Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day 33: Zeal for the House of God

And before this, Eliashib the priest, being over the chamber of the house of our God, was allied with Tobiah. And he had prepared for him a large chamber, where they had formerly 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…. 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. And it grieved me greatly, so I cast all the household items of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I gave commandment, and they cleansed the chambers, and I brought there once more the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense. And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them; for the Levites and the singers who did the work had fled to their fields. (Neh. 13:4-5, 7-10)

God’s desire is for a pure church – that we would be a people who never grieve His Spirit in any way. Nehemiah was appalled that a room had been made for the conniving Tobiah the Ammonite. He knew that Ammonites were not allowed in the Temple of the Lord. Eliashib, as a priest, should have known better. Ironically, by accommodating Tobiah, Eliashib had made a mockery of his own name, which meant “God will restore.” He failed to live up to his priestly calling to restore the people and the city. He also allowed a personal enemy of Nehemiah and of the work to have access to the heart of the project itself. Eliashib had also deprived the Levites of their income. The ministry suffered as the Levites and singers felt forced to return to farming.

May God keep us a pure church, and a church that values those with ministry callings. May we be a place where all the people of God can develop their gifts and ministries and not become discouraged, going “back to the farm.” May we never be a church that substitute’s man’s wisdom, efficiency, or showmanship for the anointing.

Lord, help us to throw the Tobiahs out of our lives. All those things which come in to usurp the place of ministry in the Spirit and short-circuit the growth of people’s ministries – they must be expelled!

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