Lordís Day Evening Meditations - November 30, 2003

Nehemiah 12:45-13:11

Further Experiences of the Remnant

We have seen how there was one tribe that was specially chosen for the service of the Lord, the tribe of Levi. From this tribe there was a family of priests, and there were Levites, singers, and porters. The singers were those whose occupation and responsibility was to praise the Lord. We should all have a concern about the Lord receiving praise. The first reason is that He is worthy. The new song in Rev. 5:9 begins, "Thou art worthy." Yes, in a coming day He will have full praise. Meanwhile, what we do give is very little compared to what He is worthy to receive. But then there is another reason why He should be getting continual praise from us. Weíll see this illustrated in one of the families of the singers.

"And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together." Neh. 12:28. There were three families of "singers" descended from the three men whom King David had chosen many years before. Those three were Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun. Beginning during the reign of David, and afterward, these man, and their descendants, were "set over the service of song in the house of the Lord." 1 Chron. 6:31. I believe that if you had come within hearing distance of the house of God, when things were in order, you would have heard hymns of praise going up to the Lord, at all hours of the day and night. In Nehemiah, when "the sons of the singers" are mentioned, I believe that all three families were represented. I want to refer to the family of Heman.

In 1 Chronicles 6:33 - 38 you have his genealogy. (If you wonder what is the value of reading these long lists of names, you will find that sometimes they reveal some interesting connections.) Heman was "the son of Joel, the son of Shemuel." Shemuel is Samuel. So firstly, Heman was Samuelís grandson - quite a remarkable fact in itself, when we remember the excellent record that Samuel has in the Scripture. But then the genealogy continues until we come to find that Heman, Samuel, etc. were all descended from Korah. v. 37. Korah was the Levite who, along with Dathan and Abiram, and 250 princes of Israel, led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. You can read that story in Numbers 16. God treated this rebellion with the seriousness that it deserved, for it was against (in type) Godís King and Godís Priest which is Christ. The judgment was that "the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods." Num. 16:32.

From this it would seem that all of Korahís family perished with him, but in Numbers 26:11 we read, "Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not." Do you see how those children were the objects of a special and wonderful deliverance from a judgment that would otherwise have come on them because of their father? All of that family line, to Samuel and Heman, and down to the "sons of the singers" were the objects of a wonderful deliverance by the grace of God. Didnít they have reason to sing praises? And what about ourselves? Didnít our first father rebel against God in the garden and bring down on himself and his descendants a severe judgment? But havenít we experienced an even greater deliverance than the children of Korah did? Do we not have reason to sing and to praise the Lord for the wonderful deliverance that He has granted us in being saved by His grace? He is worthy of praise for all that He is in Himself, and He is also worthy because of the wonderful salvation that He has given.

Nehemiah 13:1 - 3 is a continuation of what we have seen previously where they read in the Book of Moses, making discoveries of what was the will of God. This time they were reading in Deuteronomy 23, and they found there what God thought of the Ammonites and the Moabites and their treatment of His people. The result was that "they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude." We have been seeing this matter of "separation" all the way through the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. "Such as had separated themselves Ö from the filthiness of the heathen of the land." Ezra 6:21. "The people Ö have not separated themselves from the people of the lands," therefore "separate yourselves from the people of the land and from the strange wives." Ezra 9:1, 10:11. "And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers." Neh. 9:2. You see, over and over, they fell back into mixing with the heathen, and then they had to separate once again.

For Israel, this was a physical thing - a literal division between the Israelites and the other nations around. There is a principle in this for believers today, as to being separate from the world, but it has to be understood correctly. James speaks very faithfully when he says that "the friendship of the world is enmity with God." James 4:4. Our best and perfect example of being separate from the world is the Lord Himself. In Matthew 11 we have the Lord and John the Baptist. John the Baptist maintained rigid separation according to Old Testament requirements and they said, "He hath a devil." The Lord Jesus came showing love and grace to sinners, and they said, "Behold Ö a friend of publicans and sinners." In Luke 15:2 the Pharisees found fault with the Lord, saying, "This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them."

The Lord explains this clearly in John 17. He was in the world but He was not of the world. He was totally separate in heart from all that "the world" is in its sin and departure from God, though He was present and available to the lost and needy sinners that were around Him on every side. Now He has left us in the same position: "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world Öeven so have I also sent them into the world." John 17:14 - 18. In heart we are to be totally separate, unto the Lord, from all the evil of this corrupt world, yet we are left here, according to His will, to represent Him in His holy grace and love to the lost. We must not be hermits, retiring into isolation, nor must we be Pharisees with their "holier than thou" attitude. May we have hearts patterned after the heart of our Lord.

Eliashib (v. 4) was the grandson of Jeshua in Ezra 1 - 6. It is sad to see that although Jeshua has a record of being a faithful man, his grandson here was a traitor to God and His people. Do any of you young people here have grandparents who were faithful to the Lord? What are you going to do, follow in their footsteps, or be traitors like Eliashib was? Jeshua had refused to allow the enemy to even participate in the building of the temple (Ezra 4:3); some years later his grandson not only brought an enemy leader into the courts of the house of God but gave him a "great chamber" there for a home! No wonder Nehemiah was upset!

You see, when Nehemiah came to Jerusalem originally, it was for a set time. Neh. 2:6. When that time (12 years) was up he had to report back to the King at Babylon. So he was away from Jerusalem for a time, and then he obtained permission to return. When he arrived back, this is what he found - Tobiah, an Ammonite, an enemy, living in "a chamber in the courts of the house of God." He soon corrected that evil. I can just imagine, if you had stood outside, you would have seen Tobiahís belongings come flying out the open door. v. 8. Nehemiah had the authority and the faithfulness to take this drastic measure to cleanse that part of Godís house. For us the principle is, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against Ö the rulers of the darkness of this world, etc." Eph. 6:12. The powers of evil are not to be allowed access into the house of God today.

However, when Nehemiah returned from having reported back to Babylon, this was not the only thing that he found had gone wrong during his absence. The promises of chapter 10 had been forgotten and the people had fallen back into their old ways. The test of reality is not a high show of zeal, but a steady going on with the Lord, day after day. "They shall walk and not faint." Only by His grace and help can we do that. S.L.