When the cat is away, the mice will play. Apparently that is what happened when Nehemiah went back to the king that he had served earlier for a period of time. With him gone from Jerusalem it looks like the people decide to create a space within the Temple for one of their favorite priests. It would be almost as if God had a rival because a room was established within the temple, which was God’s house by the way, for another priest to have his space. Nehemiah was not amused and threw out the guy’s stuff and had to reconsecrate the area. There can be no competition with God.
But we also see that with Nehemiah gone that the Levites were not receiving a portion of the offerings as they were supposed to receive. As a result they left Jerusalem to strike out on their own in the suburbs, or the surrounding areas. Nehemiah called them back in and demanded that the people continue to give as they were supposed to so that these Levites could be supported.
Another battle that Nehemiah fights, when he gets back and sees the erosion of what he had initially instituted, was the obeying of the Sabbath. He closed the gates of Jerusalem for the Sabbath and did not allow anyone to enter because if they did they would be engaged in commerce. So, the business folks waited and camped outside the gate. But Nehemiah didn’t allow that either and berated them and made them leave. He was pretty intense.
The common theme that we find repeating itself is that inevitably over time we will disobey God when we are left to our own desires and our own devices. We are created in the image of God, God loves us, but that image is so obscured by our sin that it is almost as if we are born sinful. We are not born sinful, but we do have a propensity for sin. It is that propensity, that almost inevitable decline and failure, which produces sin. We find this to be the case in Nehemiah. We find this to be the case in all of Scripture. We find this to be the case in our own lives. Nehemiah is a good book to end our 90 Day Challenge. The temple is back in working order, God is being praised, and the people are back in line. Now to get to work. Looking forward to our next challenge.