Today I come to the end of this series on Nehemiah. I hope those of you who have taken this journey with me have been encouraged and blessed by not only a review of the stories, but hopefully a new insight here or there. I confess this has always been one of my favorite Old Testament books. As I finished reading it recently, I couldn’t resist this journey I have written about. One of the study resources I used made specific note about Nehemiah’s godly leadership, evidences of that and how it was broadened by experience. As I was reading and studying, those points were ones I especially wanted to share.
I think that in an era where it can be hard to identify faithful godly leadership in so many arenas, Nehemiah has much to teach us. Today I want to look at one final characteristic:
A godly leader keeps leading.
To gain a sense of that point, let me turn us to look at the story as we near the end of it.
The book of Nehemiah is at the end of Old Testament history even though Esther appears last canonically. So, in truth, Nehemiah is the last piece of Old Testament history we have. That gets my attention.
Throughout the story we have watched Nehemiah’s heart and actions respond to God in obedience. His leadership has been steady throughout. When we reach chapter 13, we see the Law is still being read, that same truth the exiles had committed to follow after hearing it read the first time and repenting. They were clearly hearing the people of God were to be separate from the people of other nations. Specifically, they were reminded the Ammonites and the Moabites were never to be living in their midst.
Once again, however, they were failing to be faithful. Tobiah was mixed up with the chief priest and had even allowed Tobiah to lodge in the temple. The chief priest’s grandson had also married Sanballat’s daughter. He had entered into a variety of alliances and ideas with the enemies of the people of God and instead of modeling what the Law taught, he was doing the exact opposite.
How did this happen? Read the text to see what you may discover, but one thing will be clear: Nehemiah was out of town when all this was taking place and now has returned. As governor of the city, he once again demonstrates his courage by throwing out the chief priest who had not followed the Law and defiled the temple. He also threw out everyone who belonged to him or was connected to him in any way.
Nehemiah was acutely aware that God’s house was never to be profaned so he was clear he had to go about doing a thorough house cleaning. He discovers a lot. He learns the Levites had not been receiving their portions as the chief priest was caught up with the enemies of the people of God. As a result,, they had fled into the area surrounding the city because the people were not providing for them as outlined by the Law. Nehemiah called the magistrates of the city to account for not administering the city as had been directed and outlined. He took note of how the Sabbath had been profaned as well and grieved and acted to restore that day as God had outlined to Moses.
It was clear in the absence of Nehemiah’s godly leadership, everyone else went astray from his or her commitment. He needed to constantly remind the people of their promises. The people were caught up in the same kinds of sins evident throughout all their history prior to the story of Nehemiah. His work of leading never ended. He was a shepherd to the people and they sorely needed one.
We have been blessed to have had the Living Word, Jesus, show us the way and shepherd us. He came to provide the ultimate sacrifice because He loved us and knew that we too would be unable to keep our promises and walk in pure obedience. His death and resurrection would give us the path to relationship with Him forever. He wanted His to be assured of His everlasting love through His grace and mercy.
Even so, Nehemiah demonstrated godly leadership before the Word came in the flesh and in this series, we saw the evidence of it in Nehemiah’s life.
- A godly leader prays
- A godly leader acts
- A godly leader faces opposition
- A godly leader cares
- A godly leader turns people to God’s word
- A godly leader confesses sin
- A godly leader leads people in specific commitments
- A godly leader keeps leading