"Just Go In the Temple and Hide"
Nehemiah was in the process of rebuilding the walls of the temple (Nehemiah 6); in fact, he had it all done except for the doors being put on the gates. The enemies of Israel were not happy. They were actually plotting ways to delay or possibly attack Nehemiah and stop the work. They tried "friendly" meetings (6:1-4) and slander against Nehemiah (6:5-9). But I think the third way they tried to stop the work being done was the most interesting.
A secret informer was sent to Nehemiah in chapter 6:10-14; "Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, 'Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you.'" The informer tried to persuade Nehemiah to go into the temple and hide because there were those trying to take his life. Can you imagine how tempting this would have been for Nehemiah? However, Nehemiah knew that only priests were allowed in the temple, and this would have violated God's word. In 2 Chronicles 26, King Uzziah - who was not a priest - went into the temple, and God instantly struck him with leprosy.
I believe there are two very good lessons in this story to be learned when we consider God's word today.
1. We can never compromise God's word because of fear.
Shemaiah tried to create fear in Nehemiah and tried to get him to disobey God based on this fear. Religion that compromises avoid persecution, which is exactly what Jesus said we would endure if we are faithful (Matthew 5:10). Being a true follower of God means we must decide whom we belong to in our heart and be ready to give an answer of the hope within us with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).
We cannot compromise. “He seeks to persuade Nehemiah into an easy-going, compromising religion that will shirk persecution, that will carry no cross, and that is governed by fear of the opinions of other people (Redpath).”
Do we compromise or carry our cross? Jesus was also offered a way out of the cross from the devil - just worship him, and all the kingdoms of the world would be delivered to Him. Jesus would have none of it. Never compromise!!!
2. Religious talk can be deceptive. If Nehemiah believed Shemaiah’s religious talk, he would sin and give others something to find fault with and discredit him with. It was wrong to go in the temple… period. I hear things today like "that's your interpretation", or "that's the wrong hermeneutic", but the truth is, if God said it, then it came from Him; thus we must follow it (1 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Tim 3:16-17). We can call it whatever we want, but only God's word has the power of salvation (Rom 1:16). I also hear things like "God's grace will cover that" in reference to a sin. God's word teaches us that grace will not continue if we continue to sin (Romans 6:1). The fact is sin is transgression, and by the blood of Jesus we will be forgiven if as Christians we repent and make confession (1 Jn 1:9-10). We must be careful that we do not follow false religion or religious talk, (Matthew 7) and that we follow the teachers of God's word. According to Jesus’ own words, our love for Him is defined by our willingness to obey His teaching (John 14:15-23). And His teaching did not end with His death on the cross. After His death, the Spirit would return (John 14:15-23) and continue to reveal and teach God’s Truth through the apostles (John 16:12-14, 17:6-17).
Let us always see the importance of teaching only what Jesus Himself taught, whether in Person, or in the Spirit through His hand-picked apostles. (2nd Peter 1:3-12, Jude 3).
Among the Heroes
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses, these were men who could see the unseen. They believed in God and in believing, they found approval. Enoch walked with God. Noah built the ark. Abraham offered his son of promise. Moses delivered the Law to the people. These men preformed deeds that all would remember. These stories were passed down from generation to generation as parents sought to teach their children of the importance of following God.
We still study these stories today. However, have you ever noticed how Hebrews 11 ends? “Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourging, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground” (Heb. 11:35-38). Have you ever wondered, who were these women? Who were these men? Why were their names not recorded and their stories not given equal time and recognition? Perhaps the answer is this: they didn’t have to be.
We have often recognized someone as a hero for some great and marvelous deed. However, these unnamed brethren were included among the heroes that we look to and preach about. They, even though unknown, were just as heroic. They were people who served as examples for all whose lives they touched.
Among the heroes are people of godly character. They are servants. They seek the Lord in humility. They understand Paul’s words in Romans 5:3-5, “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Men and women of godly character rejoice in their tribulations and hold fast to their hope. They gird themselves with the armor of God and they contend earnestly for the faith. Day by day, those of godly character arise with a singular goal: “Lord, let me live like you.” Night by night, they beseech the Father: “Lord, help me to do better tomorrow.”
