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9

Giving God the Credit

Key References: Nehemiah 9; 13:1-22; Prophets and Kings, chap. 56, pp. 661-668; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 6, pp. 125-128; Our Beliefs nos. 22, 17, 12

Power Text

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts” (1 Chron icles 16:8, 9).

Power Point

We serve God when we tell others what He has done for us.

Imagine yourself being selected to serve as an elder in your local church. How would you handle church members who are not willing to serve God? Let’s find out how “Elder” Nehemiah handled the problems he faced.

24th day of Elul, Year 20, Jerusalem
The wall is finished. The feasting and celebrating are over. Today we thought about more solemn things. As is our custom, we fasted, wore rough clothes, and put dust on our heads. We listened to the teaching from the Book of the Law, then we confessed our sins. This took half the day. We worshipped and praised God for the rest of the day.

The Levites shared a wonderful prayer that told how God has blessed us from the beginning. They talked about how God had led Abraham out of Ur; how our ancestors suffered in Egypt and how God led them out through the divided sea; how He led them by a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night; how He gave the law to them, fed them with manna, gave them water, and their clothes and shoes did not wear out during the 40 years of their wandering in the desert. Then he led them into the Promised Land.

They also shared the sad report about how our ancestors disobeyed God in spite of all He had done for them and how they were taken captive again. They talked about how good, patient, merciful, and kind God has been in dealing with our ancestors’ disobedience—and with our own disobedience today. My heart rejoiced thinking about the Lord’s goodness.

Year 32 (12 years later)
My work here is done. Being governor of Judah for these past 12 years has been very satisfying. I never took anything for my work—not a piece of silver, not a morsel of food. The people have settled into their lives here. They understand and 71 obey the law. The priests are doing their jobs. I’ll be returning to Persia and King Artaxerxes.

Sometime later, Susa, Persia
I’ve been fasting and praying for Judah, because I’ve heard of terrible things happening there. I’ve asked the king to let me return to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem
I can’t believe what has happened while I’ve been gone! Eliashib, the high priest, let someone in his family marry one of Tobiah’s relatives. Imagine— Tobiah, our worst enemy—the person who gave us so many problems when we were rebuilding the wall! God told Moses long ago that Tobiah’s people shouldn’t even be allowed near us!

That’s not the worst: Eliashib gave him a room in the Temple! And not just any room, but the room for the tithes and offerings that belong to the Levites, musicians, and gatekeepers.

I was very upset about this. I threw out all of Tobiah’s things and ordered the rooms to be purified. Next I brought back the things that belonged there, such as the grain offerings and the incense.

Then I found out that the Levites and musicians had gone back to farming because the people weren’t supporting them. So I went and brought back the Levites and musicians.

Then the people brought their tithes, and I put them in the storerooms. I put the priest Shelemiah, the teacher Zadok, and the Levite Pedaiah in charge. Hanan, Zaccur’s son, will assist them. They are honest men. I know they can be trusted to do their work well.

To my great disappointment I saw people working on the Sabbath! They were making wine, loading grain on donkeys, and bringing grain, wine, grapes, figs, and fish to sell. So I asked the rulers, “What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day? Didn’t your ancestors do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity on us and on this city?” I couldn’t believe they hadn’t learned their lesson!

So I ordered that the city gates be closed from before sunset on Friday until the Sabbath ended. I even put my servants at the gates. Once or twice a few merchants spent the night outside Jerusalem. I warned them that if they did it again, they would never trade in the city on any day of the week! After that they never came back on Sabbath.

Then I ordered the Levites to purify themselves and to guard the city gates to make sure the Sabbath was kept holy.

None of this was easy, but it had to be done. I had to remind the people to live God’s way. I think everyone is on the right path again. Thank God for His patience and mercy toward Israel.