Putting God's Word into Practice…

Notes from Nehemiah (Chapter 13:4-9)

on January 10, 2015

Now before this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and who was related to Tobiah, prepared for Tobiah a large chamber where they had previously put the grain offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests. (4-5)

This is the same Tobiah who was an Ammonite. In 13:1 it was read that no Ammonite should ever enter into the assembly of God because Ammonites cursed God’s people.  This was the same Tobiah who jeered at and despised the wall-builders (2:19) and who mocked their work by saying, “That stone wall would collapse if a fox walked on it!” (4:3).  Tobiah cursed God’s people, opposed their work, and didn’t want to see them prosper, and he was living in an apartment in the temple of the Living God!  In addition, the priest moved out all the offerings stored there in order to prepare the room.  How disrespectful to God!

While this was taking place, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I went to the king.  And after some time I asked leave of the king and came to Jerusalem, and I then discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, preparing for him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I gave orders, and they cleansed the chambers, and I brought back there the vessels of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense. (6-9)

Zeal for the Lord’s house consumed Nehemiah.  His righteous anger over the compromises to God’s house foreshadowed Jesus’ response to similar issues over a thousand years later.  In John 2:13-17, we read about Jesus cleaning out the temple.  Again, three years later in Matthew 21:12-13, we see Him purifying the temple again. How quickly we are prone to compromise and seek our own interests instead of intimacy with God. Prayers and purity are of far greater value than pigeons and profit!

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says that our bodies are the Lord’s temple. If Nehemiah–or Jesus–showed up at your temple, in what condition would they find it?

  • Is there any area of your heart where what used to be set apart for God has been  moved out to make room for someone/something that is actually opposed to God’s best for you?
  • Is there any area where you have made the flesh comfortable at the expense of following the Lord’s commands?
  • Is there any area where you have cast out what is sacred and holy for what is common?
  • Are there any gifts you’ve received that were meant to serve others, but have been repurposed in order to serve yourself?

We see an amazing picture of God’s grace here.  Just like the temple could be cleansed, refilled and used again for God’s intended purposes; our hearts can be also.

My dad knew a couple who got divorced years ago and were ordered to split the contents of their house.  One spouse took a chainsaw and cut everything in half and threw the other half outside.  Sometimes I think we do that in our hearts.  We know we should divorce ourselves from the world, but we don’t want to really give stuff up, so we keep a portion back, keeping our hearts cluttered with useless half portions of things we want because we don’t want God to have everything.

Throw out the furniture–all of it!  Make room for a new blessing! Be whole-hearted for God!!

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