a revival and committing the people back to relationship with God to walking with God and commitment to obeying the word of God and for 12 years.
Chapters one through 12.
Record that time where Nehemiah is there?
In Jerusalem, well after 12 years he goes back to Persia.
And chapter 13 now records some time leader.
He's been in Persia for a little bit.
Most commentators and scholars believe it's maybe 10 years or more that Nehemiah was back in Persia and now he comes back to Jerusalem and discovers much of the work that he had done.
Has been starting to unravel.
The closing part of Nehemiah's ministry there in Jerusalem. If you look at Nehemiah, Chapter 10 and 11 and 12, there is this great covenant that is made as they dedicate the walls of Jerusalem.
They make this covenant to God to be committed to obeying him to doing what God had called them to do to following the word.
Of God, they make this great covenant and there's this great celebration that goes on and what's interesting is you compare chapter 10 and chapter 13.
Every points in the covenant that they made the commitment that they made back in Chapter 10.
Nehemiah comes back in Chapter 13 and finds those commitments broken.
And those things have fallen into disarray and are really in a very different state now than where he had left them.
A few years earlier.
When was the last season of great work?
That God is done in.
When was that last season and and and what commitments were made and now time has passed and as you look back at that great season where God spoke to your heart, where are you at in regards to those commitments that you made to the Lord at that time?
Pastor David Guzik says the real test of revival, the real test of God's work in our lives.
Is the long term it is seeing where we are with the Lord 10 years.
After a season of great work.
It's something to consider. The long term is the real test of revival of God's work in our lives. And really, our response to God's work in our lives.
The long term is the test of that, not that it has to be 10 flawless years but but that 10 years of consistent renewal.
Of that work and of the response that we had to that work of God.
And so I pray that each one of us would find in ourselves.
Good test, good results to the real test of revival and the real test of gods work that as we look at our lives, even if today we consider that and find those commitments broken, it's not too late for that real test of gods work in our lives to be proven true because.
Today we have the opportunity to renew those commitments again, it's not 10 flawless years.
It's 10 years of consistent renewal.
Renew your commitment.
To God, and so there's four commitments we'll consider this morning here at Nehemiah Chapter 13.
It's not meant to be completely exhaustive.
There's perhaps other commitments that you've made, but hopefully it helps you to reflect and think upon the things that God has done in your life and to be reignited in your passion for the Lord.
And in those ways that he has.
Spoken to you, the first thing we'll consider here is in verses 4 through 9.
Here's point number one this morning.
Renew your commitment to holiness.
I want to encourage you this morning to renew your commitment to holiness.
Verse four and five says now before this Elyashiv, the priest, having authority over the store rooms of the House of our God, was allied with Tobia.
And he had prepared for him a large room where previously they had stored the green offerings. The frankincense, the articles, the tides of grain, the new wine and oil which were commanded to be given to the levite's and singers and gatekeepers and the offerings for the priests.
Now in verse six is when he's going to say during this time I wasn't in Jerusalem, I.
Was away for.
A while I came back and this is what I found.
Eliashib the priest.
The one who is in charge of the temple precincts the temple area.
He has opened the door for Tobiah.
To come and live in one of the storehouses?
Now what you need to understand is many times when we talk about the temple, we just think about those main elements of the temple you think about, you know that the entryway into the temple and the the mean sanctuary where there was the table for showbread, and the.
The the lamp with the the seven lampstands, right and then of course you have the veil that takes you into the most holy place that that's the temple.
Right, but but the temple was not just that.
That wasn't the entirety of the temple grounds or the temple structure that in fact there was storerooms.
There was other kinds of chambers there were there was kitchens and stoves and things.
There was all kinds of things happening on the temple grounds.
And so one of the.
Things that was happening was.
The storeroom that was dedicated to that was intended to be used to store the offerings that had been given particular kind of offerings, like the grain, the new wine, the oil, the these things that were given by the people to support the work of the priests and the levite's.
These things had to be stored and taken care of, and so the priests and the Levites had responsibility to gather those offerings to gather those things, and then to maintain them and manage them and distribute them as there was need amongst the the priests and the levite's.
Well, during this time that Nehemiah is away, this priest Eliashib.
Does something truly terrible?
One of the storerooms.
Lays there empty.
And probably because, well, the people had not been good on their commitment to give and provide for the priests.
We'll see that in a few verses down.
But so here it's it's a storeroom.
It's just laying there empty and the leadership says, you know, I'm going to bring Tobia in here.
Now Tobia was not a good guy.
