If you are not careful, life could have you constantly putting out fires, no sooner you get one out another one arises. And so it seems this was the challenge Nehemiah encountered with the Jews.
The book of Nehemiah is the historical account of the rebuilding and restoration of a destroyed city and a depressed and disgraced people, and how Nehemiah courageously undertook this enormous task. He encountered enemies without and enemies within but he determinedly completed that assignment. In spite of the threats and ridicule of Sanballat, Tobiah and their other cohorts, Nehemiah with the help of fellow Jews worked on the rebuilding of the city.
It was one thing to rebuild the physical elements of the city – the destroyed walls and to repair the burnt gates – the challenge was to get the people to a place of spiritual renewal to obey God’s Word, and he did that quite successfully.
However, after a few years the people had already forgotten their vows of separation and started to mix again by intermarrying with the pagans around. But what made matters worse was the high priest Eliashib who turned out to be unfaithful to his high calling and became a reproach to the priesthood. Eliashib through marriage was allied with Tobiah, one of the enemies of the Jews, and in compromise polluted the house of God by giving him a room for his residence in the courts of the house of God. A room which was appointed for the reception of the tithes, offerings, etc., that came into the house of God!
Now before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the house of our God, was allied with Tobiah. And he had prepared for him a large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which were commanded to be given to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers, and the offerings for the priests. Nehemiah 13:4-5
Imagine that! A High priest rather than making room for God and for the people of God to encounter their God, harboured the enemy of God’s people in one of the rooms in the house of God. What an insult to the presence of God!
After all the sacrifices Nehemiah made by leaving the king’s employ and a comfortable environment where all his needs were met, to come to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, restore the people’s dignity and realign them spiritually, Eliashib the priest, of all persons, showed absolute contempt and disregard for the holy things of God and dishonor to God Himself.
This infuriated Nehemiah to no end and this is what he said and did.
And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.
I am sorry to say that there are many ‘priests’ today who act the same way, there is no fear of God in their heart, they make alliances with the enemy for the furtherance of their own agendas, not the kingdom of God. Their behavior is a reproach to the God they say they serve.
If there is unlawful occupation in your life by the enemy or anything else, and you are serious about making room for God, there are four specific things need to happen as it was with Nehemiah: –
- It Must Pain you – “And it grieved me bitterly” (Nehemiah 13:8a).
- There has to be an emotional response to the illegal occupation in your life. It must grieve your heart because it grieves God’s heart that the enemy has been allowed to take possession of territory that is not rightfully his.
- Pitch or Put out the stuff – “Therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room.” This was not a casual toss, Nehemiah flung away all the stuff that has no right there, as one would hurl out something that is despicable and dirty.
- It is time to get rid of not just some but all those things that you know should not be in your life. Do an inventory and come clean with God!
- Time to Purify – “Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms.” (Nehemiah 13:9a). Nehemiah cleaned out not just the room Tobiah was in but the adjoining rooms because they were ceremonially unclean with the habitation of the heathen.
- It is time for personal cleansing and reconsecration. (See Psalm 51)
- Put the things of God back in their Rightful Place – “And I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.” (Nehemiah 13:9b). The Grain Offering represents total devotion to God in every area of our life, and the frankincense speaks of worship to God.
- It is time for repentance and to restore prayer, worship, the reading of God’s Word, serving…Put God back into His rightful place.
What enemy is taking up room in your spiritual temple? Then it is time to throw him out. Who or what needs to go from your life? Are they friends who are scoffers of the gospel, are they idols that are occupying that space – a girlfriend, a boyfriend, a child, a job, a hobby, as house, a business, a car, your reputation and title…? Take time and allow the Holy Spirit to identify who and what are some enemies that are taking up the room that belongs to God?
If you want the presence of God in your life, make room for Him by giving every area of your life in total devotion to Him.
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