Nehemiah 13

No Middle Ground

Nehemiah, on his return trip to Jerusalem, came back to a city where the people were spiritually
compromised and complacent. In Chapter 13 he addresses at least three areas of compromise:

No Compromise in relationships
Eliashib had given Tobiah, a non-Jew, an enemy of God, a sacred space, as his own. Nehemiah
“learned about the evil thing Eliashib had done in providing Tobiah with a room in the courts of the house
of God, threw all Tobiah’s stuff out of the room, had it purified and put everything back in the room
the way it was before, restoring its holiness.

God’s standard of holiness has not changed with the course of time. As Christians, we must be
encouraged to live by the standards, values and truths of God and not to lower our moral standards
and values even when we’re desperate to be accepted and included by others.

No Compromise in finances
Things taking a backward step spiritually extended to the people’s generosity as well: their financial
priorities were faulty. The Bible has a lot to say about money and stewardship. The three values
across New Testament teaching are generosity, giving and sharing (see 2 Cor. 8 & 9; Acts 2:42-47; 4:32).

New Testament teaching on generosity and sharing, in fact, takes the Old Testament ‘tithe’ to new limits. A healthy biblical perspective on finances is: we are not our own, we have been bought at a price. It follows that all I have belongs to God. I own nothing, God is the owner. I am the steward of what God has provided and resourced me with.

No Compromise in worship
The third compromise was forsaking worship and rest, specifically, working on the Sabbath. The
Israelites were told in the 4th commandment (see Exodus 20) to “remember”.  It seems the emphasis for Israel
was to remember, by following God’s lead in resting.

Remembering the Sabbath was a covenant sign between God and the Israelites, like the rainbow, and
like circumcision after that. What is universal, however, is that God is our creator and because he is
the creator, his creation pattern can today still be followed, not because we abide in a law, but
because in worship and thankfulness, we believe in a God who himself rested and who created us,
and that we need rest to be at our best for him.

When we remove a Sabbath-like pattern or rest of some kind, we put our priorities ahead of His for us
and that’s where we compromise! When we ignore or lower God’s priority on worship and rest we do
so at the risk of our own spiritual, physical, emotional and relational health.
So if the 7th day is anything for Christians it is a day to remember God’s glorious creation that He
created the universe in perfection. To remember we are his, to fellowship, to worship and to
remember Jesus.