Tobia was an enemy of God, an enemy of the things of God.
You can go back through the book of Nehemiah and See Tobia coming against Nehemiah coming against the work of God.
The rebuilding of the walls.
Using all kinds of dirty tricks and.
Tactics of the enemy to try to put a stop to the plan of God into the work of God.
Although he was strongly opposed to the things of God.
He had some strong ties too.
Some of the people within the city of Jerusalem and in the nation.
You see there in verse.
Four, it says that Eliashib was allied with Tobiah.
Tobiah was wanting something different than God.
But here is Elyashiv, the priest who is supposed to represent God having these close ties with this this alliance with this enemy of God.
And the alliance was so strong that there was pressure upon Elyashiv. There was perhaps conspiracy involved even from Elyashiv's point of view, that he was seeking to help to buy a.
Maintain or obtain a position of prominence in the city, and.
For the people of Israel.
And so he brings him in and.
He gives them.
This location that was dedicated to the offerings of God.
This bad alliance.
This strong tie.
To defile the Temple of God.
With the presence of Tobiah, an enemy of God.
In thinking about our commitments and our commitment to holiness, we need to consider our alliances.
We need to consider what are those things that we are tide to in this life and the reason is is because many times.
A bad alliance.
Can pressure us can cause us?
To begin to move things into the House of God that have no business being there.
The apostle Paul put it this way in Second Corinthians chapter 6.
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?
And what communion has light with darkness?
Now this is a familiar verse to many.
Typically when you hear this verse referred to or or referenced, it is in regards to marriage relationship or a dating type of relationship and this idea of being unequally yoked is usually applied in that way, but.
Marriage is actually not the topic of.
2nd Corinthians Chapter 6 it applies, but it's just one of many ways that it applies where we can be yoked together where we can have a bad alliance.
With others around us that have different agendas, different perspectives, different things that they're seeking to achieve.
It's a different mission, perhaps a different gospel.
And a bad yoke or a bad alliance.
Can put us in the position.
Of bringing into the House of God things.
Or people or relationships or situations that have no business being there.
We, as believers in the Lord, are temples of God.
We are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
We're the temple of God.
And I would ask you to consider this morning if there has been some alliances.
Perhaps you have engaged into a contract engaged into a relationship with somebody that has really opened the doors to a storehouse.
Now you could think, hey, it's just a barn.
You know it's not like we move to buy a.
Into the main sanctuary of the temple, it's just a barn, not a big deal.
You know it was empty anyways.
Words of bringing Tobia in here we can easily try to minimize those alliances and those things that we do.
But but the reality is, it is the temple grounds.
It was to be devoted to holiness things unto the Lord.
And Tobia was not of the Lord and for the Lord.
Now Nehemiah explains how this could happen.
In verse six.
He says during this time I was not in.
Jerusalem for in the 32nd year of Arctic Xerxes, King of Babylon.
I had returned to the king, then after certain days I obtained leave from the King, and I came to Jerusalem and notice what he says, and discovered the evil that Elisha had done for Tobias.
In preparing a room for him in.
The courts of the House of God.
Nehemiah declares plainly this thing that Eliashib did was evil.
It is evil to allow into something that belongs to God.
The things that do not belong to God and do not or stand in opposition to the things of God.
And Nehemiah says while I was away, this transpired.
Elias had moved this guy Tobia this enemy of God into the House of God.
Now as you go on in diversity tonight, it gives us a really vivid picture of what repentance looks like.
Check it out, verse 8 says, and it grieved me bitterly.
Therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobia
Out of the room.
Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms and I brought back into them the articles of the House of God with the grain offering and the frankincense.
Here we find a really great picture of what repentance looks like.
First of all, Nehemiah says I came back.
I saw this, and it grieved me bitterly.
The apostle Paul in I think it's first Corinthians Chapter 7 talks about the pendance and the the godly sorrow.
Actually, now that I think about it's probably 2nd Corinthians 7, but read both actually know now that I'm thinking about it for sure.
I know it's not first Corinthians 7.
I'm recounting first Corinthians 7 things.
Yeah, that's not in there.
Second Corinthians Chapter 7 Paul talks about godly sorrow that produces repentance and and this is what Nehemiah experienced.
Although it wasn't his action that brought this about, he sees the situation and it grieves him bitterly he experiences.
Real godly sorrow.
And So what does he do?
Real godly sorrow doesn't produce you.
Go sit in the corner and just cry by yourself real godly sorrow in this way and talking about sin issues leads to action it leads to.
