We Desperately Need God In Us

Photo by Tara Winstead: https://www.pexels.com/photo/art-writing-morning-business-8383410/

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Nehemiah chapter 13. In Nehemiah chapters 11 & 12, Nehemiah records the number and types of people that are staying in Jerusalem, as well as in other cities surrounding Jerusalem. The priests were recognized and ordained, and the walls of Jerusalem were dedicated to God. On the day the walls were dedicated:

Nehemiah 12:43 … they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.

It is important to understand that – at this time in history – God’s people were Israelis, and they all existed under the Old Covenant. Under the Old Covenant animal/blood sacrifices were necessary for the covering of sin. The animal sacrifices and Feasts were given for a temporary covering for sin. The Book of Hebrews tells us:

Hebrews 10:1-10 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Had the animal sacrifices been sufficient to cover sin completely then, the Scripture asks, why were not {the sacrifices} have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. In the offering of sacrifices people knew that they were insufficient, so they came, year after year, and kept sacrificing. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of these animal sacrifices. He is the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 36). We are told:

1 Peter 1:18-19 (ESV) … you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

The Temple sacrifices were to be maintained in Israel until Christ came. In order for these things to be maintained, the Temple and the Priests had to be supported by the people. In chapters 11-12

Nehemiah Reestablished Temple Worship & Bible Reading

Then Nehemiah returned to the Palace of Shushan, and to the service of King Artaxerxes King of Babylon. His appointment was to allow him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls, and to guide the people back to the Law of God.

Nehemiah 12:47 And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron.

Things were as they should be, so Nehemiah was obligated to return to King Artaxerxes. The people turned to the Word of God:

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; 2 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. 3 Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.

Once Nehemiah departed, the people continued to read God’s Word. In their reading they came across

Deuteronomy 23:3-6 (ESV) “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever, 4 because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. 5 But the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam; instead the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you. 6 You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever.

The Ammonites and the Moabites were cousins of Israel, the children borne of Lot, Abraham’s Nephew, when Lot slept with his own daughters. Though God gave the children of Ammon and the children of Moab lands of their own, the Ammonites and Moabites held grudges against Israel. When God led Israel out of Egypt the Ammonites and the Moabites not only refused to help their cousins, they hired a prophet named Balaam the son of Beor to curse Israel. The King of the Moabites said:

Numbers 22:6 (ESV) Come now, curse this people for me, since they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.

Balaam went to God in prayer, and told God what the Moabites wanted. The Bible says:

Numbers 22:12 (ESV) God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.”

Though God told Balaam not to curse Israel, and he told the Moabites this, they persisted and Balaam went to do their bidding. But God stopped him by stopping his donkey, and actually spoke through the donkey to Balaam. Balaam went with the Moabites, but only blessed Israel. Though the Moabites could not get Balaam to curse Israel, in time they infiltrated the nation of Israel with their daughters. We read:

Numbers 25:1-3 (ESV) While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. 2 These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.

Israel Was In Bondage Because She Departed From God’s Word

Whereas they could not have Israel cursed directly, they led Israel into cursing themselves by binding together with their godless daughters. God sent a plague on Israel that killed 24,000 people until Israel repented and returned from the false gods unto the Lord.

It was because of their hard heartedness and godless worship of false entities that the Lord forbade the Ammonites and Moabites to come into the congregation of Israel forever.

Preach: God will save whosoever will, but under either Old Covenant and New God does not want His people to blend their faith with the lost gods and goddesses. Churches flying rainbow flags will one day have to give an account unto God. Pastors that have blended with the spirit of this age, and have endorsed sexual immorality will have to give an account unto God. Pastors who preach there are many ways unto God, or that there is no Hell, or that Hell is a place of annihilation and not of eternal punishment shall have to give an account. God does not believe in blending His faith with other faiths. False faiths give numerous approaches to God. For instance, the Hindu Bhagavad Gita, iv, 11 notes “Howsoever man may approach Me, even so do I accept them; for, on all sides, whatever path they may choose is Mine”. Yet the Scripture says of Jesus:

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes
to the Father except by Me.” (John 14:6)

To those who believe God’s exclusion of the Ammonites and the Moabites from the Congregation of Israel is racist, I can only point out that God gave Ammon and Moab numerous opportunities to repent. Once they hardened their hearts – like the Egyptian hoard hardened their hearts – all that was left was the wrath of God.

Nehemiah 13:4-5 And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah: 5 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.

