Step 5—Building Through Correction

Rubble to Restoration: A Study in Ezra and Nehemiah  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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This morning we are finishing up Nehemiah. As we finish up please be praying with us, as to what the Lord would have us go through next.
So what’s next: We are going to be going through a Gospel. We are also going to start a teaching rotation to train and raise up men within our congregation. Once we start, every six week one we are going to have one of the preaching squad teach. Please be patient with them as they grow in their gifts.
If you believe the Lord is calling you to teach I would love to talk with you about it.
Back to Nehemiah:
For little of a month now we have been working through 5 different steps to establish a solid foundation of being God’s people, through the example set before us in the second half of Nehemiah.
Step 1—being rooted in the Word of God
Step 2—continually seeking after God
Step 3—being committed to God
Step 4—strengthening/encouraging our spiritual family
Step 5—Correction and disciple are essential
One of the greatest needs of the church is for revival, a continuous spirit of revival. It is not good enough to experience revival and then top slip back into a lethargy, complacent state. Living a life of comfort and indulgence with little to no concern about what it means to be committed to the Lord, what it means to live up to our callings.
The only way for us to guard ourselves is to remain vigilant.
Family, we need to be vigilant when it come to worshipping our God daily, not once or twice a week but every day; through reading, studying, applying, and sharing God’s Word. Through prayer, actively communicating with our God. Through truly trusting Him and relying on Him, and not ourselves. Worship Him through seeking to, not only reach out and meet the needs of our church family and community, but to bear witness of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ!!!

vv. 1-3) Problem 1—Association with Evil: A need for spiritual separation.

On that day:
I hope all or most of you were able to read chapters 11-12 of Nehemiah; because the people drew near to God in worship. What makes this incredible is the fact that they became aware of God’s standards. On this particular day they were reading through Deuteronomy 23:3-4, where the Ammonites and Moabites were not to be regarded as part of Israel (unless they converted to the worship of Israel’s God).
Deuteronomy 23:3–4 NKJV
3 “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord forever, 4 because they did not meet you with bread and water on the road when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.
Down throughout the centuries the Ammonites and the Moabites had been bitter enemies of the Lord and His people. These two nations were the descendants of Lot and his two daughters (Genesis 19). It had been the Ammonites and Moabites who so bitterly opposed Israel’s march to the promised land (Numbers 22-25). These two nations had hired the false prophet Balaam to place a curse on Israel. God turned the curses of Balaam into blessings (Numbers 23-24)
These two evil nations continued to press Balaam to devise some scheme that would destroy Israel. Balaam came up with something truly wicked. The scheme was for the Moabites to infiltrate the Jewish camp, and have their women tempt the men of Israel to commit harlotry. As a result, the hand of God’s judgement fell upon the Israelites. A plague struck down 24,000 of them… It would stop after:
Numbers 25:7–8 NKJV
7 Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; 8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel.
Genesis 12:3, gives us some insight into why God says they are not allowed to participate:
Genesis 12:3 NKJV
3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
[3] I cannot tell you how often I hear men and women of God come up with reasons not to be obedient to God’s Word. The Jewish returnees could have thought of a bunch of reasons to not do what the Word of God plainly told them to do. Instead, they simply obeyed.
They could have said:
That command was made long ago and speaks to a different time.
Things are different now.
Let’s not go overboard.
That isn’t really what God meant…
They simply heard what the law stated from God’s Word, and they immediately took corrective action. Separating from themselves from the unbelieving foreigners who were among them. Identifying the unbelievers, they excluded them from the temple. It should be noted that this is not racial prejudice or discrimination.
It was an act of spiritual separation due to spiritual, doctrinal conviction. Any foreigner could place his trust in the Lord, become a convert, and being to follow the Lord. and any foreigner who truly trusted the Lord was allowed to join in and worship the Lord.
[little leaven]
There are some great examples of this such as Ruth who was a Moabite and the foreign converts who had joined the Jewish exiles when they returned to Jerusalem:
Ezra 6:21 NKJV
21 Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the Lord God of Israel.
Even today, there may be people of good will in churches; honorable people, who have some respect for God and His Word. Yet they are part of the mixed multitude because they have not received God’s covenant of salvation in Jesus Christ. Such people are welcome, but it should be understood where they stand… under the righteous judgment of God where, if they never repent and turn to Christ, they would be sentenced to hell for all eternity.
God’s Word in numerous places commands us to be spiritually separated from this wicked world. No believer should compromise with evil. No believer should compromise their morality with a boyfriend or girlfriend. No believing employee should ever compromise their honesty by stealing from their company. None of us should ever dirty our mouths or the ears of any listening with filthy or foolish talk.
When any person lives a wicked life, we are to separate ourselves from that person, never participating in the sinful behavior, or to be influenced by them. Doesn’t mean that we don’t love them or care for them, but be are not to form close bonds or alliances with unbelievers of this world.
Romans 12:2 NKJV
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
James 1:27 NKJV
27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Ephesians 5:11 NKJV
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
The only time this applies physically separating ourselves from people is:
1 Corinthians 5:6–12 NKJV
6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. 12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?