Well, Nehemiah throws all the household goods and don't picture you know him going like this.
Now, I'm not going to show you what he really did, 'cause Josh is probably gonna need that later.
I don't want to damage church equipment right?
But he's throwing out.
Get rid of, toss it out.
He's he's unloading all the junk.
That Tobia had.
It's all the household goods, so he's throwing out his couch.
His lamp, you know, all of his furnishings.
He's living there in this storeroom and Nehemiah now just cleans it out.
He just gets rid of it.
Then in verse 9.
He commands for the room to be cleanse, to be scrubbed down, to be sanitized so that it can be completely removed of any dust or filth of Tobia and his presence.
Repentance starts with that godly sorrow that leads to action that causes the throwing out the turning away from sin.
Brings forth that cleansing behavior.
And then it says in verse nine I brought back into them the articles of the House of God with the grain offering and the frankincense.
This is the final piece of repentance.
It's clearing out what didn't belong, but then putting in its place.
What does belong?
It's always important to remember that repentance is not just the stopping the sin activity, but repentance means that then we replace that activity with well what God has instructed us to do in its place.
Ephesians Chapter 4 has some great examples of this.
Stop lying and tell the truth right.
Those kinds of things clean out the room from all the junk that doesn't belong and put in the room.
All of the things that do belong.
And so here Nehemiah sets for us a interesting example to consider to renew your commitment to holiness you.
As a believer in Jesus.
Are the Temple of God.
Remember, Jesus spoke speaking to the church in Revelation chapter three said I'm standing at the door and knocking.
If anyone hears my voice and opens up well, I'll come in and dine with him and he with me that as believers in Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling within us.
And as we respond to the knock and the call of God, we we have the presence of the Lord with us.
We host the presence of the Lord in our lives and in our hearts.
We are the Temple of God.
And at times in our life God has spoken.
To us about that.
And he's spoken to us about issues.
Where there is sin that is defiling the temple of God in our lives.
Where there's sin that is holding us back and and corrupting our hearts in our pursuit of God and in our relationship with God.
And God has spoken to each and every one of us about sin issues.
Call this out from them called us to repentance.
And I pray that all of us have experienced that cleansing, like Nehemiah did, where we did.
We threw out those things we cleanse and and emptied out those things that didn't belong.
And we put in their place that right relationship with God and the pursuit of the things of God and the glory of God.
But as you look back now.
However, long ago that was just as Nehemiah had that time away, he comes back and he finds Jerusalem.
He finds the temple grounds in a different state.
Than which he
As you look back as I look back.
Perhaps we can recognize in our lives.
There has been a broken commitment.
Our God is called us.
Out of sin.
God has called us to be a temple holy and devoted to him and what we've allowed in our lives is for corrupt things, enemies of God.
To take up residence to take a root and to be established.
In our lives.
And there is the need for us.
Then this morning to renew our commitment to holiness.
To follow the example of Nehemiah.
Begin to throw out.
Not the you know.
Hey, if it doesn't bring you joy, if it doesn't spark joy, throw it out, right?
If it doesn't spark joy unto the Lord, then throw it out. Not your joy, but the Lord's joy.
That's who we're concerned with.
If your life has been now occupied by things that are not of God.
You need to renew your commitment to holiness.
You need to clean house.
You need to throw out all of those things that do not belong and put in their place.
The things that belong to the Lord, the things that bring joy to the Lord.
Here's another word from the apostle Paul from Second Timothy Chapter 2.
He encourages us in a great house.
There are vessels of gold and silver, wooden clay, some for honor, some for dishonor.
He says if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, if anyone cleanses himself from the things of dishonor.
He will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the master.
Prepared for every good work.
There is the need for us to give some time to consider.
Perhaps there's been a unequal yoke, a bad alliance in our lives, a bad relationship that we have allowed to kind of work, some leverage to open up our doors to things that do not belong in the House of God.
So we find in our House vessels for honor vessels for dishonor, we need to cleanse ourselves, toss out the things for dishonor, renew your commitment to holiness, and be devoted to.
The things of God and the things for God once again, well moving on, we're going to look at verses 10 through 14 for point #2
Here's the second commitment that we need to renew and that is renew your commitment to stewardship.
Let's read verses 10 through 12.
I also realized that the portions for the Levites.
Had not been given them.
For each of the levite's and the singers who did the work had gone back.
Field, so I contended with the rulers and said, why is the House of God forsaken?
And I gathered them together and set them in their place.
Then all Judah brought the tide of the green and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse.
