Now before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the house of our God, was allied with Tobiah. And he prepared for him a large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which were commanded to be given to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers, and the offerings for the priests. But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king, and I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.
Part two from yesterday's verses. Not everybody immediately separated themselves from the Ammonites and the Moabites. Eliashib the priest was good buddies with Tobiah, who was one of the people God said for them not to live with. So when Tobiah was supposed to be kicked out, Eliashib prepared a room for him in the temple. This was where the gifts for God were supposed to be, not those who had previously offended God and His people!
So Nehemiah comes back and this made him "grieved" (Response Question: define 'grieved' in this context. Sad? Depressed? Ticked off? In the comments section.) So Nehemiah takes action (thus, as I said yesterday, he's one of my favorites). He throws out Tobiah's stuff from the room, makes the priests cleanse the room and puts back all the stuff that used to be in the room.
Nehemiah stood up for God and God's Will against others who were supposed to be leading others in God's Will. My prayer is that someday we'll be Nehemiahs and be brave enough to do this.
So, today is Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday, for those of you who haven't had three years of French). So while we're watching drunken New Orleans people on CNN, think about this: tomorrow begins Lent. Mostly Catholics, although a few Christians, take this time from tomorrow until Easter Sunday to fast. This isn't necessarily food, like we first think of. It could be facebook, AIM, or music, or something else. The way I see it, this is just to show ourselves and God that we can live without the stuff that we clutter our lives with, that all we need to survive is God.
With this definition, will you participate in Lent with me? Consider this prayerfully and humbly. Pick something that you think God is leading you to forsake, and abstain from it until Easter. I usually do it with something that holds me back from my God-time, or something that is taking over my life that isn't from God.
In His Service,