Nehemiah 13 … Consider His Transforming Word

Originally posted: 7/14/2020

On that day they read aloud from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people; and there was found written in it… (13:1).

Nehemiah had left Jerusalem for an undisclosed amount of time; and in the absence of his leadership, God’s Word was forsaken. As His Words of Life were abandoned, a spiritual famine resulted. Left in this vacuum, void of truth, defiant evil emerged, threatening to fill Jerusalem and take root once again.

But during all this time I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had gone to the king. After some time, however, I asked leave from the king, and I came to Jerusalem and learned about the evil… (13:6-7).

And yet again, the failures and propensities of man to go it alone, apart from His commands, attempted to take center stage in my thoughts. But as I thought about Nehemiah, a man so committed to the Lord’s call, a man so bold that he requested four times that he be remembered by his God according to his deeds (5:19; 13:14, 22, 31), I also saw the root of Nehemiah’s strength.

As Nehemiah’s habit, he turned immediately to his God for counsel, recorded in the book of Moses. And as His Word was read aloud “in the hearing of the people,” and as they turned their attention to what they had “found written in it,” His Transforming Word would do what only His Word can do… Transform.

And then, my attention was turned to Jesus Christ, Who Came to earth as the Living Word in order to save and Transform all those would believe.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth, (John 1:1, 11-14).

Consider His Transforming Word

  • His Transforming Word Confirms His Commands
    • On that day they read aloud from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people; and there was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, (13:1).
      • God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world, (Hebrews 1:1-2).
  • His Transforming Word Proclaims His Power
    • because they did not meet the sons of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing, (13:2).
      • For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, (Romans 1:16).
  • His Transforming Word Removes all Rivals
    • It was very displeasing to me, so I threw all of Tobiah’s household goods out of the room. Then I gave an order and they cleansed the rooms; and I returned there the utensils of the house of God with the grain offerings and the frankincense, (13:8-9).
      • For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, (Philippians 2:9-11).
  • His Transforming Word Reprimands the Rebellious
    • So I reprimanded the officials and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” …17 Then I reprimanded the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing you are doing, by profaning the sabbath day? 18 Did not your fathers do the same, so that our God brought on us and on this city all this trouble? Yet you are adding to the wrath on Israel by profaning the sabbath, (13:11, 17-18).
      • And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains,” (John 9:39-41).
  • His Transforming Word Restores and Replenishes
    • …Then I gathered them together and restored them to their posts. 12 All Judah then brought the tithe of the grain, wine and oil into the storehouses, (13:11-12).
      • Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come, (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  • His Transforming Word Sanctifies His Sabbath
    • And I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come as gatekeepers to sanctify the sabbath day, (13:22).
      • “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” (Matthew 11:28-30).
  • His Transforming Word Safeguards against Sin
    • Did not Solomon king of Israel sin regarding these things? Yet among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless the foreign women caused even him to sin. 27 Do we then hear about you that you have committed all this great evil by acting unfaithfully against our God by marrying foreign women?” (13:26-27).
      • Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, (1 Peter 1:13-14).
  • His Transforming Word Purifies and Prepares for Worship
    • Thus I purified them from everything foreign and appointed duties for the priests and the Levites, each in his task, 31 and I arranged for the supply of wood at appointed times and for the first fruits, (13:30-31).
      • But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He,” (John 4:23-26).

How do we respond to His Transforming Word?

One of my all-time favorite quotes is from one of my all-time favorite books, The Complete Green Letters by Miles J. Stanford.

“Our authoritative Bible is the only means in the universe by which we can ever know anything rightly and personally of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…We should remind ourselves that the written word was designed specifically by God to bring us to know the Living Word.”

Whenever we read from His written Word, about His Word, it is His invitation, full of grace and truth, to turn our hearts and minds to Jesus, the Living Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth, (John 1:1, 14).

Jesus, the Word Who became flesh; Jesus Who came in the glory, grace and truth of the Father that we might be saved; Jesus Who came as the Living Word that we would be Transformed.

We cannot afford to neglect even one day seeking Him in His Transforming Word. Scripture does not determine the length of Nehemiah’s absence, but it appears it didn’t take long before the people had slipped back into old habits.

The world is relentless in its attempts to capture us in its ways. But as we selflessly come to His Transforming Word, pursuing Him above all else, He will renew us to understand and walk in His will and His ways.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect, (Romans 12:1-2).

And we cannot depend on others, even the most godly of leaders, to keep us strong. He has given us all we need in His Transforming Word, that we would grow in our knowledge and love of Jesus. Every bit of His Scripture is God-breathed; and His Living Word imparts everything needed to equip us to serve Him with faithful integrity, even in our thoughts and intentions. How can we possibly neglect such a lavish gift of grace?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness; 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work, (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV).

 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart, (Hebrews 4:12).

Today, as we see Him revealed as the Living Word, let us ask Him to have His way in us as we daily choose to treasure His Transforming Word in our hearts.

Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You…

15 I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.
16 I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word, (Psalm 119:11, 15-16).

Let’s Grow Together!

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