July 13, 2011

Nehemiah: against the Odds

I read a post today about standing out ( read it here). I  also finished the book of Nehemiah today and 
"against all odds "seemed to be a good theme for this book if I had to choose just one.

Nehemiah boldly took on the task of restoring Jerusalem's wall, finishing it in record time, with people from all sides trying to keep it from happening. When the temple was out of order, he stood up in its defense and reordered it. He expressed his anger with the relaxed attitude many of the Israelites had regarding God's laws, and commanded fear and reverence for the things of God. When the leaders stepped out of line, he was not intimidated. He told them what the deal was, and if they didn't like it, they were cut off. Nehemiah was a man out to get things done, and to get them done right, because God was worth that.

Maybe we find ourselves in situations where others around us may feel it doesn't take "all that" to be a christian. Things have been done the same way for so long that now it is toted as the "right" thing, when really they just don't know any better. It's one thing to stand apart from the world. It's another thing to stand apart from those who consider themselves Christian, but do not do this title justice.

Nehemiah was surrounded by his fellow Israelites, brothers, elders, and friends- yet he did not pull any punches when it came to the ordinances of God.

When it comes to God, there is either yes or no. I'd rather you'd be hot or cold, the Lord says in Revelation. Being lukewarm is detestable to him. Let's examine ourselves to see where or if we have places in our lives that are muddled- unclear. Places that we may toe or cross the line in the guise of  "not rocking the boat".

Let's be followers of Christ, not the crowd- stand out, and go against the odds.

Nehemiah 13

Nehemiah’s Final Reforms
4 Before this, Eliashib the priest had been put in charge of the storerooms of the house of our God. He was closely associated with Tobiah, 5 and he had provided him with a large room formerly used to store the grain offerings and incense and temple articles, and also the tithes of grain, new wine and olive oil prescribed for the Levites, musicians and gatekeepers, as well as the contributions for the priests.
 6 But while all this was going on, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Some time later I asked his permission 7 and came back to Jerusalem. Here I learned about the evil thing Eliashib had done in providing Tobiah a room in the courts of the house of God. 8 I was greatly displeased and threw all Tobiah’s household goods out of the room. 9 I gave orders to purify the rooms, and then I put back into them the equipment of the house of God, with the grain offerings and the incense.
 10 I also learned that the portions assigned to the Levites had not been given to them, and that all the Levites and musicians responsible for the service had gone back to their own fields. 11 So I rebuked the officials and asked them, “Why is the house of God neglected?” Then I called them together and stationed them at their posts.

 14 Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.
 15 In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day. 16 People from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath to the people of Judah. 17 I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day? 18 Didn’t your ancestors do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity on us and on this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath.”
 19 When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day.  22 Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy.
   Remember me for this also, my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.

 29 Remember them, my God, because they defiled the priestly office and the covenant of the priesthood and of the Levites.
 30 So I purified the priests and the Levites of everything foreign, and assigned them duties, each to his own task. 31 I also made provision for contributions of wood at designated times, and for the firstfruits.
   Remember me with favor, my God.

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