Nehemiah comes back on the scene.
He's surveying the whole situation.
He's realizing, whoa, some things are undone.
Some commitments have been broken.
First, let's deal with the most grievous.
The enemy of God has taken up residence in the House of God.
Terrible, let's deal with that first.
Got that cleaned up.
He's looking around the temple grounds, where is everybody?
You know there's some people miss.
Usually there's some song going on here.
There's some worship and music that's happening.
It dawns on him.
Verse 10 I realize.
The portions for the Levite's had not been given.
For each of the levite's and the singers who did the work had gone back to his field.
The servants that were to be on the premises of the temple they were missing.
Where were they?
Well, it says.
I realized they went back to their fields.
They were out tending crops and and plowing fields and harvesting and laying feed and they were they were out working the fields.
To provide for themselves.
Because the provision that they were supposed to be receiving from the people.
Had not been coming in.
And so there was this broken commitment of the people.
Again, you can go back to Chapter 10 and compare one of the commitments that they made was we're going to make sure that we provide for the servants of the temple so that they can continue on the work in helping us to walk in fellowship in relationship with God.
And so when he realizes this, verse 11 tells us he contended with the rulers.
He goes to the leaders.
He goes, you guys, you have authority.
It's not your responsibility to provide all of the provisions, but you've fallen short in your responsibility.
To govern the people to speak to the people to influence the people in this provision.
It says that he set them in their place.
He put them in their place.
Reminded them of their role, their charge, their responsibility.
And so this idea of stewardship is what comes to mind for me.
It speaks, yes, of course.
Of the financial.
But stewardship also speaks of.
All of the things that God has given to us and for those.
Who have been?
Given authority in the church in the home, in the workplace, in the community, for those who have been given authority.
That authority is entrusted to those people as a matter of stewardship and a stewardship is not about getting their own will accomplish and doing what they want to do.
Is to be.
About the masters business.
A steward is a servant to the master and each one of us.
Are stewards that God, our master has entrusted to US resources some of them financial, some of them authority, some of them talents and gifts and abilities to glorify the Lord and honor the Lord.
There's there's much that we have been given by the Lord, and.
Here, Nehemiah comes to the rulers.
He puts them back in their place and he says guys you guys have failed in your stewardship.
Of this people.
You have not called the people you've not inspired the people or encouraged the people or held the people to the standard that God has called them to.
And when Nehemiah?
Applied this standard and.
Reminded the people of this responsibility.
You see here in verse 12, then all Judah brought the tide of the grain and the new wine and the.
Oil into the storehouse.
It wasn't that there was nothing to bring.
It was that that the leaders.
We're not being good stewards.
Of what had been entrusted to them.
And so Nimaya says, you know what?
We need to provide some additional oversight into this area. In verse 13 he says and I appointed as treasurers over the storehouse shell, Amaya, the priest, and Zadok describe and of the Levite's Pedion.
Next to them was Hannon, the son of Zachary, the son of Matsonia, for they were considered faithful, and their task.
Was to distribute to their brethren.
You remember what's required of a steward.
That they be found faithful.
So Nehemiah says you guys have not been found faithful.
So I'm going to call you back to that faithfulness.
I'm going to send out the word.
The people of Judah now begin to respond and bring in what they are to bring in.
Being good stewards of what had been given to them by God and their fields and crops and businesses.
And as the people of Israel are good stewards and bring in what God has given to them to contribute to the work of God.
Now he sets up treasures to help.
Steward, manage and distribute.
To the levite's to the singers that they would be provided for and able to come back from the field and be devoted.
To the things that God had called them to.
At the temple.
Listen, you are a treasurer.
Of sorts that God has given to you.
Finances might be one of them.
Responsibility or authority might be another asset that God is entrusted to you.
Again, gifts or talents, abilities are things that God is entrusted to you.
And you might look.
And say, well, you know if I'm a treasure, you know it's just a / a a small storehouse.
It's not very large.
Consider the parable of the talents that Jesus gave in the book of Matthew.
There was the servant with one talent, the servant with five talents, the servant with 10 talents.
All of them were.
Held not 2.
The standard of the one who was given the most talents.
All of them were held to the standard of what did you do with what I gave you, and that was the requirement for stewardship put to work and use what I have given you in the way that I have called you too.
And for you and I as believers this morning, we need to understand that there is a stewardship that God has given to us and and perhaps in the past God has spoken to you about that, perhaps in the past he is stirred up within you, that that understanding of whoa, this has been entrusted to me by God, and he has specific plans and purposes.
