Summary: #14 and final message in the Nehemiah series. When the work is done and I have come to the end of this journey, I want God to remember me for good.
Book of Nehemiah Series #14
Nehemiah Chapter 13
Remember Me God, for Good
By Pastor Jim May
Nehemiah 13:1-3, "On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever; Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing. Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude."
As we begin this final message on the Book of Nehemiah, let me say that this has been an eye-opening series. We have seen the Israelites come from slavery back to the rebirth of their nation. The whole process has been a parallel example of the Christian who has backslidden from God and now finds his way back to the foot of the Cross; then onward to a deeper walk with the Lord. All of life is filled with dangers and no dangers are worse than those that threaten to steal your very soul. Let us ever remember the lessons of Nehemiah and continue to walk in victory with Jesus.
One all-important point is that we need not face any of these trials and tests as the Jews did if we will only remember one thing – that keeping ourselves separated from the world, staying true unto God and not allowing the flesh to overcome us, will help us to remain victorious through it all. Though we may fail, we should never fall. Though we live in this world, we should never set our desires only upon it. We must always keep our eyes on Jesus and our hearts on reaching that city whose builder and maker is God.
Nehemiah 13:4-7, "And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah: And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests. But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king: And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God."
Here we have the reappearance of an old enemy by the name of Tobiah, whom we thought had been finally defeated, but now we see that God’s people will allow him to cause problems in the nation again. Can anyone remember, from our past studies, what Tobiah represented to each of us? He was representative of the power of the flesh and the temptations it brings through the lust of eye and the pride of life. The power of fleshly lusts and desires for the things that will please this body of flesh is always lying there, just below the surface, just waiting to rise up and cause us problems. It seems that Israel had problems with this enemy just as much as we do in the church.
Looking now at the Book of Nehemiah let me remind you that the walls and gates are fully restored, and many of the exiles have come back to dwell safely in Jerusalem. The law of God is read, and as it is read before the people it brings forth joy and repentance. The Levites are being trained once again and worship in the temple has been reinstituted. With Nehemiah guiding the way, everything is coming back into order and Israel is again living by the truth of God’s Word.
Finally, after over 70 long years of exile and slavery, with Israel lying in ruins under the hand of their enemies, they are becoming a godly nation once again. Surely nothing could stop them now. They were on their way to victory at last. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, something did go wrong – terribly wrong. Perhaps they became a little too over-confident. Or maybe they just dropped their guard for only a moment. For whatever the reason, they had allowed a real problem to develop right in the very heart of the nation.
Inside the temple, in the room that was formerly used to store the offerings for God, sat Tobiah and his temptation, power and control.
Tobiah had been resisted and defeated before but somehow; he had got inside the walls! Before now, even though many on the inside spoke of his good deeds, he was still on the outside. Yet here he was, not only within the walls, but to make matters even worse, he was right in the place where he always saw himself - in the center of the Temple! How could this happen? Surely Nehemiah would have stopped it?