Friday, February 7, 2014

Is Tobiah Living in Our Temple?

Neh 13:4  Now before this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and who was related to Tobiah, Neh 13:5  prepared for Tobiah a large chamber where they had previously put the grain offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests. ….

Neh 13:7  and came to Jerusalem, and I then discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, preparing for him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. Neh 13:8  And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber.

The Book of Nehemiah ends with Nehemiah coming back to Jerusalem after an extended absence and finding that there had been a lot of compromise with the people and their service and worship of God.  The above verses deal with one particular instance where he finds that the quintessential enemy of the Jews was being allowed to live in the very Temple complex itself.  This had resulted in less storage room and so some of the Levites and singers had to leave off their service and go work in the fields to support themselves.

It is not hard to see an illustration of compromise with worldly things and people and the destruction it causes.  When we understand that in one sense our bodies are the New Covenant fulfillment of this Temple it becomes clearer still.  Back in Ch. 6 we see that the compromise with Tobiah had begun years before even during the time in which he openly opposed Nehemiah’s work.  Neh 6:17  Moreover, in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah's letters came to them. Neh 6:18  For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah: and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah as his wife.
Neh 6:19  Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence and reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to make me afraid.

As it turns out Tobiah was related to some of them and we all know that standing against friends and family can be difficult for most of us.  Let me make a few comments on how we are to view the lost who are the enemies of Christ regardless of what they might say and do.  And we must keep in mind that this applies to friends and family as well.

All the unconverted hate Christ or they would be believers.  They might be very religious in Christendom but they have not submitted to him.   Because of this we must always relate to all unsaved people, even if it is your mommy, as enemies of the faith.  I am not speaking of hating them or running away from them and having nothing to do with them.  I am saying that we must always keep our guard up as to what they love and what they do not love and evalute everything they say and do in light of that.  As Jesus taught, Mat 7:17  So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. Mat 7:18  A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.

When we start to admire the lost; whether they are a family, philanthropists, novelists, singers, poets, politicians, philosophers, it doesn’t matter, and we forget that they hate God, then we let our guard down and start to listen to what they have to say as if there is no potential danger.  And just like in our text Satan gets a place in our thinking by subtly getting us to admire enemies of the cross. 

That isn’t to say that the lost can’t have good and profitable things to say at times but at some point they will always divert us away from Christ if we let them because diseased hearts can’t bear good fruit.  Our influence from the lost must always be tempered with truth and we can never allow ourselves unbridled enthusiasm to anyone but especially those that are in darkness.  Even when they offer great insight we must always compare it to Scripture and realize where they are coming from.  We can’t become so infatuated with someone because of their style or ability to put some words together that you forget who they really are.  They aren’t your friends in any real sense, they are Tobiahs.

This is no call to not interact with lost people of course, but it is a call to be wise as serpents, to not be naïve.  It is a call to recognize that the enemies of Christ are your enemies also in that they have no desire to help you glorify the Lord and do his will; and if we let them, they will draw us away from him and truth.  Let’s examine our “Temples” and see if we are allowing any Tobiah’s to influence us in the way we think and live.  Let us make sure that the time we are listening to this world is very small compared to the time we listen to the Word and the Lord’s servants.

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