for the reading of the law of Moses in the hearing of the people. A
pulpit of wood, large enough to hold Ezra the Scribe and thirteen
others, was built. The people wept when they heard the words of the
law, but Nehemiah said:
"Mourn not, nor weep. Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet,
and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this
day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry
for the joy of the
Lord is your strength."
He did not forget the poor. Reading the Bible and remembering the
poor--a combination of faith and works--will always bring joy.
Nehemiah then began to govern the city, and correct the abuses he
found existing. He gathered about fifty priests and scribes together
and made them sign and seal a written covenant. There were five
things in that covenant I want to call attention to.
First, they were not to give their daughters to the heathen.
They had been violating the law of God, and had been marrying their
daughters to the ungodly. God had forbidden them to intermarry with
the heathen nations in the land of Canaan; "for they will turn away
thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will
the anger of the Lord be kindled against you and destroy thee
suddenly." I have known many a man who has lost his power by being
identified with the ungodly. If you want to have the blessing of God
rest upon you, you must be very careful about your alliances. The
Jews always got into trouble when they married with the nations
round about. The houses of Ahab and of Solomon lost their kingdom by
that sin. That was the cause of the overthrow of David's kingdom.
Families who marry for wealth, and marry the godly to the ungodly,
always bring distress into the family.
Then he made them sign a covenant that they would keep the
Sabbath, that they would not buy upon the Sabbath.
Think of a man going from a heathen court where they had no Sabbath,
a man brought up in that atmosphere, coming up to Jerusalem and
enforcing the law of Moses! It is recorded that they brought up
fish, and he would not let them into the city on the Sabbath, and
the fish spoiled. After they had tried that a few times, they gave
it up. If you will take your stand for God, even if you stand alone,
it will not be very long before you will get other men to stand with
you. God stood with this man, and he carried everything before him.
I don't believe we shall have the right atmosphere in this country
until we can get men who have backbone enough to stand up against
the thing they believe is wrong. If it is a custom rooted and
grounded for a hundred years, never mind; you take your stand
against it if you believe it is wrong. If you have gatherings, and
it is fashionable to have wine and champagne, and you are a
teetotaler; if they ask you anywhere and you know that they are to
have drink, tell them you are not going. A man said to me some years
"Mr. Moody, now that I am converted, must I give up the world?"
I said: "No, you haven't got to give up the world. If you give a
good ringing testimony for the Son of God, the world will give you
up pretty quick; they won't want you around."
They were going to have a great celebration at the opening of a
saloon and billiard hall in Chicago, in the northern part of the
city, where I lived. It was to be a gateway to death and to hell,
one of the worst places in Chicago. As a joke they sent me an
invitation to go to the opening. I took the invitation and went down
and saw the two men who had the saloon, and I said:
"Is that a genuine invitation?"
They said it was.
"Thank you," I said, "I will be around; if there is anything here I
don't like I may have something to say about it."
They said: "You are not going to preach?"
"We don't want you. We won't let you in."
"How are you going to keep me out?" I asked; "there is the
"We will put a policeman at the door."
"What is the policeman going to do with that invitation?"
"We won't let you in."
"Well," I said, "I will be there."
I gave them a good scare, and then I said, "I will compromise the
matter; if you two men will get down here and let me pray with you,
I will let you off."
I got those two rumsellers down on their knees, one on one side of
me, and the other on the other side, and I prayed God to save their
souls and smite their business. One of them had a Christian mother,
and he seemed to have some conscience left. After I had prayed, I
"How can you do this business? How can you throw this place open to
ruin young men of Chicago?"
Within three months the whole thing smashed up, and one of them was
converted some time after. I have never been invited to a saloon
You won't have to give up the world, not by a good deal. If you go
to reunions, and there is drinking, get up and go away. Don't you be
party to it. That is the kind of men we want. When you find anything
that is ruining your fellow men, fight it to its bitter end.
Nehemiah said, "We will not have desecration of the Sabbath." Not
sell the Sunday paper? Not buy a Sunday paper? How many read the
I suppose that if you had Nehemiah as mayor of New York, he would
stop that sort of thing. Here we have boys who are kept away from
the Sunday school to sell papers on the streets--trains running in
order that the papers can be distributed. I don't believe a man is
in a fit state to hear a sermon whose mind is full of such trash as
the Sunday newspaper is filled with. Men break the Sabbath and
wonder why it is they have not spiritual power. The trouble nowadays
is that it doesn't mean anything to some people to be a Christian.
What we must have is a higher type of Christianity in this country.
We must have a Christianity that has in it the principle of self
-denial. We must deny ourselves. If we want power, we must be
The next thing they were to do--(and bear in mind this was a thing
they had to sign)--was to give their land rest.
For four hundred and ninety years they had not let their land rest,
so God took them away to Babylon for seventy years, and let the land
rest. A man that works seven days in the week right along is cut off
about five or ten years earlier. You cannot rob God. Why is it that
so many railroad superintendents and physicians die early? It is
because they work seven days in the week. So Nehemiah made them
covenant to keep the law of Moses. If the nations of the earth had
kept that law, the truth would have gone to the four corners of the
earth before this time.
Then he made them sign a covenant that they would not charge
They were just grinding the poor down. I believe that the reason we
are in such a wretched state in this country to-day is on account of
crowding the poor, and getting such a large amount of money for
usury. People evade the law, and pay the interest, and then they
give a few hundred dollars to negotiate the loan. There is a great
amount of usury, and see where we are to-day! See what a wretched
state of things we are having, not only in this country, but all
over the world!
The fifth thing he made them do was to bring their first fruits to
the sons of Levi.
They were to give God a tenth, the first and best. As long as Israel
did that they prospered, and when they turned away from that law
they did not prosper. You can look through history and look around
you and see the same thing to-day. As long as men keep God's law and
respect God's testimony, they are going to prosper, but when they
turn aside, like Samson, they lose their strength; they have no
If you take these five things and carry them out, you will have
prosperity. Let us all do it personally. If it was good for those
men it is good for us. The moment we begin to rob God of time or
talents then darkness and misery and wretchedness will come.