Temptation and sin are unfortunate elements of every Christian’s life. Even from the garden of Eden, all men and women, with the sole exception of Jesus, have been found guilty of sinning against God. The Israelites of the Old Testament certainly had their struggles with numerous sins throughout their history.
Near the end of the book of Nehemiah, as worship to God is being restored and the law of Moses is finally being remembered, the people still struggle with their old habits of sin. In Nehemiah 13, they again fail to keep the sabbath holy as God commanded (Exodus 20:8). Instead of treating it as a day of rest, they continued working and trading in the market. Nehemiah reprimanded them by saying, “What is this evil thing you are doing, by profaning the sabbath day?” (Nehemiah 13:17). He next reminded them, “Did not your fathers do the same, so that our God brought on us and on this city all this trouble?” (Nehemiah 13:18).
Even though working on the sabbath was a habit in their lives, and even though it seemed financially necessary to them, disobeying God was never acceptable. One lesson that we might take away from this passage is that while temptation and sin will always be part of our lives, and while old habits are sometimes hard to break, we are still responsible, still accountable, and will still suffer the consequences of our sins against God.