This is the last chapter of Nehemiah and the last sermon in this series. The purpose of the series was to answer this question: What does God want me to do with my life?
The first half of the book tells us God has work for us. We saw in those chapters that we will face obstacles when we do God’s work. We learned that prayer and preparation are important in doing God’s work.
In the second half of the book we saw that God wants us to assemble. God wants us to come together.
Nehemiah returned to his job in Persia. Later he came back to Jerusalem. He found that spiritual conditions had declined in his absence:
The temple was defiled (Nehemiah 13:7-9). … A man, a non-believer even, moved into the temple. He was living there. Nehemiah threw him out and put the temple back i order. The people did not keep their commitment from chapter 10.
Tithing was neglected (Nehemiah 13:10-13). … The temple was understaffed because the people were not tithing, which probably led to the man being able to live there. They neglected their commitments from earlier.
The Sabbath was not observed (Nehemiah 13 15-21). … The people did not honor the Sabbath again, just as their ancestors, and against their commitments.
Marriage was compromised (Nehemiah 13:23-26). … The people ignored God’s commands on marriage and their own commitments as they married foreigners, just as their ancestors.
What does this teach us about faithfulness in our lives?
Your spiritual life will tend to decline without continual attention. … The second law of thermodynamics is true materially and spiritually. Without maintenance, it will fall apart.
It is more difficult to restart your spiritual life than to continue it. … You can restart, but it’s hard. The law of inertia applies to our spiritual lives too, making it easier to keep momentum than to start or stop or restart.
Leaders can set the tone for your spiritual life in a group. … In this book we see that while Nehemiah is there, everything goes well. When he leaves though, it all falls apart until he returns.
We need the Gospel to enable us to be faithful (Romans 8:3-4). … Nehemiah 13 might be the last book, chronologically, in the Old Testament. The book of Malachi probably comes before Nehemiah’s first return to Jerusalem or just before his second return. Then, 400 years later, we get the New Testament, the Gospel. Nehemiah shows us our inability to keep the law on our own. We can’t keep the law good enough to earn our own way to Heaven. That’s where the Gospel comes in (Romans 8:1-4).
Like Nehemiah, Jesus has gone away, and He is coming back. He wants to find us faithful (Matthew 24:12-13, 45-46).