top of page

Guard the Gates, Keep the Sabbath!

Rev. Enoch Thompson | January 18, 2024 | Nehemiah 13:19-22


KEY VERSE: Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Nehemiah 13:18 (NIV)



One of the major sins of Israel leading to the Babylonian captivity was the non-observance of the Sabbath. Nehemiah was troubled that these returning Jews would not remember to keep the Sabbath holy. He took several steps to stop the Israelites from breaking the Sabbath. He even threatened those who were promoting the breaking of the law. His various strategies worked, and he was able, with the help of men committed to him, to bring the irreverence to an end.


We do not keep a Saturday Sabbath as the Jews did, for we have entered the eternal rest of God by salvation, of which the ceremonial Sabbath was a forecast. We note that of all the laws in the Ten Commandments there has been a restatement in the New Testament, except the keeping of the Sabbath. However, the essence of the Sabbath is worth sustaining; it signified the day when God rested from His work of creation, it indicated the need for us to rest from our labours, it affirmed the ownership of the Promised Land to God, and the need therefore to make the land rest every week, every seventh year and every Jubilee year.


We honour God by the Sabbath when we manage our work and rest balance properly, this may even apply to what we eat and drink or don’t. Our Sabbath is to learn to rest our souls in restful faith in the Saviour, it means souls that have come to the Lord and received rest from Him (Mattew 11:28). Our Sabbath is to learn to treat God’s creation with respect and care. When we pollute water bodies, degrade the earth, and pollute the atmosphere through our industrial and other activities we violate the rest of nature, and God is dishonoured. We must guard the gates of our life so that we can enjoy our eternal Sabbath which will be climaxed when we are eternally present before Christ our Chief Shepherd in Heaven!



How is your Sabbath keeping? Decide to purify your mind from the pursuit of money and keep a holy Sabbath of a life set apart for God, at rest in God, and serving God by caring for creation.



Lord of rest, King of glory, thank you for the Sabbath. Please forgive me for the times I have not kept your Sabbath. Please usher me and all your Church into the eternal Sabbath of now, and let the day come when we shall truly and finally be at rest. For your dear Name’s sake, Amen.





DAILY word study: GUARD

In Nehemiah 13:22, the Hebrew word translated as "guard" is שָׁמַר (shamar). This verb carries a rich and nuanced meaning. Its primary sense is "to keep," "to guard," or "to watch over." It implies not only the physical act of guarding but also a careful and intentional observance.

Biblically, 'guard' (שָׁמַר - shamar) conveys vigilant protection and observance, seen in responsibilities like caring for Eden and honouring the Sabbath:

Genesis 2:15 (NIV): "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Here, "take care of" is translated from the same Hebrew root (shamar), indicating the responsibility of Adam to guard and cultivate the garden.

Exodus 20:8 (NIV): "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." The idea of keeping the Sabbath holy involves the notion of guarding it against the intrusion of secular activities.

In the context of Nehemiah 13:22, the Levites were not just physical gatekeepers; they were spiritual guardians. They were tasked with preserving the sanctity of the Sabbath, ensuring that it remained a day set apart for rest and worship. Understanding "guard" in its Hebrew context invites us to go beyond mere external actions and consider the heart and intention behind our guardianship of the sacred.


Reflecting on the Hebrew understanding of "guard" (shamar), we can ask ourselves: How are we actively keeping and guarding the sacred aspects of our lives? How intentional are we in preserving the sanctity of moments set apart for God, much like the Levites guarded the gates for the Sabbath?


13 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All



BaptistDaily Devotional logo.png

The Baptist Daily Devotional is a collection of God-inspired messages that will help you grow in your faith and walk with Christ. Each day, you will find a scripture passage, a reflection, a prayer and a challenge to apply God's word to your life. The devotional is written by pastors and leaders of the Ghana Baptist Convention, who share their insights and experiences from serving God in various contexts and ministries. For example, you will learn how to trust God in times of trouble, how to share the gospel with others, how to pray effectively, how to deal with temptation, how to handle conflict and more. Whether you are a new believer or a mature Christian, the Baptist Daily Devotional will inspire you, encourage you and equip you to live for God's glory.
BAPTIST Daily Devotional  - God-inspired Word for your daily walk


Want more God-inspired word? send an email

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page