vv. 4-9) Problem 2—Desecration of the house of God: A need to purify the church.

Verse 6 clues us in that during the time of our passage Nehemiah left Jerusalem and went back to his duties in the Persian court. He was gone from Jerusalem for anywhere from 10-12 years.
Nehemiah left sometime after the remarkable spiritual revival noted in the recent chapters. But the real test of revival—the real test of God’s work in our lives—is the long term. It is seeing where we are with the Lord ten years after a season of great work.
When Nehemiah came back, he saw that Eliashib the priest had entered into agreements with one of the enemies of Nehemiah’s work of rebuilding the wall—Tobiah.
Incidentally, Tobiah was an Ammonite—one of the very mixed multitude that had been put out of the assembly of God’s people some 10 years prior. At this point in the record Tobiah was not only present among the assembly, he was renting a room in the temple courts…
Tobiah had not changed over the years. He did not join the people of God in the terms of God’s covenant. The problem was evident to Nehemiah—but Eliashib was blind to it.
This grieved Nehemiah, Scripture states, “bitterly.”
Because the rooms in the courts of the temple of God were being occupied by a man not only a pagan, but who had a history of actively opposing God’s work.
Because it reflected so badly on Eliashib and those around him (he was a spiritual leader).
Because it made Nehemiah question the lasting value of the spiritual revival he witnessed when last in Jerusalem.
Leadership lesson: Nehemiah wasn’t one to only sit back and grieve…He took action!
He threw all of Tobiah’s household goods.
He ceremonially cleansed the rooms
He put the rooms back to their proper use—as storerooms for the sacred things of the temple.
What does this remind you of? Jesus.
Nehemiah was much like Jesus, who later cleansed the temple from those who profaned it. Both Jesus and Nehemiah had the wisdom to not confuse love with being “nice”—and they both had wisdom to know when to take bold action.
The application is pretty straightforward for us today.
Scripture teaches us that we the, universal church, are now the house of God. this is because the Holy Spirit lives within the believer, setting them apart as holy.
1 Corinthians 6:19–20 NKJV
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 3:16–17 NKJV
16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

vv. 10-14) Problem 3—Neglecting the tithe: A need to support God’s house

The people did not obey God’s Word regarding giving. Because of the lack of support, those who should give their time to the service of God and His people (the Levites and the singer) could not—and they had to leave that service.
The lack of giving was a way of forsaking the house of God. It wasn’t just unhelpful to the Levites and the singers; it was a way of turning their back on God.
Nehemiah took immediate corrective action:
He rebuked the government officials, holding them personally accountable for not encouraging the people to support God’s house.
After the rebuke, Nehemiah recalled the forsaken Levites back to Jerusalem to reinstate them in their various duties.
Nehemiah then challenged the people to renew their tithes and offerings.
Nehemiah also replaced the custodians of the storeroom, with trustworthy men.
Feeling deeply disappointed over the corruption… Nehemiah cried out for God’s help.
Under the Mosaic Law, the Jews were required to give a tenth of all produce and livestock to the Lord. The tithes were in addition to numerous offerings, and were an acknowledgment that everything belonged to God and that He was the Giver of all possessions.
The NT teaches believers to give systematically, liberally, cheerfully, and as the Lord has prospered them, that it, proportionately. But no mention is made of tithing. Rather, the suggestion is that if a Jew living under law gave a tenth, how much more should a Christian living under grace give!
Malachi 3:10 NKJV
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.
The reward for faithful tithing in the OT was material wealth; the reward for faithful stewardship in the present age is spiritual riches.
So Nehemiah is reminding the people and us today, to fail to bring anything is robbing God what already rightfully belongs to HIm.

vv. 15-22) Problem 4—Breaking the Sabbath: A need to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy

