Aug 01, 2021 |Nehemiah

A New Path

08.01.21 | Nehemiah

A New Path

Noel Heikkinen

Nehemiah 11-13

Sometimes the more we obsess over following God’s law, the more it can take us away from what God calls us to do. When you sin, do you tend create more rules for yourself, or do you lean into God’s grace? Pastor Noel Jesse Heikkinen challenges us to turn to Jesus and double down on grace with ourselves and others.

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Now the leaders of the people stayed in Jerusalem, and the rest of the people cast lots for one out of ten to come and live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the other nine-tenths remained in their towns. The people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 11:1-2
At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, they sent for the Levites wherever they lived and
brought them to Jerusalem to celebrate the joyous dedication with thanksgiving and singing accompanied by cymbals, harps, and lyres. The singers gathered from the region around Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 12:27-28
After the priests and Levites had purified themselves, they purified the people, the city gates, and the wall. Then I brought the leaders of Judah up on top of the wall, and I appointed two large processions that gave thanks. One went to the right on the wall, toward the Dung Gate.

Nehemiah 12:30-31
At the Fountain Gate they climbed the steps of the city of David on the ascent of the wall and went above the house of David to the Water Gate on the east. The second thanksgiving procession went to the left, and I followed it with half the people along the top of the wall, past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall.

Nehemiah 12:37-38
Then the singers sang, with Jezrahiah as the leader. On that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy. The women and children also celebrated, and Jerusalem’s rejoicing was heard far away.

Nehemiah 12:42-43
Now before this, the priest Eliashib had been put in charge of the storerooms of the house of our
God. He was a relative of Tobiah and had prepared a large room for him where they had previously stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, and the tenths of grain, new wine, and fresh oil prescribed for the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, along with the contributions for the priests.

Nehemiah 12:4-5
I discovered the evil that Eliashib had done on behalf of Tobiah by providing him a room in the
courts of God’s house. I was greatly displeased and threw all of Tobiah’s household possessions out of the room.

Nehemiah 13:7-8
I also found out that because the portions for the Levites had not been given, each of the Levites and the singers performing the service had gone back to his own field.

Nehemiah 13:10
At that time I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath. They were also bringing in stores of grain and loading them on donkeys, along with wine, grapes, and figs. All kinds of goods were being brought to Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So I warned them against selling food on that day.

Nehemiah 13:15
In those days I also saw Jews who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. Half of
their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples but could not speak Hebrew. I rebuked them, cursed them, beat some of their men, and pulled out their hair.

Nehemiah 13:23-25
[quote]“The one who eats the bread of the Samaritans is like the one who eats the flesh of swine” – R. Eliezer[/quote]
They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they
themselves aren’t willing to life a finger to move them. They do everything to be seen by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people.

Nehemiah 23:4-7
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you don’t go in, and you don’t allow those entering to go in.”

Nehemiah 23:1
“Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished.

Nehemiah 5:17-18

Share about a time where you’ve made a “once and for all” commitment to change a sinful pattern in your life. How did it go?

In Nehemiah 10 God’s people made a solemn vow to change their families, their schedules, and their finances in order to honor God. Then, in Nehemiah 11-13, we find out that God’s people had broken all their commitments. In what ways do you see yourself in this pattern?

What are some “extra buffer zone” practices you’ve added (or seen other people add) to God’s Biblical commands that have helped you grow in your faith? How could these potentially become unhealthy legalisms if we try to hold others to those same expectations?

When you are convicted of your sin, is your tendency to “double down” on the law (i.e. “I will try harder”) or to “double down” on grace (i.e. “I’m already free in Christ”)?

How has the book of Nehemiah impacted you? Consider together how time reading the Bible and discussing it with other Christians can serve as a consistent reminder of God’s grace in your life.