Get along Go along

Jeff Weinkauf


Nehemiah 13:15-21

15-16 During those days, while back in Judah, I also noticed that people treaded wine presses, brought in sacks of grain, and loaded up their donkeys on the Sabbath. They brought wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of stuff to sell on the Sabbath. So I spoke up and warned them about selling food on that day. Tyrians living there brought in fish and whatever else, selling it to Judeans—in Jerusalem, mind you!—on the Sabbath.
17-18 I confronted the leaders of Judah: “What’s going on here? This evil! Profaning the Sabbath! Isn’t this exactly what your ancestors did? And because of it didn’t God bring down on us and this city all this misery? And here you are adding to it—accumulating more wrath on Jerusalem by profaning the Sabbath.”

19 As the gates of Jerusalem were darkened by the shadows of the approaching Sabbath, I ordered the doors shut and not to be opened until the Sabbath was over. I placed some of my servants at the gates to make sure that nothing to be sold would get in on the Sabbath day.

20-21 Traders and dealers in various goods camped outside the gates once or twice. But I took them to task. I said, “You have no business camping out here by the wall. If I find you here again, I’ll use force to drive you off.”

And that did it; they didn’t come back on the Sabbath.


If we're not careful, over time our standards tend to relax. It's usually not a complete collapse of protocol but often many small decisions which then lead to a compromised state.

A very real example of this was the loosening of standards in mortgage lending a few years back. Previously, a borrower would go through a stringent process where their income was scrutinized to see what level of loan they could afford. The rules were in place to give a framework for good decision making. This worked well, because it protected the bank and the borrower. Over time, what was best for all became second place to what would drive not only initial profit (in sales of mortgages) but then also insurance on those mortgages when they failed. In short, what was best for all took second place to what was best for a few. When it all finally fell apart, major financial institutions found themselves insolvent and our country was in a financial crisis. The ripple effect was far and wide touching nearly everyone.

Similarly, in ch 13 Nehemiah finds Judah in a "compromised state". The Sabbath (day of rest) had slowly been eroded into just another day of trading. God had intended His people rest (as He'd exampled in Genesis). He knew the importance of having time to connect with Him in worship. Resting in Him, resting on His promises and in His greatness AND also resting from labor. When every day is the same and there is no sacred, it's easy to let things slide.

The problem is that once you're in a place of ongoing compromise, it can often just seem too hard to correct it. Lot's of what I like to call "yeah, buts". "Yeah it's not ideal but..." I can imagine the argument made by the elders "between the lines" of Nehemiah's narrative. "What's going on here?" could have been followed by an explanation about convenience, new thinking, even sympathy for venders who'd built their business on coming on the Sabbath. The truth is, when we like where we are at or it's too "hard" to change we tend to make all kinds of excuses for our behavior. Nehemiah will have none of it. He reminds them that the course they were on would ultimately have severe effects. Then he takes immediate steps to correct it. Again the elders could have been heard to say something like..."ok well do what you will, but the sellers will still show up". They did, but Nehemiah had removed the corrupted gate keepers and restored leaders with clear directives so in short order the new/old standards were understood. For those who needed it, Nehemiah also communicated clearly that he would strongly enforce these standards.


I like how Nehemiah showed us a Godly path to correction. He notices the problem, calls it out for what it is, reminds them of the consequences of no corrective course, takes action to correct, and then backs up the change with strength and resolve to solidify the new course.

Clear directives, strength in character, and having resolve to correct our direction when we've drifted. That's my take away today.


God thank you for the example of Nehemiah. Thank you for his leadership. Please help me not to allow what is, it remain if it's not of you. Please show me how to correct the things which need correcting. Please give me wisdom and understanding so that I can be a good shepherd. Amen

Devotions for October 15

Nehemiah 13
Malachi 1,2
Acts 4

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