For how he wants to use this authority, these resources, this gifting in my life.
And so I need to be diligent to do what God.
Has called me.
But now as you look back.
Do you find that?
Been broken, has fallen to the wayside.
Do you find that that commitment has?
The place that should have been collecting and receiving the proceeds and the benefits of your stewardship, lays empty.
Renew your commitment.
Pastor Warren Rigsby.
Says when God's people start to decline spiritually, one of the first places it shows up is in their giving.
Giving us both the thermostat and the thermometer of the Christian life.
It measures our spiritual temperature and also helps set or help set it at the right level.
It's an important aspect of our life.
Our stewardship of our finances.
The stewardship of what God is entrusted to us.
Renew your commitment to stewardship. Moving on to verses 15 through 22, we get point #3 this morning and that is.
Renew your commitment to worship.
Renew your commitment to worship and verse 15, it says in those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath.
And bringing in sheaves and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs and all kinds of burdens which they brought into Jerusalem on.
The Sabbath day.
And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions.
Here in this next few verses, Nehemiah is going to be addressing.
The broken commitment in regards to the worship of God on the Sabbath day, the Sabbath day was something that God had established way back from the beginning.
On the 7th day in Creation, God rested.
God used that as a pattern and he instructed the people of Israel and wrote it into their law.
That they were on the 7th day to rest.
The Sabbath day Saturday they were to devote that to rest and to fellowship with God, and it was a matter of worship and faith and trusting God.
Because of course there was going to be the temptation.
To work that extra day to try to bring in those extra you know crops and and harvest and and there'd be perhaps a little bit more comfortable life if we work this extra day, but.
But the Lord is saying.
In the Sabbath Day trust me rest and just enjoy fellowship with me.
As a part of the Sabbath law, God also called them to every seven years to give the land a break.
So as they're harvesting their fields and their crops, they were to every seven days, take a break, and then after seven years they were to take a break and just live off what the land provided without working the land.
As they typically would.
That 7th year was also to be a year of release where you know they were to let debts go and there was to be the release of of those who were indebted to them.
And then every seven seven years, the year of Jubilee would happen in the 50th.
Year and there would be this great release.
Of you know people who had sold property, then it would revert back to the original family that owned it and and there would be the complete releasing of debts.
There would be this great celebration of God's goodness in their lives, and so there was these different ways that God had called them to honor him to worship him.
By resting by taking a break by not working.
All the time.
And so consider that in renewing your commitment to worship.
It's very easy for us, of course to just relate the idea of worship to singing.
But worship, although it includes singing worship, is much more than that it is.
Our pursuits of honoring God.
With our behavior with our lives.
Trusting God in obedience, we obey God as an act of worship.
As a desire to honor God.
To lift him high and to represent him.
And so Nehemiah finds them in this condition where they.
They're not honoring God.
On that 7th day.
They were not resting in the way that God had called them to, they.
Were breaking the Sabbath.
He looks around, he sees them.
They're treading out the wine presses.
They're making wine.
On the Sabbath day, they're loading donkeys and and putting on all these burdens and and carrying these loads all in violation of what God had clearly spelled out in the law to his people.
About this day.
Not only that, but they're selling provisions.
It's a normal day of commerce for them.
A normal day of.
Buying and selling.
Work, work in burdens and lever.
The world around them is kind of caught on and so verse 16 tells us men of tired while they're also.
Who brought in fish and all kinds of goods and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah and in Jerusalem.
So now outsiders are saying, alright, these guys are open on Saturdays.
Now all right?
It's a chance to sell more goods to them.
We can make more money taking advantage of these guys who are not worshipping God in the way that they've been called to.
And so they come in, and they're selling their goods.
To Israel also verse 17.
Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, what evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day?
Did not your father's do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us? And on this city, yet you added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath?
There's some really important truth that Nehemiah is hitting on.
There, the nation of Judah, the city of Jerusalem, was destroyed and left desolate for 70 years, because in Israel history previous to that.
They did not honor the Sabbath.
They did not.
Make good on their commitment to worship God by resting on the 7th day in the way that he had called them to.
They had not given that seventh year of rest unto the Lord, and so God says, alright, you've been in the land, 400.
And 90 years.
You haven't done any of the years of rest, so I'm going to extract that from you.
You're going to be in captivity for 70 years, and during that time.
Jerusalem will be destroyed.
The temple will be destroyed.
The land will be left to rest to make up for all of that missed years of rest.
From the history of Israel.
They didn't worship the Lord, they didn't seek his honor.
