Tuesday, 14 December 2021
‘Remember me, O my God, for good!’ -Nehemiah 13:31
The book of Nehemiah gives the account of the final return of the Israelites in captivity from Babylon. Despite the resistance from within and without, Nehemiah challenged and encouraged a demoralized and fearful nation to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in just 52 days – a feat that could only be accomplished with God’s help.
However, as described in Chapter 13, social and cultural liberties lead to compromised life and the challenge of revitalizing and reforming God’s people took a major part of this pragmatic leader’s life. Let us understand the areas of compromise and how to guard against it.
Compromised Identity (Vs.1-3)
The Israelites were asked to be separated from the Moabites and Ammonites (Deut.23:3-5), not because of racial discrimination, but because mixing with the surrounding cultures resulted in God’s people falling into idolatry. God loves everyone and His desire is that all mankind should know and love Him. As one who has accepted Christ as his / her Savior, a child of God has a distinct identity - you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9). Our lives need to be separated from the world and focused on loving and obeying the Lord always (1 Jn. 2:15-17).
Compromised Relationships (Vs 4-9)
Eliashib the priest was in alliance with Tobiah, the enemy (Neh. 2:10, Neh. 6:17-19). The high priest was helping someone who had been highly instrumental in opposing Nehemiah and deterring the Jews from building the wall. Such compromised friendships undermine our walk with the Lord. Paul reprimands us to keep away from lovers of pleasure who hold to a form of outward godliness but their conduct proves otherwise (2 Tim.3:4-5).
Compromised Commitment (Vs10-13)
The people had stopped giving tithes that supported the Levi Priests and singers, who in turn had neglected their duties at the temple to work in their farms to provide for their families. Both the priests and people had compromised on their commitment to serve and worship the Lord. Have we at times compromised on our giving? Malachi 3:10 reminds us, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house…” God has promised a blessing over our giving.
Compromised Covenant (Vs 15-21)
For the Israelites, the Sabbath was a lasting covenant to be observed through all generations (Exodus 31:15-16). However, Nehemiah noticed that the Jews were working and trading on the Sabbath instead of keeping it a holy day for the Lord (Neh. 10:31). Let us scrutinize our lives to see if the demands of work and society have made us backslide on our promise to walk with the Lord and to serve Him wholeheartedly. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27).
Compromised Family (Vs 23-28)
In absolute disobedience to God’s command, the Jews had intermarried with Ashdodite, Ammonite, and Moabite women, raising families that turned away from God (Deut.7:2-4). Nehemiah emphasizes the severity of the issue by pointing to King Solomon’s life, how his pagan wives turned him away from the Lord. Believers are warned in 2 Cor.6:14, “Do not become unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” Or as the Message Bible says, “Don't become partners with those who reject God.” Unequal yoking in marriage leads to compromised family relations and may result in children failing to know and honor the Lord because of the division in the parents’ faith.
Revival should result in a reformed life, purging every sin from life and wholeheartedly seeking the Lord. With humble hearts, let us examine our ways and confess to the Lord areas where we have compromised, asking for His forgiveness and restoration. Like Nehemiah, let us stand steadfast for the Lord, that He may remember us as good and faithful servants.
Prayer: Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, grant, we pray, that we might be grounded and settled in your truth by the coming of your Holy Spirit in our hearts. What we do not know, reveal to us; What is lacking within us, make complete; That which we do not know, confirm in us; And keep us blameless in your service, Through Jesus Christ our Lord.~Clement of Rome