|Now before this, however, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed to be in charge of the storerooms of our God’s house and who was related to Tobiah, prepared a large room for Tobiah to use. This was the room where they had previously kept the grain offering, the incense, and the equipment, together with the tenth-part gifts of grain, wine, and oil. These items were for the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers as well as the portions for the priests.|
I wasn’t in Jerusalem while this was happening because I had gone to Babylon’s King Artaxerxes in the thirty-second year of the king. After some time, I asked the king’s permission and returned to Jerusalem. That was when I saw the wrong that Eliashib had done on behalf of Tobiah by preparing him a room in the courtyards of God’s house. I was very angry and threw all of Tobiah’s household furniture out of the room. Then I gave orders that the rooms be purified, and I put back the temple equipment, along with the grain offering and the incense.
After an extended time away, Nehemiah returns to find that people have gone astray and are not living up to the covenant made in chapter 10. The priest, Eliashib, has thrown out precious goods to make room for Tobiah to stay in the temple, work is being done on the Sabbath, and people are, once again, marrying pagan brides. Nehemiah dutifully rights these wrongs, replacing untrustworthy officials and punishing those who have broken the promises they made with God.
As our reading of Nehemiah comes to a close, we are reminded that following God’s will is rarely an easy road. After every peak comes another valley, and there are always people and situations that threaten to throw us off track. Luckily, God is always with us and His mercies are new every morning. He is a God of love and redemption and, as we saw in Jerusalem, He can rebuild what we have allowed to be torn apart.
Thank you for being part of our Nehemiah reading plan!