They saw an opportunity to make some money.
They felt compelled.
Perhaps I I have to work, otherwise I'm not going to be able to provide from my family so so lack of trust, lack of faith compelled them to work on the Sabbath, or greed compelled them to work on the Sabbath.
They ceased to.
Care about what honored God and what please God, and they started to put their own.
Concerns and desires and allowed the pressures of life to make the Sabbath day like any other day.
Begins to set this right in verse 19 he takes a really practical step, verse 19.
It says so.
It was at the Gates of Jerusalem as it yet began to be dark before the Sabbath that I commanded the gates to be shut and charged, that they must not be open till after the Sabbath.
Then I posted some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens.
Would be brought in on the.
Sabbath day very practical step.
There's all this breaking and violating of the Sabbath.
Oh no, what are we going to do?
Nehemiah says easy, close the gates.
You can do all that work and load up your cart, but if you can't get out of the city gate, that work was all done in vain.
The people around you want to come and take advantage of your lack of worship.
They can load up their carts.
They can come and try to sell in.
The city, but oh.
They hit an obstacle, a closed gate, and they're not able to come in and do commerce on that day verse.
20 he goes on to say, now the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice.
Then I warned them and said to them, why do you spend the night around the wall?
If you do so again, I will lay hands on you.
From that time on, they came no.
More on the Sabbath.
You might have said Waiata.
You come again, listen, I'm serious.
Now I'm going to smack you.
Because we're committed to worship God.
To honor the Lord.
In the way that we live, Nehemiah is a cool guy, right?
I mean in the previous chapters we don't see him behaving like this.
It's I mean he's really strong when it comes to the opposition, sanballat and tobiah, you know he.
He stands strong.
But but we see him as a man of prayer.
He's a hard worker.
But now when he comes back and he sees all of these broken commitments, and all of these things in disarray, he's not just soft and saying, OK, guys, you know, let's just try to be more committed to the Lord.
You know, let's just.
He's like you come here again.
I'm going to smack you do not defile.
The Lord's day.
To bring Israel to attention to say, listen, I need to be worshipping God and focused on what God has called me to now for us, today's believers.
The Sabbath day is not commanded in the same way that it was to the Jewish people, and I'm not going to get into all of the doctrine about that.
But read the book of Acts, read the book of Galatians.
And that'll be good enough.
If you're not convinced by then, then you can go talk to Harvey and he'll help such straight.
But the Sabbath day is different.
Jesus is our Sabbath.
We don't work for salvation, we receive by faith salvation, and we have fellowship with God by faith in Jesus Christ.
But although we are not strictly legalistically bound to that Sabbath day.
Our commitment to worship.
Should be very similar.
It should parallel the Sabbath day.
Should be a a vivid picture.
Of our life of worship unto God.
That we don't allow greed to push us beyond what God has called us to.
That we don't allow.
Our lack of faith.
To push us beyond what God has called us to that, that what we would value most would be.
What what pleases God and what has God desired and required?
What does God say about our situation and about our lives and and that we would rest?
Trusting God to provide for us.
That we would rest in faith in God's plans and purposes for us that we would be directing our lives to worship God.
In our conduct in our behavior.
One of the.
Things that is notable about us, as Southern Californians is we pack in as much as we can.
Our schedules are full.
You might want to think about that.
As an act of worship, you need to cancel some appointments.
And leave some space in your schedule for you.
To trust God and rest in him and have fellowship with him.
While moving along verses 23 through 31, final commitment for us to consider this morning renew your commitment to discipleship.
Renew your commitment to discipleship. Verse 22 through sorry. Verse 23 through 25 says this.
In those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon and Moab.
And half their children spoke the language of Ashdod and could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke according to the language of 1.
Or the other people?
So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them, and pulled out their hair.
And made them swear by God, saying, you shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves.
I'm starting to like Nehemiah more and more, right?
Renew your commitment to discipleship.
You know there's two parts to discipleship.
Jesus said, if you want to come after me, you need to deny yourself.
And take up your cross to follow me.
There's the denial of self.
And the following of Jesus.
And the following of Jesus also includes.
Helping others to follow Jesus and so This is why I made the point this way, that.
We ought to renew our commitment to discipleship because what Nehemiah sees here is some mixed families.
The issue here is not racial.
It's the people of Ammon, the people of Ashdod, the people of mud.
These are all different nations around them and and the issue that Nehemiah has and the scripture has is not that it was interracial, marriage or anything like that.
The issue was religious.