The Sabbath was being ignored in disobedience to God’s clear command under the Old Covenant. On the Sabbath day when they were supposed to rest and trust God, foreigners sold, and the people of Israel bought.
At the root, this was a problem of priorities. There was nothing wrong with buying and selling, only when the desire to buy and sell, to make money or spend money, became more important than honoring God. This was a clear way the people of Israel put making and spending money before glorifying God.
Verse 18| “you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath:”
Nehemiah knew that sin was not only a personal issue. When such open sin is winked at and left uncorrected among God’s people, it invites the correcting hand of God.
[21] Nehemiah wasn’t going to sit still for this; he threatened if you do so again, I will lay hands on you!
He did not mean the gentle laying on hand for prayer, but the rough laying on of hands for correction.
My personal opinion: You shouldn’t work 7 days week. Your body needs to rest.
[Maybe] [What is the motive behind the career?]
However, the Israelites had a day devoted to the Lord…but because Jesus is our Sabbath rest, that we can trust, rely, and depend upon him every day now becomes a day that should be devoted to God.
Colossians 3:23–24 NKJV
23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

vv. 23-31) Problem 5—Compromising: A need to build godly families

In the years Nehemiah was away the Israelites had resumed their practice of intermarrying with the pagan nations surrounding them. This was in dramatic disobedience to God’s command.
So Nehemiah’s action is fivefold:
First: he summons all the guilty parties and rebukes them.
[25] From this strong reaction of Nehemiah, we gather he considered this to be the most dangerous of their failures—pursing ungodly romance, and getting involved in romantic relationships God had said no to.
After expressing his horror at their shocking disobedience, Nehemiah had some of the men disciplined through beatings and by having their hair either pulled out or shaven.
He would then challenge these men to renew their oath to the Lord, their commitment to not compromise with unbelievers through mixed marriages.
Secondly: Nehemiah warned them of past history.
[26] I love the way that Nehemiah brazenly calls sin out for being just that sin… by using the example of Solomon. if Solomon, one of the wisest and most blessed men ever, sinned with unwise and ungodly romance then no one else should consider themselves invulnerable.
Nehemiah’s third action:
Nehemiah exiled the most prominent offender, the grandson of the High Priest Eliashib. This grandson had married the daughter of Sanballat, a enemy of God’s people.
Nehemiah prays to God to judge Eliashib and his grandson because they had defiled the priesthood.
Nehemiah held a purification service for the priest and the Levites. Knowing that the priesthood had been tarnished, he felt that the entire priesthood needed to be cleansed of the defilement.
“Remember me, O my God, for good!”
At the end of it all, Nehemiah knew he did his best to make the people of God strong, safe, and secure. Beyond that, he also led them to be pure, worshipful, and obedient (not to himself but to God’s Word).
I can honestly tell you that this is my heart. I wish to see each of you strong in your faith, finding your safety and security in Jesus Christ. My desire is to see you pure/holy (set apart from the Word and unto God). I wish to see you worship God with your whole being, and to be obedient to His Word.
There is no doubt in my mind that Nehemiah carried with him a sense of failure. Only three chapters ago the people made a solemn covenant to God that they would not do three things.
Having ungodly romantic relationships
Buy and sell on the Sabbath
Fail to support the work of God with money as He commanded.
Nevertheless, in Nehemiah 13, some 10-12 years later, Israel was again steeped in the exact sins they vowed to stop. Nehemiah had address these problems again.
So what is our takeaway here: the law—what I mean is, the rules, vows, promises, covenants, and the like, are all ultimately powerless to stop sin!
Only the grace of God, alive and flowing in our lives, can give us the power to truly overcome sin.
Romans 8:3 NKJV
3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,
Too many Christians look for the victory in the making of rules, of vows, of promises—and fail to find it, because all those things tend to make us look to ourselves, instead of looking to Jesus.
And this is one of the OT history of Israel’s main lessons: from the beginning to end, the nation was first born at the Exodus, despite the most spectacular miracles, displays of God’s glory, and revelation of the law, the people sinned, by crediting the golden calf with their deliverance from Egypt!
And now here, at the end of the OT history, Nehemiah is pulling out hair—his own and those of sinners—because they couldn’t keep their promises to God.
Family if we could be saved by our own promises, by our own commitment to Jesus, then He death would have been noble, but unnecessary. We are not saved by some vow we make, or some leaf we turn over, but by trusting in who Jesus claim to be, and what He has done to save us.


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