Nehemiah 13:4-5, “And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah: And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they 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.”
The book of Nehemiah records for us a blessed time in Israel’s history. The Lord blessed them to return to Jerusalem and helped them in rebuilding the walls of the city and the house of God. But this effort was not without opposition. Very early on in the book of Nehemiah, the readers are introduced to people who opposed the work (Nehemiah 4:1, “Sanballat” and Nehemiah 4:4, “Tobiah”). And even though these men often failed in their efforts, they continued to try different ways to discourage and dishearten the workers from doing those things which pleased God.
In our study verses, we read about the priest, Eliashib, doing the spiritually unthinkable. He was somehow coerced by Tobiah into building him a “great chamber” where the people of God at one time had prepared offerings. According to Nehemiah 13:8, this grieved Nehemiah and he angrily cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah. But then what did Eliashib and those who compromised and made this mistake do? In verses 8-15 we read the Godly instruction of Nehemiah to those who make such mistakes.
(1) Cleansing from the errors (vs 8)! Nehemiah knew that a cleansing, or a separation, from the wrongs must take place. Nehemiah took it upon himself to lead the charge by casting all Tobiah’s household stuff out and cleansing the chambers of those things which did not belong. When we’ve done wrongs, it is essential that we confess the wrongs, repent and separate ourselves from those things. Everyone makes mistakes, but the foolish person, one who will not obey God, will continue therein.
(2) Fill the void with those things which are right (vs 9-11)! Nehemiah contended with the people asking, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” The point was for them to be convicted and to get their mind focused on the right things. In verse 9 we read that Nehemiah “brought again the vessels of the house of God,…” Nehemiah knew it was equally important to fill the void with the right things (the void which was left by the casting out) otherwise the wrongs were coming back (see Luke 11:24-26).
(3) Hold steadfastly to the commandments of God (vs 11-13)! The phrase “set them in their place” in verse 11 is one that catches the interest of this writer. The wrongs which were committed were causing things to be out of place, but in an effort to make the wrongs right other things and people were put in their place. Each time I read this I’m reminded of the corrections I often received from my daddy and mama when they would say, “Ronnie, you need to get in your place.” How important is it for us all to work diligently to stay in the right place living in humble obedience to the Lord’s Word? There is a peace associated with this effort that is beyond the world’s understanding.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, are you like me? Do you look back in your life and see a path of many mistakes? What’s the answer? The instruction of Nehemiah, which is given by inspiration of the Spirit, is a great place to start. The Lord is very merciful to His children and the Bible teaches us clearly that He will bless us and help us if we will turn unto Him. I will end this effort by quoting 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Having therefore received these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Amen!