How was “blended religion” introduced into the Temple? It was introduced by Eliashib the priest. He befriended Tobiah, the very same Tobiah who was friends with Sanballet the Horonite, who tried to stop the rebuilding of the walls. Tobiah is an Ammonite (see Nehemiah 2:10, 19; 4:3, 7) who did all he could to destroy the restoration of the walls. Eliashib allowed Tobiah to move into a room in the Temple 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. In other words, Eliashib rented out part of the Temple, a part that was supposed to house the treasury that supported the Temple staff.

Nehemiah 13:6-8 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: 7 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. 8 And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff to Tobiah out of the chamber.

We Are To Do Good To Our Enemies,
But Never Compromise Our Faith

Eliashib’s compromise with Tobiah is regarded by Nehemiah as evil” (raʻ, [pronounced rah]). Jesus tells us to Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). But we always love God more. We do not compromise our worship and beliefs for the sake of pleasing the world. Tobiah did not belong housed in the Temple. According to the Law, only Levites and priests were to stay in the Temple (2 Chronicles 23:6), and only when they were on duty. When Nehemiah realized this was going on, we read I cast forth all the household stuff to Tobiah out of the chamber. Tobiah was an unbeliever misusing God’s Temple. Nehemiah wanted no part of it!

Nehemiah 13:9-14 Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense. 10 And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field. 11 Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place. 12 Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries. 13 And I made treasurers over the treasuries, Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah: and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah: for they were counted faithful, and their office was to distribute unto their brethren. 14 Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof.

When compromise enters our faith, the tithe and the worship suffers. Nehemiah set the Levites and the singers back to work, and put men who were known to be faithful over the treasury.

Nehemiah 13:15-21 In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. 16 There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. 17 Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day? 18 Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath. 19 And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day. 20 So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice. 21 Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath.

The people had drifted away from honoring God on the Sabbath Day. Nehemiah reminded the people that their violation of God’s Law is what brought their conquering and exile on themselves in the first place. What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath. God will not accept send place in our lives. He wants to be first in our hearts – and He DESERVES to be so. Nehemiah ran the merchants off and demanded that the gates of the city be shut on the Sabbath day, lest the people continue down this wrong path. The Enduring Word Commentary notes:

The New Testament makes it clear we are not under the law of the Sabbath in the same sense Israel was under the Old Covenant (Colossians 2:16-17), but we are certainly under the same obligation to make honoring God more important than making money or spending money.”

Nehemiah 13:22-27 And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy. 23 In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab: 24 And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people. 25 And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. 27 Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?

Some of the Israeli men had drifted from God, and married pagan and unbelieving wives. They did this though God specifically commanded that Israel not intimately bind themselves with the lost. Nehemiah corrected the situation, some of them plucking off their hair. The people repented, and turned back to God. As the Book ends we read:

Nehemiah 13:29-31 Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites. 30 Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and the Levites, every one in his business; 31 And for the wood offering, at times appointed, and for the firstfruits. Remember me, O my God, for good.

Nehemiah did what he could to fix the problems of Israel. But there is one thing that stands out – besides the blood sacrifices of the animals – between the Old and New Covenants. Though Nehemiah could reference the Law, and at times resort to physical violence to bring the people into one accord with God – it could not last.

In Nehemiah 10:30-39 Israel had promised that they would not bind with unbelievers, they would not buy or sell on the Sabbath, and that they would support the Temple.
Their promise lasted about 10 years.

No human endeavor can last because of the sin nature of man. Christ had not yet come to earth, and had not yet paid for sin. Christ had not yet sent the Holy Spirit of God to indwell the hearts of His people. Thus, sadly, Israel will fall again.

The Temple that was built by Solomon was destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians because God’s people would not honor His Law (2 Kings 25:9). King Cyrus of Persia (Ezra 1:2) allowed the Temple to be rebuilt under the leadership of Zerubbabel. In 39 BC King Herod would take control of the Temple, and would restore and expand Zerubbabel’s Temple with the work finishing in 63 AD. This Temple would be destroyed just 7 years later, in 70 AD as the Roman Army moves to overthrow the First Jewish Revolt. What does all this show us?

You can be religious. You can keep the Law. You can follow God for a time. But if you are not born again of the Spirit, indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, your false faith will not last. No faith that is primarily of works will save. Salvation is by faith in Christ Jesus. The Temple died after Israel rejected Jesus Christ as Messiah. Today, those who are born again of the Spirit (John 3:1, 3, 7; 1 Peter 1:3) through faith in Jesus Christ are the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:14-16; Ephesians 2:21).

And this Temple cannot be torn down by anything but faithlessness. Let us bind our hearts to Jesus, for the glory of God forever. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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