“Before this, Eliashib the priest had been put in charge of the storerooms of the house of our God. He was closely associated with Tobiah, and he had provided him with a large room formerly used to store grain offerings and incense and temple articles, and also the tithes of grain, new wine and olive oil prescribed for the Levites, musicians and gatekeepers, as well as the contributions for the priests.” NIV
Yesterday we saw how, as God’s Word was read, the people were convicted about failing to exclude ‘’from Israel all who were of foreign descent’’ (3b). This did not refer to all foreigners without exception, but just those who would not worship Israel’s God. (Ruth, the Moabitess, is an example of someone from a foreign land who joined herself to the Lord and His people, and her name is to be found in the ancestry of the Messiah, Jesus: Matthew 1:5). Let’s not forget that Jesus, before returning to heaven, told His disciples to ‘’go and make disciples of all nations’’ (Matthew 28:19).
‘See the benefit of the public reading of the word of God; when it is duly attended to it discovers to us sin and duty, good and evil, and shows us wherein we have erred. Then we profit by the discovery when by it we are wrought upon to separate ourselves from all that evil to which we had addicted ourselves.’ Matthew Henry.
In today’s verses we see one particularly grave example of such sin. The priest, Eliashib, had a close connection with Tobiah the Ammonite – one of Nehemiah’s greatest enemies (Neh.2:10). He allowed him to use a large room in the temple, and all behind Nehemiah’s back. To allow a pagan, and an enemy to boot, to enter the temple was a grievous violation of God’s law.
F.B. Meyer, in his typical fashion, wonderfully applies this saying, ‘If we have given up a chamber in our heart to any Tobiah, we must be prepared to do likewise.’
PRAYER: ‘’Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.’’ (Psalm 139:23,24).