Nehemiah 13 has the governor and leader continuing to celebrate their new city. “On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people.” He wants them to know the Word of God, as it is the source of life. But things began to slip as Nehemiah left Jerusalem and went back to see the king. “While this was taking place, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I went to the king”. He returned to see Artaxerxes after a long time in Jerusalem. And while the leader was gone, the mice began to play. He comes back to a mess.
It started inside the temple where one of his adversaries, Tobiah, had managed to get a chamber room of his own. He had infiltrated the city. There were some other things that hadn’t been done once Nehemiah left town to check in with King Artaxerxes. It didn’t take Nehemiah long to call people out when he got back and saw what had been happening, or failing to get done. “I confronted the officials and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their stations”.
Nehemiah pleads with God to not hold him accountable for what those around him were guilty of. “Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service”. He wants to be sure God recognizes the good he has accomplished along with the failure that some under his leadership have fallen to. Nehemiah continues to make things right. “I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day”? They were letting outsiders bring goods to sell into the city on the Sabbath, and Nehemiah shuts that down.
He had yet more trouble in that men of Judah had been marrying women from the outside. This has gotten them into major trouble in the past, and yet they have once again reverted to this violation of God’s law. Nehemiah was furious. “I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair”. From this strong reaction of Nehemiah, we gather he considered this to be the most dangerous of their sins – pursing ungodly romance, and getting involved in romantic relationships God had said “no” to. He takes strong and decisive action to make an example out of some to save the people overall.