Monday: The Levites in the Fields
Read Nehemiah 13:10-14. What is Nehemiah seeking to remedy here?
The singers, gatekeepers, and other temple servants had to go back to working in their own fields in order to feed their families, because the work for God was not being supported. The whole tithes-and-offerings system that was so painstakingly established now lay in ruins. Nehemiah had to start over. The act of throwing everything out of the room shows desperation.
“Not only had the temple been profaned, but the offerings had been misapplied. This had tended to discourage the liberalities of the people. They had lost their zeal and fervor, and were reluctant to pay their tithes. The treasuries of the Lord’s house were poorly supplied; many of the singers and others employed in the temple service, not receiving sufficient support, had left the work of God to labor elsewhere” – Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 670.
It is fascinating to see that all of Judah came together again and rebuilt what had been destroyed. The people were on Nehemiah’s side against Tobiah and Eliashib, because they must have realized that Nehemiah did everything he could for the benefit of the people. Additionally, Nehemiah entrusted the temple grounds overseers’ positions to men whom he considered faithful and trustworthy. They were given the task of collecting tithes and offerings, making sure the goods were stored properly, and distributing the resources to the appropriate parties. In other words, Nehemiah came in and uprooted the corrupt system of leadership seemingly in one fell swoop.
Although Nehemiah appointed faithful men over the organization of the temple, the corrupt High Priest, Eliashib, did not lose his position, because it was handed down through Aaron’s descent. His work in the temple might have been crippled by Nehemiah’s measures of appointing others over some of the High Priest’s responsibilities, but he was still the High Priest.
|Nehemiah had prayed, “Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for its services!” (Neh. 13:14, NKJV). What was so human about that prayer?|
The Levites were to some extent the government works of the Hebrews. They did not own land, and were not involved in building or food production. They were essentially temple employees and because the nation was a theocracy they were among other things the clerks and bean-counters of the temple system. The rest of the nation was supposed to support them.
I am not sure how that worked out in practice. But, it is clear from Nehemiah that the work of the temple was not being done and something needed to be done about it. If the temple workers were forced to take on other jobs to support themselves, then they are not doing what they are supposed to.
In our modern world, not all of us are employed in food production, building, or other essential "life supporting" jobs. Some of us become academics and spend our time doing what some people regard as non-essential-to-living tasks. So we have our own people who are accountants, academics, artists, musicians and so on, - who all contribute to the warmth and fabric of our society but who do not provide food, shelter, clothing, and the other necessities of life.
I know that in the church sense the lesson that is at the bottom of all this is that we should provide our tithes and offerings to support the Gospel Ministry. That is fair enough, but I think we also need to raise the question at the society level. The big question is how we value one another and what is out perception of their contribution to society. I know that I have had to rethink some of my own ideas about who are contributors and who are free-loaders.
An illustration: An army pays for people to drive tanks, fire artillery, and do all the other tasks of war. But it also pays for entertainers, because they provide relief and boost morale. While not directly involved in combat they provide a very necessary service.
Here is a church related question to think about. What tasks (in the broad sense) are there, that are not being supported by the church? Does it make sense for the church to support these tasks, or should they be supported through other means?
If the Levites didn't own land how could they go back to work in their own fields?
That is probably an indicator that the situation had changed somewhat since the original occupation of Canaan after the Exodus.
Please read Numbers 35:1-3. They were to be given enough land to garden and raise livestock.
Thanks Albert. I had missed that one.
Numbers 35:2 answers your question.
Thank you Albert and Neville they were given 48 cities plus the common land around them out of the areas allocated to the other tribes, 13 from Judah, Simon and Benjamin so these were probably the only ones when they came back.
So the Levite's were given part of the other tribe's inheritance as well as the tithes and offerings.
How do we give our ministers part of our inheritance?
It would have been good if the book of Nehemiah ended with chapter 12 with God's people being faithful in returning tithe and offering.
They lived happily ever after.
No, the painful reality of sin strikes again with vengeance and seems to undo all that was done by Nehemiah in rebuilding the city.
This is the second time Nehemiah goes against the leadership in Israel.
Nehemiah was willing to cleanse and put sin out of the camp of the Israel.
He reappointed leaders who are trustworthy in the temple.
When the people saw the change, they returned back to the Lord with their tithe and offering.
We saw the same in the early church, when the conflict arose in regards to the treatment of the widows. Acts 6
They chose seven men who were of good reputation.
People are looking for effective and engaging leadership in church.
Leader must give clear focus to the direction of the church.
A strong leader will always result in strong church growth.
"Wright accepted his call to the Potomac Conference in 1993, and became the pastor of Community Praise Center (CPC)—a small, struggling church in Alexandria, Va.
“There were so few people that you could lay on the pews and not touch anybody,” Wright joked. “After the service, I knelt in front of the altar and prayed a very simple prayer: ‘Lord, do not make me a success here; defend your name.’” After developing a five-year plan and quickly involving all attendees into the church program, one year later, CPC averaged 200 worshipers each Sabbath.* The fruit of Wright’s ministry is evidenced when 20 years later attendance at CPC holds steady at over 1,000, over 60 ministries are active, annual tithe totals over $2 million and several churches have been planted through CPC."
People are hungry for the word.
Jesus I know, Paul I know but who are you?
Holy Ghost, speak to me and cleanse my heart for you service.
The temple workers who worked to maintain the temple leave their position and went to other jobs. Those people, the bible says were not supposed to own any land, their jobs were to do just what they leave, taking care of the temple eg by singing, cleaning and preparing the passover articles etc, etc. I was not angry with them, they had to feed themselves and families.
The congregation who once supported the temple workers stopped bring their tithes, offering and gifts. One of the reason for such was no place to place the items. The High Priest had so much power as to evacuate the building for his friend to dwell in. I am wondering, was he acting alone, and how did he got so much power to do such a thing?
From the quote above, “Not only had the temple been profaned, but the offerings had been misapplied. This had tended to discourage the liberality of the people. They had lost their zeal and fervor, and were reluctant to pay their tithes. The treasuries of the Lord’s house were poorly supplied....did we saw a downward slipping to apostasy?
Then it was a domino effect.
In our time, do we think the church funds are misapplied? Do you thing the money is not spending where it is needed most? Have you examined the tithe envelope recently?
The office of a Pastor is one of a shepherd, one to lead the people in a spiritual way, it is not a glorified office, not a job that pays a lot, but is compensated by other things. Anyone coming to that position should not be employed for the money but wanting to help people spiritually.
Have mercy on your people, history is repeating itself.
Yesterday there was a Christmas children's musical presentation at church, all ages, from 4 to 14 y-o. What a blessing! May we continue to invest in talents for the worship in the church. Children's worship is pure!
Is it me or am I seeing a leadership issue? Nehemiah and Tobias had beef a long time ago then Eliashib and Tobias an Ammorite work as a team for not the good. Now is there any thing showing he was going to clean house on the high priest with the Lords blessing? I’m not surprised everyone underneath was not going to follow and do their own thing.