But while all this was going on, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Some time later I asked his permission and came back to Jerusalem. Nehemiah 13:6-7
Nehemiah had returned home but when he comes back, he finds his enemy Tobiah living in the temple (verse 7), the Levites weren’t being ‘paid’ (verse 10), people were working on the Sabbath (verse 15) and intermarrying with foreign women (verse 23). So quickly, they turned away from God’s ways. What a sad way for the book to end.
The people had previously acknowledged that this was the pattern of their ancestors: “But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time” (Nehemiah 9:28).
As soon as God’s people were at rest, they did evil. Comfort doesn’t make mature Christians! It might be hard to trust God when we’re experiencing difficulties, but surprisingly, it’s even harder when things are going well. We don’t seem to seek God when we’re doing well without him. Why does our faith only become real to us when we need God’s help?
God’s purpose is that his “ways may be known on earth, his salvation among all nations” (Psalm 67:2). This happens when people see God’s blessing on our lives, not through material prosperity, but through our calm resolve, our peaceful countenance and our joyful attitude. So we continually seek God and his ways, otherwise, we deprive the world of knowing how good God is.