A Personal Crusade.
“Remember this good deed also, O my God! Have compassion on me according to your great and unfailing love.” – Nehemiah 13:22b NLT
After 12 years in Jerusalem assisting with the rebuilding of the wall, Nehemiah returned to Persia. He had completed his assignment of rebuilding the walls and had taken part in their dedication ceremonies. He would later return to Jerusalem, and when he did, he was disappointed in what he found. Once again, the people had begun to follow in the steps of their ancestors by disobeying God and forsaking His law. Imagine Nehemiah’s shock upon finding out that Tobiah, the one man who had done more to try and undermine the efforts to rebuild the wall, had been given his own room in the Temple compound. Not only was Tobiah an enemy of Israel, he was an Ammonite and should not have been allowed anywhere near the Temple. But his daughter had married Eliashib the priest, and so Eliashib had converted one of the storerooms in the Temple into private quarters for his father-in-law. Nehemiah wasn’t about to put up with that, so he threw all of Tobiah’s things out and had the room cleansed.
Nehemiah also found people working and selling on the Sabbath – right inside the walls of Jerusalem. So he confronted the leaders of Jerusalem and reminded them that it was this very thing that had caused God to punish them in the first place. Nehemiah took personal responsibility to see that the holiness of the Sabbath was preserved by having the gates of the city locked on Friday nights and not opened back up until the Sabbath was over. He put guards on the gates and personally confronted the merchants who camped outside the gates, demanding that they leave and not return. Nehemiah also dealt with the many men who he discovered had married foreign wives. He reminded them that was the very same sin that had caused the fall of Solomon’s kingdom. Solomon had married many foreign wives and as a result, had ended up worshiping their gods.
Nehemiah was not willing to sit back and watch the nation fall back into complacency and compromise. He was committed to God and determined to see that the people of Judah live in obedience to the will of God. He spoke out and openly confronted sin in the city. He dealt with the leaders of Jerusalem harshly. He put high expectations on the religious leaders. He purged, pleaded, confronted, and worked tirelessly to see that the people of God lived in compliance to the will of God. The role of a godly leader can be difficult at times, requiring hard decisions and resulting in isolation and misunderstanding. Godly leaders are not always popular or well thought of. But Nehemiah was more concerned about the holiness of God than he was about his own popularity. He would rather please God then men. He was not willing to compromise God’s standards to improve his own lifestyle. He could have said nothing. He could have ignored the sins of the people. But for Nehemiah, that would have been unacceptable. So he stood up and spoke out. He did what needed to be done. He made a difference.
Father, make me a Nehemiah. Open my eyes so that I see what You see. Give me a heart for holiness like Nehemiah had. Then give me a boldness to say what needs to be said and to do what needs to be done, regardless of the consequences. May I love serving You faithfully more than I love the praise of men. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men