Summary: In Nehemiah we see that the world was attempting to infiltrate the faith and how Nehemiah dealt with this problem.
Barbarians At The Gates
Intro: Back in 1990 Bryan Burrough and John Helyar wrote a book titled Barbarians At The Gates. In 1993 that book was made into a movie. Some of you may have seen the movie. It was about the hostile takeover of RJR Nabisco by unwanted investors. As I read and studied our scripture this morning, I saw the same thing happening in Jerusalem. There was a takeover of what God had intended for his people. People who weren’t focused on God but rather on themselves are taking over the church. There were barbarians at the gates and the future of Jerusalem and God’s people was at stake. You see these barbarians were attempting a hostile takeover of the church.
. Now I googled hostile takeover and in basically says that this happens when someone or some organization takes control of an organization even when the leaders or board of directors don’t want it to happen. It happens many times because the people in charge are not paying attention to what is going on.
. What had happened here in Jerusalem was that Nehemiah had returned to Babylon and king Artaxerxes.
. If you remember back several months ago when we started in Nehemiah, Nehemiah had asked the kings permission to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls
. Part of that conversation is recorded back in chapter 2 verses 4-6
. 4The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?”With a prayer to the God of heaven,
5 I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”
6The king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, “How long will you be gone? When will you return?” After I told him how long I would be gone, the king agreed to my request.
. Nehemiah traveled back to his homeland and successfully led the people in rebuilding the walls.
. Being true to his word, he returned to Babylon to resume his duties as the Kings cupbearer after the walls were finished.
. While he was gone though, the barbarians started gathering at the gates.
. As we look through our scripture this morning we see that they wanted to do.
.Change the purpose of the church.
. The first thing we see here is that they wanted to change the purpose or function of the church.
. Look with me at verses 4-9 of chapter 13.
…. Eliashib the priest, who had been appointed as supervisor of the storerooms of the Temple of our God and who was also a relative of Tobiah,
5 had converted a large storage room and placed it at Tobiah’s disposal. The room had previously been used for storing the grain offerings, the frankincense, various articles for the Temple, and the tithes of grain, new wine, and olive oil (which were prescribed for the Levites, the singers, and the gatekeepers), as well as the offerings for the priests.
6 I was not in Jerusalem at that time, for I had returned to King Artaxerxes of Babylon in the thirty-second year of his reign, though I later asked his permission to return.
7When I arrived back in Jerusalem, I learned about Eliashib’s evil deed in providing Tobiah with a room in the courtyards of the Temple of God.
8I became very upset and threw all of Tobiah’s belongings out of the room.
9Then I demanded that the rooms be purified, and I brought back the articles for God’s Temple, the grain offerings, and the frankincense.
. When Nehemiah left, the barbarians started to weasel their way into the fabric of the Jewish community and faith.
. Eliashib was the priest who had been left in charge and he defiled God’s house by taking a room that had been set aside for the things of God and allowed Tobiah , one of his relatives to remove the things of God and move into the Temple of God.
. Nehemiah found out what had happened and threw Tobiah out.
. Scripture says that he purified the room.
. The word in the original language that we translate purify could also be translated fumigate.
. Nehemiah wanted all of Tobiah’s sin gone, even the smell of him.
. The Temple was God’s house and there was a purpose for each and every room within the Temple.
. The church was a place to worship and teach their children about God. Not a boarding house.
. While we don’t have a Temple today, we do have churches and they should be established for the purpose of worship.
. Folks, the barbarians are at the gates of our places of worship today.
. We are turning them into coffee houses and restaurants.