Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Nehemiah-Marrying for the Wrong Reasons

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 Jerusalem 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.

Men and women from Judah and Jerusalem convinced me they truly wanted to obey and serve God as was laid out in the Law of Moses. But I was wrong for believing them. I came back and found a huge mess.

First, I found evil men living in the Temple. Second I found the Levites had left their temple duties and returned to plow their own gardens because they were hungry and weren't receiving their allotted food. Third, I found foreigners bringing their wares through the gates to sell in the city on the Sabbath. On the Sabbath!

Today, I discovered many of the men had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab and had given their sons to these foreign women. These women who worshiped idols. I couldn't believe these men went back on their promise to the living God. The one who loves them enough to call us His own.

Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other people groups they married and didn't know how to speak the language of Judah. 

"What were you thinking?" I yelled at them?

They didn't answer me at first. They shook their heads and looked at the ground. 

I yelled curses at them, beat some of them, and pulled their hair. What they had done could bring the wrath of God on Jerusalem again. Most of these very men had been exiled for seventy years and had only returned a few years ago. They'd rebuilt their homes and should have rebuilt their lives following the laws sent by God.

"Promise here and now, before God, that you will not give your daughters in marriage to the sons of Ashdod, Amon, or Moab. Promise. Now!"

They nodded. 

"Say the words!"

"We promise." Their voices were soft and shameful, as they should have been.

"Now promise not to take any foreign daughter for your sons to marry. Wasn't it because of marriages like these that Solomon, king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women. Don't bring this on us again."

In my investigation, I learned Joiada, son of the high priest, was married to Sanballat's daughter. I couldn't even look at him. Sanballat, of all people. This the foreign man who bullied us and brought others to keep us from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. 

Remember what they have done, O my God, because they have defiled the priestly office and the covenant of the priesthood and of the Levites by marrying women who were not Jewish. 

I purified the priests and the Levites of everything foreign and assigned them their duties. I also made sure contributions of woods and the first fruits would be delivered to take care of their needs.

Remember me with favor, O my God.

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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