Leaders come and go. Those who seemed so powerful and mighty through their positions of leadership are just as easily forgotten when others succeed them. Sometimes people will forget what leadership has done. Biblical leaders find their legacy not in monuments, obituaries, or memorial libraries. Rather, they find their legacy in the mind of God. Nehemiah prayed three times to God to remember him and once to remember the evil deeds of the people. Despite having worked his lifetime in public service for the king and for the governance of the people of Judah, his prime concern was what God thought of him in the end.
As exceptional and admirable as Nehemiah was as a leader, he was still human. His frustrations got the best of him in the last chapter, where he started to get physically abusive with the people. Additionally, by the time of Christ’s first advent, his reforms had become radicalized. While Nehemiah faced a people who leaned too liberal, Christ faced a people who swung too conservative. Too afraid to violate these four areas again, they built extraneous rules to prevent their transgressions. Tithe laws were nit-picky unto mint and anise; purity laws had prevented almost anyone to approach the sanctuary; marriage laws inhibited any social contact at all with non-Jews; and the extra Sabbath laws made the Sabbath itself a burden! Now Jesus had to battle a mindset where the pendulum had swung the other way, full of exclusivity, legalism, materialism, and pride.
In the end, Nehemiah was a mere shadow of the ultimate leader, Jesus Christ. No human leader was, is, or shall be as ideal to the character and ministry of our Lord. 1 Peter 2:21 states that Christ is our only example, “that [we] should follow His steps.”