Saturday, November 12, 2016

Nehemiah-The Day The City Gates Closed

By Mary Vee
Nehemiah 13

From Nehemiah's Journal

Photo Courtesy
My name is Nehemiah. 

I am visiting back in Jerusalem for the second time. God has burned a desire in me to check on the progress in the city. When I left the last time the walls had been rebuilt, the people had been taught the laws of Moses, and they said they would seek to obey them.

I thought everything would be fine as I returned to my job in Babylon. But I was wrong. I came back and found a huge mess.

First, I found that evil Tobiah living in the Temple and causing trouble then I found the Levites had left their temple duties and returned to plow their gardens because they were hungry. This time I found foreigners bringing their wares through the gates to sell in the city on the Sabbath.

The key word here is Sabbath. I mean, really? Yep. There were men in Judah treading winepresses, bringing in grain, and loading it on donkeys along with wine, grapes, figs, and a bunch of other goods. 

These items were brought through the city gate. Jerusalem's city gate. On the Sabbath. I couldn't believe my eyes.

I went to each one and warned them not to sell food on that day. Men from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem brought in fish and other merchandise to sell in the city on the Sabbath to the people of Judah.

I called a meeting of the nobles after the last cart left the city. "What are you doing?" 

The nobles looked at me like I was crazy. "People need to eat. The venders have come to sell food and a few other necessities."

"You know better than this. In the Law of Moses we are clearly told to honor the Sabbath. What is the matter with you? This is a wicked thing you are doing. You're desecrating the Sabbath. Didn't your forefathers do the same thing? It displeased God so much most of the nation ended up being hauled off into slavery. Now look at you. Promoting the buying and selling on the Sabbath as if we'd never learned our lessons. Do you want Jerusalem burned to the ground again?"

They shook their heads. No one said a word. But that evening I made sure the law would be obeyed. I went to the gates and ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day.

Once or twice merchants and sellers spent the night outside Jerusalem. I warned them. "Why are you spending the night by the wall? If you do it again, I will have you hauled away."

From that time on they no longer came on the Sabbath. 

I ordered the Levites to purify themselves then guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy.

One more problem solved. 

I prayed to God, "Remember me for this also, O my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love."

Somehow I have the feeling this wasn't the last problem that needed fixing. Sheesh.

Come back next time, because interesting tales happen in Jerusalem in days to come.

sources: New International Version, New King James Version

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