Online Bible Commentary
Nehemiah 13:10 I also learned that the portions assigned to the Levites had not been given to them, and that all the Levites and singers responsible for the service had gone back to their own fields. 11 So I rebuked the officials and asked them, "Why is the house of God neglected?" Then I called them together and stationed them at their posts. 12 All Judah brought the tithes of grain, new wine and oil into the storerooms. 13 I put Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and a Levite named Pedaiah in charge of the storerooms and made Hanan son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah, their assistant, because these men were considered trustworthy. They were made responsible for distributing the supplies to their brothers. 14 Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services. (NIV)
I return to the Old Testament track today with a passage to finish the commentaries from the book of Nehemiah.
I return to the Old Testament track today with a passage to finish the commentaries from the book of Nehemiah. The book of Nehemiah is the last of the Old Testament history books. Nehemiah served Judah as Governor for twelve years upon the return of the Israelites from exile in Babylon. During that time his rebuilding of the walls and the temple along with his reforms brought the people back to God. He had restored the city, and the country of Judah, in the eyes of God. Nehemiah then returned to Babylon, still the head of Judah, for an unspecified time.
In this passage, Nehemiah has just returned from his visit to Babylon in order to gauge the progress, or lack of, in Judah. In chapter thirteen, this final chapter of the book, Nehemiah writes of several reforms that are needed in Jerusalem upon his return. The people have not kept the Sabbath or temple pure, they have again intermarried with those of the opposite religion, and they have forsaken the tithe. Nehemiah immediately took action. He purified the temple and forcibly prevented work on the Sabbath. He dissolved the interreligious marriages and sent the heathen packing, back to their respective idol worshiping countries. Also, he responded to the people forsaking the tithe.
The tithe, a gift by the people of ten percent of the best fruits of their labors, to those doing the work of God was a requirement by the government of Judah, in accordance with Scripture. Nehemiah learned that those workers for God had not been compensated for their work (v.10a). Because of this they were forced to return to their work in the fields in order to earn a living (v. 10b).
Realizing the importance of the Lord’s work Nehemiah instituted reforms to allow the resumption of the Lord’s work in Judah. He rebuked the officials in charge of gathering the tithes and ordered them back to work (v.11). As a result, the storerooms in the forecourt of the temple were again filled with tithes (v.12).He then put “trustworthy” men in charge of overseeing the storerooms and distributing the tithes to God’s workers (v.13).
Finally, Nehemiah prayed to the Lord to remember him for his faithfulness in being obedient to the Lord (v.14). Nehemiah asked God to remember him after performing each of his reforms. Nehemiah feared God. He respected God, and sought His approval in all that he did.
In this, the last of the history books, Nehemiah recaps the history of the Israelites. The Israelites’ history was like a roller coaster. They would be faithful to God and he would lift them to great heights. They would then fall into disobedience and God would remove his hand causing them to fall to great depths. This cycle repeated itself over and over again in the history of Israel. Nehemiah understood this, which is why he always brought his people back to being faithful to God.
Specifically, Nehemiah understood that in order for the people to remain faithful it was essential that they have a strong foundation in the Lord. That foundation was ministry. He understood that without ministry to gird them up, the people would not stay faithful. He also understood that those performing ministry could not continue to minister without support. They would have to devote their time to earning a living.
Ministry today is no different. It is the foundation that helps Christians to stay faithful to the Lord. It must be supported by those Christians, or it will disappear, just as in the days of Nehemiah. It is up to every Christian to do their part in supporting ministry.