The Jewish people were forbidden from marrying these other nations.
God clearly says because.
They would turn their hearts away from God.
Now, if people in those other nations would come to believe in God, and at that time that meant converting to Judaism, they would become Jews.
And so even though originally they're from Moab or Ammon, or Ashdod, they they were not off limits romantically, because, well, they were part of the nation.
Believe in God and and again it comes back to that idea of unequal yoke that they would be in pursuit of the same God and to to honor him and to be walking in obedience to him.
But the issue here that Nehemiah sees is again not racial, but religious.
Is that these marriages are happening happening but there is not the conversion first.
And So what they're doing is they're getting married, and now their kids are being raised.
With an unbeliever as a parent.
They they can barely speak Hebrew.
In the home, they're not speaking Hebrew.
They're speaking another language.
Now, what language?
Where the scripture is written in Hebrew.
They're not going to know the things of God.
They're not going to be equipped to walk with God.
They're not going to be able to be faithful to God if they.
Don't even know the language.
And the picture here is at home.
Their homes are immersed not with the things of God.
But with the.
Things apart from God.
The kids were speaking the language of the home.
Which was not the language of God.
At home, the family was not.
Being raised and taught.
To know God and walk with God.
And so Nehemiah.
He seriously gets mad now.
And he goes.
And he starts.
Now don't think of that.
As you know he's just spilling out profanities.
He's saying look God is going to judge you.
One of the commandments that God gave to parents was to teach your children the things.
Of the Lord.
The commands of God you you need to do that.
But they weren't getting it on the first time around, so he strikes them.
Let me tell you how serious this is.
You're laughing and giggling.
You know you think it's kind of funny.
I'm just going on this rampage about your kids speaking another language.
Like come on, you might get with the times.
It's not a big deal.
And you might say no, you don't understand.
And so he.
Struck some of them and pulled out their hair.
Sometimes we need this strong kind of wake up call to realize to be shaken out of our complacency and our compromise and realize how bad it is and how far we've gone away from what God has called us to.
And so Romans volunteered after the service.
If you need this kind of ministry.
He'll smack you around and pull out your hair.
Help you get right with the Lord.
Jesus said to his disciples, if anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
This guy sees this girl.
I want to marry her.
She's from Ashdod, doesn't believe.
And the God of Judah.
Look at her.
I want a life with her.
This parent sees this young man from Amen and says oh this is going to be a great guy for my daughter.
And plus, you know then we're kind of like neighbors with them and and so we'll have peace, and our lives will be so much better if.
Their boy marries our girl, and so let's arrange this marriage.
All kinds of reasons and motivations.
For this to happen.
That is selfish.
Jesus said, look if you want to follow me.
Here's what you need to do.
Part of that is learning to deny ourselves.
And yes, perhaps I want to marry him or her.
Perhaps I want that job or career, perhaps.
I love that hobby and want to spend all my time doing it.
Perhaps I want that kind of peace and security.
And when it no longer matters, if God wants it or not, I just move on and go and pursue the things that I want because.
I'm not concerned about what God wants.
Jesus says if you want to follow me, you can't do that.
You can't just do what you want.
You don't get to just choose who you're going to marry or what kind of job you're going to have or where you're going to live or what kind of time is going to be spent on this hobby or that hobby.
You don't get to do that.
You gave your life to me.
So first thing you need to do is deny yourself.
Now that doesn't mean you live your life in misery and you never enjoy things 'cause God wants you to enjoy things right.
But but that the priority is not what I want.
But what is God want?
What does God want?
In my life, how does he want me?
To spend my time.
And then the second part of discipleship is then.
To help others.
Jesus in Matthew chapter 28 when he gave the Great Commission, he says go and make disciples.
You're a disciple.
Now go and make disciples.
Disciples make disciples.
And of course that begins there in the home.
These children were not being disciple Dton.
Oh God, they were being disabled.
To know the foreign gods.
To know the foreign languages.
Not exposed to the things of God in a sufficient way that they would even be able to speak the language.
The other Hebrews.
Talks about things in great depth, some some great really deep theological things he's working through and he says.
You know what?
I'm having a hard time even just trying to express these things to you, 'cause you're so dull of hearing you.
You're not immersed in the things of God, you're not understanding.
You're not able to receive.
The truth and the teachings that I want to bring forth because.
You're dull of hearing your heart of heart.
You haven't immersed yourself.
In the things of God.
This is what discipleship is about.
It's immersing ourselves in.
In the Lord and the things of the Lord, and our homes should be a place that we are immersed in and and are.
