OUT OF PLACE
I didn’t see this rattlesnake coming. I saw pebbles on the trail…until they began to move. When pebbles move right and left in multiple rows your eyes will recognize what that is immediately. Even if you have never seen a snake before instinct will feed your brain with “red alert” signals immediately. I enhanced the contrast of this photo to let you see this more clearly. When I saw this, I pulled the leash back hard on my dog. I used this as a lesson experience for the dog. I pointed the serpent out and repeatedly yelled, “bad! bad! bad!” God has given us the epistles filled with instructions for the bad things that cross our path. He pulls our leash hard and repeats his warnings for our benefit. Remember those lessons when you are off the leash.
On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever; Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing. Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude. And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah: And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests. Nehemiah 13:1-5
This Tobiah is the same Ammonite who had married his son to the daughter of a Jewish official for political advantage. Amman is related to modern Jordan. Allied with Samarians they threatened the work of restoring the temple. The high priest has befriended this serpent, and allowed him to live in the temple of God. Even while the people were separating themselves from their foreign lovers, their leaders were mixing the enemy back into their families and relationships.
But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king: And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff to Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense. Nehemiah 13:6-9
So while Nehemiah their political leader was in Persia, the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem allowed Tobiah to use the house of God for a marketplace of profit. Nehemiah is not impressed with sin, and throws Tobias’s junk out of the temple. Then he had the place cleansed. But that’s not all that was going downhill.
And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field. Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place. Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries. And I made treasurers over the treasuries, Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah: and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah: for they were counted faithful, and their office was to distribute unto their brethren. Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof. Nehemiah 13:10-14
The Levites were not receiving their portion of the offerings, and were forced to go farm for their food. The work of the temple was then left undone. Nehemiah straightens out the treasurers and restores the Levites to their heritage and service. He asks God to distance him from the testimony of the backsliders of Israel.
In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath. And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day. Nehemiah 13:15-19
The Sabbath is the day of rest, as in no work or commerce. This is a basic point of the Law, so what part of “NO” don’t they understand? So Nehemiah posts guards to stop the merchants at the gate.
20 So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice.21 Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath.22 And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy. Nehemiah 13:20-22
Now the vendors camped all around the city walls, and earned more rebuke. Nehemiah threatens them with bodily harm if they stay. He again asks God to see that he is not a party to this behavior.
In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab: And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people. And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives? Nehemiah 13:23-27
Now the people too are intermarrying with the gentiles around them. Like the modern Yiddish, their language is becoming a mixture of languages. Wow, Nehemiah is pulling hair and punching now! He reminds them of the great slide that Solomon led Israel on because of his pursuit of gentile wives.
Tobiah was offended and went home to build his own little temple. This is how the faith has been divided and conquered through the ages. One man needs more than his share, and threatens everyone around with false teachings. The bible goes on to equip us for church discipline in the New Testament. Yeshus often refers back to Baalam and other Old Testament threats as examples.
There will be godly men and women who fall into pride. Others will come with an agenda to destroy the church, even if they don’t realize it. Satan does well to infiltrate the church with false doctrine. We can look to prayer, bible study , and Christian fellowship for a balanced understanding and discernment. They represent our fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
You may find more interesting notes on other web sites as well: