Nehemiah 13:1–28

 |  January 14, 2019

Context of the Passage:

As the people continued to read God’s Word, they found additional areas where they had failed in their relationship with Him.  Chapter 13 records that after 12 years in Jerusalem, Nehemiah returned to his post in the Persian court. However, when he heard of lingering problems, Nehemiah requested permission to return to Jerusalem.

Outline of the Passage

13:1-3 – God’s Word exposes our impurity

13:4-14 – The House of God was defiled

13:15-22 – The people were dishonoring the Sabbath

13:23-31 – The people had not purified their homes

Exegesis of the Passage

This passage reflects Nehemiah’s continuing efforts to honor the Lord’s house, to emphasize obedience to God’s Word, and to purify the people’s homes.  So, their worship, work, and homes were all still affected by sinful habits. The House of God was defiled by the people’s tolerance of their enemy actually living in the Temple.  Their work was defiled by business practices on the Sabbath strictly forbidden by the Word. Their homes were defiled by the continued allowance of foreign practices and influences.  Despite their previous commitments to God, the people were still in need of change.

13:1-3 – After the law was read, foreigners were prohibited from the city.

13:4 – Eliashib, the priest, made an alliance with Tobiah (Cf. 2:10, 19; 4:3, 7; 6:1, 12, 14, 17, 19; 7:62)

13:5 – Tobiah was living in the space previously reserved for storing the sacrifices.  Thus, his living there not only desecrated the Temple, it displaced the sacrifices intended for worship.  The sad irony of a priest disrupting the sacrifices reveals the depth of the sin.

13:6 – After remaining in Jerusalem for 12 years on his first visit, Nehemiah had returned to Persia.

13:7-8 – Nehemiah’s cleansing of the Temple reminds one of Jesus’s later work in cleansing the Temple of His day.

13:7 – The “evil thing Eliashib had done”

13:9 – It was not enough simply to remove Tobiah from the Temple, the area needed to be cleansed in order to be useful again for worship.

13:10-13 – The people had been unfaithful in their tithe

13:14 – “Remember me”

13:14 – Do not wipe out my “hesed”

13:15-22 – the Violations regarding the Sabbath

13:23-24 – Despite the measures that both Ezra and Nehemiah had taken to eradicate mixed marriages (Ezra 9–10; Neh 6:18; 10:30), it remained a persistent problem

13:25 – I contended with them, cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair

13:28 – The family of the High Priest was not immune from sin

13:30 – Everything

Sermon on the Passage

Facing Lingering Sin with Lasting Success

  1. We must stop Tolerating What We know to be Wrong  (1-3; 15-22)
    • Spiritual decay begins with tolerating what we know to be wrong
    • Some of the people had still not followed through on their promise to get rid of the foreign influences in the city
    • Nehemiah’s Response:
      • Warned them vs. 15
      • Contended with them vs. 17
      • Reminded them vs. 18
      • Posted guards vs. 19
      • Still out there! – 20
      • Threatened them again – 21 (same word as 15 – can mean reiterate!)
    • But they no listen!
    • They were violating the Sabbath!  Treading wine presses/ selling fish on Sabbath
  2. We must stop Compromising on What We know Right   (4-14; 23-28)
    • Their enemy was living in the Temple
    • They had stopped giving their tithes and offerings to the Lord
    • Moreover, the sin of people had become so great that the priesthood was corrupted
      • Son of Eliashib, the Priest (vs. 28) had intermarried with daughter of Sanballat (the other figure threatening & ridiculing them)
      • SO … Tobiah was living in the Temple and Sanballat had inter-married into the priesthood
      • They had become corrupt in their Worship, Work, and their Homes

SOLUTION:  Stop the sin before the sin stops you!


  1.  Vs. 3 – Nehemiah charged them to Separate!
  2.  Vs. 11-14 – Nehemiah demanded Obedience!
  3.  Vs. 22 – Nehemiah called for Purity!
  4.  Vs. 25-30 – Nehemiah contended for God’s Way Alone!

Category: Sermon Structure
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