Families speak the language of the Lord because.
Because we are consumed.
By the things of God and not the things of this world.
Now Nehemiah goes on to give the example of Solomon in verse 26 and 27.
He says look even Solomon sinned by this kind of thing.
He had great wisdom.
He was beloved of God, but Pagan wisdom pulled his heart or pig, and women did I say wisdom pig and women and wisdom.
That too I meant to say that it's on purpose, never mind.
His heart was turned away.
Because he didn't deny himself to take up his cross and follow the Lord.
He he didn't deny himself, he saw and he said I want that and so he fulfilled himself.
And he saw his own pleasure.
He saw his own priorities.
He saw his own purposes.
And it brought him to a place.
Of apostasy of turning away of committing great evil against the Lord.
You might goes on to describe in verse 28 and 29 that this even took place in the High priest own family.
The high priest grandson was married to one of these foreigners and was not discipling their children in the ways of the Lord.
All these examples.
Should cause us to consider.
Our commitment to discipleship.
Are you really committed?
To following Jesus with all of your heart to loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
So that you deny yourself.
You're willing to lay aside your pleasures, your desires, your wants, your goals.
And to put his plans and purposes first, and it's to such a degree that your whole family is impacted that you are discipling others around you.
To follow Jesus in the same way.
Does your family?
Speak fluently your hobby.
And Christianity barely.
I mean, they can recount all the stats and you know tell you all the different things and give you the strategies and lay down all the plays and you know.
But trying to talk about.
The things of the Lord and.
I just don't have.
The vocabulary I don't even know how to say.
You know what it's like to?
No, the Lord or walk with the Lord to hear from the Lord.
Does your family speak fluently your politics?
And Christianity barely.
They could tell you all about this and that and this point at that point.
And here's, you know the strategy for beating this opponent and and overcoming that.
And here's why you know this needs to be red or that needs to be blue.
You know, like here's.
But then when it comes to things the Lord like, we don't know where the passages are in Scripture.
We don't know books that are in the Bible.
We don't know how to hear from the Lord.
Know what God wants in our lives.
Does your family speak fluently?
Your hobbies, your politics.
Your exercise regimen, you know, whatever it is that it might be right.
Sometimes we get caught up in things and we make disciples, but not disciples of the Lord.
We make disciples of our philosophy towards health.
And so everybody knows about.
The juice that Zelda drinks every morning.
Nobody knows about the God that's on the warships.
Sorry to teach his mother.
She walked in.
It was just like interesting juice I was like.
What is that kind of like good?
Then she's like it's healthy.
I was like oh, never mind, get away from me.
Sometimes we get caught up in our things that.
Pull us out of discipleship.
We're not denying yourself to pursue the Lord.
And then what we're discipling others in.
Is not the pursuit of the.
Lord, but these other things.
And perhaps we have broken our commitments as we look back and review, and so Nehemiah comes back after some time and he finds this condition of the people.
Now what do we do when we find that our commitments have been broken?
We don't give up and say, well, God must hate me now so I'm done.
The brilliant amazing message of the gospel is no matter how far you fall, no matter how much you fail.
God in his mercy, and his slowness to anger.
He welcomes us back as we.
Come to him with the heart of repentance.
And so we don't have to run away from God or stay away from God or be on time out from God.
We can come back to God right now.
And say Lord, I have blown it, I have broken that commitment.
Nehemiah doesn't tell them.
Hey, you are no longer the people of Israel.
You know this city will be burned down.
Now we've given up.
No, he says, let's get back to honoring the Sabbath.
Let's get back.
To dedicating the temple to the things of God.
Let's get back.
To bring in the ties and the offerings that the stewardship of the resources that God has given to us, let's get back to discipleship.
Get back to the things that God has called us to.
Let's renew our commitments to the Lord, not give up on them, not abandon them.
Not run away from them, but renew them.
And so this morning, as we wrap up, we want to give us an opportunity to do that as well.
Josh is going to come up and lead us in a closing song, and as he does I would encourage you to let the Lord Minister to your heart about your commitments.
Not in a way that you run away from God, not in the way that you feel so condemned.
You can never approach God.
But then you would recognize you can come to God honestly, genuinely, and say God.
I have blown it.
I have messed up.
I have broken this commitment and failed.
It grieves your hearts.
But I thank you for your forgiveness and your grace.
And then I can come to you now and renew these things that you have spoken to me.
And so let's renew our commitments to God and renew ourselves and our relationship with him as we worship the Lord this morning.