Among the heroes are people of quiet action. They do not live for recognition. The scribes and the Pharisees would practice their faith with the desire to be seen by men. They wanted to be recognized by all as great teachers - people to be admired. The scribes and Pharisees sought praise. They would fight against anything and anyone who threatened their status. From the mountain, Jesus warned those who would be His disciples to refrain from such pretense. He said, "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 6:1). Among the heroes are those who do right, because it is right. Their motivation is pure. People of quiet action know and understand that God is watching and the reward which He bestows is enough for them.
Among the heroes are people of rock solid faith. They look toward the promised land. In a world filled with doubt, pain, and trouble, these heroes are not shaken. They have confidence that they serve a benevolent Lord. They ask. They seek. They knock. These heroes leave examples to follow. Examples of people who stood for the truth in the face of opposition. They wander in deserts (Heb. 11:38), yet not without aim. Their focus, their aim, is on the Lord. They understand that “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).
Heroism is defined simply as having great bravery. Great bravery can be shown in many different ways. Moses displayed his bravery as he led the people out of Egypt. David’s bravery was seen as he battled the mighty giant. However, you need not preform some great deed or overcome a huge obstacle to be a hero. Be a hero to all those around you by quietly being an example of godly character and faith. This is the high calling to which we have all been called. If this calling leads you up mountains, be strong. If this calling leads you across the street, be ready. In doing so, your name will also be listed among the heroes in the Lamb’s book of Life.
“...and After This Comes Judgement.”
The prosecution rests. The accusations have been made. The defense offers rebuttal. All have been heard. Upon deliberation, a decision has been reached. The gavel slams and the sentence read.
Legal dramas are popular in today’s society. People want to see the right man punished for the evil deed and the innocent man set free. So they tune in to fantasy land with little thought of the day in which they themselves will stand before the Judge of all to give an account for their deeds.
The Spirit reveals throughout scripture that there will be a day in which all men will stand before the Lord and be judged. The writer of Hebrews said, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27). This will be a day for which all must be prepared. How do we prepare? We search the scriptures.
First, the scriptures show that no one will be able to avoid the judgement. Paul told the Corinthian brethren, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). The courts of this land are reserved for those who are accused of a crime. Most people will live their lives in such a way so that they will never stand before a judge or jury. However, in death, all will stand before the Lord. There will be no avoiding this day. No hiding. No delaying. All will have their day before the Lord.
Second, the scriptures reveal that no one knows when this day of judgement will take place. Jesus said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matt. 24:36). Those who delay their service to the Lord until a more convenient time must wait no longer. The Lord goes on to say, "Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming... For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will” (Matt. 24:42,44). The need for urgency in this preparation is clearly seen. There will be those who take Jesus’ admonition seriously and those who will take it lightly. There will be those who are prepared and there will be those who are not.
Third, this judgement will be based upon our deeds. The wise man said, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14). The Lord clearly calls His followers to live in a certain way. This judgement will not be based upon what a person may intend to do, but rather the actions or inactions that a person takes. Paul reminds the Ephesian brethren, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10) Those who work deeds of righteousness will be rewarded. Those who work the deeds of darkness will be punished.
Next, it should be understood that there is one standard by which judgement will take place. Jesus states, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48). Judgement will not be based off of human creeds. It will not be based upon what others say or do. Nor will it be based upon what people may think of you. Rather, judgement will be based upon what the Lord said and how you responded.
Finally, there will only be two results. For the faithful, there will be salvation. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). For the unfaithful, there will be eternal punishment. “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).
Can you picture the scene? Standing before the Lord. He opens the book of life and it is time for you to give an account. How have spent your time? What has occupied your mind? Have you used the talents the Lord has blessed you with to follow Him fully? Will you hear the words “well done?” Are you ready for the judgement day?