After celebrating the completion of Jerusalem’s wall, Nehemiah finds and excludes all people who are of foreign descent. What is going on here? Why did they do this? Why does the book end this way?
Nehemiah’s decision was not about preserving Israel’s racial heritage. It was about obedience to God. Foreign spouses brought false gods with them and turned the hearts of the people. Nehemiah explains in verses 26-27: “Was it not 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. Must we hear now that you too are doing all this terrible wickedness and are being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?”
This exclusion, though drastic, was a way of saying, “Sin led us to captivity. We can’t go back into captivity again. We can’t ever experience the consequences of disobedience again.”
Sin keeps us from experiencing God’s best in our lives. Only through Jesus can we overcome sin and live in freedom. When we live in freedom, we can point others to the freedom Jesus brings. Jesus made a difference in us so we can make a difference to others.
Is there anything in your life that you need to get rid of? Maybe without that in your life you would think it would suck? Reflect upon this for a moment.
Father, reveal the deepest darkest part of my heart and the idols I have placed there. Please help me to get rid of these things, to obey you and celebrate your goodness and your mercy in my life.
Kiefer is the Worship Leader at Pleasant Grove Reformed Church, outside of the church he is a creative director and graphic artist.
At 11 A.M. for our worship service!